Socrates & The Fear Of Written Language (Or Any New Technology)

Jacques Louis David, "The Death of Socrates"

In The Phaedrus, Socrates bemoans the use of written language by describing an imaginary dialogue between the Egyptian gods Theuth, who had invented the alphabet, and Thamus, who wasn’t happy about it. Said Thamus:

“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 not remember of themselves. The specific which you have discovered is an aid not to memory, but to reminiscence, and you give your disciples not truth, but only the semblance of truth; they will be hearers of many things and will have learned nothing; they will appear to be omniscient and will generally know nothing; they will be tiresome company, having the show of wisdom without the reality.”

I think about that shit all the time.

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