Socrates in the Labyrinth

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Socrates in the Labyrinth is a wide-ranging exploration of the relationships between hypertext, thought, and argument. Does hypertext present alternatives to the logical structures of if-then, claim and support? Is hypertext a mere expository tool, that cannot alter the essence of discussion and proof? Or is hypertext essentially unsuited to rigorous argument?

Kolb's discussion is a nuanced, creative approach to these and other questions. Kolb points up the history of nonlinearity in philosophical work, from the Socratic dialogues through Hegel, and the variety of forms that philosophical discussion can take. Kolb's discussion -- and the structures of Socrates itself -- show that hypertext is not only a "super-encyclopedia" that leaves the essence of argument unchanged. But his keen understanding of both hypertext and postmodernism also shows that the relation between hypertext and "the end of the text" is more complex than is sometimes claimed. Socrates in the Labyrinth embodies several hypertext structures showing possibilities for writing and thought in the new medium.

(Source: Eastgate Systems Inc., catalogue copy)

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Scott Rettberg