The virtues of living memory

He’d done it. Through some magic, trickery or incredibly advanced scientific shenanigans, he’d done it. He was now transported back in time, and could finally find out about all those ancient mysteries that had so eluded the present. Thus so transported, he set to work uncovering these mysteries. First among them being: what was Aristotle really like?

Asking around, his first discovery was that the modern education in ancient Greek was sorely lacking. His second discovery was that Aristotle was not held in as high regard as he’d expected. Rather, he was something of a laughing stock. Sure, he got the general gist of things, but it was the least developed, most bare-bones version of social theory there ever was. In fact, the entire city of Athens was seen in the same light; the least among equals

This discovery did not sit well with him, so he did what any historian would do. He went to the source and verified. And lo, it turned out to be true. Everywhere he went, everyone he talked to, every observed social process confirmed the general impression that the democratic tradition was comparatively underdeveloped in Athens. However, since the culture of public oral speech was so refined and well-entrenched, the penchant of writing things down fell to the wayside. Why record events when everyone remembers it from yesterday’s deliberations? When in doubt, just ask

This certainly explained things, our historian traveler thought, just as whatever magic, trickery or shenanigans that brought him back now brought him forward again. He did not have a good time explaining his findings to his print-based colleagues

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