Writing and Thinking

Between most and all of the information for this post comes from Orality & Literacy: The Technologizing of the World by Dr. Walter Ong, particularly a section in Chapter 3 on the findings of studies performed by A.R. Luria. Luria was studying differences in the ways of thinking between the illiterate and the literate. Ong, in his book, uses Luria’s findings to promote the idea that being able to write drastically changes a persons ways of thinking. Luria’s observations of the illiterate, or as Ong puts it, the oral thinkers, include describing shapes by using familiar objects, rather than names of geometrical figures. The oral thinker lacks some ability to grasp pure logic, that is, they can use logic, but not separate pure logical functions from practical life. They refuse to define what a mundane object, such as a tree or a car, is, and they have difficulty describing themselves without using external measures such as income, current events or the opinions of others. Generally speaking, people with no access, or limited access, to writing tend to be more practical and don’t do as well in  non-practical functions as the literate do.

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Filed under Culture, Language, Neurology, Science

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