… Today’s knee-jerk illiberalism exhibits many tendencies that Bloom sketched (and sometimes caricatured). Sneers at the Enlightenment as a white male imposition are, as they say on Twitter, trending. Rereading Bloom’s jeremiad, I’m reminded of Theodor Adorno’s backhanded defense of Freud: “In psychoanalysis, nothing is true except the exaggerations.” Bloom’s exaggerations undermined the case for liberal education. It must also be said that they were, at times, disconcertingly and grimly prophetic.
… [Bloom passionately insisted] “that there be an unpopular institution in our midst that sets clarity above well-being or compassion, that resists our powerful urges and temptations, that is free of all snobbism but has standards” and “maintains the permanent questions front and center.” The university, he went on, “must be contemptuous of public opinion because it has within it the source of autonomy — the quest for and even discovery of the truth according to nature. It must concentrate on philosophy, theology, the literary classics, and on those scientists like Newton, Descartes, and Leibniz who have the most comprehensive scientific vision and a sense of the relation of what they do to the order of the whole of things. … The university must resist the temptation to try to do everything for society.” Amen.
… Bloom would not be surprised to see segments of the campus left — students not even born in 1969, and indeed whose parents might not have been born then — proudly declare today: “NO FREE SPEECH.” The mob attack on Charles Murray at Middlebury College, along with various lesser uproars against unpopular views, revealed the force of a continuing revolt against reason.
UD, on the 25th birthday.