HYPOMNEMATA is ‘bloc-notes’ or ‘memo’. This ancient Greek word designates the notebooks or notepads (small books in which to write notes). Also it indicates the writings taken (frequently during classes) to memorize relevant facts or observations. In short, they are the instruments or their contents.
Platon (Plato) is among the first (in his times) to recognize the usefulness of writing as a benefit for artificial memory. In fact, for the students of his Academy, he developes the <hypomnesic> principles. According to Michel Foucault “the <hypomnemata> constitute a material memory of things read, heard, or thought“. Referring to Ancient Greece, Foucault writes (1997, Ethics: Subjectivity and Truth – New York: The New Press, p. 273) “these notes are a treasure of info and data for rereading and later meditation. They also form raw material for the writing of more systematic treatises. In the latters there are arguments and means by which to struggle against some defects (such as anger, envy, gossip, flattery). Or to overcome some difficult circumstances (a mourning, an exile, downfall, disgrace)“.
<Hypomnemata> is ‘bloc-notes’ or ‘memo’. And they are not a marginal element of ancient philosophy. Indeed, they are a crucial component of the spiritual (philosophical) exercises, like soul-searching. Always taking with oneself the bloc-notes and the writings is part of a philosophical life. Therefore, it is important to ensure a quick consultation of the notes. This could be necessary just to take advantage of a pause in the daily routine. Or it could be useful in case of a doubt about what to do, what to choose, what to say.