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Bloom

What Allan Bloom Got Right by Todd Gitlin.

At his most persuasive, Bloom argued that the university’s original sin was to downgrade philosophy and discard the Great Books. The practice of substituting breadth for depth ushered in “trendiness, mere popularization and lack of substantive rigor.” He lamented that one-from-column-A-one-from-column-B composite courses failed to “provide the student with independent means to pursue permanent questions independently, as, for example, the study of Aristotle or Kant as wholes once did.” (I must have missed that golden age when Aristotle and Kant were served up whole.) Bloom was right that evangelism for the Great Books can “engender a spurious intimacy with greatness.” But he was also right, more importantly so, that “programs based upon judicious use of great texts provide the royal road to students’ hearts.”

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