why write?

The Positivity Blog has an interesting post about Why You Should Write Things Down. I like the focus on using writing as a cognitive tool (as opposed to a purely communicative one). I was especially intrigued by this reason for writing things down:

Unloading your mental RAM. When you don´t occupy your mind with having to remember every little thing – like how much milk to get – you become less stressed and it becomes easier to think clearly. This is, in my opinion, one of the most important reasons to write things down. Feeling more calm and relaxed does not only improves your health but also makes life easier.

Reading this reminded me of Plato’s story (in Phaedrus) about King Thamus’ rebuke to Theuth, the Egyptian god who invented writing:

If men learn [writing], it will implant forgetfulness in their souls: they will cease to exercise memory because they rely on that which is written, calling things to remembrance no longer from within themselves, but by means of external marks; what you have discovered is a recipe not for memory, but for reminder.

That Plato cracks me up. Where others saw a useful tool, he saw the road to moral turpitude.

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One thought on “why write?

  1. Wow, Plato would have done well in cognitive psychology and test theory, where the distinctions between pure memory and “cued recall” (basically reminder) are still a big deal. Although, I don’t think the test theory folks would argue that cues will “implant forgetfulness in the soul.” Hee hee.

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