Should one write?

April 20, 2010

Socrates never wrote. Socrates used to roam market places and invite people for discussion. Plato documented all the Socratic thinking as dialogues. Socrates’ views as to why he did not believe in writing were as follows:

1. Because, You forget that what you have written. Written work is a dead Thought.

2. Thought is your child, where as your written word is an orphan.

3. Writing can be misinterpreted (since the author is not available to explain what he meant).

4. Poets (all artists that write myths?) are the gravest danger to an ideal Republic (people state). Therefore they should be banished.


Should one write?

Why should one write?

Because, in that order:

1. Is this not precisely why one should write? – to empty the mind and to help forget? And what if you forget the most important thought you had today because you did not write it down?

2. Even though thought is a child, once grown up, it will need space (in a different brain), and will need abandoning-  even at the risk that it will become orphan.

3. Yes. Readers will misread. But as long the written word makes people think (which is why and for we live), is not all writing justified?

4.  Agreed that entertainers can take you away from ideals, but is it justified to banish all entertainers? and therefore entertainment? And why did Plato write dialogues, Socratic thinking, in the form of drama ?

Most people write (or paint) for that one moment of bliss they experience after the creation is complete in their eyes and to their satisfaction.

What do you think?

Should one be Socrates’s follower or leave our creations (children/orphans) behind so that people will remember us after we are no more?


(Subject to possible edit, at a later date. It is not Dead yet, neither Orphaned.)


10 Responses to “Should one write?”

  1. 1) More than emptying the mind, if you don’t write and only think and talk then there’s a greater chance of the ideology getting lost in the sands of time. Legends and stories are passed on through generations, but they are ‘legends’ and can so easily drift away from the truth! Also, they remain localized, for e.g. why would anyone know about the life in 19th century Mississippi-Missourie if Mark Twain hadn’t written ‘The Adventures of Tom Sawyer’ or why would people around the world read about (and an entire nation get inspired from) Communism if Karl Marx hadn’t written about it!

    Written word is ‘documented’ thought.

    2) I absolutely LOVED your take on this! Take a bow! Totally agree with you.

    3) I sort of agree with Socrates here. Unfortunately, writing is open to interpretation, and there has been a long list of misinterpretations regarding historical and religious text over the centuries. But that’s surely not an excuse for not writing. For that matter even the spoken word can be misinterpreted. It definitely makes (at least some) people ‘think’.

    4) Socrates’ view is very pessimistic here. I’m sure that even in ancient Greece this would have been hardline. Especially in the days of content being available over the web/internet (including Twitter), Socrates argument on this point does not hold true.

    Though there is always some magic in the spoken word, ‘writing’ gets a thumbs-up from my side. Thinking should transcend into writing, and quality literature will always stand the test of time, will have a lesser chance of being misinterpreted and will undoubtedly have its desired effect on the populace.

    Also, your parting thought – “not Dead neither Orphaned” – is wonderful! 🙂

  2. @Rajeev kaka

    Well.. technically.. no! According to legend and the Hebrew Bible, the ‘Ten Commandments’ were authored by God and handed over to Moses upon 2 stone tablets when he led the Hebrews across the Red Sea (as shown dramatically in the movie) in search of the ‘Promised Land’ i.e. Israel around 1300 BC. They form the basis of Judaism and Islam.

    As you said correctly, about 400 years after Socrates, Jesus Christ was born a Jew in Israel. The religion he helped formulate (Christianity) also takes a lot of its values from those ten commandments written & delivered by God.. about 800 years before Socrates!

    P.S. – As you might have guessed from my pedantic reply.. I love history!

    • rajeevelkunchwar Says:

      Are, it was in light vein. I should have written Messenger and added an emoticon.
      Why 1300, God has always been there where ever there were settlements. We Indians, Mayans, Greek, Egyptians, all had their own prior to Socrates.
      May be the tablet proof was necessary to refute Socrates :>)

      • Oh ya.. I did take it in that vein! 🙂 In my earlier comment I was referring to the notion of God prevalent during the time of Moses’ tablet.. so just spelt it out explicitly here!

        There.. that’s an example of Socrates point no. 3; we both might have misinterpreted each other’s comments. Socrates must have smiled in his tomb! 😀

  3. Ranjeet Elkunchwar Says:

    @ Pa..
    Once, I don’t know.
    You SHOULD write.

  4. Prakash Says:

    your writings make a very vivid acount of anything you are musing about ,it was good reading it ,I will keep visiting your blog and keep myself updated .Even ranjit has inherited the e- writing gene ,

    • rajeevelkunchwar Says:

      Thanks. I need a few more readers at the moment. Surprisingly, Twitter is sending comments from unknown quarters. Feedback is surprising me. Long live e-writing.
      Ranjeet is better writer. Waiting for his hard bound.

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