Literary agents, working for libraries but sharing the values of the learned community, demonstrate this professionalization on the most fundamental level.
By the second half of the 18th century universities abandoned Aristotelian natural philosophy and Galenist medicine in favor of the mechanist and vitalist ideas of the moderns, so they placed a greater emphasis on learning by seeing.Everywhere in teaching science and medicine the monotonous diet of dictated lectures was supplemented and sometimes totally replaced by practical courses in experimental physics, astronomy, chemistry, anatomy, botany, materia medica, even geology and natural history.Institutions – academies, journals, literary societies – took over some of the roles, duties, and activities of scholarship.Communication, for example, did not have to be from individual to individual; it could take place between academies, and pass thence to scholars, or be encapsulated in literary journals, to be diffused among the whole scholarly community.These radicals denounced the mechanisms of polite sociability and called for a new model of the independent writer, who would address the public and the nation.
Lilti (2005) argues that the salon never provided an egalitarian space.
The new emphasis on practical learning meant that the university now offered a much more welcoming environment to the Republic of Letters.
Although most professors and teachers were still uninterested in membership, the ideological and pedagogical changes across the century created the conditions in which the pursuit of curiosity in the university world became much more possible and even attractive.
That is, finding themselves drawn together by the capital, they began to meet together and make their collaboration on the project of Enlightenment direct, and thus suffered the consequences of giving up the mediation that the written word provided.
Without this traditional kind of formal mediation, the philosophes needed a new kind of governance.
The circulation of handwritten letters was necessary for its function because it enabled intellectuals to correspond with each other from great distances.