WM Plato/Socrates ... Being Stubborn

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"There 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 heaters 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." (Plato, From Phaedrus)

 Socrates seems to assert that simply reading something dampens the original intent of the story  (because of the readers inability to comment directly to the writer and so on). In order to learn its important to experience, and Socrates has gained his knowledge through his experiences (orally of course). The oral presentation allows the audience to enter the mind of the teller, through his use of dramatics. Socrates finds letter to be a lazy attempt by those unfit (in his mind) to spread ideas.He seems to carry the belief that only those of the high intelligence should be allowed to lecture audiences. I guess part of being a great philosopher is carrying around huge a ego (*cough* elitist)?   He, as a dialectician, is threaten by the new form on communication. He is used to being approach with questions, maintaining his station as the center of the audience. With letters, his popularity will dwindle as the spread of new ideas threatens his dominance in the field. Every King wants to rule as long as possible, and Socrates understands that this evolution of communication will destroy his popularity and dominance.




http://jerz.setonhill.edu/EL336/2008/wm_plato.php

2 Comments

Stormy Knight said:

What a perceptive reflection, David. I agree with your thoughts that Socrates thinks text takes a backseat to speech due to the lack of interaction between artist and audience, or educator and pupil, etc.

I absolutely can see your point in saying that Socrates was frightened that his preferred method of distributing knowledge was at stake. The transition from oral to print for Socrates was perhaps much like the transition from print to digital for our generation. Emotionally it's a lesser intimate medium; for Socrates writing lacked interaction with the creator much like digital text isn't tangible. This somewhat relates to what Dr. Jerz was saying in class about having to commit in some way to a book even if you only read it for 5 minutes.

Kayla Sawyer said:

Yes, I think he was afraid that one day he may be having an intelligent debate with someone, only to find out that they were a member of the lower class.

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