This paper challenges the ‘romantic ’ view of the evolution of writing and the role of the Greeks in the development of alphabetic literacy. It introduces the concept of ‘autoglottic space ’ and argues that this affords a better explanation of how writing restructures thought. At the same time it emphasizes that such questions cannot be decontextualized from the social and political circumstances attendant upon the introduction of writing into particular cultures, nor from the diverse purposes which writing may serve. ‘Writing ’ is a concept which has undergone a remarkable transformation in the Western intellectual world over the past 30 years. In the wake of influential work by Derrida (1967a
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