Tuesday, November 16, 2004

"A world of unprecedented ambiguity"--David Brooks on modern college life [UPDATED]

In response to Tom Wolfe's latest novel, David Brooks writes:

"Highly educated young people are tutored, taught and monitored in all aspects of their lives, except the most important, which is character building. When it comes to this, most universities leave them alone. And they find themselves in a world of unprecedented ambiguity, where it's not clear if you're going out with the person you're having sex with, where it's not clear if anything can be said to be absolutely true."

While the truly superior among the nation's "highly educated young people" may turn to law and political blogs for advice about dating and kissing etiquette, it's fair to say that universities do not exist to teach such lessons. But to describe the ambiguity inherent in all romantic interactions as something "unprecedented" is a bit of a stretch. There was never a moment in the history of mankind at which it was, in a broader sense, "clear if you're going out with the person you're having sex with."

(Alright, someone will surely counter that today's more lenient--or nonexistent--morals have made ambiguity the norm. But isn't it the case, where absolute monogamy is expected by society, where marriages are arranged, etc., that plenty of ambiguous relationships form outside the officially sanctioned structure?)


Will Baude and Daniel Moore have responded.

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