By Thomas K. Lindsay
If, as Whitehead observed, all European philosophy is “a series of footnotes to Plato,” all contemporary critiques of higher education are addenda to Allan Bloom’s 1987 blockbuster, The Closing of the American Mind: How Higher Education Has Failed Democracy and Impoverished the Souls of Today’s Students. Scoring big with the public, Closing was clobbered by the academy. But recently, two academics, William Deresiewicz and Steven Pinker, have been battling publicly over turf Bloom already plowed. But neither of them seems to know it.
In July, Deresiewicz penned The New Republic’s most-read article ever, “Don’t Send Your Kid to the Ivy League.” His experience teaching at Yale convinces him that today’s Ivy Leaguers suffer a “stunted sense of purpose.” They are “great at what they’re doing but with no idea why they’re doing it.” Theirs are lives of “emptiness, and aimlessness and isolation,” due to an inordinate focus on “affluence, credentials, and prestige.” CONTINUE READING HERE