nmadison.A1.140 - 1 Madison Nina Madison Professor Openshaw...

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1 Madison Nina Madison Professor Openshaw WRIT 140 13 September 2011 Fundamental Claims about Life Innovation and development within society prompted many to notice a drift from a culture of traditional values to a world of materialistic attitudes causing human nature to be interpreted as selfish and unchangeable. In the journal, Policy Review , Midge Decter stresses her conformist view of the egotistical nature of mankind developing into a consumer-driven reality lacking the essential meaning of life itself – family. She reflects upon the intimate value of family lineage and ultimately Mother Nature’s plan of biological reproduction as an imperative component of being human. Decter expresses how materialism has caused women to challenge Mother Nature by choosing to pursue a career over raising children when, in reality, human freedom is nonexistent. With Decter’s strong worldly views of selfishness causing a downfall in society in mind, one may consider the commencement speech given by David Foster Wallace at Kenyon College, which follows many of the same philosophies. Wallace also explains how innate human behavior lacks gratitude and optimism by using extremely descriptive scenarios that encourage the audience to empathize with the specific situations that underline human selfishness. Although Decter and Wallace both strongly agree that society has deviated from their ideal world due to materialism and selfishness, Decter departs from Wallace in her belief that man cannot fundamentally change due to Mother Nature’s limitations that curtail freedom. In addressing the primary source of society’s problems, Wallace attributes the causes of selfishness to the excessive exposure of material goods and people’s lack of awareness of their
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2 feelings while Decter only agrees to the extent of consumerism. Wallace assesses particularly conventional situations to illustrate how inattentiveness leads people to intuitively criticize others. He successfully shows how judgmental human thoughts are by describing, with uncensored detail, a grocery shopper’s observations of other shoppers; “look how repulsive most of them are…and how annoying and rude it is that people are talking loudly on cell phones” (Wallace 2005). The consumer driven society, along with human nature, has inevitably placed an emphasis on material items and selfishness. The insolent thoughts toward other people highlight the lack of empathy that initiated this culturally imposed phenomenon. While society’s
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nmadison.A1.140 - 1 Madison Nina Madison Professor Openshaw...

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