Generally Knowing Nothing


“The discovery of the alphabet 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…You give your disciples not truth but only the semblance of truth; they will be heroes of many things, and will have learned nothing; they will appear to be omniscient and will generally know nothing.”

—Socrates, “Phaedrus”
—via The Medium is the Massage, Marshall McLuhan/Quentin Fiore

With the internet (and particularly, the search engine) I need to intentionally refrain from appearing omniscient but generally knowing nothing.  Now-a-days that’s a practice anyone with internet access can exercise proficiently.  I’m terrified to do the same but must confess I am doing exactly that.  Hold tight to specialization and independent thought.

As I often comment that I can hardly trust my memory at work anymore and rely on notes I’ve taken (or references that other people have developed), this causes makes me pause and consider whether I’m loosing some ability to think, to remember.  Could the trajectory land me in some reflective state where I no longer think for myself (a practice I hold dear) and instead only process instruction?  How can I integrate memorization in my daily life? Lean less on written word and stored memory and cultivate a deeper understanding of my environment?


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