(P)1992 by Blackstone Audiobooks; ©1987 by Alan Bloom
"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)
College English professor who loves classic literature, psychology, neurology and hates pop trash like Twilight and Fifty Shades of Grey.
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.
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.
This was an excellent listen. Every American should listen to this a couple times. Great understanding of what happened before the "60's revolution" and what drove that cultural revolution.
A must read!
Enlightening, in-depth, comprehensive dissective analysis of the American educational system. Bloom's firsthand account is extremely well-written and this audio version is expertly read. My only complaint is that it ended too soon.
Bloom's book should be required reading for every American, but especially for college age Americans. This book will change the way you view the world. It will pull the rug out from underneath you and there aren't many books that will do that. Read this book. Then read it again and again until you have one of those "OMG!" moments.
A friend of mine was reading this book for a class and I told her, 'Oh come on that's a bunch of garbage." Later, I read the book, and it has fundamentally shaken my views of liberal education, made me question my allegiance to the Republican party--indeed, to any party, and has opened my mind to the sheer ignorance with which I and most people in America live their lives. This book will make you embrace education like a man who has spent months in a hot desert will embrace water.
READ THIS BOOK NOW!
I love espionage, legal, and detective thrillers but listen to most genres. Very frequent reviews. No plot spoilers! Please excuse my typos!
I not a fan Allan Bloom's philosophy and I believe he is generally vastly overrated; however, this 1987 book hits upon the issues of the higher education system in the US with startling clarity. The Closing of the American Mind is a worthwhile listen that accurately forecasts the more recent drastic deterioration of US higher education. Narration of the audiobook is barely acceptable.
Ive read the book several times and find it filled with many important insights for those living in our Constitutional republic. I also have an old recording on cassettes which were narrated by Allan Bloom himself. I was hoping that this would be the same recording, but available in a modern audio format without all the hiss of those old cassette tapes. Unfortunately, someone else narrated the book. He has the typical syrupy but monotonous kind of voice so often found in audio books. There's none of the inflection or passion of the author when he read the book. I find it hard to keep my eyes open when listening to this version. Does the narrator even understand what he's reading, its significance ? This version lulls me to sleep. I better not drive with it on. I doubt I will finish listening to this version. It was quite a disappointment. Even though I don't think I can listen to more than 10 minutes of it, I can't bear to give the book a horrible rating. The content deserves 5 stars. - -
I was struck by how little of this book was not familiar. I'm 38 years old, and I read a lot. The fact that I've heard almost all the arguments contained in this book, even though it's now 27 years since it was written, tells me that it has been very influential. Everything in it has been amplified by repetition.
So, it was not a book that "made me think," because I've heard it all before- from Bloom's description of conviction-less Gen X students to the influence of the Frankfurt School on American intellectuals. If you've glanced at National Review sometime in the last two decades you've seen it all.
That's not a hit on Bloom, because he's the original compiler. These ideas were all floating around, but he put them all in one place.
Honestly, the best part for me was early on. There's a good discussion of rock music, which will seem quaint to readers who've lived their entire lives in the era since the 1950s. Bloom is still right- the influence of music on the lives of the young is underrated. Much attention remains focused on other external influences such as video games or movies when it is music that matters. I think this part of the book has the deepest bite. People seem very defensive about their music, and music has an undue influence on their thinking. My coworkers spend hundreds of dollars on car stereos. I buy new tires instead. I get Bloom's point.
Overall, if you want to understand the intellectual side of the conservative movement this is a very good place to start. If you have a background in the liberal arts, especially in 19th and 20th century philosophy, that will help a lot. Otherwise it can be very hard going.
This isn't an anti-liberal screed so much as a Platonic defense of absolute truth, and the pursuit of the good. The extent to which this criticism falls on liberals is a result of their own abdication of the responsibility that they once took seriously- to educate the young in the service of building a better society. They don't even know what that is anymore, to their cost. Creating a blasted nihilistic world of the mind for our best and brightest is not a plan designed to produce an elite with the common good foremost in their minds.
The education of our elite is the subject of this book. Looking around, it's obvious that whatever education our current elite received it was sorely lacking in moral direction. If that's a conservative message, what happened to the liberals?
I kept checking to see if there were other people in the room. You can often hear other readers narrating other books in the background.
Narrator was good, but a bit fast for the material.
While I must say that I didn't fully agree with all of the conclusions that the author drew, I loved delving into the ideas he presented and I did agree with much of it. I think that everyone should consider reading this book. I ended up buying a print copy because I want to be able to refer to it again at specific sections and also because at times the sarcasm was hard to follow because of sarcasm. It would have been much better if the narrator had made it clear when he was switching to sarcasm, so I rated the performance a 4.
"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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