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The environment has long been the undisputed territory of the
political Left, which casts international capitalism, consumerism,
and the over-exploitation of natural resources as the principle
threats to the planet, and sees top-down interventions as the most
'The ideal interpreter of the Ring ... a fascinating and valuable study ... absorbing and convincing' Sunday Times The Ring of the Nibelung is one of the greatest works of art created in modern times. Roger Scruton's brilliant and passionate exploration of the drama, music, symbolism and philosophy of Wagner's masterpiece - with its themes of love, death, sacrifice and freedom - shows how, ultimately, it expresses the truth about the human condition. 'Highly original and penetrating ... tremendous' Tim Blanning, Literary Review 'A rich, historical account ... After reading this book, only the most unadventurous reader would turn down the chance to see Wagner's masterpiece' Economist 'A brilliant gallop through the master's religious, musical and philosophical contexts' Sue Prideaux, Spectator 'Scruton is one of the finest philosopher-musicians since Schopenhauer' Jonathan Gaisman, Standpoint
In this short book, acclaimed writer and philosopher Roger Scruton presents an original and radical defense of human uniqueness. Confronting the views of evolutionary psychologists, utilitarian moralists, and philosophical materialists such as Richard Dawkins and Daniel Dennett, Scruton argues that human beings cannot be understood simply as biological objects. We are not only human animals; we are also persons, in essential relation with other persons, and bound to them by obligations and rights. Scruton develops and defends his account of human nature by ranging widely across intellectual history, from Plato and Averro s to Darwin and Wittgenstein. The book begins with Kant's suggestion that we are distinguished by our ability to say "I"--by our sense of ourselves as the centers of self-conscious reflection. This fact is manifested in our emotions, interests, and relations. It is the foundation of the moral sense, as well as of the aesthetic and religious conceptions through which we shape the human world and endow it with meaning. And it lies outside the scope of modern materialist philosophy, even though it is a natural and not a supernatural fact. Ultimately, Scruton offers a new way of understanding how self-consciousness affects the question of how we should live. The result is a rich view of human nature that challenges some of today's most fashionable ideas about our species.
A brief, radical defense of human uniqueness from acclaimed philosopher Roger Scruton In this short book, acclaimed writer and philosopher Roger Scruton presents an original and radical defense of human uniqueness. Confronting the views of evolutionary psychologists, utilitarian moralists, and philosophical materialists such as Richard Dawkins and Daniel Dennett, Scruton argues that human beings cannot be understood simply as biological objects. We are not only human animals; we are also persons, in essential relation with other persons, and bound to them by obligations and rights. Our world is a shared world, exhibiting freedom, value, and accountability, and to understand it we must address other people face to face and I to I. Scruton develops and defends his account of human nature by ranging widely across intellectual history, from Plato and Averroes to Darwin and Wittgenstein. The book begins with Kant's suggestion that we are distinguished by our ability to say "I"--by our sense of ourselves as the centers of self-conscious reflection. This fact is manifested in our emotions, interests, and relations. It is the foundation of the moral sense, as well as of the aesthetic and religious conceptions through which we shape the human world and endow it with meaning. And it lies outside the scope of modern materialist philosophy, even though it is a natural and not a supernatural fact. Ultimately, Scruton offers a new way of understanding how self-consciousness affects the question of how we should live. The result is a rich view of human nature that challenges some of today's most fashionable ideas about our species.
Roger Scruton looks at the central ideas of conservatism over the centuries. He examines conservative thinking on civil society, the rule of law and the role of the state on the one hand; and freedom (including freedom of expression and association), morality, equality, property and rights on the other. He traces the origins and development of the conservative ideology in the philosophies and thoughts of, among others, John Locke, Thomas Hobbes, David Hume, Edmund Burke, Adam Smith, John Stuart Mill, John Ruskin, Michael Oakeshott, Friedrich Hayek, Milton Friedman and Robert Nozick. He shows how conservative ideas have worked out in the politics and policies of leading figures people such as Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Disraeli, the Earl of Salisbury, Calvin Coolidge, Winston Churchill, Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher. He also looks closely at the degree to which capitalism and free markets have been, and are integral to, conservative ideology and politics in the UK and in the USA. Professor Scruton's clear, incisive guide is essential reading for anyone wishing to understand the politics and policies of the west now and over the last three centuries.
