A little egotistical

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“characteristic mode of manuscript culture. Not only did it foster minute textual attention, meditation in depth, and much memorization: adjusting the work to the preparation of each, they proceeded to condense and to simplify the matter taught in order to facilitate its study and to present it in a compact form.” pg. 98  Mcluhan 91-180

So maybe this is a reason that Socrates feared the change from oral into manuscript. Maybe he did not want his work condensed and simplified.

It is true that by re-writing the works of the masters, the student’s minds were opened to new concepts. They had to think about what they were writing.

Aquinas, comparing writing to the teachings of Jesus, said that the author’s words and thoughts should be so effective on the listeners that they would be imprinted in their minds. There would be no need, Aquinas thought, to write down the teachings because they would always be remembered by the listeners and spread to others.

Some considered speech “knowledge in action.” Socrates felt that his words would be profound enough that they would stick in his pupils’ minds. There was no foreseen need for him to write down his teachings. Does that seem a little egotistical? Thank God for Plato, though.

This is definitely going into my thesis paragraph.

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2 Comments

Jeremy Barrick said:

So we memorize more by hearing than by reading? I feel that I remember better by rereading a paragraph several times, then analyzing it. If I were Socrates I would not want my words to be written down, for fear of loosing meaning in translation, but I am not him and wouldn't mind if someone jotted my words down once in a while.

I would like to think that when we take our spoken words and put them on to paper that it does not mean we must sacrifice any of the messages we are trying to get across. I personally feel like that when we speak we must be condensed in our thinking and that print culture allows us to elaborate upon these ideas further.

It is interesting that you mention the words being imprinted into our minds. I feel like a good orator can have the same effect on our minds as an excellent author.

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