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Reflections and remediation of the past: A survey of literary and philosophical Greece, and its similarities to the electronic age

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  1. Introduction.
  2. The nature of orality.
  3. The advent of literacy.
  4. The brain and learning.
  5. The Greek mental shift.
  6. The impact of philosophy.
  7. Implications for the future.
  8. Potential impact of electronic era.
  9. Conclusions.

The topic that I plan to explore in this essay involves looking at the past and present in order to have a better understanding of the future. There are essentially three parts to my research. First, I want to explore what happens to the brain biologically when it must learn something new. In order to do this, I will turn to research that studies language acquisition in infants, second language acquisition and what happens to the brain when it becomes literate (literacy for the purposes of this paper defined as reading and writing). I believe that studying the functions of the brain when it is introduced to these phenomena should give a better understanding about the effects of language and literacy on a person's thoughts and perceptions of the world.

[...] We have done a brief and definitely not exhaustive survey of early Greek culture in regards to its oral traditions and the entrance of literacy and its beginning stages of ?secondary orality.? It is clear that although this was not a strict movement from one stage to another, the emergence of literacy in a completely oral world had to have a great impact. In fact, the question almost inevitably rises: what would it have been like to be a Greek first exposed to literacy? [...]

[...] The very essence of electronic transmissions is to surmount impedances and to hasten transitions (Birkerts 121) Although there are many similarities to the early Greek situation, this new shift has seemed to have more of a blanketing effect. It is common to hear people express this in everyday life. Some complain of technologies such as cell phones, computers, and even televisions as ?necessary evils? which they cannot imagine living successfully without. They give little thought to the fact that there are many people in America who cannot afford these technologies, or the fact that there are nations in the world which are not inundated with them or some which do not have them at all, and are still functioning. [...]

[...] Knowing that different areas of the brain can take on tasks for which they were not designed, could we make the observation that the strong memory of the Greeks could have actually been a top contributor to the development and spread of literacy from within the society? In any case, it is clear to neurologists and psychologists that the brain is wired to be organized and reorganized according to new experiences and information. Wolfe and Nevills explain that many of the structures used in reading are the same as those used for spoken language. [...]

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