Chapter

The Rise of Literacy

in Holding On to Reality

Published by University of Chicago Press

Published in print April 1999 | ISBN: 9780226066257
Published online March 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780226066226 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.7208/chicago/9780226066226.003.0006
The Rise of Literacy

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Writing has been taken to imbalance the ancestral ways of knowing, but signs and things keep a fine balance in the natural economy of information. Writing allows an endless accumulation of information, and unchecked accumulation leads from eloquence to confusion. Writing has a precision and permanence that human recollection widely shared but cannot match. When literacy occupies an oral culture, it depletes vitality from the community. Literacy can be liberating because the detached information of writing is more widely and easily available than natural or oral information. Writing not only brings near what is distant in time and space, but also allows to realize what otherwise is prohibitively remote as a possibility of conception and imagination.

Keywords: writing; economy of information; accumulation; oral culture; oral information

Chapter.  2955 words. 

Subjects: Philosophy of Science

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