Late Eighteenth Century: By the 1770s, significant growth in the printing industry means wider distribution of newspapers and books. This enables Enlightenment writers to reach a greater audience. Censorship is also waning, enabling Enlightenment thinkers to write more plainly about their views and theories.
Today: The Internet enables anyone to reach a worldwide audience. Any information, theory, or ideology can be read by millions of people. Such communications are virtually unpoliced.
Late Eighteenth Century: In 1762, Rousseau’s Émile is published. In this world-famous novel presenting a new approach to education, the author expresses the typical view of the day that limited education is acceptable for women but that ultimately they should be prepared for domestic life.
Today: Women are given the same access to higher education as men. Some well-educated women choose to stay home and rear their children, but this is a choice rather than an expectation.
Late Eighteenth Century: World exploration and colonization by European nations affects the Enlightenment in two ways. First, exposure to new cultures brings about the philosophes’ view that culture is relative and that tolerance is necessary. Second, colonization often leads to oppression.
Today: The world has been explored and colonized. There are no new lands or peoples to conquer.