Watch the video titled This Is Water by David Foster Wallace. It is a speech by David Foster Wallace delivered to a graduating class at Kenyon College. As you watch, consider that logical reasoning is a fundamental tool for becoming a critical thinker. One of the reasons why employers hire university graduates is because they have received training in logical reasoning in courses such as this. Lacking this training, our default mechanism is to see situations, especially those that are frustrating or stressful, as affecting only ourselves. As Wallace says, “I experience the boring, frustrating, crowded parts of adult life when I’m operating on the automatic, unconscious belief that I am the center of the world, and that my immediate needs and feelings are what should determine the world’s priorities.” (sebekt, 2013).
Consider the main point of Wallace’s speech, which is this: the value of a university education is that it gives you the freedom to choose how you see situations—what has meaning and what doesn’t. What he means is that reason frees us to choose how we interpret our circumstances rather than merely feeling like victims.
Write your reflections on the idea that the value of a university education is that it gives you the freedom to choose how you interpret your circumstances, regardless of what is happening around you. Do you usually command such freedom, or do you find yourself taken over by frustration, impatience, and even rage, when things around you do not work out the way that you would prefer? How would reason help you gain freedom in these situations? What advantages are there to critical thinking? What do you expect to gain from a course in logic?