The Closing of the American Mind

The Closing of the American Mind

Book - 1987
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The brilliant, controversial, bestselling critique of American culture that "hits with the approximate force and effect of electroshock therapy" ( The New York Times )--now featuring a new afterword by Andrew Ferguson in a twenty-fifth anniversary edition.


In 1987, eminent political philosopher Allan Bloom published The Closing of the American Mind , an appraisal of contemporary America that "hits with the approximate force and effect of electroshock therapy" ( The New York Times ) and has not only been vindicated, but has also become more urgent today. In clear, spirited prose, Bloom argues that the social and political crises of contemporary America are part of a larger intellectual crisis: the result of a dangerous narrowing of curiosity and exploration by the university elites.

Now, in this twenty-fifth anniversary edition, acclaimed author and journalist Andrew Ferguson contributes a new essay that describes why Bloom's argument caused such a furor at publication and why our culture so deeply resists its truths today.
Publisher: New York : Simon and Schuster, ©1987
ISBN: 9781451683202
Branch Call Number: 973.92 BLO 1987
Characteristics: 402 pages ; 25 cm


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Jul 31, 2011

Writing in 1987, university professor Allan Bloom writes about a fundamental shift in the mindset of young adults over the course of his teaching career. Whereas decades earlier they would come to the university with a sense of expectation that they would actually learn truths about the big questions, that becoming wise was a virtue, a lofty goal that was nonetheless attainable, Bloom observes that the more recent students have lost that sense of wonder, that desire to become a whole human being. Instead, it seems that they come in with greatly lowered expectations and passion for learning.

The problem, according to Bloom, isn't so much the embrace of relativism with its denial of objective truth, but the unthinking dogmatism with which it is held. A large part of the blame goes to the universities themselves, whose humanities departments have embraced this way of thinking themselves.

This is a very difficult book, but if the reader is willing to invest the time and effort, the reward is a big-picture view of the history of thought, beginning with Locke, Hobbes, and Rousseau, and culminating in Nietzsche, that makes sense of the radical change in the intellectual climate.

Bloom not only offers a thorough diagnosis, but also some ideas which could lead to the restoration of liberal education.

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