Commencement Address at Kenyon College
Summary: Foster Wallace sets out to explain the value of a liberal arts education. He questions the cliché that an education is meant to teach a person how to think. He argues that a good education is not about the capacity to think, but rather about the choice of what to think about – to consciously decide what has meaning.
Message: Choosing to escape self-centered thinking. Paying attention and being attentive to how we construct meaning. Everybody worships; the only choice is what we worship. Avoiding default setting (unconsciousness) in how we think and live.
Caution: Foster Wallace makes use of commonly used foul language to convey his message. Foster Wallace himself battled depression and killed himself at age 46.
Other works by this author of particular value:
Reflections on modern politics and cynicism: “The Weasel, Twelve Monkeys and the Shrub” (Rolling Stone, April 13, 2000)
Reflections on animal cruelty and commerce: “Consider the Lobster” (Gourmet, August 2004)
This is the second installment in TraditionOnline’s “The BEST” column, exploring exemplars of the best culture has to offer thinking religious people—click here for the column introduction.