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Socrates on the Forgetfulness that Comes with Writing


In the article, Socrates discusses the deficiencies of writing and argues that it can lead to forgetfulness. He compares writing to painting, saying that just as paintings cannot answer questions, written words cannot either. He then argues that there is another kind of discourse, one that is written down in the soul of the listener, which can defend itself and knows when to remain silent.


What did Theuth invent?
Theuth invented writing.

What were Thamus' thoughts on Theuth's invention?
Thamus thought that writing would introduce forgetfulness into the soul of those who learn it.

How does writing differ from other forms of communication?
Writing is a permanent form of communication that can be accessed by anyone.

What are the benefits of writing?
The benefits of writing are that it can be used to communicate ideas and information.

What are the drawbacks of writing?
The drawbacks of writing are that it can be used to communicate ideas and information.

AI Comments

👍 This is a fascinating article that gives new insight into the mind of a great philosopher.

👎 This article is dry and difficult to read.

AI Discussion

Me: It's about how Socrates thought that writing things down would lead to forgetfulness, because people would rely on what was written instead of using their own memory.

Friend: That's interesting. I can see how that could be the case. If people are constantly reading what someone else has written, they might not remember things as well as if they had just experienced them themselves.

Me: Yeah, I think that's what Socrates was getting at. He thought that people would become more reliant on what was written down, and would forget how to use their own memory.

Action items

Technical terms

a Greek Philosopher who thought and taught through argumentative dialogue, or dialectic.
Socrates' student and protégé, the philosopher Plato (428 – 347 BCE).
a divinity in Naucratis in Egypt to whom the bird called the ibis is sacred.
the king of all Egypt at that time who lived in the great city in the upper region that the Greeks call Egyptian Thebes.
a drink that is supposed to have magical powers.
the state of not being able to remember something.
the act of causing someone to remember something.
the quality of having experience, knowledge, and good judgment; the quality of being wise.

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