Saturday, March 3, 2012

Socrates thought literacy was for chumps


Despite Rick Santorum's idiotic comments that aspiring to higher education is snobbery, we seem to agree that most educated (nay, intelligent) people believe that at least LITERACY is a good thing.

Well, Socrates (469 BC – 399 BC) thought you should shut your damn trap about that claptrack. In speaking to a Egyptian king about writing, Socrates commented:

This discovery of yours (writing) 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…you give your disciples not truth, but only the semblance of truth; they will be hearers of many things and will have learned nothing.

Seeing how he was from a oral society and suddenly a new technology was introduced, was he just scared of the next thing? Possibly. But I can also empathizse with him. I remember in High SChool one classmate told me that math was no longer a needed skill because they had a calculator. And maybe Wikipedia is making us less educated but more resourceful.

In Jewish history people regularly memorized the ENTIRE Torah / Old Testament. This is still done today in some ultra-Orthodox communities. In preliterate society, if you didn't remember something it was gone forever, so the importance of the brain and recalling information was pretty vital.

Still, without writing there are limitations of how much society can grow, about trade, and certainly about transmitting knowledge to the next generation. I guess it's a tough call.... wait - no literacy means no comics. F U So-crates.

1 comment:

Pam said...

Did you know that one of the reasons medicine and law were, in ancient times, professions in which there were a lot of jews, was precisely because they already knew how to read, whereas most people didn't. At least that is my understanding. Correct me if I'm wrong.