The Closing of the American Mind: Foreword
Bellow (Saul)
Source: Bloom - The Closing of the American Mind - How Higher Education has Failed Democracy and Impoverished the Souls of Today's Students
Paper - Abstract

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Introduction

  1. Professor Bloom has his own way of doing things. Writing about the higher education in America, he does not observe the forms, manners and ceremonies of what is called (usually by itself) the community of scholars. Yet his credentials are irreproachable. He is the author of an excellent book on Shakespeare’s politics, and has translated Plato’s Republic and Rousseau’s Emile. It will be difficult for nettled colleagues to wave him away, and many will want to do just that, for he is shrewd and mettlesome, as well as learned, and a great observer of what Mencken would call, when he was being mean, “the higher learning.”
  2. But Professor Bloom is neither a debunker nor a satirist, and his conception of seriousness carries him far beyond the positions of academia. He is not addressing himself primarily to the professors. They are welcome to listen — and they will listen because they come under heavy fire — but he places himself in a larger community, invoking Socrates, Plato, Machiavelli, Rousseau and Kant more often than he does our contemporaries: “The real community of man, in the midst of all the self-contradictory simulacra of community, is the community of those who seek the truth, of the potential knowers... of all men to the extent they desire to know. But in fact, this includes only a few, the true friends, as Plato was to Aristotle at the very moment they were disagreeing about the nature of the good. ... They were absolutely one soul as they looked at the problem. This, according to Plato, is the only real friendship, the only real common good.

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