To find a section in Walter J. Ong’s “Orality and Literacy” that is terribly important is quite a difficult task, especially when each part is filled with such interesting ideas waiting to be dissected. However, I have settled on one that I deem significantly important. On page 78, paragraph 2 Ong begins with “Writing, Plato has Socrates say in the Phaedrus, is inhuman, pretending to establish outside the mind what in reality can be only in the mind. It is a thing, a manufactured product. The same of course is said of computers. Secondly, Plato’s Socrates urges, writing destroys memory. Those who use writing will become forgetful, relying on an external resource for what they lack in internal resources. Writing weakens the mind.”
In the paragraph, Ong mentions Plato’s view on writing, as it is “inhuman”, that it pretends to explain the mind outside of the mind. Writing is a way to convey the private thoughts in the mind and produce them on paper. He then begins to say “those who use writing will become forgetful” relying on an external resource for what they lack in their internal resource. As a result writing weakens the mind. I can agree because it limits the way we are able to express ourselves. Sometimes I have ideas that I cannot even begin to express whether it is through speaking or writing. There are thoughts in the mind that should remain as thoughts. Writing creates structure and there is an emotional connection through speaking that writing will never compare to.