Reforming Higher Education and the Opening of the American Mind

Nathan Tarcov, "Reforming Higher Education and the Opening of the American Mind," The Good Society, Vol. 17, No. 2 (2008), pp. 84-85.


The second point I would like to make is that although Bloom directed withering criticism against the current academic trends that denied the possibility of learning from the reading of great books, which stemmed from what we can call the cultural left, his diagnosis was broader and deeper than that. It encompasses the obstacles posed to liberal education by commercial or bourgeois society (“capitalism” in the vernacular) and even by democracy itself. It is worth recalling, for example, his eloquent denunciation of the deleterious effects on liberal education of the elevation of the MBA: “The effect of the MBA is to corral a horde of students who want to get into business school and to put the blinders on them, to legislate an illiberal, officially approved undergraduate program for them at the outset…the pre-business economics major…is not motivated by love of the science of economics but by love of what it is concerned with—money” (pp. 370–71). Even if the illiberal academic fads of the cultural left were to pass away, enormous obstacles to liberal education would remain, as may be even clearer in our time.

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