The Reopening of the American Mind

Jay Schalin, "The Reopening of the American Mind," The John William Pope Center for Higher Education Policy, 4 July 2012.

The publication of Closing of the American Mind was followed by the 1989 appearance of Rush Limbaugh on the national airwaves and the Internet’s emergence in the early 1990s. Conservative think tanks rooted in the theories of John Locke and Adam Smith proliferated greatly in the years after Bloom’s book. Popular books on American history, politics, and political theory by conservative authors fly off the shelves (and through the mail after online purchases). There are thousands of websites devoted to the discussion of philosophy. These new means of communication, association, and scholarship offered an alternative soil to the infertile, played-out grounds of the universities, one in which the seeds of intellectual rebirth could grow.

Bloom might not agree; he was adamant that Western civilization’s rejuvenation was dependent upon a return to its original source, the classical Greeks. The current rebirth instead goes back to America’s source, the documents of the founding fathers and the British empiricists who spawned them. Bloom could not have foreseen millions of citizen-scholars with day jobs jamming miniature copies of the Constitution into their pockets and poring over the Federalist Papers. If sometimes their level of scholarship is low, their passions run high….

Pope Center