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The Encyclopaedia Britannica, the First and the 1997 Print Edition
Comparison of the articles and their coverage of the first and the 1997 print edition of the Encyclopaedia Britannica and examination of the paradigm of the Enlightenment Era edition

Korean Minjok Leadership Academy
International Program
Kim, Jaehee
Research Paper, Fall 2010

Table of Contents

I. Introduction
II. The First Edition of the Encyclopaedia Britannica,
II.1 The publishers of the first edition
II.2 Major topics in the first volume (A-B)
II.2.1 Agriculture
II.2.2 Algebra
II.2.3 Anatomy
II.2.4 Architecture
II.2.5 Arithmetic
II.2.6 Astronomy
II.3 Major topics in the second volume (C-L)
II.3.1 Chemistry
II.3.2 Law
II.3.3 Logic
II.4 Major topics in the third volume (M-Z)
II.4.1 Mechanic
II.4.2 Metaphysic
II.4.3 Moral Philosophy
II.4.4 Religion
III. Comparison to Contemporary Enlightenment Age Encyclopedias
III.1 Scottish Enlightenment philosophies
III.2 Comparison to the contemporary French Encyclopedie by Denis Diderot
IV. The Encyclopaedia Britannica edition of 1997
IV.1 The Board of Publishers, the Britannica Corporation
IV.2 The List of Members of The Editorial Board of The Britannica
IV.3 How Major Topics of the First Version of the Britannica are covered in the Modern Macropedia,
IV.4 Major Topics of the First Volume in the Modern Version
IV.4.1 Agriculture
IV.4.2 Algebra
IV.4.3 Anatomy
IV.4.4 Architecture
IV.4.5 Arithmetic
IV.4.6 Astronomy
IV.5 Major Topics of the Second Volume in the Modern Version
IV.5.1 Chemistry
IV.5.2 Law
IV.5.3 Logic
IV.6 Major Topics in the Third Volume in the Modern Version
IV.6.1 Mechanica
IV.6.2 Metaphysics
IV.6.3 Moral Philosophy
IV.6.4 Religion
V. Examination of Difference in Coverage, Wording of Articles
VI. Examination on Enlightenment Philosophy
VI.1 Observation on several major articles
VI.2 Metaphysics
VI.2.1 Questions addressed in the first edition
VI.2.2 Expansion of the knowledge covered
VI.3 Astronomy
VI.3.1 Questions addressed in the first edition
VI.3.2 Expansion of the knowledge covered
VI.4 Religion
VI.4.1 Questions addressed in the first edition
VI.4.2 Expansion of the knowledge covered
VII. Conclusion

I. Introduction
            An encyclopedia has a larger significance than perceived in society. Just as the dictionary is so, the encyclopedia is a compilation of knowledge of the contemporary era. It is little known that the dictionary is a source of power, as the writer is in control of writing out the definitions and listing the definitions in order of importance, which is, quite subjective to the writer himself. Thus the writer of such a source of knowledge has the power of defining, and has the responsibility of encompassing the social atmosphere and level of established knowledge when writing the dictionary. The encyclopedia has the almost identical role as the dictionary does: it explains the definitions, significance, and social rhetoric included in certain ideas or subjects. Therefore, the encyclopedia is much more than a mere look-up source, rather, it serves as the mirror of the atmosphere or intellectual movement of society. Keeping this crucial piece of information in mind, the Encyclopaedia Britannica, one of the largest sources of knowledge in history, is examined in this paper. The Britannica is the oldest encyclopedia still available, with the first edition published at the time of the Enlightenment (1768-1771). Since then, Britannica has changed in various aspects, and through the rough examination of the size of the large articles and close examination of especially "metaphysics", "astronomy," and "religion," an evaluation of the paradigm of the Enlightenment era in comparison to the modern society will be made.

II. The First Edition of the Encyclopaedia Britannica, A Dictionary of Arts and Sciences

II.1 The Publishers of the First Edition
            The first founders of the Britannica were Colin Macfarquhar, Andrew Bell, Archibald Constable, and others. They are termed "the Society of Gentlemen in Scotland" in the beginning of the 3 volumes. The Britannica was a Scottish encyclopedia, the most enduring legacy of the Scottish Enlightenment. The first edition was compiled by one editor, William Smellie, who was hired by the founders.
            William Smellie was a Scottish encyclopediste and a member of the Royal Society. Smellie borrowed from many authors such as Voltaire, Franklin, Alexander Pope, or Samuel Jackson. He principally believed in the utility of books, and tried to make the encyclopaedia as practical as possible. However, he was not an expert at everything and made several major mistakes in the encyclopaedia. Even though it was incomplete and inaccurate, Smellie's easily-read prose led to the great popularity of the Britannica and a demand for a second edition. However, he did not participate in the editing of the second edition, as he was against the inclusion of biographical articles in the Britannica.

II.2 Major Topics in the First Volume (A-B)
            The first edition of the Encyclopaedia Britannica has several major topics, which are clearly differentiated from the other entries by bold/large letters of the topic name, and longer entry length. Such choice of what is "important" or "not important," and the great subjectivity of the first edition effectively portrays the thought of the time.
            In this section of describing the major topics in the Britannica, there seemed no need to go over every topic in great detail when most of them are not pertinent to analyzing Enlightenment philosophies. The structure in this section goes for first sentence of the topic-chapter names used to categorize, in that order. The first sentence in each entry is the general description of how people of that day perceived each concept, and the chapters well describe how they were categorized and organized in people's minds. The categorization of the first edition of the Britannica is much, much more general than that of today¡¯s, which shows the incomplete discovery of professional scientific/humanities knowledge.

II.2.1 Agriculture
            First sentence :
                "Agriculture is an art of such consequence to mankind that their very existence, especially in a state of society, depends upon it."
            Chapter categorization
                Part 1: Of vegetation, the structure of plants.
                    1) Sect. 1: Of seeds.
                    2) Sect. 2: Of the root.
                    3) Sect. 3: Of the trunk, stalk, or stem.
                    4) Sect. 4: Of the leaves.
                    5) Sect. 5: Of the flower.
                    6) Sect. 6: Of the fruit.
                    7) Sect. 7: Of the nature and motion of the sap.
                Part 2: Of the various operations upon the soil, in order to prepare it for the reception and the nourishment of the plants.
                    1) Sect. 1: Of manures.
                    2) Sect. 3: Of soils with respect to manures.
                    3) Sect. 4: Of the impediments to vegetation.
                    4) Sect. 5: Of tillage.
                    5) Sect. 6: Of the culture of particular plants.
                    6) Sect. 6: Principles and advantages of the new husbandry.

