PLATO DISCOVERS DISTANCE

From my chapter “Plato Discovers Distance”, the main idea is that distance can grant peace of mind and a large fear is that written language may invade this peace of mind. On the one hand, writing has the ability to bridge physical distances allowing communication over said distance, but this also invades our private time.

“Now, in the place where this kind of connectedness had reached its highest and most intense expression, thoughtful people were realizing that, for person well-being and happiness, it was necessary to restore some of that distance to everyday life.” (page 88).

Using the example of a cubicle dweller is very telling of today’s world where everybody is connected all the time. In the years of social media, people have grown accustomed to being able to communicate with anybody anytime, and it has cut into many people’s private time.

Another fear of written language is that once something written down, words cannot be challenged.

“Writing is a dangerous invention, he tells Phaedrus, because it doesn’t allow ideas to flow freely and change in real time, the way they do in the mind during oral exchange. Whereas conversation is all about back-and-forth, written language is a one-way street: Once a thought is written down, it’s frozen and you can’t challenge it or change its position. It’s a record of ideas that already exist, rather than a way of creating ones” (Page 94).

On one hand, his fear is true that something written cannot change, thus being able to be misunderstood or misinterpreted. This is how falsity is spread among different readers of the same thing. For example, two people may read the same headline in the new paper and what they get out of the story can be two different things. Though this may be one problem, the benefit from written language is the ability to communicate over great physical distances and the ability to replicate the message.