What might happen if our entire society functioned under these guidelines?

Published by Jeannie R. Ferrell

Nov 18, 2022

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Length: 2-3 pages
Description of Assignment:
David Foster Wallace’s “This is Water” can perhaps be broken down into five lessons. In preparation for your Capstone Research Essay, you will be writing a mini-essay that responds to one of the claims made from David Foster Wallace’s essay “This Is Water”, and integrates a counterargument successfully.
Your essay will consist of two sections:
The first part (Claim) will be devoted to identifying the claim and what it means in specific detail; Some questions you might want to consider for this section include how it may relate to your life and/or life in general. What makes you gravitate toward this claim? What resonance does it have in your own life? Is there a time when you utilized this kind of thinking or when you should have? What kind of life improvements or changes would happen if one were to adopt Wallace’s words as a creed? What might happen if our entire society functioned under these guidelines? Why do you think this claim is or isn’t true?
The next section (Counterargument) will see you creating a counterargument to that claim that addresses an opposition to what you’ve written. This section must bring up a counterargument to the claim, explain the stance, and, most importantly, effectively refute the opposing view.
You will include your own outside research to support the claim you choose. The essay must include at least two outside sources (at least one in each section) plus the David Foster Wallace essay (3 minimum).
Format:
Part 1: Claim (2 paragraphs, including 1-2 outside sources)
Part 2: Counterargument (2 paragraphs, including 1-2 outside sources)
You can label the sections as such.
Format: at least 2 double-spaced pages, MLA formatted and cited throughout. You must include a Works Cited page listing the 3 sources used in your essay (WC not included in page count). Because of this format, you do not need to write an introduction or a conclusion.
You should use a variety of additional quotes from the piece, and personal experience, and anecdotal and/or hypothetical scenarios to further back up your claim. Please do not jump to writing the essay first thing–make an outline and concentrate on the structure of your essay, and what you are exactly trying to say in your work.
Here are the claims to choose from:
1. You’re not the center of the universe
“A huge percentage of the stuff that I tend to be automatically certain of is, it turns out, totally wrong and deluded. I have learned this the hard way, as I predict you graduates will, too. Here is just one example of the total wrongness of something I tend to be automatically sure of: everything in my own immediate experience supports my deep belief that I am the absolute center of the universe; the realist, most vivid and important person in existence.
2.”
Don’t live life by default
“If you’re automatically sure that you know what reality is, and you are operating on your default setting, then you, like me, probably won’t consider possibilities that aren’t annoying and miserable. But if you really learn how to pay attention, then you will know there are other options. It will actually be within your power to experience a crowded, hot, slow, consumer-hell type situation as not only meaningful, but sacred, on fire with the same force that made the stars: love, fellowship, the mystical oneness of all things deep down.
3. ”
You choose what you worship
“This, I submit, is the freedom of a real education, of learning how to be well-adjusted. You get to consciously decide what has meaning and what doesn’t. You get to decide what to worship. In the day-to day trenches of adult life, there is actually no such thing as atheism. There is no such thing as not worshiping. Everybody worships. The only choice we get is what to worship.
4. ”
Real freedom is sacrifice
“The really important kind of freedom involves attention and awareness and discipline, and being able truly to care about other people and to sacrifice for them over and over in myriad petty, unsexy ways every day. That is real freedom. That is being educated, and understanding how to think. The alternative is unconsciousness, the default setting, the rat race, the constant gnawing sense of having had, and lost, some infinite thing.
5. ”
Be aware of the world around you
“It’s not about life after death. The capital-T Truth is about life before death. It is about the real value of a real education, which has almost nothing to do with knowledge, and everything to do with simple awareness; awareness of what is so real and essential, so hidden in plain sight all around us, all the time, that we have to keep reminding ourselves over and over: ‘This is water.’ ‘This is water.’”

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