Allan David Bloom Quotes

Gullivers Travels is to early modern philosophy what Aristophanes The Clouds was to early ancient philosophy. Swift objects to Enlightenment because it encourages a hypertrophic development of mathematics, physics and astronomy, thus returning to the pre-Socratic philosophy that Aristophanes had criticized for being unselfconscious or unable to understand man. But, unlike pre-Socratic philosophy, which had no interest in politics at all, this science wished to rule and could rule. The new science had indeed generated sufficient power to rule, but in order to do so had had to lose the human perspective. In other words, Swift denied that modern science had actually established a human or political science. All to the contrary, it had destroyed it.

Allan David Bloom

The philosophers in their closets or their academies have entirely different ends than the rest of mankind. ... The moderns did not think, as did the ancients, that they would lose sight of the distinction between the two in identifying them. ... What the ancients almost religiously kept apart, the moderns thought they could join without risk.

Allan David Bloom

The necessary unity of power and wisdom is only a coincidence for the ancients, i.e., dependent on chance completely out of the philosophers control. Knowledge is not in itself power, and though it is not in itself vulnerable to power, those who seek it and possess it most certainly are. Therefore the great virtue for the philosophers in their political deeds was moderation. They were utterly dependent on the prejudices of the powerful and had to treat them most delicately.

Allan David Bloom

The ancients held that a man must never let himself be overcome by events unless those events taught something essentially new. They were more intent than were any men before or since on preserving the freedom of the mind.

Allan David Bloom

The form and content of the writings of men like Plato, Cicero, Farabi and Maimonides appear very different, while their inner teachings may be to all intents and purposes the same. Each had a different beginning point, a different cave, from which he had to ascend to the light and to which he had to return.

Allan David Bloom

The toleration of philosophy requires its being thought to serve powerful elements in society without actually becoming their servant.

Allan David Bloom

The world men incline to see is full of benevolent and malevolent deities who take their cases seriously. Poetry to succeed must speak to these passions, which are more powerful than reason in almost all men. Because poetry needs an audience it is, in Socrates view, too friendly to the enemies of reason. The philosopher has less need to enter into the wishes of the many or, as the wise of our time would put it, into the drama of history, or to be engag. This is why Socrates heightens the enmity between philosophy and poetry.

Allan David Bloom

Why are the gentlemen more open [to philosophy] than the people? Because they have money and hence leisure and can appreciate the beautiful and useless. And because they despise necessity.

Allan David Bloom

The ancients had no tenure to protect them and wanted to avoid the prostitution to which those who have to live off their wits are prone.

Allan David Bloom

The philosopher wants to know things as they are. He loves the truth. That is an intellectual virtue. He does not love to tell the truth. That is a moral virtue. Presumably he would prefer not to practice deception; but if it is a condition of his survival, he has no objection to it. The hopes of changing mankind almost always end up in changing not mankind but ones thought.

Allan David Bloom

The philosopher applies what he sees in nature to his own life. As are the generations of leaves, so are the generations of men,a somber lesson that is only compensated for by the intense pleasure accompanying insight. Without that pleasure, which so few have, it would be intolerable.

Allan David Bloom

Most human beings and all cities require the unscientific mixture of general and particular, necessity and chance, nature and convention. It is just this mixture that the philosopher cannot accept and which he separates into its constituent parts.

Allan David Bloom

Various kinds of self-forgetting, usually accompanied by illusions and myths, make it possible to live without the intransigent facing of deathin the sense of always thinking about it and what it means for life and the things dear in lifewhich is characteristic of a serious life.

Allan David Bloom

It is not so much stupidity that closes men to philosophy but love of their own, particularly love of their own lives, but also love of their own children and their own cities. It is the hardest task of all to face the lack of cosmic support for what we care about.

Allan David Bloom

It was to the gentlemen that philosophy made its rhetorical appeal for almost two thousand years. When they ruled, the climate for philosophy was more or less salubrious. When the people, the demos, ruled, religious fanaticism or vulgar utility made things much less receptive to philosophy.

Allan David Bloom

Ancient political philosophy was almost entirely in the service of philosophy, of making the world safer for philosophy.

Allan David Bloom

Quote of the Day

Social Media
Our Partners