Honoring Ideas

Over the course of history humanity has used literature to express the ideas of countless individuals so that those ideas could be passed down generation after generation. An interesting aspect of Mengzi is that despite being an influential voice in the philosophy of his time, he didn’t write his own book. At the time, books were far too cumbersome to transport and reproduce efficiently. Mengzi, near the time of his death, had a book written by his followers on his teachings, compiled from notes that they had saved. This wasn’t only culturally significant to China; many writings from all over the world follow this pattern, the most prolific being the Holy Bible. The Bible was written after Jesus Christ of Nazareth’s passing by his followers, and could easily be compared to Mengzi (despite its religious significance). Although this differs from our modern method of philosophical writing, there have been numerous examples of contemporary philosophers and writers receiving honoring texts and other works. A good example would be Franz Kafka, and how despite writing in his will that he wanted his works to be burned, his good friend Max Brod decided against this, publishing his larger stories and later compiling his notes and poems into other volumes. The idea of writing about someone after they’ve passed may seem strange in terms of the modern era; books have become so easy to produce that one can take their existence for granted without thinking of their impact on the spread of ideas. Books used to be much more difficult to produce, and could only be reproduced by hand for hundreds of years. Luckily, we’ve had countless individuals throughout history who’ve seen importance in the preservation ideas. Without them, the world would be a much different place.

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