Consider the Lobster

Topics: David Foster Wallace, Mind, Suffering Pages: 5 (1712 words) Published: April 11, 2013
Escape From the Cave
In his article “Consider the Lobster”, David Foster Wallace pointed out that the lobsters would suffer pain if cooked alive on the basis of many scientific materials about the lobster that announced by different organizations, trying to figure out if it is moral to cook the lobsters alive. Although he fell in an ethical dilemma at last, just as most people, struggling between the moral problem and the selfish interest in eating certain kinds of animal, he did not evade querying about the morality of his eating habits. In fact, human are always influenced by familial, social, religious, moral and political factors, which limit their perspectives and trap them in a self’s mind cave; however, they can always do better and finally understand the abstract reality if they gradually move to a higher realm, continually studying and reasoning what they think they've already known, which in reality are the illusions of the physical world mirrored in their mind. In his book The Republic, Plato recorded the allegory of the cave, which is a fictional dialogue between him and his teacher Socrates, to explain how educations of mind help people achieve enlightenment. This allegory shows an image of benighted humanity, living in an underground cave, having their legs and necks chained and could only gaze at the wall before them, which like a screen that reflected the shadow of the artifacts carried by actors behind them. They believed what they saw is true although those were only the echoes of the artifacts that actors created. A few of them were freed and escaped from the cave; however, the sunlight was so bright that hurt these prisoners’ eyes, and then blinded their eyes. After a long journey of enlightenment, they adapted to the sight of the real world step by step and finally discovered the immutable truths. However, the prisoners in the cave would always refuse to listen to these people who came back from the real world and insisted to believe their own illusions without realizing their limitation. The general point of this allegory is that only the enlightened human can grasp the invisible truths lying under the apparent surface, which can only be grasped by the mind. In the cave that full of illusions of lobsters, Wallace decided not to just enjoy himself and eat for gustatory pleasure, but to dig the truths that hided by the people who want to make money by the Festival. As one of thousands visitors for Maine Lobster Festival, instead of simply believing that lobsters “has fewer calories, less cholesterol and less saturated fat than chicken” (Wallace, 77) that announced by Maine Lobster Promotion Council and enjoying the lobster feast, Wallace asked himself “Is it all right to boil a sentient creature alive just for our gustatory pleasure” (79) to start his thinking around lobster. On his way to the MLA, Wallace was aware of there were some invisible truths under the beautiful coat (such as big parade or Cooking Competition) of this Festival, that rather than really endorse the Festival, locals “who live in the midcoast region actually view the MLF, as in is the Festival just a big-dollar tourism thing” (79). Wallace also found that Festival’s own pronouncement that lobsters would not feel pain because they do not have cerebral cortex was “still either false or fuzzy” (81) because of its ambiguous words and he decided to discover the truth about the lobsters. In his long journey to escape from the cave, Wallace encountered an ethical dilemma, struggling to move forward and see the true reality. Wallace collected a lot of scientific information and took it in his consideration about whether the lobsters would feel pain when they were cooked alive. He acknowledged that although the lobsters did not have cortex, “which in humans is the area of the brain that gives the experience of pain” (81), they did have nociceptors and prostaglandins that could receive pain, and also they were extremely sensitive to the...

Cited: Wallace, David Foster. Consider the lobster. New York: Little, Brown, 2005. Print.
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