Writing and the Mind

Consider: How do we typically - in everyday life - think and talk about and practice writing?

This is how Heim puts the questions:

Does literacy - writing and reading - influence how we think? Is a literate consciousness somehow different from a consciousness without literacy? Or different from a consciousness engaged in a primarily oral culture? Does reading and writing make us different thinkers than not?

Socrates argued yes: Writing will make us forgetful. The mainstream culture argues yes: Only with writing can we develop something called logical thought. Heim argues yes - but he explains things in detail.

Heim might require a slow, careful reading. He isn't writing an easy-to-consume textbook but is doing philosophy. But you'll find a lot of what he writes is familiar. he's considering matters you have probably considered as a hyper-literate person. He draws on many of the common ideas of reading books such as the private engagement in reading, the sense that we can loose ourselves in a book, that knowing how to writing and read is culturally privileged. This is to say that he's starting where we tend to start. He's developing a thorough argument, however - which takes time and discussion to think through.

So read Heim for Monday. Get from him what you can. Make notes on where you become lost or can't quite get. Commonplace those places you want to consider further. We'll talk about those parts when we meet.

Read three chapters by Michael Heim. All of these are in the Dropbox folder.

They are about 25 pages each, so get started early.

We'll set up a round table and will dig into Heim's ideas about how writing influences the mind.


These are my notes on the three chapters, mainly a set of extracts from Heim framed by my glosses of how the ideas fit together. Remember commonplacing? This is where it's valuable: in coming to terms with new and challenging ideas. These notes are in progress. I develop them over time, so revisit them from time to time.

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