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Plato: Writing is a Bad Invention

March 20th, 2014 by

platoEvery once in a while I try and think back on nuggets learned at Connecticut College as a Philosophy Major.

In Plato’s Phaedrus, the Egyptian god Theuth introduces his new invention—writing— to King Thamus.  I can imagine his excitement and quick disappointment with the King’s response:

“This discovery of yours will create forgetfulness in the learners’ souls, because they will not use their memories; they will trust to the external written characters……. And will generally know nothing.”

Acquiring information rather than learning something is a big debate. It’s now fast and easy to access just about anything, anytime.  But selecting what’s valuable, helpful and relevant from the unlimited choices is difficult, and the challenge, if you ask me.

Maybe with all this content we’re all banging out it’s time to hit the pause button and say time out. What’s worth reading? What’s worth writing? And what problem am I solving with both my reading and writing?

The question is the answer perhaps—that I did learn with my philosophical studies.

One Response to “Plato: Writing is a Bad Invention”

  1. On the other hand, even if you memorize it and recite it orally, it doesn’t mean you’ll take it to heart. From my historical studies, when Spain colonized a country, they taught the natives prayers, but since it was in Spanish, they didn’t understand what they were praying. Although it’s a language problem, you can also relate it to how you communicate your message. Just my thoughts.

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