I am going to propose what could appear to some to be a controversial and reactionary thesis - that students should once again produce handwritten essays.
Wouldn’t this be an improvement on the current situation, where ‘word processed’ assignments are typically ‘produced’ without much thought and effort?
Might handwritten essays prove to be more thoughtful and, in the end, engender a new appreciation of the craft of essay writing?
Although perhaps rather quaint on first inspection this idea does have a very respectable philosophical pedigree. Wittgenstein, for one, suggested that he thought with his pen. Can we really suggest that we think with our PCs? Doesn’t the computer engender an instrumental attitude towards thought and language, where the truth and significance of ideas are subordinated to their overall efficiency and effectiveness?
Heidegger, too, would have been very suspicious of the idea that words should be ‘processed’. For him, those who claim that word processing makes writing more efficient are simply wrongheaded. Heidegger would have objected that any attempt to sever writing from the hand will also sever writing from thought.
I think that Heidegger was onto something here. With the word processor thought is mechanically forced and it ceases to dialectically flow.
Thinking is tied to the body in ways that we no longer appreciate.