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27.12.16

The Closing of the American Mind (Allen Bloom)

The book, The Closing of the American Mind (Allen Bloom) attributed most problems-in the USA today to the Humanities and Social Studies departments of universities.

What I recommend instead is to learn the basic program of the Rambam, the Oral and Written Law, plus Modern Physics and Metaphysics of Aristotle. That plus Musar.
And for Musar {Mediaeval Ethics} I mainly think the best thing out there is the כוכבי אור [Stars of Light] by a disciple of Reb Israel Salanter, Isaac Blazer.

[I myself have a fascination with classical learning but today if you would want to learn that stuff, it is best to do it on your own. I doubt if the Rambam would agree with any of it. At least Kant he would include in his program of Metaphysics.]

On a side note:

The Gra would agree about the seven wisdoms. That is the Trivium and Quadrivium-grammar, rhetoric, and logic,arithmetic, music, geometry, and astronomy. See the introduction of Reb Baruch of Shkolov on his translation of Euclid. He quotes the Gra: to the degree that one lacks knowledge in any one of the seven wisdoms to that degree times a hundred he will lack in understanding of the Torah.





What I like about the Stars of Light  is how he makes the whole idea of Musar clear--fear of God and good midot {character}. Astronomy today is mostly Physics so there the Gra and the Rambam are on the same page. Geometry today is mainly Algebraic Topology and for that I recommend the book by Allen Hatcher. 


Incidentally in the Stars of Light, Rav Isaac Blazer does go into the importance of making a special place to learn Musar, but that never took off the ground. Rather Musar got absorbed into the straight Litvak (Lithuanian) yeshivas and that is where I think it has the most benefit. [These are yeshivas that follow roughly the path of the Gra, Rav Eliyahu from Villna.]