The school of Bloom: Allan Bloom's inheritance, achievement, and legacy
Vitek, Mark Gerard
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This paper assesses the legacy of Allan Bloom. Particular focus is given to Bloom's book The Closing of the American Mind, published in 1987. Chapter One discusses the scholarly and commercial appeal of The Closing of the American Mind. The chapter also raises the question that this paper attempts to answer-Is The Closing of the American Mind nothing more than a publishing success and what Sidney Hook described as a "noble failure," or is it a work of lasting significance that has implications for higher-education policy and reform? Chapter Two describes the climate of the University of Chicago that Bloom entered in the mid-1940s. The longtime president of the University, Robert Maynard Hutchins, and his colleague Mortimer Adler are profiled. The chapter also provides profiles of Bloom's mentor, Leo Strauss, and Strauss's disciples, the socalled "Straussians." Some works from Strauss and the Straussians are reviewed. Chapter Three provides an in-depth examination of four axial terms: 1) Reason, 2) Nature, 3) Eros, and 4) Soul. In this chapter, much of Plato's teaching and Bloom's analysis of Plato's teachings are discussed. Chapter Four is a thematic analysis of Bloom's book. Bloom's views on philosophy, poetry, and the permanent questions are examined. This chapter also delves into Bloom's arguments about education and character, and his views on democracy and its homogenizing effects. The chapter concludes with an analysis of Bloom's position on whether educational change is more a proposition of general reform or individual example. Chapter Five presents favorable and unfavorable reviews of The Closing of the American Mind. Key arguments are categorized under 12 sections that serve as indicators of higher-education disputes in America. Chapter Six is the conclusion, and it assesses the strength of Bloom's educational legacy. The study concludes that Bloom's arguments are still valuable, but attempts at educational initiatives will probably fail if they are perceived as "turning back the clock," rather than a movement toward shared core beliefs from which many contemporary educational initiatives have drifted.
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