Tuesday, November 23, 2021

Socrates, Diderot, and Wolpert on Writing and Printing

I have to pass on these quotes sent by one my Chaos and Complexity Seminar colleagues at the University of Wisconsin:
Socrates on writing, from Phaedrus, 275a-b
"For this invention will produce forgetfulness in the minds of those who learn to use it, because they will not practice their memory. Their trust in writing, produced by external characters which are no part of themselves, will discourage the use of their own memory within them. You have invented an elixir not of memory, but of reminding; and you offer your pupils the appearance of wisdom, not true wisdom, for they will read many things without instruction and will therefore seem to know many things, when they are for the most part ignorant and hard to get along with, since they are not wise, but only appear wise."
Denis Diderot, Encyclop├ędie, 1755
"As long as the centuries continue to unfold, the number of books will grow continually, and one can predict that a time will come when it will be almost as difficult to learn anything from books as from the direct study of the whole universe. It will be almost as convenient to search for some bit of truth concealed in nature as it will be to find it hidden away in an immense multitude of bound volumes."
Lewis Wolpert (1929--2021) Lewis Wolpert - Scientist - Web of Stories
"Reading rots the mind."

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