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Eternity and Print

How Medieval Ideas of Time Influenced the Development of Mechanical Reproduction of Texts and Images

Bennett Gilbert

Abstract

The methods of intellectual history have not yet been applied to studying the invention of technology for printing texts and images ca. 1375–ca. 1450. One of the several conceptual developments in this period reflecting the possibility of mechanical replication is a view of the relationship of eternity to durational time based on Gregory of Nyssa's philosophy of time and William of Ockham's. The article considers how changes in these ideas helped enable the conceptual possibilities of the dissemination of ideas. It describes a direct connection of human perceptual knowledge to divine knowledge that enhanced the authority of printed production to transfer and reproduce the true and the good.