Beauty can be consoling, disturbing, sacred, profane; it can be exhilarating, appealing, inspiring, chilling. It can affect us in an unlimited variety of ways. Yet it is never viewed with indifference. In this Very Short Introduction the renowned philosopher Roger Scruton explores the concept of beauty, asking what makes an object - either in art, in nature, or the human form - beautiful, and examining how we can compare differing judgements of beauty when it is evident all around us that our tastes vary so widely. Is there a right judgement to be made about beauty? Is it right to say there is more beauty in a classical temple than a concrete office block, more in a Rembrandt than in last year's Turner Prize winner? Forthright and thought-provoking, and as accessible as it is intellectually rigorous, this introduction to the philosophy of beauty draws conclusions that some may find controversial, but, as Scruton shows, help us to find greater sense of meaning in the beautiful objects that fill our lives. ABOUT THE SERIES: The Very Short Introductions series from Oxford University Press contains hundreds of titles in almost every subject area. These pocket-sized books are the perfect way to get ahead in a new subject quickly. Our expert authors combine facts, analysis, perspective, new ideas, and enthusiasm to make interesting and challenging topics highly readable.
Roger Scruton's How to be a Conservative presents the case for modern conservatism not in the terms of an elegy but rather as a practical example of how to live as a conservative despite the pressures to live otherwise. As he writes, the book 'is not about what we have lost, but about what we have retained, and how to hold on to it'.
In this witty and frank account, Scruton draws on his years of experience as a counter-cultural presence in public life. He examines the truths in Nationalism, Socialism, Capitalism, Liberalism, Multiculturalism, Environmentalism, Internationalism and finally Conservatism. The book concludes on a personal note, with 'a valediction forbidding mourning but admitting loss'.
Kant is arguably the most influential modern philosopher, but also one of the most difficult. Roger Scruton tackles his exceptionally complex subject with a strong hand, exploring the background to Kant's work, and showing why the Critique of Pure of Reason has proved so enduring.
In this timely new edition of his classic book A Political Philosophy, celebrated conservative philosopher Roger Scruton interrogates contemporary values, virtues and morality. What principles should govern our relations to animals, the nation state, the environment and other ways of life? What does modern marriage look like? What is Enlightenment and how has its inheritance made itself known? How should we approach religion, evil and death? What explains the rise of totalitarianism and how should we respond to nihilism?
In these philosophical reflections, Scruton adopts his characteristically articulate and unorthodox tone, making no concessions to intellectual fashion. The result is a book of bold, clear thinking that will seem refreshingly logical to many, particularly those seeking a return to first principles in an increasingly baffling age of modernity.
Music as an Art begins by examining music through a philosophical lens, engaging in discussions about tonality, music and the moral life, music and cognitive science and German idealism, as well as recalling the author's struggle to encourage his students to distinguish the qualities of good music. Scruton then explains - via erudite chapters on Schubert, Britten, Rameau, opera and film - how we can develop greater judgement in music, recognising both good taste and bad, establishing musical values, as well as musical pleasures. As Scruton argues in this book, in earlier times, our musical culture had secure foundations in the church, the concert hall and the home; in the ceremonies and celebrations of ordinary life, religion and manners. Yet we no longer live in that world. Fewer people now play instruments and music is, for many, a form of largely solitary enjoyment. As he shows in Music as an Art, we live at a critical time for classical music, and this book is an important contribution to the debate, of which we stand in need, concerning the place of music in Western civilization.
Where We Are is philosopher Roger Scruton's personal response to the consequences of the 2017 'Brexit' vote. This concise, engaging book is neither an argument to 'leave' nor to 'remain' but develops instead some fundamental ideas: What is national identity? What defines our country? Who are we and what holds us together?
