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Posted on April 29th, 2014, by

Lawrence Levine in this smart and well-written work “The Opening of the American Mind”¯ presents a refined and disarmingly mere counterargument to Allan Bloom, Roger Kimball, Dinesh D’Souza and other critics of the US higher education. Utilizing a historian’s sense of model to the discussion, which has generally been detached from simple facts, he asserts the recent protest over reducing norms and political correctness merely restates the hymn that has escorted each alteration in the teaching of literature and history. He demonstrates that the idea of a Western Civilization represented by narrowly defined writers and events appeared just lately as a consequence of war-time administration propaganda, and that administrations of universities have been challenging this creation of the Western Civilization for more than thirty years. Also he asserts multiculturalism and alterations in the program are the consequences of uncontroversial alterations in the country’s demographics and culture rather than leftist societal engineering.

The Closing of the American Mind

Allan Bloom’s book “Closing of the American Mind”¯ was issued in 1987, and it has been bought by millions of US citizens since then. Actually, one of the main things to appreciate concerning “The Closing of the American Mind”¯ is that its dominant position is interrogative, not prescriptive. “The Closing of the American Mind“ is crucial reading for anybody concerned with the state of liberal education in our social order. Its erudition and piercing insight make it a supreme reflection on the entire question of what it means to be a student in current intellectual and moral globe. But these characteristics also make the book hard to summarize in brief. Yet the work’s scope and considerable learning have not made it less immediate or compelling. Actually, one of the things, which distinguishes it is its successful blending of erudition with amazing particularity (Armour, 66).

As the title suggests, Bloom’s estimation of liberal education is far from optimistic. Actually, he asserts over the last two decades the academy has all but neglected the intellectual and ethical ideas, which have conventionally informed and provided matter to liberal education, becoming victim to the enthusiasms – more and more politicized – of the moment. Whilst the outbreak of aggression and political activism marked the high point of the enthusiasms, in Bloom’s point of view, the university has yet to get well from the consequences of the disturbances. And since the university epitomizes the spirit of free question that in turn is at the root of the free social order, he ends that “a crisis in university, the residence of reason, is possibly the profound crisis”¯ for a current democratic state (Bloom, Bellow, 275).

Whilst Bloom’s reflection is severe, it is by no means hopeless. As the author notes in the final remarks, “in spite of the disintegration and chaos in the university nowadays, the issues are all there. They merely have to be addressed constantly and seriously for liberal education to exist; for it does not comprise so much in replies as in an enduring dialogue”¯ (Bloom, Bellow, 288). With the book Bloom takes his spot as an articulate contributor in this dialogue.

Bloom starts by investigating the students in the elite universities, and he discovers them incomplete in ethical development, in reading of complex works, in musical tastes, and even in love. These people are shallow. Simultaneously, the author asserts that many of these students, who declare to be open to the whole thing, are filled with “unlimited seas of anger, doubt, and panic”¯ (Bloom, Bellow, 288). To the finale of the work Bloom turns to the educators, who are much worse than the mere students. When it came to the crisis during the campus invasion of the 1960s, the educators collapsed, since they believed in no ideas that would rationalize confrontation to barbarians. And so the left-wing hooligans took Cornell without any resistance.

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