Summary

In one of the most important books of our time, Allan Bloom, a professor of social thought at the University of Chicago and a noted translator of Plato and Rousseau, argues that the social and political crisis of 20th-century America is really an intellectual crisis. Bloom cites everything from the universities' lack of purpose to the students' lack of learning, from the jargon of liberation to the supplanting of reason by so-called creativity. Furthermore, he shows how American democracy has unwittingly played host to vulgarized Continental ideas of nihilism and despair, of relativism disguised as tolerance, while demonstrating that the collective mind of the American university is closed to the very principles of spiritual heritage that gave rise to the university in the first place.
(P)1992 by Blackstone Audiobooks; ©1987 by Alan Bloom
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Critic reviews

"With clarity, gravity, and grace, Bloom makes a convincing case for the improbable proposition that reading old books about the permanent questions could help to reestablish reason and restore the soul." (Mary Ann Glendon, Harvard University)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful
5 out of 5 stars
By Andreas H Bartels on 13-10-17

Wonderful

I’m not one to buy hardcover, but this needs to be on the bookshelf to go back to again and again.

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5 out of 5 stars
By Greg Gauthier on 13-02-17

Allan Bloom is a prophet

I used to see this book as a diagnosis of the past, but if you want to understand the present political and social situation of the west, you'll read this book.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful
5 out of 5 stars
By Douglas on 29-06-10

VERY IMPORTANT WORK!

Allen Bloom's THE CLOSING OF THE AMERICAN MIND is monumentally important, especially in regard to its central assertion that the surface American education's first principle has for some time now been: "To avoid discrimination [particularly in regard to class, culture, race, and religion or lack thereof], one must be indescriminate in all. The one exception, and the thing to be hated, is the man who asserts otherwise." I am always just utterly amazed at how absolutely relativistic (parodox intended) 99% of my college students have become in their judgements (or rather lack of them) regarding lit and art. I push them to extremes. They will proclaim (as though programmed to say so--and Bloom says they are) that Brittney Spears "music" is every bit as good as Mozart's "for the person who hears it that way." I actually ask them if a pile of dog dung on a paper plate is as much art as Michalangelo's David, and you would not believe how many will, without a twitch, say that it is "if someone thinks it is," as though putting forth an opinion in regard to any obvious difference in quality will lead directly to the acceptance of Hitler's race policies--or, at least, they don't want to be viewed as having any "dangerous" opinions, whether or not they really have them. And this is Bloom's brilliant argument--"absolute freedom" (everything is equally good) has supplanted real freedom (the ability to say the truth or even think it). In another class, in which we study different models of morality, many students will assert with an absolute straight face (get ready!) that baby-torturing, if accepted by a given cultural as moral, would be a moral activity to take part in. What can one even say to such things?!--but Bloom saw this type of non-thinking and warned of the extremes to which it could, and would be taken.

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35 of 39 people found this review helpful

5 out of 5 stars
By Gary on 20-01-06

The Devolution Of The University

A brilliant review of how the modern university came into being. It covers a wide range of philosophers from Aristotle to Nietzsche and examines their profound influence on western thought and the modern university. Bloom makes a sound case for the return to classical education.

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15 of 17 people found this review helpful

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