The Civilization of Illiteracy

Mihai Nadin

Created on Wednesday, April 27, 2016.
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Nadin argues that the rapid acceleration of technology and the need to process huge amounts of information quickly is leading to a world of post-literacy.


No other time than ours has had more of the future and less of the past in it.


The major accomplishment of analyzing illiteracy so far has been the listing of symptoms: the decrease in functional literacy; a general degradation of writing skills and reading comprehension; an alarming increase of packaged language (clich‚es used in speeches, canned messages); and a general tendency to substitute visual media (especially television and video) for written language.


Language and the formation and expression of ideas is unique to humans in that they define a part of the cognitive dimension of our pragmatic. We seem endowed with language, as we are with hearing, sight, touch, smell, and taste. But behind the appearance is a process through which human self-constitution led to the possibility and necessity of language, as it led to the humanization of our senses. Furthermore, it led to the means by which we constitute ourselves as literate as the pragmatics of our existence requires under ever-changing circumstances. The appearance is that literacy is a useful tool, when in fact it results in the pragmatic context. We can use a hammer or a computer, but we are our language. The experience of language extends to the experience of the logic it embodies, as well as to that of the institutions that language and literacy made possible. These, in turn, influence what we are and how we think, what we do and why we do. So does every tool, appliance, and machine we use, and so do all the people with whom we interact. Our interactions with people, with nature, or with artifacts we ourselves generated further affect the pragmatic self-constitution of our identity.

That's all there is, there isn't any more.
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