Allan David Bloom Quotes

There are two threats to reason, the opinion that one knows the truth about the most important things and the opinion that there is no truth about them. Both of these opinions are fatal to philosophy; the first asserts that the quest for truth is unnecessary, while the second asserts that it is impossible. The Socratic knowledge of ignorance, which take to be the beginning point of all philosophy, defines the sensible middle ground between two extremes.

Allan David Bloom

The real community of man, in the midst of all the self-contradictory simulacra of community, is the community of those who seek the truth, of the potential knowers, that is, in principle, of all men to the extent they desire to know. But in fact this includes only a few, the true friends, as Plato was to Aristotle at the very moment they were disagreeing about the nature of the good. Their common concern for the good linked them; their disagreement about it proved they needed one another to understand it. They were absolutely one soul as they looked at the problem. This, according to Plato, is the only real friendship, the only real common good.

Allan David Bloom

Men may live more truly and fully in reading Plato and Shakespeare than at any other time, because then they are participating in essential being and are forgetting their accidental lives. The fact that this kind of humanity exists or existed, and that we can somehow still touch it with the tips of our outstretched fingers, makes our imperfect humanity, which we can no longer bear, tolerable.

Allan David Bloom

It is difficult to imagine that there is either the wherewithal or the energy within the university to constitute or reconstitute the idea of an educated human being and establish a liberal education again. However, the contemplation of this scene is in itself a proper philosophic activity. The universitys evident lack of wholeness in an enterprise that clearly demands it cannot help troubling some of its members. The questions are all there. They only need to be addressed continuously and seriously for liberal learning to exist; for it does not consist so much in answers as in the permanent dialogue.

Allan David Bloom

As it stands, philosophy is just another humanities subject, rather contentless, without a thought of trying to take command in the crisis of the university. Actually it contains less of the exhilarating presence of the tradition in philosophy than do the other humanities disciplines, and one finds its professors least active of the humanists in attempts to revitalize liberal education. Although there was a certain modesty about ordinary language analysis We just help to give you clarity about what you are already doingthere was also smugness: We know what was wrong with the whole tradition, and we dont need it anymore. Therefore the tradition disappeared from philosophys confines. ... [Todays jargon] was produced by philosophy and was in Europe known to have been produced by philosophy, so that it paved a road to philosophy. In America its antecedents remain unknown. We took over the results without having had any of the intellectual experiences leading to them. But the ignorance of the origins and the fact that American philosophy departments do not lay claim to them are in fact just as ignorant of them as is the general publicmeans that the philosophic content of our language and lives does not direct us to philosophy. This is a real difference between the Continent and us. Here the philosophic language is nothing but jargon.

Allan David Bloom

Positivism and ordinary language analysis repel students who come with the humanizing questions. Professors of these schools simply would not and could not talk about anything important, and they themselves do not represent a philosophic life for the students.

Allan David Bloom

When people speak vaguely about generalists vs. specialists, they must mean by the generalist the philosopher, for he is the only kind of knower who embraces, or once embraced, all the specialties, possessing a subject matter, necessary to the specialties, which was realbeing or the goodand not just a collection of the matters of the specialties.

Allan David Bloom

Philosophy was architectonic, had the plans for the whole building, and the carpenters, masons and plumbers were its subordinates and had no meaning without its plan.

Allan David Bloom

Professors of the humanities have long been desperate to make their subjects accord with modernity instead of a challenge to it. The effort to read books as their writers intended them to be read has been made into a crime, ever since the intentional fallacy was instituted. There are endless debates about methodsamong Freudian criticism, Marxist criticism, New Criticism, Structuralism and Deconstructionism, and many others, all of which have in common the premise that what Plato or Dante had to say about reality is unimportant. These schools of criticism make the writers plants in a garden planned by a modem scholar, while their own garden-planning vocation is denied them.

Allan David Bloom

The specific effect of the MBA has been an explosion of enrollments in economics, the prebusiness major. The prebusiness economics major is not motivated by love of the science of economics but by love of what it is concerned with. There is nothing else quite like this perfect coincidence between science and cupidity elsewhere in the university.

Allan David Bloom

True liberal education requires that the students whole life be radically changed by it, that what he learns may affect his action, his tastes, his choices, that no previous attachment be immune to examination and hence re-evaluation. Liberal education puts everything at risk and requires students who are able to risk everything.

Allan David Bloom

The expectation of substantive unity between natural science and social science has faded. ... Gone is the cosmic intention of placing man in the universe.

Allan David Bloom

Some political scientists, for example, say that the Economic Man may be very nice for playing games with but that he is an abstraction who does not exist, while Hitler and Stalin are real and not to be played with. Economic analysis, they say, not only does not help us to understand such political actors but makes it more difficult to bring them within the purview of social science by systematically excluding or deforming their specific motives. Economists, seeking mathematical convenience, turn us away from the consideration of the most important social phenomena.

Allan David Bloom

The issue is what is the social science atom.

Allan David Bloom

Economics has its own simple built-in psychology, and that provided by the science of psychology flatly contradicts the primacy of the motives alleged by economics.

Allan David Bloom

Man is the problem, and we live with various stratagems for not facing it.

Allan David Bloom

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