The Closing of the American Mind
Bloom (Allan)
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BOOK ABSTRACT:

Cover Reviews

  1. ‘A revealing and exciting adventure in the history of philosophy . . . The style is witty and satirical: many a paragraph has a Tacitean sting in its tail. The author's range of knowledge - from the great Western philosophical tradition to popular culture - is extraordinary. The Closing of the American Mind, a book full of understanding and wisdom, is essential reading for our time'
    → Washington Times
  2. ‘[The] writing is elegant, economical and lucid; it contrasts effectively with the content of what he has to say, which is hair-raising’
    → Spectator
  3. ‘His prose is rhapsodic, compelling, personal and reassuring. He writes from a deep love of history and intellectual tradition
    → Los Angeles Times
  4. ‘Allan Bloom brings a Socratic mind to bear on American universities, what they stand for, and fail to stand for. This learned, passionate book, plainly and elegantly written, often with subtle or pungent irony, will have to be read by anyone seriously concerned with universities, not only in America but throughout the Western world'
    → Conor Cruise O'Brien
  5. ‘A scalpel-bearing and eloquent curmudgeon. Bloom interprets our crisis in terms of the entire evolution of modem thought in the West ... a rich and absorbing book’
    → Washington Post
    ‘Commands one’s attention and concentrates one’s mind more effectively than any other [book] I can think of in the past five years. Even its most devout enemies will learn from it’
    → The New York Times
  6. ‘Whether or not one agrees with its conclusions The Closing of the American Mind is an indispensable guide for discussion, not a mere skimming of the tradition, but a completely articulated, historically accurate summary, a trustworthy resume of the development of the higher mental life in the democratic U.S.A.’
    → Saul Bellow
  7. ‘In his provocative new book Allan Bloom... makes the charge that American universities have abandoned their principles and their purpose... He warns that for Americans, whose government was founded upon reason, the present “crisis in the university, the home of reason, is perhaps the profoundest crisis they face” ’
    → Time
  8. ‘Few books in recent years come close to Allan Bloom’s grand tour of the American mind. He interprets our crisis in terms of the entire evolution of modern thought in the West... it is a virtue that he will provoke nearly everyone'
    → Washington Post
  9. ‘No other recent book so brilliantly knits together such astute perceptions of the contemporary scene with such depth of scholarship and philosophical learning. No other book combines such shrewd insights into our current state with so radical and fundamental a critique of it. No other book is at once so lively and so deep, so witty and so thoughtful, so outrageous and so sensible, so amusing and so chilling’
    → The Wall Street Journal

BOOK COMMENT:
  • Sub-Title: "How Higher Education has Failed Democracy and Impoverished the Souls of Today's Students"
  • Penguin, 1988
  • Foreward by Saul Bellow.



"Bellow (Saul) - The Closing of the American Mind: Foreword"

Source: Bloom - The Closing of the American Mind - How Higher Education has Failed Democracy and Impoverished the Souls of Today's Students


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.



"Bloom (Allan) - The Closing of the American Mind"

Source: Bloom - The Closing of the American Mind - How Higher Education has Failed Democracy and Impoverished the Souls of Today's Students


Contents
    Foreword, by Saul Bellow – 11
    Preface – 19
    Introduction: Our Virtue – 25
  1. PART ONE. STUDENTS
    1. The Clean Slate – 47
    2. Books – 62
    3. Music – 68
    4. Relationships – 82
      → Self-Centeredness – 82
      → Equality – 88
      → Race – 91
      → Sex – 97
      → Separateness – 109
      → Divorce – 118
      → Love – 122
      → Eros – 132
  2. PART TWO. NIHILISM, AMERICAN STYLE
    1. The German Connection – 14l
    2. Two Revolutions and Two States of Nature – 157
    3. The Self – 173
    4. Creativity – 180
    5. Culture – 185
    6. Values – 194
    7. The Nietzscheanization of the Left or Vice Versa – 217
    8. Our Ignorance – 227
  3. PART THREE. THE UNIVERSITY
    1. From Socrates’ Apology to Heidegger’s Rektoratsrede – 243
      → Tocqueville on Democratic Intellectual Life – 246
      → The Relation Between Thought and Civil Society – 256
      → The Philosophic Experience – 268
      → The Enlightenment Transformation – 284
      → Swift’s Doubts – 293
      → Rousseau's Radicalization and the German University – 298
    2. The Sixties – 313
    3. The Student and the University – 336
      → Liberal Education – 336
      → The Decomposition of the University – 347
      → The Disciplines – 356
      → Conclusion – 380
    Index – 383



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  1. Blue: Text by me; © Theo Todman, 2020
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