II.2.2 Algebra
            First sentence :
                "Algebra is a general method of computation by certain signs and symbols, which have been contrived for this purpose, and found convenient. It is called a Universal Arithmetic."
            Chapter categorization
                1. Part 1: Of addition.
                2. Part 2: Of subtraction.
                3. Part 3: Of multiplication.
                4. Part 4: Of division.
                5. Part 5: Of fractions.
                6. Part 6: Of the involution of quantities.
                7. Part 7: Of quantities.
                8. Part 8: Of evolution.
                9. Part 9: Of proportion.
                10. Part 10: Of the solution of questions that produce simple equations.
                11. Part 11: Containing some general theorems for the exterminating unknown quantities in given equations.
                12. Part 12: Of quadratic equations.
                13. Part 13: Of surds.
                14. Part 14: Of the genesis and resolutions of equations in general; and the number of roots an equation of any degree may have.
                15. Part 15: Of the signs and coefficients of equations.
                16. Part 16: Of the transformation of equations; and exterminating their intermediate terms.
                17. Part 17: Of finding the roots of equations when two or more of the roots are equal to each other.
                18. Part 18: Of the limits of equations.
                19. Part 19: Of the resolution of equations, all whose roots are commensurate.
                20. Part 20: Of the resolution of equations by finding the equations of a lower degree that are their divisors.
                21. Part 21: Of the methods which you mat approximate to the roots of numerical equations by their limits.
                22. Part 22: Of the rules for finding the number of impossible roots in an equation.

II.2.3 Anatomy
            First sentence :
                "Anatomy is the art of dissecting the solid parts of animal bodies, with a view to discover their structure, connection, and uses. Anatomy is not only the basis of all medical knowledge, but is a very interesting object to the philosopher and natural historian."
            Chapter categorization
                1. Part 1: Of the bones.
                    1) Sect. 1: Of the Bones in general.
                    2) Sect. 2: Of the skeleton.
                    3) Explanation of plate (images).
                2. Part 2: Of the muscles.
                    1) Sect. 1: Of the muscles in general.
                    2) Sect. 2: The muscles of the abdomen.
                    3) Sect. 3: The muscles which move the bones of the shoulder upon the trunk.
                    4) Sect. 4: The muscles which move the os humeri on the scapula.
                    5) Sect. 5: The muscles which move the bones of the fore-arm on the os humeri.
                    6) Sect. 6: The muscles which move the radius upon the ulna.
                    7) Sect. 7: the muscles which move the carpus upon the fore-arm.
                    8) Sect. 8: The muscles which move the fingers.
                    9) Sect. 9: The muscles which move the os femoris upon the pelvis.
                    10) Sect. 10: The muscles which move the bones of the leg on the os femoris.
                    11) Sect. 11: The muscles which move the tarsus on the leg.
                    12) Sect. 12: The muscles which move the metartarsus and toes.
                    13) Sect. 13: The muscles employed in respiration.
                    14) Sect. 14: The muscles which move the fiend on the trunk.
                    15) Sect. 15: Of the vertebral muscles.
                    16) Sect. 16: The muscles which move the lower jaw.
                    17) Sect. 17: The muscles which move the os hyoides.
                3. Part 3: Of the arteries.
                4. Part 4: Of the veins.
                5. Part 5: Of the nerves.
                6. Part 6: Of such parts of the body as could not properly be described under any of the former general divisions.
                    1) Sect. 1: Of the common Integuments. : the skin, the hairs, the nails.
                    2) Sect. 2: Of the abdomen.
                    3) Sect. 3: Of the thorax.
                    4) Sect. 4: Of the brain and its appendages.
                    5) Sect. 5: Of the eye.
                    6) Sect. 6: The nose.
                    7) Sect. 7: The ear.
                    8) Sect. 8: The mouth.

II.2.4 Architecture
            First sentence :
                "Architecture, or the art of building, ought to be considered in a twofold light, as an object of taste, and as a mechanical art"
            Chapter categorization
                1. Sect. 1: Architecture as an object of taste.
                2. Sect. 2: Architecture as a mechanical art.

II.2.5 Arithmetic
            First sentence :
                "Arithmetic is a science which explains the properties of numbers, and shows the method or art of computing them"
            Chapter categorization
                1. Chap. 1: Notation.
                2. Chap. 2: Addition
                3. Chap. 3: Subtraction
                4. Chap. 4: Multiplication
                5. Chap. 5: Division,
                6. Chap. 6: Reduction,
                7. Chap. 7: The rule of three,
                8. Chap. 8: Fellowship,
                9. Chap. 9: Vulgar fractions,
                10. Chap. 10: Rules of practice,
                11. Chap. 11: Of decimals

II.2.6 Astronomy
            First sentence :
                "Astronomy is the science which treats of the nature and properties of the heavenly bodies"
            Chapter categorization
                1. Chapter 1: Of astronomy in general
                2. Chapter 2: Of the solar system
                3. Chapter 3: The phenomena of the heavens as seen from different parts of the earth
                4. Chapter 4: The phenomena of the heavens as seen from different parts of the solar system
                5. Chapter 5: The physical causes of the motions of the planets. Eccentricities of their orbits. The times in which the action of gravity alone would bring them to the sun
                6. Chapter 6: reasons why the sun, moon, and stars, when rising or setting, appear larger than when they rise higher in the heavens.
                7. Chapter 7: use of the common quadrant, and the method of finding the distances of the sun, moon, and planets
                8. Chapter 8: the different lengths of days and nights and the vicissitudes of seasons explained, the explanation of the phenomena of Saturn's ring concluded
                9. Chapter 9: the method of finding the longitude by the eclipses of Jupiter's Satellites. The amazing velocity of light demonstrated by these eclipses.
                10. Chapter 10: of solar and sidereal time
                11. Chapter 11: of the equation of time
                12. Chapter 12: of the precision of the equinoxes
                13. Chapter 13: the moon's surface mountainous: her phases described, her path and the paths of Jupiter's moons delineated, the proportions of the diameters of their orbits, and those of Saturn¡¯s moons, to each other and to the diameter of the sun.
                14. Chapter 14: the phenomena of the harvest moon explained by a common globe, the long duration of moonlight at the poles in winter
                15. Chapter 15: of the ebbing and flowing of the sea
                16. Chapter 16: of eclipses
                17. Chapter 17: of the fixed stars
                18. Chapter 18: of the division of time. A perpetual table of new moons, times of the birth and death of Christ, a table of remarkable eras or events.
                19. Chapter 19: a description of the astronomical machinery serving to explain and illustrate the forgoing part of this treatise.

