Essay online on Allan Bloom and the closing of the American mind


The development of the higher education in the US raises a number of questions concerning the essence of the higher education and its impact on the personality and values of students. In this respect, Allan Bloom’s book The Closing of the American Mind is one of the studies, which reveal the imperfectness of the contemporary higher education and raises questions concerning the future of the higher education and its effects on students. In fact, the author develops a complex argument which is grounded on his criticism of the contemporary education system and the higher education in particular. The author stands on the ground that the higher education is ineffective because colleges and Universities fail to teach students the philosophy of search of knowledge and spiritual values. The author argues that the contemporary higher education slips to the promotion of science and intellectual pride as the major goals of the higher education, while the author argues that the higher education should help students to find their way to knowledge and educate them in broader terms. The latter means that, according to Bloom, the higher education should provide students with broad education that includes the development of personal philosophy, cultural values and spirituality, while the contemporary education is highly materialistic, honoring science alone and making students profit-driven materialists, whose only goal is pursuit better career opportunities, while cultural and spiritual values tend to be absolutely devaluated. In fact, one may agree with Bloom or not, but the author is right in terms of serious problems the contemporary higher education has because the higher education is driven by the actual demand on the labor market. Colleges and Universities train professionals, whose spirituality is of little, if any, importance for colleges and Universities, while their professional skills are their primary and only concern. Therefore, Allan Bloom raises an important problem concerning the development of the contemporary higher education and the author develops the concept of openness which helps to understand his vision of the ideal higher education as an open system, where students look for broad knowledge based not only on professional skills but also on spiritual values and norms, while the contemporary education offers what Bloom defines as openness of indifference, full of intellectual pride and pursuit of material interests and values.

I. Openness of indifference

Bloom conducts the in-depth analysis of the contemporary higher education. In the course of his analysis, the author develops quite a skeptical view on the contemporary higher education. Bloom argues that colleges and Universities develop the humbling of intellectual pride in students, which is destructive in regard to their cultural and spiritual development. In fact, the author implies that the contemporary higher education values science above all but the disagrees with such approach to the higher education is ineffective because students believe that scientific and academic knowledge are crucial for their professional and personal success. Moreover, they believe that possessing the scientific and academic knowledge puts them into an advantageous position compared to the rest of the population, who does not have the access to higher education. Students believe their scientific and academic knowledge are self-sufficient and they do not need any other knowledge at all.

On the other hand, they develop a critical view on cultural, religious and other sorts of spiritual knowledge and values. According to Bloom, students underestimate such spiritual knowledge as insignificant and unworthy of the higher education which stands on a solid scientific ground.

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