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Technology of the Intellect

Is thinking merely ideal?

In a 2009 interview (FR), anthropologist Jack Goody proposes to consider writing as a “technology of the intellect” or “scriptural technique”—which suggests that ideas are firstly anchored in a series of gestures, a technique.

It is this link between tooling of thought and the way of thinking which is at play with the notion of technology of the intellect: writing enables cognitive operations—making lists, tables, re-examine afterwards, etc.— which increases our intellectual effectiveness, but also qualitatively modifies our understanding of the world.

(Jack Goody)

He also underlines the importance of (political) power of words, which are at the heart of “bureaucratic activity.”

[…] writing is a central piece in the government’s paraphernalia

[…] writing creates to a social structure

But the use of words is ambivalent, being able to serve domination as well as emancipation (knowledge is power):

Nevertheless, the mastering of writing emancipates. To say that it gives power does not reduce it to a tool of oppression.

The text also says:

Equality of intelligence, differences of tooling: that is the Goodian universalism.

The tools. The code. Thought transference.

Words are not innocent.