Episode 43: The Closing of the American Mind with Brad Carson

In this episode, I speak with the president of the University of Tulsa, Brad Carson, about Allen Bloom’s infamous book, The Closing of the American Mind. Brad and I ultimately decide that while we like some of Bloom’s key ideas about what a university is for, we do not love the book itself, which has some serious flaws (though we may differ slightly about what we think those flaws are).

As always, I hope you enjoy our conversation.

Brad Carson is The University of Tulsa’s 21st president. Having built a distinguished career in public service, law and education, before becoming president of TU, Carson was a professor at the University of Virginia, teaching courses related to national security and public sector innovation. In 2015, President Barack Obama appointed Carson acting under secretary of defense for personnel and readiness at the U.S. Department of Defense. Prior to that, Carson served as the under secretary of the U.S. Army, where he managed the daily operations of the largest military service, and as general counsel of the U.S. Army, where he oversaw the service’s worldwide legal operations. Carson is widely published and is a noted authority on national security, energy policy and American politics. From 2001 to 2005, Carson served two terms as a U.S. congressman, representing Oklahoma’s 2nd District. Later, he was appointed to the faculty of TU’s Collins College of Business and College of Law, where he taught courses on energy policy, property law, negotiation and game theory, globalization and law and literature. In 2008, Carson deployed during Operation Iraqi Freedom as an intelligence officer and was awarded the Bronze Star for his service. Raised in Oklahoma, Carson received his BA from Baylor University and was a Rhodes Scholar at the University of Oxford. He then went on to earn a JD at the University of Oklahoma.

Jennifer Frey is an associate Professor of Philosophy at the University of South Carolina and fellow of the Institute for Human Ecology at the Catholic University of America. Prior to joining the philosophy faculty at USC, she was a Collegiate Assistant Professor of Humanities at the University of Chicago, where she was a member of the Society of Fellows in the Liberal Arts and an affiliated faculty in the philosophy department.  She earned her Ph.D. in philosophy at the University of Pittsburgh, and her B.A. in Philosophy and Medieval Studies (with a Classics minor) at Indiana University, in Bloomington, Indiana. She has published widely on action, virtue, practical reason, and meta-ethics, and has recently co-edited an interdisciplinary volume, Self-Transcendence and Virtue: Perspectives from Philosophy, Theology, and PsychologyHer writing has also been featured in Breaking Ground, First ThingsFare ForwardImageLaw and LibertyThe Point, and USA Today. She lives in Columbia, SC, with her husband, six children, and six chickens. You can follow her on Twitter @jennfrey.

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Sacred and Profane Love is a podcast in which philosophers, theologians, and literary critics discuss some of their favorite works of literature, and how these works have shaped their own ideas about love, happiness, and meaning in human life. Host Jennifer A. Frey is associate professor of philosophy at the University of South Carolina. The podcast is generously supported by The Institute for Human Ecology at the Catholic University of America and produced by Catholics for Hire.

Audio Edited & Music Produced by Anthony Monson

3 thoughts on “Episode 43: The Closing of the American Mind with Brad Carson

  1. Hi! In the podcast ( which was excellent, as always), you and your guest kept referring to a book by Macintyre, a book that both of you agreed was a better alternative to Bloom’s The Closing of the American Mind. What is the title of the book by Macintyre? Thanks!


  2. Carson came so close to being the new Pontius Pilate. He didn’t quite say it, but I bet he was thinking, “What is Truth?” He’s a relativist, despite what he proclaimed. I can’t believe he called you quaint for believing in truth. And by the way Alan Bloom is a horrible literary critic. In my opinion I have found him to be so wrong on many literary topics, but on this he is fundamentally right.

    I just stumbled on this podcast and enjoyed it. What a blessing. I have now subscribed.


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