Socrates on Writing: will produce forgetfulness in the minds of those who learn to use it

Why did I not know this?

“For this invention will produce forgetfulness in the minds of those who learn to use it, because they will not practice their memory. Their trust in writing, produced by external characters which are no part of themselves, will discourage the use of their own memory within them. You have invented an elixir not of memory, but of reminding; and you offer your pupils the appearance of wisdom, not true wisdom, for they will read many things without instruction and will therefore seem to know many things, when they are for the most part ignorant and hard to get along with, since they are not wise, but only appear wise.” (Phaedrus)
And also
“He who thinks, then, that he has left behind him any art in writing, and he who receives it in the belief that anything in writing will be clear and certain, would be an utterly simple person, and in truth ignorant of the prophecy of Ammon, if he thinks written words are of any use except to remind him who knows the matter about which they are written.”

Read more about Socrates and his aversion to new information technology as well as other get off my lawn types through history here.

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One Comment

  1. Frances
    Posted February 28, 2018 at 3:18 pm | Permalink

    Kind of ironic that Plato wrote it down.

    Very interesting, thanks!

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