Conversing with Bloom

by Carol Iannone

Andrew Ferguson writes an excellent article on Allan Bloom and the continuing importance of his breakthrough book, The Closing of the American Mind. (Ferguson’s article on the ongoing rehabilitation of Bill Clinton is also a notable gem.) Regarding Bloom, Ferguson notes that ”he understood that the intellectual fashion of materialism — of explaining all life, human or animal, mental or otherwise, by means of physical processes alone — had led inescapably to a doctrinaire relativism that would prove to be a universal corrosive.” The liberal arts were deprived of their meaning and purpose, that is, that informed reason could arrive at truth, and that some truths are higher than others. Bloom’s book began a bracing discussion that continues to this day. If you read him carefully, however, it’s pretty clear that he didn’t believe in a transcendent truth either, but that doesn’t seem to matter for his part in the conversation.