Allan David Bloom (1930–1992) American cultural critic and philosopher

Allan David Bloom (1930–1992) was an American cultural critic and philosopher. He was born in Indianapolis, US. He gained a scholarship to study politics and philosophy at the University of Chicago, where he met his mentor and key influence Leo Strauss. He completed his Ph.D in 1955 and after three years in Europe, studying first with Alexander Kojeve in Paris, and then in Germany, he returned to the University of Chicago to teach adult education classes. Subsequently, he taught at Cornell University, Yale University, Tel Aviv University, and the University of Toronto. While he was at Cornell, Bloom served as a faculty member of the Telluride House, whose student residents included Paul Wolfowitz and Francis Fukuyama.

His first book was Shakespeare’s Politics; a collection of three essays on Shakespeare’s plays, which included an essay from Harry V. Jaffa. In 1968, he published his most significant work of philosophical translation and interpretation, a translation of Plato’s Republic. Bloom was an editor for the scholarly journal Political Theory as well as a contributor to History of Political Philosophy (edited by Joseph Cropsey and Leo Strauss). He translated Jean-Jacques Rousseau’s Emile in 1979.

He is mainly famous for his criticism of contemporary American higher education in his book The Closing of the American Mind (1987), a jeremiad for the decline of ‘proper’ teaching in the US. Drawing heavily on Nietzsche, its central thesis is that social movements that sprang up in the 1960s—such as the civil rights movement—are a sign of moral decay. Its success was not without controversy and the book sparked stern ripostes from Martha Nussbaum, David Rieff, Alexander Nehamas, and Benjamin Barber. Nevertheless, the book was, and continues to be, championed by the Right and remains an icon of the so-called ‘culture wars’. In 1987 Bellow wrote the preface to The Closing of the American Mind. Bloom wrote several other books, but none so widely received like this. His novelist friend Saul Bellow immortalized and ‘outed’ Bloom in the roman à clef Ravelstein (2000). His last book, which he dictated while partially paralyzed and in the hospital, and which was published posthumously, was Love and Friendship.

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