In “the Judgement of Thamus,” Neil Postman uses Plato’s written work about King Thamus, as groundwork to break down how technological advances impacts a society, and how it alters that society on a social and intellectual way. The narrative is between King Thamus and The God Theuth illustrating their views which are on the opposite’s ends of the spectrum. Theuth believes once the Egyptians know how to write, it will absolutely improve their wisdom and memory. Whereas Thamus believes it will only be problematic. Postman disagrees with the views of both characters saying the impact of any technology will not be so one sided. Postman does use examples of events from both past and present to explain that Thamus’ is right, but only to a certain degree. Postman explains that it is a given, that technological changes will always be beneficial and harmful to a society. It’s how the people in that society use that technology as a distraction to cover up their true intentions. He analyzes how technical advances change the way people get treated, how old conceptions begin to conflict with new conceptions, and how technology is unpredictable and uncontrollable.
I like how Postman took apart Thamus’ point of view, and applied it to how we live today. I agree with him that in today’s world, technology has changed the way we do certain things. I believe he made a great point talking about Technology being a distraction. He used the issue of whether a student will learn better if they were taught using a textbook or a computer. This proves no one is focusing the student. The bigger picture is making sure the student comprehends what is being taught to them regardless of what tools are being used. Everyone is aware things should not be this way, but everyone has decided to accept that’s how life is now. As a society there is a focus more on wanting the latest gadget or the need to make things easier. I feel people are quick to accept this way of doing things because it doesn’t affect them directly. Technology has become a distraction in various ways in our lives whether it’s deciding between textbooks or computers or physical distraction in a car. I believe with anything you have to try and find the balance of it.
My thoughts on the film are it shows how something can start off with good intentions, but once certain factors gets involved it can alter things immensely. In the beginning, corporations were formed to benefit the general public in some way. Then it shifted from that to how much money the corporation can make in return. What stood out for me was the corporations were able to obtain the same legal rights as an individual person. It also displays what happens when you have such an old institution, and the law is used in a way to be beneficial towards their needs.
The connections I saw between the film and the reading was Postman’s argument about the winners and the losers in a society. In the film the winners are the corporation. They use their resources to get cheap labor and sell their products for an obscene amount of money, and lie about their overall dealings of their business. The losers are the people in the developing countries, who have to make the garments, and not be well compensated for. The consumers are also considered the losers for believing in the corporation claims. Which are the proceeds of their products goes where it supposed to be.
Another connection I noticed was Postman states how technology is something you cannot control and therefore can’t determine when and where it will occur. The development of the mechanical clock in the monasteries was used as his example. The monks created a technology made for their own religious purposes, and its uses were then transformed into how a society keeps track of themselves. The same things occur in the film, when showing how modern day corporations were formed. It all began because an Englishman had a specific goal of building an apparatus which would allow him to obtain more gold out of his mines. In the film, it was said it was productivity during the industrial age that lead to what we know now as the modern day corporation.