Re: thoughts on origin of religions

From: Mark Walker (
Date: Tue Feb 26 2002 - 22:35:25 MST

> I never denied that
> writing is immensely helpful in philosophy and other endeavors (e.g.,
> history), but it did not necessarily create them. It's kind of like
> eating and cooking. People ate long before they discovered fire and
> learned how to cook food. Do I claim that cooking is totally
> irrelevant? No at all! It certainly opens up whole worlds of food
> experience not possible before. Yet the fact still remains, we can eat
> without cooking. We can think without writing.
> Cheers!
> Daniel Ust

Socrates is not a particularly good example because he came on the scene
after the invention of writing, and more importantly, philosophical writing.
Erik Havelock in _Preface To Plato_ makes an argument along these lines:
writing was a necessary condition for philosophy because without the written
word all one's "computational space" was devoted to being a member of that
society. The point of the barb's telling of the Iliad was to relate the
cumulative experience of what it is to be Greek. It took a tremendous effort
on the part of the Greek philosophers to break the poet's stranglehold on
the Greek mind, to make people think abstractly. Writing freed-up
computational space and thus made philosophy possible. For a defence of this
thesis see Havelock. :)


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