re: How to Get Smarter Without Knowing Anything VIEW POST

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I really like this article. I've had similar ideas for a while. In Europe in the middle ages, books were rare and very valuable. If you wanted to read a book, say about medicine, you'd have to travel to the monastery that held that book, possibly for weeks or months. Then, if you were deemed worthy enough, you'd get access to the book. If you wanted to take that knowledge back with you, well, there was nothing for it but to memorize the whole thing!

I imagine that this put a great premium on people who could memorize long pieces of text by rote. Such a person could travel through the world and dispense the best-known wisdom of the day, such as medical advice, by referencing all of the knowledge they'd accumulated. I think this perspective has influenced education, and society in general, for centuries, and still lives on in the systems and attitudes that we've got today, even though the world is very different in this sense.

 

Thanks for the kind words about the article.

In Europe in the middle ages, books were rare and very valuable. If you wanted to read a book, say about medicine, you'd have to travel to the monastery that held that book, possibly for weeks or months. Then, if you were deemed worthy enough, you'd get access to the book. If you wanted to take that knowledge back with you, well, there was nothing for it but to memorize the whole thing!

At the library of Alexandria, every ship that came into port was forced to forfeit their books. The books would be taken and copied very quickly, and then the copies would be returned to the ships.

In Europe in the middle ages, books were rare and very valuable. If you wanted to read a book, say about medicine, you'd have to travel to the monastery that held that book, possibly for weeks or months. Then, if you were deemed worthy enough, you'd get access to the book. If you wanted to take that knowledge back with you, well, there was nothing for it but to memorize the whole thing!

I completely agree. At that time religious representatives (priests, clergy, rabbis etc) were often the only ones who knew how to read (aside from the very wealthy). I think this represents a level of classism that still exists today!

 

I thought you must have made a typo in saying that the copies were returned to the ships. But no! It seems that indeed, they kept the original versions for themselves and those hastily made copies were actually returned! At least I guess they didn't have illuminated manuscripts yet back then! That would have hurt I think!

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