Allan David Bloom Quotes

Social science and humanities have a mutual contempt for one another, the former looking down on the latter as unscientific, the latter regarding the former as philistine. The difference comes down to the fact that social science really wants to be predictive, meaning that man is predictable, while the humanities say that he is not.

Allan David Bloom

The university has lost whatever polis-like character it had and has become like the ship on which the passengers are just accidental fellow travelers soon to disembark and go their separate ways. The relations between natural science, social science and humanities are purely administrative and have no substantial intellectual content.

Allan David Bloom

It is amazing how many undergraduates are poking around for courses to take, without any plan or question to ask, just filling up their college years. In fact, with rare exceptions, the courses are parts of specialties and not designed for general cultivation, or to investigate questions important for human beings as such. The so-called knowledge explosion and increasing specialization have not filled up the college years but emptied them. Those years are impediments; one wants to get beyond them. And in general the persons one finds in the professions need not have gone to college, if one is to judge by their tastes, their fund of learning or their interests.

Allan David Bloom

Todays student gets no intimation that great mysteries might be revealed to him, that new and higher motives of action might be discovered within him, that a different and more human way of life can be harmoniously constructed by what he is going to learn.

Allan David Bloom

The practical effects of unwillingness to think positively about the contents of a liberal education are, on the one hand, to ensure that all the vulgarities of the world outside the university will flourish within it, and, on the other, to impose a much harsher and more illiberal necessity on the studentthe one given by the imperial and imperious demands of the specialized disciplines unfiltered by unifying thought.

Allan David Bloom

The strength of his soul is a result of the part of it that makes him proud and ambitious, that seeks an autonomy not dependent on others opinions or wills.

Allan David Bloom

The fact-value distinction admits that values are essential to life and shape the way facts are seen and used. Therefore values are primary. And if they do not come from reason, then they come from passionate commitment, the essence of morality. Of course, since commitment did not really produce values, the values adopted were the remnants of old reasoning, values with fallen arches, reaffirmed by claims of passionate commitment.

Allan David Bloom

Such groups abandoned merely formal freedom to support substantive causes.

Allan David Bloom

The university began in spirit from Socrates contemptuous and insolent distancing of himself from the Athenian people, his refusal to accept any command from them to cease asking, What is justice? What is knowledge? What is a god? and hence doubting the common opinions about such questions.

Allan David Bloom

The scholar cannot understand the will to power, not a cause recognized by science, which made Alexander different from others, because the scholar neither has it nor does his method permit him to have it or see it.

Allan David Bloom

From the outset [of the Enlightenment], scholars treated Greek philosophers more as natural scientists treat atoms than as they treat other natural scientists. They were not invited to join the serious discussion of the scholars.

Allan David Bloom

In antiquity there had also been mere scholars, studying Homer and Plato without knowing quite why, and without being interested in the questions the writers raised, fascinated by meters or the reliability of texts. But the objection to these scholars was that they lacked the urgent desire to know the most important things, whereas the modern objection to scholarship is that it lacks the urgency of commitment to action. If deeds are the most important thing, then the scholar is by definition inferior to the doer.

Allan David Bloom

Enlightenment presented the thinker not as the best man but as the most useful one. Happiness is the most important thing; if thinking is not happiness, it must be judged by its relationship to happiness.

Allan David Bloom

Professors represented an unsatisfactory halfway house between the two harsh disciplines that make a man seriouscommunity and solitude.

Allan David Bloom

Professors had made reason into a public prejudice and were now among the prejudiced.

Allan David Bloom

When a poet writes about a poet, he does so as a poet. When a scientist talks about scientists, he does not do so as a scientist. If he does so, he uses none of the tools he uses in his scientific activity, and his conclusions have none of the demonstrative character he demands in his science. Science has broken off from the self-consciousness about science that was the core of ancient science.

Allan David Bloom

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