II.3 Major topics in the second volume (C-L)

II.3.1 Chemistry
            First sentence :
                "The object and chief end of chemistry is to separate the different substances that enter into the composition of bodies; to examine each of them apart; to discover their properties and relations; to decompose those very substances, if possible; to compare them together, and combine them with others; to reunite them again into one body, so as to reproduce the original compound with all its properties; or even to produce new compounds that never existed among the works of nature, from mixtures of other matters differently combined"
            Chapter categorization
                1. Part 1: Theory of Chemistry : air, water, fire, earth, phlogiston, affinities, saline substances, acids and alkalis, neutral salts, lime, metallic substances, semi-metals, oils, fermentation, ores, Geoffroy¡¯s table of the comparative affinities, various chemical tools, etc.
                2. Part 2: Practice of chemistry : vitriolic acid, marine acid, borax, operations on metals, copper, iron, tin, mercury, antimony, bismuth, zinc, arsenic, vegetables, etc.

II.3.2 Law
            First sentence :
                "Law may be defined, "The command of the foreign power, containing a common rule of life for the subjects." It is divided into the law of nature, the law of nations, and civil or municipal law."
            Chapter categorization
                1. Principles of the Law of Scotland.
                    1) Title 1: General observations.
                    2) Title 2: Of jurisdiction and judges in general.
                    3) Title 3: Of the supreme judges and courts of Scotland.
                    4) Title 4: of the inferior judges and courts of Scotland.
                    5) Title 5: Of Ecclesiastical persons.
                    6) Title 6: Of marriage.
                    7) Title 7: Of minors, and their tutors and curators.
                    8) Title 8: Of the division of rights, and the several ways by which a right may be acquired.
                    9) Title 9: Of heritable and moveable rights.
                    10) Title 10: Of the constitution of heritable rights by charter and seisin.
                    11) Title 11: Of the several kinds of holding.
                    12) Title 12: Of the casualties due to the superior.
                    13) Title 13: Of the right which the vassal acquires by getting the feu.
                    14) Title 14: Of the transmission of rights, by confirmation and resignation.
                    15) Title 15: Of redeemable rights.
                    16) Title 16: Of servitudes.
                    17) Title 17: Of teinds.
                    18) Title 18: Of inhibitions.
                    19) Title 19: Of comprisings, adjudications, and judicial sales.
                    20) Title 20: Of obligations and contracts in general.
                    21) Title 21: Of obligations by word or wit.
                    22) Title 22: Of obligations and contracts arising from consent, and of accessory obligations.
                    23) Title 23: Of the dissolution or extinction of obligations.
                    24) Title 24: Of assignations.
                    25) Title 25: Of arrestments and poindings.
                    26) Title 26: Of prescriptions.
                    27) Title 27: Of succession in heritable rights.
                    28) Title 28: Of succession of moveables.
                    29) Title 29: Of last heirs and bastards.
                    30) Title 30: Of actions.
                    31) Title 31: Of probation.
                    32) Title 32: Of sentences and their execution.

II.3.3 Logic
            First sentence :
                "Logic, the art of thinking and reasoning justly; or, it may be defined the science of history of the human mind, inasmuch as it traces the progress of our knowledge from our first and most simple through all their different combinations, conceptions, and all those numerous deductions that result from variously comparing them one with another"
            Chapter categorization
                1. Part 1: Of judgment.
                2. Part 2: Of reasoning.
                3. Part 3: Of method.

II.4 Major Topics in the Third Volume (M-Z)

II.4.1 Mechanics
            First sentence :
                "This term, in the common acceptation, implies no more than the nature of what is called the mechanical powers, together with the combination of these powers in the construction of machines. But as the general properties of matter and central forces are necessary in order to a thorough knowledge of mechanics, we have joined all these subjects together under the general name of Mechanics"
            Chapter categorization
                1. Of matter, and its properties
                2. Of central forces.
                3. Laws of the planetary motions.
                4. Of the mechanical powers.
                5. Of mills, wheel carriages, and the engine for driving piles.

II.4.2 Metaphysics
            First sentence :
                "Metaphysics is that part of philosophy which considers the nature and properties of thinking beings. Metaphysics is divided, according to the objects that it considers, into six principal parts, which are called: ontology, cosmology, anthropology, psychology, pneumatology, and theodicy, or metaphysical theology."
            Chapter categorization
                1. Of ideas in general, and their original.
                2. Of simple ideas.
                3. Of ideals of one sense.
                4. Of simple ideas of different senses.
                5. Of simple ideas of reflection.
                6. Of simple ideas of sensation and reflection.
                7. Some farther considerations concerning simple ideas.
                8. Of perception.
                9. Of retention.
                10. Of complex ideas.
                11. Of simple modes: and, first, of the simple modes of space.
                12. Of our complex ideas of substances.
                13. Of relation.
                14. Of cause and effect, and other relations.
                15. Of identity and diversity.
                16. Of other relations.
                17. Of real and fantastical ideas.
                18. Of ideas adequate or inadequate.
                19. Of true and false ideas.
                20. Of the association of ideas.
                21. Of knowledge in general.
                22. Of the degrees of our knowledge.
                23. Of the extent of human knowledge.
                24. Of the reality of our knowledge.
                25. Of truth in general.
                26. Of our knowledge of existence.
                27. Of our knowledge of the existence of a God.
                28. Of our knowledge of the existence of other things.
                29. Of probability.
                30. Of judgment.
                31. Of the degrees of assent.
                32. Of reason.

