Conservative Socrates

By Leo Gura - December 20, 2022

Socrates was so conservative that he rejected the idea of writing, on the grounds that it would result in a weaker memory. And so, he never wrote anything.

Just think about how stunning that is!

Imagine refusing WRITING because you find it too liberal, fearing that it will lead to the moral decay of man’s mind. But then again, when writing was first invented, how could you know that it was not the tool of the devil? Don’t assume this is obvious. After all, how much evil has writing created? Think about it.

This is why we have no writings from Socrates. Everything we know about Socrates is only know because his more liberal student, Plato, took a wild gamble on this tool of the devil and started writing things down.

2500 years ago it was not obvious that writing would not destroy a man’s mind. Today we take all this for granted. Then again, maybe writing does destroy a man’s mind. Maybe writing was the beginning of the end of true philosophy. But what then would Socrates have thought of YouTube or TikTok?

Some 2500 years ago, writing was as revolutionary and transgressive as gay marriage or human cloning is today. And you should recognize that these fears are not entirely unfounded. The invention of the printing press lead to the splintering of Christianity. The invention of one machine can splinter an entire religion! That’s how powerful and dangerous technology can be. So don’t take the social, political, and spiritual effects of technology for granted. Many technologies come with moral dilemmas, complications, and responsibilities which are difficult to foresee. Technology, culture, and morality are deeply entangled.

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