One Answer

  1. It is worth saying thatSocrates, indeed, left no written legacy. Therefore, about the relationSocrates to the thought spoken in writing we learn from the dialogue of his disciple �- Plato.

    The question of the benefits and harms of writing is addressed, in particular, in Plato's dialogue “Phaedrus”.

    The conversation takes place betweenSocrates and his disciple Phaedrus. In this dialogue, the interlocutors discuss a written speech about love, which belongs to the pen of the speakerLysia.

    The main content of the dialogue is built around the discussion of the true nature of love, the structure of the soul and the criteria for true and false speeches delivered in front of a crowd.

    However, as you correctly noted, the question of writing and books is also raised here.

    Here are the arguments given in the dialog against the spread of writing:

    1. Books repeat the same thing and you can't ask them again;
    2. Everyone is told one thing, instead of knowing to whom what and how to say it;
    3. Unable to defend themselves if they are attacked, but need their author's protection
      Socrates, to illustrate his point, tells the interlocutor a legend about the Egyptian king Thamus and the god Teut:

    Now, I have heard that near Naucratis in Egypt there was born one of the ancient gods of that region, to whom is dedicated a bird called the ibis. And the deity's name was Teut. He was the first to invent numbers, counting, land surveying, stargazing, in addition to the game of checkers and dice, as well as writing. Then Tamus was king over all Egypt, in the great city of the upper region, which the Greeks call Egyptian Thebes, and he himself was the god Ammon. When Teutos came to the king, he showed his skills and said that they should be passed on to the rest of the Egyptians. The king asked what benefits each of them brought. Teutus began to explain, and the king, depending on whether Teutus spoke well or not, blamed some things and praised others.

    When it came to writing, Teutus said, ” This science, O king, will make the Egyptians more wise and mindful, for the means of memory and wisdom have been found.” The king said: “Most skilful Teuton, one is able to produce objects of art, and the other is able to judge what is the share of harm or benefit in them for those who intend to use them. Even now, Father of letters, you have said just the opposite of their meaning out of your benevolence for them.

    In the souls of those who have learned them, they will cause forgetfulness, since memory is not practiced here: trusting the letter, they will remember externally – by extraneous signs, and not internally-by themselves. So you have found a means not for memory, but for recollection. You give your students the appearance of wisdom, but not the truth. They will know many things by hearsay, without studying, and will appear to know many things, remaining mostly ignorant and difficult to communicate with; they will become ostensibly wise instead of wise.”

    The” terrible thing about writing ” that Socrates talks about in this dialogue is that its products are stored as living imprints of thought, but if you ask them about something , they will not tell you anything new, beyond what is already written in them.

    Speaking about the superiority of speech over writing, Socrates emphasizes the importance of understanding, which often occurs only in live conversation. The darkness of thought cannot be hidden from precise and accurate Socratic questions.

    Speech, which together with knowledge is written in the soul of the student, it is able to protect itself, knows how to speak to whom it should, and knows how to keep silent.

    Books allow many people only to create the appearance of knowledge. A common situation today is when a person buys books with a beautiful spine and carefully arranges them on the shelf. The idea of such a “library keeper” is satisfied that he can read any book at any time. Over time, the idea of an opportunity replaces the idea of work already done.�

    Books provide an opportunity for speakers who want to be known as eloquent at any time to remember a particular phrase, which without understanding does not linger in the head for too long, but serves as an ornament to any speech and deceives the trust of listeners.

    Often, even today, it is enough just to say aloud a phrase about having read, for example, Kant, and everyone falls silent in respectful awe.

    This is what Socrates argued against, against fixing thought without really understanding it, against creating the appearance of thinking. Therefore, Socrates is most famous for his manner of conducting conversations with famous people in Athens. He called himself maievt – a midwife for thinking. With his questions, he helped people cultivate understanding, and “give birth” to thoughts (about justice, goodness, love, truth, immortality, and so on).

    ..only in instructive speeches, delivered for the sake of teaching and, in essence, written in the soul, in speeches about justice, beauty and goodness, is there clarity and perfection worth trying. Of such speeches, he will say that they are like his own sons-first of all, the speech that he has found in himself, then some offspring of this speech and its brothers, deservedly born in other souls.

    Such information about Socrates is definitely not a serious reason to stop reading. Rather, it is a reason to approach this reading with full responsibility and the goal of understanding (to understand not in appearance, but in fact). This, perhaps, is the absolute rightness of the ancient thinker, in his conscious need for any of us to discover our “inner speech”.

    I think that this ” inner speech “(speech of the mind) can make reading, writing and talking for a modern person not only meaningful, but also necessary activities.

    You can learn more about philosophy in the corresponding section of our app:

Leave a Reply