II.4.3 Moral Philosophy
            First sentence :
                "Moral philosophy is "The science of manners of duty; which it traces from man¡¯s nature and condition, and shews to terminate in his happiness." In other words, it is "The knowledge of our duty and felicity," or, "The art of being virtuous and happy""
            Chapter categorization
                1. Of man and his connections.
                2. Of duty, or moral obligation.
                3. The final causes of our moral faculties of perceptions and affection.
                4. The principal distinctions of duty or virtue.
                5. Of man's duty to himself. Of the nature of good, and the chief good.
                6. Duties to society.
                    1) Filial and Fraternal duty.
                    2) Concerning marriage.
                    3) Of parental duty.
                    4) Herile and servile duty.
                    5) Social duties of the commercial kind.
                    6) Social duties of the political kind.
                    7) Duty to God.
                    8) Of practical ethics, or the culture of the mind.
                    9) Motives to virtue from personal happiness.
                    10) Motives to virtue from the being and providence of God.
                    11) Motive to virtue from the immortality of the soul, etc.

II.4.4 Religion
            First sentence :
                "To know God, and to render him a reasonable service, are the two principal objects of religion. We know but little of the nature of bodies; we discover some of their properties, as motion, figure, colours, etc., but of their essence we are ignorant: we know still much less of the soul; but of the essence or nature of God, we know nothing: it is the prerogative of the Supreme Being alone to comprehend his own essence: all the efforts that we can make to attain that knowledge, are arrogant and ineffectual; it is foreign to the nature of a limited spirit : but our destiny is that of a man, and our desires are those of a God. In a word, man appears to be formed to adore, but not to comprehend, the Supreme Being"
            Chapter categorization
                1. Of the dogmatic.
                2. Of the exegesis and the hermeneutic.
                3. Of sacred criticism.
                4. Of moral theology.
                5. Of polemic theology, or controversy.
                6. Pastoral theology.
                7. Catechetic theology.
                8. Of casuistic theology.
                9. Consistorial prudence, or general oeconomy of the church.
                10. Of theologic prudence in the different functions of the ministry.

III Comparison to Contemporary Enlightenment Age Encyclopedias

III.1 Scottish Enlightenment philosophies
            The Enlightenment was a revolutionary time when many concepts were renovated or invented, ultimately shaping humans' view toward God, knowledge, nature, and mankind in all. The most important part of the Scottish Enlightenment was the development of reason, giving faith to the methods with which man understands the universe and also evaluates himself. The concept of reason elevated humans to a higher state, considering them capable enough to control their mistakes or their emotions to become as objective as possible.
            Applying reason was especially successful in the sciences and mathematics, where induction and deduction allowed the creation of different paradigms in such studies. Newton created the basic physics laws that govern the motions of the planets. And as shown here, the Enlightenment and reason gave science the notion that the world is governed by laws.
            Reason also facilitated change in the social sciences. Psychology and Ethics first emerged in the Enlightenment age, as Locke defined the human mind at its birth, a table rasa. Other philosophers such as Hobbes, Bentham, Rousseau, Voltaire were all people who influenced Enlightenment thought. Outlined by the idea of a society as a social contract, revolutions took place in England, France, and America. However, the revolutions themselves took away the credibility of human reason.

III.2 Comparison to the contemporary French Encyclopedie of Denis Diderot.
            In contrast to the first version of the Britannica, Diderot's Encyclopedie was a compiled, eclectic, practical encyclopedia that was sophisticated in that time of history. It is most well known for its technological aspect, concentrating on practical information and manuals. Even though this is too much of a simplification, it is true that the Encyclopedie includes much more practical information, and for this, it is famous for representing the thought of the Enlightenment era. It is said that Denis Diderot launched the process to "change the way people think." (1)
            The main difference of the Encyclopedie with Smellie's Britannica was the number of contributors. Smellie wrote the Britannica on his own with no systematical editing and compiling group of people to take care of the whole Encyclopedia. It is only known that he merely borrowed the works of several famous English intellectuals. However, the French Encyclopedie received many contributions from various French figures such as Voltaire, Rousseau, or Montesquieu, and the most prolific contributor having been Louis de Jaucourt. The Contributors were not a unified group that had the common objective of writing the Encyclopedie, but nevertheless they each had their specialties and that led to the well-roundedness of the encyclopedia. For example, Jean le Rod d'Alembert was the editor and wrote mostly on science and contemporary affairs, Jean-Baptiste de La Chapell wrote on mathematics, and Rousseau contributed to the articles on music and political theory.
            One thing in common with Smellie's Britannica and also with Enlightenment thought that may be pointed out is of the conceived nature of theology. In the "Metaphysics" article of the Britannica, theology is consisted of a part of the article. In the introduction to the Encyclopedie, considered an important exposition of Enlightenment ideals, theology is also ordered under 'Philosophy.' The three main branches of knowledge are said here to be "Memory"/History, "Reason"/Philosophy, and "Imagination"/Poetry. As shown in both of the encyclopedias, in the Enlightenment era the status of religion was going down. It was no longer considered as an ultimate source of knowledge in itself and a moral power, but rather one of the branch of studies under philosophy that require reason to be studied and analyzed.
            The two encyclopaedias were very different in nature, however, one notable fact shows the common factor of Diderot and Smellie. In the first version of the Britannica, surprisingly there are 5 lines allocated for the article, "France," with only a brief, factual description of facts. The situation was not different for the Encyclopedie: it was faithful to its technological, practical approach and contained minimal information about history or politics. The common factor between the two encyclopaedias is that they both neglect subjects on politics or pertinent to politics, such as history or biographies. This reflects the attitude Diderot and Smellie had toward the societal/political scene: neglecting is the attitude that they chose to take in support of social reform.

