Thursday, March 3, 2016

CLosing of the American Mind by Allan Bloom

My exercycle is next to my bookshelf, so for my third mile of the day I pulled a book off the shelf I'm not sure I ever read, The Closing of the American Mind by Allan Bloom (1987). So it's been 30 years (he wrote the preface in May 1986).
"There is one thing a professor can be absolutely certain of: almost every student entering the university believes, or says he believes, that truth is relative."  Introduction, p. 25
That was then.  Now every student is convinced that his or her own truth is absolute--could be Bernie's socialism, or Hillary's right to be our president because she's a woman and it's our turn, or Donald Trump is crazy and will destroy the GOP, or all policemen are out to kill black people, or all Muslims are moles for ISIS, or the U.S. is the most evil, greedy, racist country in the world, or that the end times are nigh and you only need to read your Bible. Just about everyone is an absolutist these days.  Unlike the students of 30 years ago which Bloom said could not defend their opinions, today's student has reality TV or Oscar monologues or Huffington Post opinion pieces or Right Wing Watch to gird their loins and minds. Today's student keeps up with only those views that support his own with Twitter, Instagram, Drudge, Yahoo or Facebook, and any number of news feeds brought by his app to his phone. The student of 30 years ago, opined Bloom, had rejected natural rights and the historical origins of our civilization.  Today's student never even got a chance to reject them--never heard of them. Bloom's mind at 25

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