What has the “American Mind” become?
In 1987, Allan Bloom’s The Closing of the American Mind was published, a wildly popular book that drew attention to American culture’s shift away from the tenets that made America—and Americans—unique. Bloom focused on a breakdown in the American curriculum, but many sensed that the issue affected more than education. The very essence of what it meant to be an American was disappearing.
Since then, the United States has experienced unprecedented wealth, rising enrollments in higher education, and miraculous technology advancements. At the same time, however, the American mind has deteriorated. Citizens have meager knowledge, low skills, fading civic interest, high narcissism, and abundant distractions. Benjamin Franklin’s “self-made man,” jealous of his rights and attuned to current events has become a self-absorbed, media-saturated, politically-correct adult more or less dependent on the state.
Editors Mark Bauerlein and Adam Bellow have brought together a group of cultural and educational experts to discuss the root causes of the decline of the American mind in fifteen original essays. Their arguments are acute, and they compile profuse empirical evidence for the conclusions they draw. Taken together, the contributions offer a unique assessment of our present state as well as a warning, foretelling what we may yet become.