IV. The Encyclopaedia Britannica edition of 1997

IV.1 The Board of Publishers, the Britannica Corporation
            The Britannica Corporation today has diversely and widely expanded their products. In 1994 Britannic first launched Britannica Online, combining the historical Britannica with the Internet. The Britannica has created Britannica Online School Education, My First Britannica, Discover America, and Britannica Discovery Library. Britannica continues to publish the traditional 32-volume Encyclopaedia Britannica, the oldest still published reference work in the English language.
            The Britannica received contributions of many famous academicians, including Albert Einstein, Sigmund Freud, Marie Curie, Bertrand Russell, or George Bernard Shaw. Today, the Britannica is edited by the Editorial Board, whose members are top scholars of their field. Today they are the men and women of Britannica's Editorial Board of Advisors including Nobel laureates and Pulitzer Prize winners, the leading scholars, writers, artists, public servants, and activists who are at the top of their fields. They meet regularly to share ideas, to debate, and to argue, in a unique collegium whose purpose is to understand today's world so that the resulting encyclopaedia can be the best there is. The "Royal Society of Edinburgh," which is the variation of the organization which created the first edition of the Britannica - "The Society of Gentlemen in Scotland" - still takes part in the editing of the Britannica today, as seen in the name "Lord Sutherland of Houndhood." Lord Sutherland's presence on Britannica's editorial advisory board reestablishes the company's historical link to Scotland, where it was founded in 1768. From this we may infer that the Britannica is one of the largest sources of information in our day, and the entries and information are collaborative and objective enough. Certainly the nature and quality of the encyclopaedia is completely different from the first version, which is so subjective that the three volumes differ in length, and certain articles are written almost like editorials.

IV.2 The List of Members of The Editorial Board of The Britannica

Nicholas Carr Author, editor, and blogger
Wendy Doniger Mircea Eliade Distinguished Service Professor of the History of Religions, University of Chicago
Benjamin M. Friedman William Joseph Maier Professor of Political Economy, Harvard University
Leslie H. Gelb President Emeritus, Council on Foreign Relations & winner of the Pulitzer Prize
David Gelernter Professor of Computer Science, Yale University
Murray Gell-Mann Nobel laureate, Professor Emeritus, California Institute of Technology, and Distinguished Fellow, Sante Fe Institute
Vartan Gregorian President, Carnegie Corporation; former President, Brown University; former President, New York Public Library
Thomas Nagel University Professor, New York University
Donald Norman Author; Cofounder, Nielsen Norman Group & Professor of Computer Science, Northwestern University
Don Michael Randel President, Andrew W. Mellon Foundation
Lord Sutherland of Houndwood President of the Royal Society of Edinburgh
Michael Wesch Assistant Professor of Cultural Anthropology, Kansas State University

IV.3 How Major Topics of the First Version of the Britannica are covered in the modern Macropaedia
            In this chapter, the major articles that were pointed out in the first version of the Britannica were analyzed to see which articles in the modern version of the cover the major articles in the first version. For most of the articles in the first version, the significant expansion and division in the Macropedia showed how crude the original pieces of information were, compared to that of the Macropedia nowadays. The first version of the Britannica was visibly, a great effort to organize information in a meticulous and professional way, but nevertheless the illustrations are confusing and the organization is clumsy and subjective. The three volumes are of equal size, but the first A-B, the second C-L, the third M-Z. The encyclopedia is clumsily organized, and so are the major articles. This chapter indicates the major articles in the Macropedia that seem to re-introduce the ideas in the first Britannica. As clearly shown below, the breadth of the articles has expanded hugely.

IV.4 Major topics in the first volume in the modern version
            In this section, the major topics in the first version of the Britannica were analyzed, and identified with the modern version of the Britannica Macropaedia. The modern version has clearly been expanded in information and classified systematically. In this section the modern articles that cover the old article in the first version are listed.

IV.4.1 Agriculture

Agricultural Sciences Vol.13 pp.168-171
The History of Agriculture Vol.13, pp.172-194
Plants Vol.13, pp.172-194

IV.4.2 Algebra

A further mention of various theorems Vol.13 pp.244-299

IV.4.3 Anatomy

Muscles and muscle systems Vol.24, pp.452-479
Nerves and nervous systems Vol.24, pp.784-863
Blood (characteristics, cells, grouping, clotting, diseases) Vol.15 pp.125-153
Cells (nature, membranes, nucleus, division, differentiation, history etc.), Vol.15, pp.565-593
Circulation and Circulatory Systems Vol.16, pp.377-417
Digestion and Digestive Systems Vol.17, pp.275-314
Endocrine Systems Vol.18, pp.287-331
Excretion and Excretory Systems Vol.19, pp.1-27
Reproduction and Reproductive Systems (human reproductive system), Vol.26, pp.650-687
Respiration and Respiratory Systems (human respiration), Vol.26, pp.733-756
Supportive and Connective Tissues Vol.28, pp.272-316

IV.4.4 Architecture

The art of architecture Vol.13, pp.874-900
The history of western architecture Vol.13, pp.900-996
Building construction Vol.15, pp.312-339

IV.4.5 Arithmetic

Arithmetic (addition of logarithms), Vol.14, pp.72-81

IV.4.6 Astronomy

The Solar System, Vol.27, pp.452-555
Telescopes Vol.28, pp.505-520
Galaxies, Vol.19, pp.611-637
Galileo !, Vol.19, pp.638-640
Stars and Star Clusters Vol.28, pp.185-218
Eclipse, Occultation, and Transit Vol.17, pp. 866-877

IV.5 Major topics in the second volume in modern version

IV.5.1 Chemistry

Physical and Chemical analysis and measurement Vol.13, pp.523-600
Chemical bonding Vol.15, pp.749-780
Chemical compounds Vol.15, pp.780-934
Chemical elements, Vol.15, pp.934-1040
Chemical reactions Vol.15, pp.1040-1098
Industrial glass Vol.21, pp.295-307
Industrial polymer Vol.21, pp.308-343
Chemical Process Industries Vol.21, pp.344-384
Materials Science, Vol.23, pp.552-565

IV.5.2 Law

Business Law, Vol.15, pp.340-365
Constitutional Law Vol.16, pp.695-703
Criminal Law, Vol.16, pp.817-821
Family Law Vol.19, pp.76-83
Human Rights Vol.20, pp.656-664
International Law Vol.21, pp.789-796
Inheritance and Succession, Vol.21, pp.638-647
Judicial and Arbitrational Systems Vol.22, pp.457-468
Procedural Law, Vol.26, pp.149-170
Property Law, Vol.26
Transportation Law, Vol.28, pp.889-902

