[Air-l] Plato meets the Blogroll

Ed Lamoureux ell at hilltop.bradley.edu
Wed Jul 9 05:01:26 PDT 2003

On Wed, 9 Jul 2003, Rowin Cross wrote:

> Like so many on this list, this is a wonderful debate, which I've really
> enjoyed following.  I hope nobody minds me adding a couple of kind-of
> relevant (I hope) thoughts.
ed wrote: 
> > > establishment of writing (away from oral).  "It [writing]
will cause
> > > us to forget" (roughly) . . .
> > >
> > > and in a way, it did. In the oral age, "literate" Greeks had
> > > encyclopedic memories. Within 250 years after Plato, teachers of
> > > rhetoric had to teach memory systems.
> > >
> > >
> >rowin notes:

> It's my understanding that oral histories are highly selective.  They're not
> 'encyclopedic' in the sense that they retain facts as independent entities,
> but instead reflect that which it is expedient to remember.

Rowin causes me to amend/clarify a bit. My post was a little looser than I
meant it to be. Rowin and others have made excellent points about these
matters. Clearly, I did not intend that one should read Plato directly as
historic comment about all that was memory in the ancient world.  I
wish to extend my comments a bit.

Like all ancient "authors," Plato can be read many different ways. I teach
oral rhetoric, so read the PHEADRUS (and other Platonic works) for their
commentary about speech making. It is, for many rhetoricians, a
foundational text proposing an "ideal" rhetoric (or presenting a rhetoric
so idealized that none can aspire to it, thereby following Plato's normal
habit of denigrating the art/practice).

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