As Scruton argues, these are the most important political questions of our time, and all across Europe people are beginning to ask them.
This book is essential reading for anyone, of whatever political persuasion, interested in what it means to be British, what that might come to mean in future and how we will define our place in a rapidly changing world.
What do we mean by 'culture'? This word, purloined by journalists to denote every kind of collective habit, lies at the centre of contemporary debates about the past and future of society. In this thought-provoking book, Roger Scruton argues for the religious origin of culture in all its forms, and mounts a defence of the 'high culture' of our civilization against its radical and 'deconstructionist' critics. He offers a theory of pop culture, a panegyric to Baudelaire, a few reasons why Wagner is just as great as his critics fear him to be, and a raspberry to Cool Britannia. A must for all people who are fed up to their tightly clenched front teeth with Derrida, Foucault, Oasis and Richard Rogers.
We are familiar with the medical opinion that a daily glass of wine is good for the health and also the rival opinion that any more than a glass or two will set us on the road to ruin. Whether or not good for the body, Scruton argues, wine, drunk in the right frame of mind, is definitely good for the soul. And there is no better accompaniment to wine than philosophy. By thinking with wine, you can learn not only to drink in thoughts but to think in draughts. This good-humoured book offers an antidote to the pretentious clap-trap that is written about wine today and a profound apology for the drink on which civilisation has been founded. In vino veritas.
Roger Scruton explores the place of God in a disenchanted world. His argument is a response to the atheist culture that is now growing around us, and also a defence of human uniqueness. He rebuts the claim that there is no meaning or purpose in the natural world, and argues that the sacred and the transcendental are 'real presences', through which human beings come to know themselves and to find both their freedom and their redemption. In the human face we find a paradigm of meaning. And from this experience, Scruton argues, we both construct the face of the world, and address the face of God. We find in the face both the proof of our freedom and the mark of self-consciousness. One of the motivations of the atheist culture is to escape from the eye of judgement. You escape from the eye of judgement by blotting out the face: and this, Scruton argues, is the most disturbing aspect of the times in which we live. In his wide-ranging argument Scruton explains the growing sense of destruction that we feel, as the habits of pleasure seeking and consumerism deface the world. His book defends a consecrated world against the habit of desecration, and offers a vision of the religious way of life in a time of trial.
Architecture is distinguished from other art forms by its sense of function, its localized quality, its technique, its public and nonpersonal character, and its continuity with the decorative arts. In this important book, Roger Scruton calls for a return to first principles in contemporary architectural theory, contending that the aesthetic of architecture is, in its very essence, an aesthetic of everyday life. Aesthetic understanding is inseparable from a sense of detail and style, from which the appropriate, the expressive, the beautiful, and the proportionate take their meaning. Scruton provides incisive critiques of the romantic, functionalist, and rationalist theories of design, and of the Freudian, Marxist, and semiological approaches to aesthetic value.
In a new introduction, Scruton discusses how his ideas have developed since the book's original publication thirty years ago, and he assesses the continuing relevance of his argument for the twenty-first century.
A devastating critique of New Left thinking
In Fools, Frauds and Firebrands, Roger Scruton first surveys and then deconstructs the golden idols of left wing thought from the 1960s to the present day. He dissects the hollow works of Hobsbawm and E. P. Thompson, Galbraith and Dworkin, Sartre and Foucault and exposes the lack of coherence in the works of Althusser, Lacan, Deleuze, Badiou and Zizek.
Scruton ponders why the humanities have become so unambiguously aligned to the left, and reveals how fully such thinking has seized the academy in its grasp. In this provocative, compelling and highly entertaining book he explains why empty rhetoric abounds over careful analysis and blatant nonsense over respectable logic, in a shattering demolition of some of today's most fashionable philosophers.
