the logic of writing

jack goody

cambridge university press, 1986

the impact of writing on religion, economy and state


writing actually prevents change from happening (change is much more fluid and easy in oral cultures)

oral systems of belief are open-ended in a meaningful way, encouraging search.

writing brings out the specialization of roles (through sole interpreter of the word)

increased autonomy



writing is increased autonomy for the auto-didact, removes the need for context in source code (“writing is not just communication, but also a means of distancing oneself form communication”, p.50)

missing pp. 51-73

trade appeared in mesopotamia in part thanks to the high standardization of documents

it’s not so much about writing as it is about automatic writing/formatting

state, bureau, files

again, “particularistic” (oral) vs. “universalistic” (written)

ability to distinguish “person” from “office” and therefore to ensure the continuity of an organization after the death of the head

“Again writing tends to make explicit what was implicit in oral communication”