IV.5.3 Logic

The History and Kinds of Logic Vol.23, pp.225-282

IV.6 Major Topics in the Third Volume of the Modern Version

IV.6.1 Mechanics

Kepler Vol.22, pp.484-486
Mechanics Vol.23, pp.702-773
The Principles of Physical Science Vol.25, pp.807-827
Physical Sciences, Vol.25, pp.828-859

IV.6.2 Metaphysics

Metaphysics, Vol.24, pp.1-26
Theology Vol.28, pp.616-618
Philosophical anthropology Vol.25, pp.550-561
Philosophical Schools and Doctrines, Vol.25, pp.562-651
Philosophies of the Branches of Knowledge, Vol.25, pp.652-732
Psychological testing Vol.26, pp.289~293
Thought and thought processes Vol.28, pp.650-656

IV.6.3 Moral Philosophy

Ethics Vol.18, pp.492-521
Social sciences, Vol.27, pp.316-364
Family law, Vol.19, pp.76-83
Social structure and Change Vol.27, pp.365-371

IV.6.4 Religion

The Study and Classification of Religions Vol.26, pp.509-529
Systems of Religious and Spiritual Belief, Vol.26, pp.531-577
Religious Experience, Vol.26, pp.578-590
Theology Vol.28, pp.616-618

V Examination of Difference in Coverage, Wording of Articles
            One section of the metaphysics article writes as such, "But is not a man drunk or sober the same person ? Why else is he punished for the same fact he commits when drunk, though he be never afterwards conscious of it? Just as much the same person, as a man that walks and does other things in his sleep is the same person, and is as answerable for any mischief he shall do in it." To the contrary, on the same issue, the Macropedia writes, "Realistic thinking tends to be elicited when the individual perceives no obvious or meditate path to a desired goal. It is likely to begin with his recognition of a problem, otherwise, his behavior would simply indicate the operation of habits or the automatic production of responses." The wording of the articles in the first version of the Britannica is close to that of prose, as Smellie freely associates his thoughts without much restriction. The categorization of the articles is also "unprofessional," as it is shown in the order-less numbering and categorizing of subtitles. Smellie also had several questions in mind and concentrated on writing long prose based on the set of the questions in mind, whereas the articles in the modern Macropedia show that the editors incorporate various perspectives of different intellectual figures.
            That the modern encyclopedia incorporates perspectives of various intellectual figures and movements was probably made possible because of the passing of history. The first version of the Britannica was narrow in breadth of viewpoint because it was written at the start of history when knowledge was first systematically recorded and accumulated. The Enlightenment was the time in history when for the first time scholarly questions escaped from the influence of religion and independently questioned the foundations mankind had. In this sense the first version of the Britannica may be narrow, unorganized, and subjective, but nevertheless it has a great significance as being the symbol of the start of knowledge accumulation in the Enlightenment age.

VI. Examination on Enlightenment Philosophy

VI.1 Observation on several major articles
            There certainly are many articles that were emphasized throughout the first version of the Encyclopaedia Britannica. However, they could not all be analyzed in this paper, because the focus will become pointless and hazy if the main stream of thought is not to be analyzed. The objective of this paper is to examine the articles of the first Britannica in the context of the Enlightenment, and to analyze how much information has been discovered in the modern era.
            In this paper, three topics will be examined closely: Metaphysics, Astronomy, and Religion. As the first edition of the Britannica was written by one person, Smellie, he must have been subjective and would have had a set of questions in his mind when writing the encyclopedia. In this chapter, the questions the first edition of the Britannica struggles to answer will be analyzed, and afterwards, the expansion of the breadth of knowledge covered will also be addressed. This chapter will show

VI.2 Metaphysics

VI.2.1 Questions addressed in the first edition
            The "philosophy" article of the first version of the Britannica says briefly, "the knowledge or study of nature and morality, founded on reason and experience. See MECHANICS, OPTICS, ASTRONOMY, LOGIC, MORALS, ETC." The old conception of philosophy probably was used to refer to the whole human legacy of the body of knowledge itself. However, what is meant as "philosophy" today vaguely referred to "metaphysics" at that day. Actually it was more than merely "philosophy," it was a combination of psychology, theology, philosophy, skepticism, etc.
            The "Metaphysics" article may be roughly and briefly summarized into "the description of the mentality of the universe." The article describes metaphysics as "the part of philosophy which considers the nature and properties of thinking beings." The article was classified into several categories, but the categories themselves seemed meaningless as they all addressed the same question regarding the nature of thought, subjectivity, and consistence of nature.
            For example, the section of "cosmology" is described as such.
            "Cosmology examines into the essence of the world, and all that it contains; its eternal laws; of the nature of matter; of motion; of the nature of tangible bodies, of their attributes and essential qualities, and of all that can be known by abstraction, and sometimes also by adding the lights than man acquires concerning them by the experience of this senses¡¦ whether God, in creating the world, must necessarily have created the best world ... Due care should be likewise taken, that subtility, in this chain of reasoning, carried beyond the general bounds of the human mind, ... and that every idea, which cannot be rendered intelligible, is in effect equal to a false idea."
            Apart from its original purpose of examining the nature of space and the universe, the cosmology part accurately reflects the view of the enlightenment era people toward the universe. The origin of species or ethereal bodies was completely void of any concrete knowledge, therefore considered as a part of metaphysics. Smellie intends to answer such questions with answers unknown through philosophical thought. The article attempted to address all thought processes and mental uncertainties through this article, to the extent where fantasies and religion themselves were seen as a mental process, and addressed in this article.
            The fifth part of this article was a division of "pneumatology." Smellie does admit that "by the nature of the subject itself, we never can know a thing." Through this part, it can be seen that in the enlightenment era intellectuals were aware of knowledge, phenomena, and existences unknown to them. The part "pneumatology," which is described as "the knowledge of spirits, angels, etc," may be closer in meaning to divination. Through this subject Smellie tried to answer the contemporary questions regarding divine morality, and what happens to us after our death. The section investigates the idea and existence of a spirit, and whether there are rational spirits that have qualities that are founded in the moral qualities of God. As shown, in the Enlightenment era, even the moralities of divine beings and faith were objects of analysis and reason.
            Intellectuals were aware of the unknown mental qualities of various beings, and how subjective knowledge was difficult to analyze. Also, the largest characteristic of religion starting to go under the subject of reason, not faith, is an issue to be noted again with importance.

