The Closing of the American Mind Paperback – May 15 1988
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From Publishers Weekly
This work by a University of Chicago professor was a bestseller in cloth. According to PW, "marred by the author's biases, this jeremiad laments the decay of the humanities, the decline of the family and students' spiritual rootlessness and unconnectedness to traditions."
Copyright 1988 Reed Business Information, Inc.
From Library Journal
Bloom is angry about college studentstolerant of everything, they cannot appreciate the virtues of Lockean democracy and often abandon the great questions about God and man. Meanwhile, the humanities are like "a refugee camp where all the geniuses driven out of their jobs and countries . . . are idling." The reason is partly relativism in the social sciences but largely German philosophers since Nietzsche, especially Heidegger, who "put philosophy at the service of German culture." Bloom's case about the humanities and German philosophy deserves an ear, but his students from "the twenty or thirty best U.S. universities" are nothing like my recent American students, who pursue the old questions with vim and vigor. Perhaps they do not belong to Bloom's elite. Leslie Armour, Philosophy Dept., Univ. of Ottawa, Canada
Copyright 1987 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Top Customer Reviews
But in Bloom's thirty years as a university professor he has witnessed a change, both in the mood and expectation of the students, and in the university's sense of identity, which has fragmented into a smorgasbord of unrelated pursuits. Confusion over the nature of knowledge confounds both. The spirit of the age, relativism, the truth that there is no objective truth, has settled like a smog over the campuses. Students no longer expect to find truth and meaning "out there", but only within. So the appeal of liberal arts to students is vastly diminished if it is denied that these studies can point to any reality beyond themselves.
Bloom notes that "the university now offers no distinctive visage to the young person. There is no vision...of what an educated human being is. The student gets no intimation that great mysteries might be revealed to him, that new and higher motives of action might be discovered within him, that a different and more human way of life can be harmoniously constructed by what he is going to learn." The "undecided student is an embarrassment to most universities, because he seems to be saying, 'I am a whole human being.Read more ›
I first heard about this book while reading Dionne's _Why Americans Hate Politics_. It was mentioned as a work that was influenced by the famous political philosopher Leo Strauss, who was very influential among the so-called "neoconservatives" (anti-communist liberals who believed in virtue and rebelled against the new-Left in the 1960s). Dionne stressed that this important group of intellectuals, having been liberals themselves, were particularly adept at criticizing the policies of the Left. I found this fascinating, so I decided to read Closing for myself. At the time, I had no idea that it would be a life changing experience.
This book is incredibly interesting. It is a brilliant critique of the American education system, particularly the University. It is even more relevant today than it was in the 1980s. If you take nothing else away from this book than a better understanding of a liberal arts education, it will be worth the price of admission. On the other hand, if you read this book carefully like I did, you will be rewarded with Bloom's brilliant mind, his incisive wit, his astonishing observations, his (sometimes overwhelming) references to the greatest works human history, and finally, an appreciation for the irony of America's great closing, a closing cloaked behind a veneer of openness.
I highly recommend this book.
He notes the current distrust of classic texts and the current trend towards Satre and Marx on campus while noting the decline of emphasis on western thought and western civilization. This book is a great read, highly educational and of great value for todays student or young professional in understanding the lingo of the left. For a non-fiction biography of Bloom read Ravelstein by Saul Bellow.
At Reed, this work was often criticized brilliantly by the iconoclastic student body. At the same time, it seemed like just about everyone read it. It is indeed thought provoking and timeless. Bloom's contribution is tremendous, and simply can't be overlooked.
In an age of increased specialization and fragmentation, Bloom weaved and crafted a brilliantly provocative treatise, and should be read by all parents before their children apply to college. It is as important as any critique of American society. I actually it rank along with De Tocqueville's Democracy in America and have it sitting close by on the shelf for reference when I feel compelled to read it.
Most recent customer reviews
I freely admit, I don't get it. I greatly enjoyed Bloom's effortless survey of the difficult landscape of philosophy and its relation to modern cultural, political and societal... Read morePublished on Dec 19 2013 by Rodge
A well written and fantastically thought provoking book that's bound to have an instant effect on all who read it. Read morePublished on May 12 2013 by Chris Leckenby
Allan Bloom's book is a brilliant look at some of the problems that we face philosophically in Western society. Read morePublished on Dec 4 2012 by AP
Forget Sean Hannity and Rush Limbaugh, this guy is a real intellectual. Bloom is very direct in his criticism of the intellectual crisis in America, and it's getting worse since... Read morePublished on May 28 2004 by J. McAndrew
My review is in regards to Mr. Bloom's chapter on the corruption brought about by rock music. I really wish I could find out what it is in rock 'n roll that Bloom says drives an... Read morePublished on March 28 2004
I was amazed that so many of my conservative friends purchased the Closing of the American Mind yet how few if any actually read it. Read morePublished on Jan. 29 2004
A major impact in my thinking and an awesome introduction to Nietzsche, nihilism and the American education system. Bloom outlines what education was compared to what it is today. Read morePublished on Jan. 5 2004 by R. Schwartz
Bad news from the groves of academe: the american university is failing to keep the wisdom of Aristotle, Rousseau and Nietzsche in the forefront of the undergraduate imagination. Read morePublished on Nov. 18 2003
What he seems to demonstrate is that democracy has failed higher education, not the reverse. His recurring theme is that the philosophic underpinnings of democracy have eliminated... Read morePublished on Nov. 14 2003 by Francis J. Lynch