Thursday, October 19, 2006

The Blooming of the American Mind

It's taken me about twenty years to get around to reading this. Despite that, there were still a few surprises:
  • Lots of Nietzsche -- Allan Bloom was a bit mad for that guy. He seems sympathetic, even if not generally in agreement with Nietzsche's conclusions.
  • Doesn't fit into right/left, conservative/liberal categories that easily. Bloom was preoccupied with the notion that one might find a rational ground for morality, as opposed to some non-rational commitment for decisive action.
  • Not a lot of prescription -- he describes a dilemma, but he talks only briefly about things such as the "good old great books," in a kind of dismissive fashion.
  • He harbors a big grudge against 1960's campus radicals for trashing the lofty ideals of the university.
There's some good stuff in it, and generally, in its own oddly personal and idiosyncratic way, it's worth reading. Sometimes it seems the best thing about the book are the section headings, which are wonderfully evocative of the times we live in: "Relationships." "Creativity." "The Self."

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