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Ravelstein revisited

Surprisingly, the most basic questions about Ravelstein were not even raised: If you really wanted to get a good perspective on Allan Bloom, why would you ask a novelist, no matter how eminent? Instead, would not Bloom's peers at other universities (such as Nozick, Rawls, and Gardiner) make better judges of Allan Bloom's life and philosophy?

Allan Bloom is anything but seminal. A random sample of philosophy books will demonstrate that Bloom is never quoted. In fact, Bloom doesn't even get a footnote in any of the philosophy or philosophy of education books I've checked. Why then would Saul Bellow consider Bloom to be worthy of the reader's time and investment?

Today, outside of the University of Chicago, no one ever discusses (or even recalls) Closing of the American Mind, Bloom's 1987 bestseller. Its impact has been minimal, to say the least. What, then, is Bellow's reason for writing about Allan Bloom?

Rather than ask how many copies of Ravelstein were sold at the 57th Street Bookstore, would not the relevant question be, how is Ravelstein selling across America?

Readers should ask objectively why Bloom is more important than, say, the late Isaiah Berlin or Sidney Hook. Thinking critically and asking the hard questions without fear is, after all, the quintessential U of C style. Gautam Parikh, AB'84, AM'86 San Jose, California

Gautam Parikh, AB'84, AM'86
San Jose, California

 


  AUGUST 2000

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