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Quotation

The legend of Thamus

 


SourceTechnopoly by Neil Postman, New York: Vintage Books, 1993, pp3-4. 
CategoriesInnovation
OtherQuotations

Thamus inquired into the use of each of them, and as Theuth went through them expressed approval or disapproval, according as he judged Theuth"s claims to be well or ill founded ...

When it came to writing, Theuth declared: "Here is an accomplishment, my lord the king, which will improve both the wisdom and the memory of Egyptians. I have discovered a sure receipt for memory and wisdom."

"Theuth, my paragon of inventors," replied the king, "the discoverer of an art is not the best judge of the good or harm which will accrue to those who practise it.

So it is in this case; you, who are the father of writing, have out of fondness for your offspring attributed to it quite the opposite of its real function.

Those who acquire it will cease to exercise their memory and become forgetful; they will rely on writing to bring things to their remembrance by external signs instead of their own internal resources.

What you have discovered is a receipt for collection, not for memory.

And as for wisdom, your pupils will have the reputation for it without the reality: they will receive a quantity of information without proper instruction, and in consequence be thought very knowledgable when they are for the most part quite ignorant.

And because they are filled with the conceit of wisdom instead of real wisdom they will be a burden to society.

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Saturday 25 March 2017
03:37 PM GMT