Sunday, March 29, 2015

Harold Innis | Empire and Communications

Harold Innis in the 1920s

Read Empire and Communications online.

Greek civilization was a reflection of the power of the spoken word. Socrates in Phaedrus reports a conversation between the Egyptian god Thoth, the inventor of letters, and the god Amon in which the latter remarked that

‘this discovery of yours will create forgetfulness in the learners' souls, because they will not use their memories; they will trust to the external written characters and not remember of themselves. The specific you have discovered is an aid not to memory, but to reminiscence, and you give your disciples not truth but only the semblance of truth; they will be hearers of many things and will have learned nothing; they will appear to be omniscient and will generally know nothing; they will be tiresome company, having the show of wisdom without the reality.’