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Defining Reed

By Chris Lydgate '90 on June 27, 2011 04:14 PM

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It's been several weeks, but I'm still recovering from Reunions 2011 and its glorious aftermath. Quite apart from the epic rugby match, the spectacular musical performances, and the phenomenal chance encounters, I found myself pondering anew the question that President Colin Diver posed at his centennial address. Stripped to its elements, how do you define Reed?

Fundamentally, I think Reed is an idea--an idea that animates action, inspires belief and loyalty, and transmits an institutional culture across the generations. What is that idea? To me, it is an idea about authenticity--about the necessity, the nobility, and the beauty of the authentic life. I use the term "authenticity," not in a strictly philosophical sense. Yes, I think Reed embodies many of the ideas expressed by existential philosophers such as Kierkegaard, Sartre, Heidegger, Adorno, and Fromm. But, as its philosophical lineage, I am content to invoke Socrates' famous injunction that the unexamined life is not worth living.

As the embodiment of this idea, Reed College has been consistently devoted to five qualities that produce and constitute authenticity: inquiry, discipline, practice, principle, and meaning.

To read Diver's speech, click here or watch the video.