Justification

Just as we feel the need to justify our activities to ourselves, even if not to others, so too did the Grand Tour require justification.  While it was an integral and widely accepted part of the program of education for aristocratic males, that does not mean that it did not have its critics, but how do you argue with a philosopher and thinker of the standing of John Locke (1632-1704)?

Locke has been described as one of the foremost thinkers of the Enlightenment period, a cultural movement beginning in the late 17th century and growing to fruition throughout the 18th century.  He posited, among many other influential changes in thought, that the human being is  born  tubula rasa (or as a blank slate), and learns everything through experience derived through the perceptions of their senses.

An extrapolation from this was that one would soon use up sources of new experience local to one, for example familial, environmental, societal and so on.  From this do we retain the notion that “travel broadens the mind” and which in a very over simplified form I offer as a prime justification of the Grand Tour.

However, at the height of its popularity critics suggested that the tourist was unlikely to gain new experiences and fresh insights while travelling such well trodden routes and nor were they likely to gain new understanding in the company of the same society they would meet at home.

This may account for Berehaven’s unusual itinerary.  He may have been seeking to distance himself from the crowd, and his sketchbooks reveal his far flung destinations, even if not the reason for them.

One response to “Justification

  1. Pingback: Potted Histories Added | The Grand Tour and the Irish Grand Tourist·

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