Plato: Socrates and Phaedrus about Writing 37/40April 5, 2007 at 3:13 am | Posted in Literature, Writing | 11 Comments
Tags: Ancient, Greek, Phaedrus, Philosophy, Plato, Socrates
SOCRATES: Yes, because there’s something odd about writing, Phaedrus, which makes it exactly like painting. The offspring of painting stand there as if alive, but if you ask them a question they maintain an aloof silence. It’s the same with written words: you might think they were speaking as if they had some intelligence, but if you want an explanation of any of the things they’re saying and you ask them about it, they just go on and on forever giving the same single piece of information. Once any account has been written down, you find it all over the place, hobnobbing with completely inappropriate people no less than with those who understand it, and completely failing to know who it should and shouldn’t talk to. And faced with rudeness and unfair abuse it always needs its father to come to its assistance, since it is incapable of defending or helping itself.
Plato: Phaedrus. Translated by Robin Waterfield. Oxford University Press 2002, p. 70.