Socrates complains that writing undermines the need to remember things and weakens the mind, creating ‘forgetfullness in the learners’ souls, because they will not use their memories’; they will trust to the external written characters and not remember of themselves. Socrates also points out that written texts cannot respond to queries (‘if you ask them a question they maintain a solemn silence’) and are subject to misunderstanding or distortion (‘if they are maltreated or abused they have no parent to protect them; and they cannot protect or defend themselves’). Socrates concedes that written texts have their uses ‘as memorials to be treasured against the forgetfullness of old age,’ but he is far more worried about their shortcomings. People who rely on written documents, he fears, will be ‘hearers of many things and will have learned nothing; they will appear to be omniscient and will generally know nothing.’ – Plato/Phaedrus in Writing on the wall, Tom Standage
In de dialoog, het goede gesprek tussen vrienden, huist volgens de Grieken de vonk, het plotse inzicht. Wat een waanzinnige eigenschappen van tekst, woorden. They maintain a solemn silence. No parent to protect them. They cannot protect themselves.