Bloom relates that "I found myself responding to the professor of psychology that I personally tried to teach my students prejudices, since nowadays—with the general success of his method—they had learned to doubt beliefs even before they believed in anything . . . One has to have the experience of really believing before one can have the thrill of liberation." Bloom's preferred original title—before being overruled by Simon and Schuster—was Souls Without Longing. He was above all concerned that students, in being deprived of the experience of living in their own version of Plato's cave, would never know or experience the opportunity of philosophic ascent . . .I don't wish to derail the discussion of inauthenticity at Seynsgeschichte, but I wonder how Bloom's view of the value of "the experience of living in Plato's Cave" -- that is, of having lived within a defined cultural tradition -- differs from Heidegger's view of the presupposition of gerede and of the inauthentic as harbor of and "condition of possibility" for the authentic. Is it necessary, in the end, to leave the "vagaries of history" behind?
Bloom was prone to obtuseness about this fact because, at base, Bloom himself was not an admirer or supporter of the multiplicity of cultures. Indeed, he was suspicious and even hostile to the claims of culture upon the shaping of human character and belief—including religious belief. He was not a conservative in the Burkean sense; that is, someone apt to respect the inheritances of tradition and custom as a repository of past wisdom and experience. Rather, he was at his core a liberal: someone who believes that the only benefit of our cultural formation was that it constituted a "cave" from which ambitious and rebellious youth could be encouraged to pursue a life of philosophy.
Wednesday, May 29, 2013
Patrick Deneen on the misinterpretation of Bloom's "conservatism":