Writing As A Technology

Walter Ong’s response to Plato’s ideas about writing being “external, alien technologies” and as external and detrimental to the mind by instead comparing writing to a “deeply interiorized technology” is an awesome way of communicating his point, and is not like something I’ve ever read before. What especially resonated with me was his comment that “technologies are artificial, but—paradox again—artificiality is natural to human beings.” He supports his claim that technology is incredibly enriching to the human consciousness and interior life by again comparing writing as an art form that has complex script and grammar rules, and rich cultural and historic traditions. Much like the creation of musical instruments to contrive unique forms of harmonic sound, the written language was born in the alphabets of mankind’s first civilizations as the product of aesthetic design and phonetics that expresses the observed sounds. Ong’s argument is that the external creations of the mind enrich humanity in countless ways, including through the process of them being discovered, but also by their application in everyday life.
His did not spend too much time and each of the several examples and comparisons that he made, which I think leaves room for several replies, but overall I thoroughly enjoyed his style and his argument!

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