Socratic Metis

Literacy is to techne & hard and fast rules as orality is to metis & flexible, appropriate practice.

If Plato can be credited, Socrates deliberately refrained from writing down his teachings, because he believed that the activity of philosophy belonged more to metis than to episteme or techne. A written text, even if it takes the form of a philosophical dialogue, is a cut-and-dried set of codified rules. An oral dialogue, by contrast, is alive and responsive to the mutuality of the participants, reaching a destination that cannot be specified in advance. Socrates evidently believed that the interaction between teacher and students that we now call the Socratic method, and not the resulting text, is philosophy.

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seeing-like-a-state Scott, James C. 1998. Seeing Like a State: How Certain Schemes to Improve the Human Condition Have Failed. Yale University Press. ↩︎ 1