Silent paper answers

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Within Writing Material's section on the Phaedrus, written by Plato, the character Socrates is conversing with the character Phaedrus and Socrates is arguing against the use of the written word. He views it as a plaything to be used for strict amusement when a reader already fully understands what is being told to them within writing, because if the reader cannot ask the written words a question and receive an answer if he/she doesn't understand something. This is the basis for the character Socrates' view on writing versus oratory. Speaking/physically telling someone something allows for the listener to fail at comprehension and be able to ask the speaker for clarification, while writing is always silent save for telling the reader the same incomprehensible words.

However, I don't think this to entirely be the case. Yes, it is a great boon to speak with a person and ask them to be more clear on a certain point in their dialogue if I don't understand it, but I also realize that not everything that is said is true. Now, not everything written down is true either, but both situations still allow you to puzzle through the words buzzing in your brain. Written words can give your mind a bone to chew on, turn over, slobber up, bury in a hole, and return to later on for a refresher or to figure out your own meaning of the words. I believe that finding an answer for yourself out of readings is one of the most fulfilling situations that someone can achieve. Both spoken and written words can bias you in your thinking, but serious answers can be reached from written words. After all, we wouldn't have the Socratic Method or Plato's philosophy if later generations hadn't read the words that had been written centuries ago.

2 Comments

Megan Seigh said:

I like when you said that the written words can give your mind a bone to chew on. I agree with you on the matter of serious answers being found more from the written word rather than spoken words. I for one definitely take the written word more seriously. I am not even sure why but I guess the idea that people take the time to plan and write out what they have to say; so I feel like I owe it to the writer to pay attention to what they are saying.

Jessie Krehlik said:

I take the written word more seriously as well. At the same time, I feel as though the art of oral storytelling is dying fast. There's a lot of value in that, but I feel like those same stories just need to be written down so we can preserve them. Good point about the Socratic Method being written down to preserve it for future generations!

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This page contains a single entry by MadelynGillespie published on January 27, 2010 9:17 PM.

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