Communications and the Industrial Revolution

Aristotle’s method of teaching communications was slowly eroded – sometimes by time, sometimes by accident, sometimes on purpose. For example, after his death, his manuscript was stuck in a corner and not found for almost a thousand years. Had he not taught Alexander the Great, then his method may not have lasted.

Also, eleventh century Byzantine monks, copying over the manuscript, thought he had made a mistake on his primary communications tool, the enthymeme (n – tha – meem). (In GWS, we call that the hyperthesis, because it’s so closely related to the hypothesis, Aristotle’s primary tool for science.) The monks changed the concept. As a result, educators found the tool difficult to use. Even today, dictionaries except for very technical ones define enthymeme incorrectly.

The Industrial Revolution

The Industrial Revolution began in England. It consisted of changing the production of products from cottage industries – that is, in people’s houses or in small shops – to factories fueled by steam. This change in manufacturing was based on science. Its main tool is the hypothesis.

Notice that Aristotle’s Scientific Method is almost identical to his Communications Method:

Aristotle’s Scientific Method

Aristotle’s Communication Method

  1. Observe

1. Observe

  1. Create a hypothesis

2. Create a hyperthesis (enthymeme)

  1. Conduct experiments

3. Gather evidence

  1. Reformulate the hypothesis to fit the experiments

4. Reformulate the enthymeme to fit the evidence

With the Industrial Revolution came many social ills. Smog was terrible, and working conditions were unsafe and unsanitary. Small children often worked in horrible situations sixteen hours a day, seven days a week.

Many people protested the problems. In fact, Mary Shelley’s novel, Frankenstein, isn’t really a horror novel. It’s a protest against scientific invention.

The Rise of the Romantics

The social ills set off protests, including Karl Marx’s Communist Manifesto and protest poetry, fiction, and essays by a group called the Romantics. They were Platonists. That is, they believed – as Plato did – that communications mainly comes from within us and is “an act of genius.” Good writers were therefore born with the ability; it couldn’t really be acquired, they argued. They did not want writing being associated with Aristotelianism and the Scientific Method.

In a nutshell, regarding communications, they believed that –

Romanticism’s Beliefs about Communication

Communications is a talent, not a skill.

Communications is a product of genius.

Communications cannot be taught, only practiced.

Communications is a solitary activity, not a social one

Famous Romantics


William Blake, Mary Shelley, Percy Shelley, Lord Byron, William Wordsworth, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, John Keats

United States

Emily Dickinson, Edgar Allan Poe, Ralph Randolph Emerson, Henry David Thoreau, Walt Whitman

The Importance of the Aristotelians

On the other side of the battle for how writing should be approached were the Aristotelians.

19th Century Aristotelian Beliefs about Communication

Communications is a skill anyone can learn. Obviously, some people are talented.

Communications can be taught.

Communications has basic structures.

Communications is a social act, even if we are alone when we write, because others taught us and/or serve as role models.

Famous Aristotelians of the Nineteenth Century


Benjamin Disraeli

United States

George Washington, James Madison, Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, John Quincy Adams



Match the person with something famous he or she said or wrote. Use the Net.

___ Adams, John

___ Adams, John Quincy

___ Aristotle

___ Blake, William

___ Byron, Gordon Lord

___ Cicero

___ Coleridge, Samuel Taylor

___ Dickinson, Emily

___ Disraeli, Benjamin

___ Emerson, Ralph Waldo

___ Jefferson, Thomas

___ Madison, James

___ Marx, Karl

___ Plato

___ Poe, Edgar Allan

___ Shelley, Mary

___ Shelley, Percy

___ Thoreau, Henry David

___ Washington, George

___ Whitman, Walt

___ Wordsworth, William

  1. A drop of ink may make a million think.
  2. A man who is not a liberal at 16 has no heart, and a man who is not a conservative at 60 has no head.
  3. Believe only half of what you see and nothing that you hear.
  4. Come grow old with me. The best is yet to be.
  5. Facts are stubborn things; and whatever may be our wishes, our inclinations, or the dictates of our passion, they cannot alter the state of and evidence.
  6. He whose face gives no light shall never become a star.
  7. I have seen great intolerance shown in support of tolerance.
  8. I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived.
  9. If winter comes, can spring be far behind?
  10. If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader.
  11. Keep your face always toward the sunshine – and shadows will fall behind you.
  12. Knowing yourself is the beginning of all wisdom.
  13. Ninety-nine percent of failures come from people who make excuses.
  14. One step at a time is all it takes to get you there.
  15. Only the dead have seen the end of war.
  16. Philosophy is common sense with big words.
  17. Surround yourself with people who make you happy. People who make you laugh, who help you when you’re in need. People who genuinely care. They are the ones worth keeping in your life. Everyone else is just passing through.
  18. The beginning is always today.
  19. The only person you are destined to become is the person you decide to be.
  20. To be ignorant of what occurred before you were born is to remain always a child.
  21. We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

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