I grew up here in Tennessee and when I graduated from high school I thought that if I didn’t get out of the South I would bust. So off I went to Yale, where I studied philosophy in part to purge myself of the received ideas of my family and culture. I read Plato and Aristotle; Augustine, Anselm, and Aquinas; Descartes and Leibniz; Hume and Berkeley; not much Kant; Hegel, Marx, and Nietzsche; Heidegger and Wittgenstein. I got a good look at the humanities faculty’s obsession with race-class-gender (or is it gender-class-race; I can never remember). And I was pretty well marinaded in the postmodern, poststructuralist, postchristian stew that chracterizes the intellectual spirit of our times.
I came back to Tennessee after Yale and spent a few years meditating on what I had learned and read there. Perhaps it was William of Ockham and his famous philosophical razor that helped me rediscover one simple, clear statement of what I might aspire to as a man, and of what I might believe. It goes like this:
“On my honor I will do my best to do my duty to God and my country, and to obey the Scout law; to help other people at all times; to keep myself physically strong, mentally awake, and morally straight.”
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