Allan David Bloom Quotes

Intellectuals advertise their superiority to political practice but are absolutely in its thrall. It is no accident that Marxist theory and practice use the intellectuals as tools and keep them in brutal subservience.

Allan David Bloom

The distinction between private and public undermines the unity of spiritual strength, draining the public of the transcendent energies while trivializing them because the merely private life provides no proper stage for their action.

Allan David Bloom

Only when the true ends of society have nothing to do with the sublime does culture become necessary as a veneer to cover over the void. Culture can at best appreciate the monuments of earlier faith; it cannot produce them.

Allan David Bloom

To recognize that some of the things our culture believes are not true imposes on us the duty of finding out which are true and which are not.

Allan David Bloom

I am now even more persuaded of the urgent need to study why Socrates was accused. The dislike of philosophy is perennial, and the seeds of the condemnation of Socrates are present at all times, not in the bosoms of pleasure-seekers, who dont give a damn, but in those of high-minded and idealistic persons who do not want to submit the aspirations to examination.

Allan David Bloom

Socrates way of life is the consequence of his recognition that we can know what it is that we do not know about the most important things and that we are by nature obliged to seek that knowledge.

Allan David Bloom

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
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