Socrates: The Deficiencies of Writing

Wednesday, November 23, 2022 • 5:00 EST

Socrates (469-399 BCE) was a Greek Philosopher who thought and taught through argumentative dialogue, or dialectic. Here Socrates discusses the deficiencies of writing. SOCRATES: You know, Phaedrus, writing shares a strange feature with painting. Socrates did not write down any of his thoughts, however his dialogues were recorded by his student and protégé, the philosopher Plato (428 – 347 BCE). SOCRATES: Well, then, those who think they can leave written instructions for an art, as well as those who accept them, thinking that writing can yield results that are clear or certain, must be quite naive and truly ignorant of [Thamos’] prophetic judgment: otherwise, how could they possibly think that words that have been written down can do more than remind those who already know what the writing is about? The same is true of written words. Theuth came to exhibit his arts to him and urged him to disseminate them to all the Egyptians. But when they came to writing, Theuth said: “O King, here is something that, once learned, will make the Egyptians wiser and will improve their memory; I have discovered a potion for memory and for wisdom.” Thamus, however, replied: “O most expert Theuth, one man can give birth to the elements of an art, but only another can judge how they can benefit or harm those who will use them. (newlearningonline.com). Continue reading.



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