6.0699 Rs: Literacy, Writing, Forgetting (2/66)

Elaine Brennan (EDITORS@BROWNVM.BITNET)
Tue, 4 May 1993 16:28:47 EDT

Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 6, No. 0699. Tuesday, 4 May 1993.


(1) Date: Fri, 30 Apr 93 10:22:29 CST (35 lines)
From: stan kulikowski ii <STANKULI@UWF>
Subject: re: writing and forgetting

(2) Date: Fri, 30 Apr 1993 02:06:31 -0500 (EST) (31 lines)
From: kraft@ccat.sas.upenn.edu (Robert Kraft)
Subject: Re: Ancient Ideas about Writing (fwd)

(1) --------------------------------------------------------------------
Date: Fri, 30 Apr 93 10:22:29 CST
From: stan kulikowski ii <STANKULI@UWF>
Subject: re: writing and forgetting



while everyone is thinking about anti-literacy quotes from the past, i
have been looking for one for some time. i have heard that augustine
wrote a denunciation of universal literacy. according to my memory of
someone derscribing this, augustine felt that literacy skills should
always remain the function of a few scribes and clerks because it is such
a nonsocial, inactive mode of communication. you sit by yourself an peer
at papers for hours, and as such nonproductive use of time should not be
promoted by general curriculum to everyone. i recently read thru his
_confessions_ hoping to find this. does this ring any bells for anyone?

i am interested in these predictions of social implications of a new
technology. often they were right on the money and still do not carry any
weight when history grinds on and the technology is adopted anyway. i
recall reading that there were organized protests staged when edison
started the electrification of cities-- they predicted 10000 deaths a year
due to accidental eletrocution if people put power lines into their homes.
this has been shown to be absolutely true, and our a society adopted to
these deaths as if they were perfectly natural.

as far as i can tell thamus was absolutely right-- we have substituted
knowledge for wisdom. as someone has noted, in education every effort
is doomed to success.
stan

stankuli@UWF.bitnet
.
=== god created time so everything would not happen at once
god created space so everything would not happen to me
--- -- lament of the overburdened
(2) --------------------------------------------------------------54----
Date: Fri, 30 Apr 1993 02:06:31 -0500 (EST)
From: kraft@ccat.sas.upenn.edu (Robert Kraft)
Subject: Re: Ancient Ideas about Writing (fwd)

> From: n51nh301@unity.ncsu.edu
> Subject: Re: Ancient Ideas about Writing
> To: kraft@ccat.sas.upenn.edu (Robert Kraft)
> Date: Thu, 29 Apr 1993 11:58:33 -0400 (EDT)
>
> Bob, The quotation from Plato is legit (but I don't have the Greek text
> handy). See also Plato Protag. 329a; Antisthenes, in Diog. Laert. 6.1.5.
> Caesar says much the same thing in the Gallic Wars 6.14.4: "quod
> fere plerisque accidit ut praesidio litterarum diligentiam in perdiscendo
> ac memoriam remittant" (essentially, literacy weakens memory). In fact,
> this whole idea is very common in Greek and Latin literature.
> My impression is that when Plato is speaking here about memory, he is
> referring only to learning a text by heart, not other kinds of memory. In
> the Phaedrus citation, Socrates says that although literacy weakens
> memory, it is a drug for reminding, not remembering. The written
> word is inferior to the spoken because the written word cannot
> defend itself,cannot answer questions,can't choose its audience. I wonder
> if Papias is reflecting this position when he prefers the oral gospel to
> the written.
> It's possible that Lovejoy and Boas' work on Primitivism in Antiquity
> might have something to say on this. Incidentally, I don't know these
> texts by heart; I referred to notes that I recorded some time ago. Plato
> would disapprove, I'm sure.

> Bill Adler, NC State
>