From New Republic literary editor Leon Wieseltier's address to Brandeis University Commencement address, May 19.
There is no task more urgent in American intellectual life at this hour than to offer some resistance to the twin imperialisms of science and technology, and to recover the bold distinction -- once bitterly contested, then generally accepted, now almost completely forgotten -- between the study of nature and the study of man.
As Bernard Williams once remarked, "humanity" is a name not merely for a species but also for a quality." You who have elected to devote your selves to the study of literature and languages and art and music and philosophy and religion and history -- you are the stewards of that quality...
Do not believe the rumors of the obsolescence of your path. If Proust was a neuroscientist, then you have no urgent need of neuroscience, because you have Proust. If Jane Austen was a game theorist, then you have no reason to defect to game theory , because you have Austen. There is no greater bulwark against the twittering acceleration of American consciousness than the encounter with a work of art, and the experience of a text or an image.
You are the representatives, the saving remnants of that encounter, of that encounter and that you experience -- which is to say, you are the counterculture. Perhaps culture is now the counterculture.