VI.2.2 Expansion of the knowledge covered
            In the modern version of the Britannica Macropedia, metaphysics is redefined as "the philosophical study whose object is to determine the real nature of things - to determine the meaning, structure, and principles of whatever is insofar as it is." Metaphysics has become independent as a separate branch, and going under the category of philosophy, and as shown, fundamental terms and perspectives toward them were greatly differently redefined through the passing of time. Philosophy, which was a term used to describe general fields of knowledge then, now refers to the fundamental questions and studies of the meaning and significances of people and societies.
            If Metaphysics was a term that was used to define the mentality and all un-clarified mentalities and subtle thought processes of people and the universe, the branching out of psychology, theology, cosmology, and anthropology shows the extent to which research has developed to clarify the once mysteries of the human mind. Psychology and Cosmology, even though they still remain as subjects with boundless limits of research and debatable theories and conclusions, they have still developed scientifically to clarify the truth to a certain extent. Theories such as conditioning, defense mechanisms, dream theories, or galaxies, black holes, etc. are theories that would have remained mysteries to the intellectual society of the Enlightenment era. Anthropology and theology have become separate branches of studies, even though they today still contain the first fundamental questions that Smellie attempted to answer.
            Instead, the metaphysics article expanded to include various branches of philosophy and of uncertainty, such as philosophy of the branches of knowledge, philosophical anthropology, or philosophical schools and doctrines. Philosophical anthropology, unlike anthropology which attempts to answer practical questions regarding the lifestyles and development of mankind, tries to address the issues of the meaning of existence of societies, etc. So as shown the breadth of knowledge regarding mentality and metaphysics has expanded greatly.

VI.3 Astronomy

VI.3.1 Questions addressed in the first edition
            The first explanation part in Smellie's Britannica, before the explanation and classification of the details start, always gives a certain insight into the minds of Enlightenment age thinkers. For example, in the article "Astronomy," a reassurance of the faults of religious doctrines are addressed to a certain extent. "It is not to be imagined that all the stares are placed in one concave surface, so as to be equally distant from us; but that they are scattered at immense distances from one another through unlimited space." The previous religious views toward astronomy and the universe were subjects of great controversy, and it was the job of the Enlightenment encyclopedia to address them, if not firmly. However, even though distrust toward the church had been around, God was an inevitable being who still had influence on Enlightenment thought. "It is nowadays probable that the Almighty, who always acts with infinite wisdom, and does nothing in vain, should create so many glorious suns, fit for so many important purposes, and place them at such distances from one another, without proper objects near enough to be benefited by their influences." There was probably the tendency to think of God as the Watchmaker, as religion decreased in significance. The Watchmaker, who would create everything perfectly and leave it function on its own, would certainly suffice for the previous middle age piety. Throughout the article, phrases on the "Deity's intentions" appear from time to time, revealing the fact that God still had an inevitable influence on studies of the universe, and that the God was also turning from the Almighty to the Watchmaker.
            Throughout the article, explanations of the solar system and observable phenomena carry out, and the objective of astronomical studies is also stated. "From what we know of our own system, it may be reasonably concluded, that all the rest are with equal wisdom contrived, situated, and provided with accommodations for rational inhabitants. Let us therefore take a survey of the system to which we belong and from thence we shall be better enabled to judge of the nature and end of the other systems of the universe." It is clear that astronomical studies concentrated on the immediate and observable phenomenon, believing that it would give insight into and further inference of the world beyond the perceivable. Astronomical studies in the Enlightenment age were not grand and bold, but rather a small and stable observation of the given facts, and the reasons of why things were the way they were.
            Also, concentrating on the obvious, close details, it can also be seen that Smellie's Britannica concentrated on the disillusionment of seemingly unreasonable phenomena which is now considered obvious due to the advancement in technology. Also, most of the analysis of the seemingly unreasonable phenomena seems to be used for practical purposes, a representative example being of the harvest moon. Is is also hinted that the encyclopedia had of practical uses in mind because a large part of the article is used in the establishment of measurement. The article explains how the solar system units differ, and attempts to unify the units into a common standard. In the Astronomy article, Smellie and the Enlightenment thinkers keep the influence of the church in mind, regard God as the Watchmaker, disillusion the seemingly unreasonable phenomena, and emphasizes practical uses of knowledge.

VI.3.2 Expansion of the knowledge covered
            In the modern Britannica Macropaedia, many articles are used to explain the formerly inferred parts of the original Britannica. If Smellie tried to analyze the observable, close universe to infer that the infinite universe away had a similar pattern, modern technology attempted to fill up the gaps. And indeed, technology is somewhat succeeding in doing so but only to reveal that the infinite universe is greatly different from the close, observable solar system. The article "Stars and Star Clusters," "Eclipse, Occultation, and Transit," and "Galaxies" are the articles that explain the infinite, unknown part of the universe. Quite ironically, as more and more scientific discoveries are made, the more does the universe enter the realm of uncertainty and metaphysics.
            The article of Astronomy has expanded to include the tools, telescopes, that are being used to study the universe and the heavenly bodies. Also, there is a separate article on Galileo, which in itself contains significance. Whereas the editors of the modern Macropaedia regarded Galileo as an important figure in history who clarified the faults and misconceptions caused by the Church, either the old Britannica was too pertinent to the Church to emphasize the faults or Smellie did not regard the change in the conception of the universe as significant. It may be carefully assumed that both were the case. It was too sensitive at the time to directly point out the issue of the faults committed by the church, but also it may not have been as groundbreaking as we see it today, since it required some time for people to realize that the change in perspective would have a massive effect on humans' view toward themselves.

