Research paper on Allan Bloom and the closing of the American mind: Openness to the quest for knowledge and certitude

In such a context, the author attempts to suggest an alternative openness. In response to the openness to indifference, Bloom suggests the higher education to develop the openness to the quest for knowledge and certitude. Bloom believes that the higher education should stimulate studends self-discovery and quest for knowledge. In this regard, Bloom’s idea is reasonable and he is definitely right as he promotes the idea of the quest for knowledge. Today, students cannot rely on the set of scientific or academic knowledge. The world, society and technology progress too fast, and students should be able to make new discoveries and generate new knowledge on the ground of critical analysis of the information they receive from the outside world (Chomsky, 151). At this point, the study of history and cultures may be very helpful and Bloom is right when he suggests paying more attention to the study of history, philosophy and culture because the study of these subjects can help students to learn to think critically and analytically. At the same time, they will learn to respect different cultural values and norms. More important they can expand their spiritual experience and to shape their moral norms and values, which are grounded on humanistic ideas and spirituality but not the materialistic values alone.

Furthermore, Bloom insists that the higher education should encourage students to want to know what things from history and culture are good for them, what will make them happy. In this regard, the use of primary sources may be particularly helpful, according to Bloom. Basically, the author is right because through the analysis of diverse primary sources, especially when they are taken from different epochs but refer to similar issues, students can trace how views of people evolved and how key concepts of the modern civilization were shaped. Students should be interested in learning new things but they should also be able to learn what is good for them. In this regard, it is possible to agree with Bloom that students should not be driven by material interests only. The pursuit of academic knowledge for a successful career is not enough for students because this is the way to the degradation of students. They will lose their moral values, while the concept of spirituality will become abstract and unrealistic.

In addition, Bloom suggests activating students’ amour-soi as the natural and healthy self-love or esteem arising from within oneself independent of the opinions of others. The author believes that such self-love is important for the development of independent individuals, personalities, who are capable to free, objective, and independent judgments.  In such a way, Bloom’s idea is very important because he suggests freeing students of the pressure of their social environment. They should not form their views on themselves from the standpoint of others. Instead, students should have their own set of values and be independent individuals. On the other hand, the spirituality can help students to develop their moral set of values which can help them to conduct self-discovery, which is important for any person. The self-discovery helps an individual to understand his/her goals in life and take the position that meets their spiritual values and views.

To achieve the higher level of spirituality and to increase students strife for self-discovery, Bloom recommends using primary sources, documents and books which were created in the past. Bloom insists that students should learn them in their original form. He suggests teaching students a close interpretation of the Constitution – “government of laws”                                                                                                                  and other primary sources. In fact, Bloom is definitely right, when he stresses the importance of the study of primary sources. However, he should not deny completely secondary sources because they can help students to understand the primary sources. For instance, students may fail to understand adequately certain passages from primary sources and the use of secondary sources can help them to understand primary sources without taking sides of the authors of secondary sources they used. In fact, the point is not merely study primary sources as Bloom suggests but the point is to teach students to evaluate critically both primary and secondary sources and to shape their opinion of both primary and secondary sources. Therefore, along with the study of primary sources, students should have an opportunity to develop their critical thinking and analytical skills. In fact, Bloom believes that through teaching students that a true openness means a closedness to all the charms that make them comfortable with the present.

At this point, the author is probably right but stressing the true openness he contradicts to himself in terms of developing independence of students. He wants to shape the true openness denying other possible forms of openness. However, this issue is irrelevant to the main message convey by the author in his book because Bloom revealed the actual gap existing in the society, which the higher education fails to close, the gap in spirituality. The lack of spirituality confronts the domination of materialistic values, which dominate in the higher education as well. Thus, Bloom raises a very important problem of the ineffectiveness of the contemporary higher education but the author indicates the direction, where the higher education can find solutions to actual problems. In fact, the study of primary sources, high attention being paid to history, culture and philosophy can close the spiritual gap existing in the society and higher education today.

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