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Different Kinds of Progress - Stephen Hawkings a Brief History of Time and Thomas Paines The Age of Reason

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Thomas Paine’ s “ The Age of Reason” was written in the form of a pamphlet, a popular form of written literature in, particularly 17TH and 18th century Britain and America. Paine used the pamphlet to compress his ideas and arguments into a tight space and to disseminate these ideas to a very wide audience, because of the cheap production costs of printing the pamphlets. Therefore, Paine’ s rhetoric is both rich and dense. The pamphlet of this earlier time in American history can be compared to the place that the paperback book has in a contemporary context.

Stephen Hawking’ s A Brief History of Time is considerably longer than Paine’ s work, and as such contains much more history than Paine contains, but also contains far fewer direct lines of argument. Hawking’ s book tries to inform the reader of a certain line of history, in order to let the reader participate in a conversation with the writer. The writer, once the reader is well-informed, can engage the reader with subtle hints at a new worldview that stresses the importance of a mainly and thoroughly naturalistic conception of the universe.

Hawking’ s book is constructed around the kind of knowledge he wants to pass on to his readers, with chapters titled “ The Uncertainty Principle” and “ Elementary Particles and the Forces of Nature” . Hawking ties these subject matters in the physical sciences to his Chapter 12 conclusion, which extrapolates on observations made throughout the course of the book, applying them to issues such as religion and reason, which are subjects that are incidentally very important to Paine. These differences in format, of course, consequently lead to notable differences in the writing styles of the two authors.

Thomas Paine is known for his simple, clear, and straightforward use of language to persuade his audiences (Foner). This is because his pamphlets reached a wide variety of people, due to their cheapness and wide dissemination. He used this clear and concise style with great effectiveness, especially in “ The Age of Reason” , in which he tries to convince everyday people of the rational religion and the evils of institutionalized worship.

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