David Foster Wallace & Bertrand Russell Compare and Contrast

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Tomás Moya 9/1/2013 Phil. 156 Professor Bodington David Foster Wallace and Bertrand Russell In David Foster Wallace’s College Commencement speech “This is Water”, Wallace tells his audience how he believes we should think on a daily basis. He talks about the role of education and how we think, saying that there is a cliché regarding what a liberal arts education is; that it simply teaches us how to think. However, he argues that it actually teaches us how to choose what to think and believe, instead of being in a “default” setting believing that we are the center of the universe. Wallace also strongly points out that we need to be “a little less arrogant” and not believe solely in our preconceived notions about things, because we usually tend to be wrong. We must be aware of our surroundings and learn how to control how and what we want to think. Wallace says that we get to decide what has meaning and what does not, and we must do this with awareness, an open mind, and give ourselves choices of how to view situations. Bertrand Russell tells readers in “The Problems of Philosophy” that unlike typical sciences where one discovers correct answers, we are constantly searching for the value of philosophy. Russell says that philosophy does not find right answers, but rather encourages thinking. He says the value of it is found in “uncertainty” and when we ponder new thoughts we free our minds of our previous views and other preconceived notions. Russell strongly encourages us to “view the world impartially”, so that we are not imprisoned solely by our previous thoughts and views. Ultimately, Russell says that questioning and thinking is good because it broadens our views and enriches our imagination. The main theme that Bertrand Russell and David Foster Wallace both continually push is for us to make up our minds about what and how to think about certain
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