VI.4 Religion

VI.4.1 Questions addressed in the first edition
            The original article of Smellie's Britannica only addresses the traditional division of Catholicism and does not touch upon any other religion. It can also be seen that the view toward the significance of religion is different from that of nowadays. "To know God, and to render him a reasonable service, are the two principal objects of religion." Religion nowadays is considered a belief that gives you hope and power throughout life, rather than as a selfless activity. It is evident from the description of the article that Catholicism had an inseparable connection with the life of the Enlightenment age people.
            Even though there had been trades with people from different continents and culture exchanges occurred, it should be noted that no other religions are addressed in the article. Because of travels around the world to Africa, Asia, or India during the Age of Exploration, knowledge of Buddhism or Confucianism would have existed in Europe, but nevertheless the addressing of Catholicism only indicates how the Europeans viewed themselves as the dominant power of the world. There is a great contrast with the modern Britannica article, in which numerous religions are described in an objective manner.
            However, one fact to note is the classification of the first edition article on religion. It indicates that the Enlightenment age thinkers were slowly becoming independent of Catholicism. The classification goes as ¡°of the dogmatic, of sacred criticism, of polemic theology, or controversy etc." Enlightenment people were already capable of criticizing the church or religious activities, and were also capable of dividing the level of piety. The dogmatic who did not associate reasonable thinking with religious activities at all were not regarded positively.
            Even though the narrow view regarding religion that only covered Catholicism shows the lack of encompassing different cultures, it seems greatly significant that religious criticism had begun to be tolerated, and that the level of piety was beginning to be analyzed, not the most dogmatic being praised as they had been before.

VI.4.2 Expansion of the knowledge covered
            It is not surprising that in the modern Britannica, various branches of religion are covered in contrast to the first Britannica which only covered Catholicism. One part to note is how there is a separate article regarding the study of the nature of spiritual belief itself and of system theory of how the whole religious community is managed.
            It is evident that through the years, as the industrial age passed and time has arrived to the modern age, the significance of religion has decreased in people¡¯s lives. Modern people have acquired the stance to view religion in a completely objective view. The article regarding spiritual belief is associated with psychology, of how human beings bend reason to keep faith in divine beings. Mass theories regarding the obedience toward the religious leaders is also a topic that is considered a phenomenon deviated from the normal and worthy of study. Religious events are also separated in a different category to write of the significance of the events in the sustaining of the religion. Events are no longer considered as sacred, but rather as contributive to the religious community. Theology has also become independent from the Metaphysics category, and theology has become differentiated from psychology or clandestine thought processes written in the first version of the Britannica. Overall, the broad expansion of the knowledge covered in the modern Britannica Macropaedia shows the vast change that religion has gone through, and how religion is no longer such a significant part of our lives.

VII. Conclusion
            The Encyclopaedia Britannica has long been identified with the main source of information and the most objective authority source of analysis. Encyclopedias often have the power to define certain theories or reflect the thought of the time, and in this context the Britannica was analyzed mainly to investigate enlightenment philosophies and record the change that such philosophies have gone through. By especially examining three articles, "Metaphysics," "Astronomy," and "Religion," major shifts of knowledge that were dominant in the Enlightenment era were noted in this paper.
            Several notable points were observed in the first version of the Britannica. The first version, since written by one person, contained a set of questions in mind, and was therefore easy to see through. Firstly it was shown several times through the articles that reason was also applied to religious studies and therefore intellectuals had started studying religion and defying its overpowering presence. At the Enlightenment time, as doubt toward the Church increased, becoming a dogmatic was certainly not viewed positively and religious belief was coming to be analyzed as a certain thought process, as shown in the article "Metaphysics." The article showed that various branches of subjects were becoming subject under reason. With reason, not only did human beings attempt to expand their scientific horizons, but also began to look back on their mental processes and beliefs to clarify them. In the Enlightenment age, also due to reason, people had acknowledged their shortcomings in knowledge and tried to infer what was not known with their previous observations.
            The attempt of inference was best shown in the article regarding astronomy, in which the Enlightenment thinkers were in the phase of looking back at their faults and figuring out how the Watchmaker would have best designed the place for things to function. In the Astronomy article the faults of the Church were not directly addressed, but the first scientific reasoning was used to analyze the infinites of the universe. Although the strategy that presupposing the infinite universe would have a pattern similar to that of the close solar system was faulty, it was significant because it shows again that the Enlightenment age was the first time knowledge was systematically accumulated.
            In addition, through the prose of Smellie it was seen that reason was slowly overpowering religion in the Enlightenment age. The expansion was in effect, systematic and objective, but that may be also a problem regarding the writers and the board of editors. Denis Diderot¡¯s Encyclopedie is much closer to the modern encyclopedia because of its numerous contributors. However, the prose style and the subjective articles in the Britannica does not necessarily reveal any flaws. Rather, it is a masterpiece that clearly lays out the contemporary thought and has objectivity in itself, since Smellie admitted that he borrowed the works of many famous intellectuals of his time. In many aspects, the Enlightenment age was a time when revolutionary changes in thought defined the trend in theories, and this was blatantly shown in the first version of the Britannica and its comparison with the modern Britannica.


1.      Denis Diderot as quoted in Lynn Hunt, R. Po-chia Hsia, Thomas R. Martin, Barbara H. Rosenwein, and Bonnie G. Smith, The Making of the West: Peoples and Cultures: A Concise History: Volume II: Since 1340, Second Edition (Boston: Bedford/St. Martin's, 2007), p.611.


Note : websites quoted below were visited in February 2009.
1.      Britannica Macropaedia. 32 vols. Encyclopaedia Britannica Board of Editors, 1997.
2.      Encyclopaedia Britannica, A Dictionary of Arts and Sciences. 3 vols. Edinburgh: Society of Gentlemen in Scotland, 1768-1771
3.      The Encyclopedia of Diderot & d'Alembert. University of Michigan Library. .
4.      The Story of Philosophy. Bryan Magee. DK Publishing, Inc., New York: 1998.
5.      The Making of the West: Peoples and Cultures: A Concise History: Volume II: Since 1340, Second Edition (Boston: Bedford/St. Martin's, 2007), Lynn Hunt, R. Po-chia Hsia, Thomas R. Martin, Barbara H. Rosenwein, and Bonnie G. Smith
6.      Article : "List of 2007 Macropaedia Articles," Wikipedia,
7.      ARTFL Encyclopedie Project,
8.      Enlightening the World. Philipp Blom (2005). pp. 35-37
9.      The Great EB: The Story of the Encyclop©¡dia Britannica. Kogan, Herman (1958). Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

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