The Book That Drove Them Crazy
The purpose of a four-year liberal arts program—defended by Bloom as an exploration of the big questions that life presents to the fully conscious human being—became confused. What was the point of a bachelor of arts degree? Was it to plumb the depths and origins of Western civilization, which had after all invented the university, and to develop the student spiritually and morally? Or was it to set the kid up for a cushy job? Humanists in our universities lost confidence in the traditional answer. By the time Bloom’s book was released, the crisis in the humanities was acknowledged by everyone except the people who worked in the humanities. Parents wondered why their college-age children were taking classes called “Hip-Hop Eshu: Queen Bitch 101” and coming home after four years with degrees in “Peace Studies” that cost $100,000. State legislators wondered about political indoctrination at tax-funded universities. The most casual observers noticed that teachers of philosophy or literature could no longer describe their disciplines in plain speech, favoring a professional language that was no more intelligible than Esperanto, and much less useful.
Read the rest of Andrew Ferguson's essay here.