Benedict de Spinoza (1632-77) was at once the father of the Enlightenment and the last sad guardian of the medieval world. In his brilliant synthesis of geometrical method, religious sentiment, and secular science, he attempted to reconcile the conflicting moral and intellectual demands of his epoch, and to present a vision of humanity as simultaneously bound by necessity and eternally free. Roger Scruton presents a clear and systematic analysis of Spinoza's thought, and shows its relevance to today's intellectual preoccupations.
In The Soul of the World, renowned philosopher Roger Scruton defends the experience of the sacred against today's fashionable forms of atheism. He argues that our personal relationships, moral intuitions, and aesthetic judgments hint at a transcendent dimension that cannot be understood through the lens of science alone. To be fully alive--and to understand what we are--is to acknowledge the reality of sacred things. Rather than an argument for the existence of God, or a defense of the truth of religion, the book is an extended reflection on why a sense of the sacred is essential to human life--and what the final loss of the sacred would mean. In short, the book addresses the most important question of modernity: what is left of our aspirations after science has delivered its verdict about what we are? Drawing on art, architecture, music, and literature, Scruton suggests that the highest forms of human experience and expression tell the story of our religious need, and of our quest for the being who might answer it, and that this search for the sacred endows the world with a soul. Evolution cannot explain our conception of the sacred; neuroscience is irrelevant to our interpersonal relationships, which provide a model for our posture toward God; and scientific understanding has nothing to say about the experience of beauty, which provides a God's-eye perspective on reality. Ultimately, a world without the sacred would be a completely different world--one in which we humans are not truly at home. Yet despite the shrinking place for the sacred in today's world, Scruton says, the paths to transcendence remain open.
Can beauty save the world? These days criticism of art--whether visual, musical, or literary--is often marked by a suspicion of beauty. What happened to the belief that the creativity of the artist reflects the creativity of the Maker of heaven and earth, and that art can therefore be a channel for divine truth? Anyone who has joined with others to sing Bach's Saint Matthew Passion or stood before a painting by Raphael or Chagall can attest to this. At such moments, art binds people together. This issue of Plough focuses on art that leads to such community: through theater, painting, music, and the objects and architecture of everyday life. And while art fosters community, building community is itself a work of creativity. Also in this issue: original poetry by Cozine Welch Jr.; reviews of new books by Eliza Griswold, Alissa Quart, Eugene Vodolazkin, and Nathan Englander; and art by Denis Brown, JR, Valerie Jardin, Isaiah King, Isaiah Tanenbaum, George Makary, Oriol Malet, Alex Nwokolo, Ashik and Jenelle Mohan, Raphael, Aaron Douglas, Winslow Homer, Vincent van Gogh, Wassily Kandinsky, and Jason Landsel. Plough Quarterly features stories, ideas, and culture for people eager to put their faith into action. Each issue brings you in-depth articles, interviews, poetry, book reviews, and art to help you put Jesus' message into practice and find common cause with others.
This book reveals what life was like for Roger Scruton growing up in High Wycombe, how he survived Cambridge and how he came to hold his conservative outlook. It tells of Scruton's rise to prominence while writing for The Times and sheds light on his campaign on behalf of underground dissidents in Eastern Europe. Ranging across topics as diverse as the current state of British philosophy, music, religion, and illuminating what lay behind Scruton's abandonment of academia for his new life on a Wiltshire farm, Conversations with Roger Scruton is an intimate portrait of a writer who has felt philosophy as a vocation and whose defence of unfashionable causes has brought him a wide readership in Britain and around the world.
For most people in England today, the church is simply the empty building at the end of the road, visited for the first time, if at all, when dead. It offers its sacraments to a population that lives without rites of passage, and which regards the National Health Service rather than the National Church as its true spiritual guardian. In Our Church, Scruton argues that the Anglican Church is the forlorn trustee of an architectural and artistic inheritance that remains one of the treasures of European civilization. He contends that it is a still point in the centre of English culture and that its defining texts, the King James Bible and the Book of Common Prayer are the sources from which much of our national identity derives. At once an elegy to a vanishing world and a clarion call to recognize Anglicanism's continuing relevance, Our Church is a graceful and persuasive book.
Roger Scruton is one of the most widely respected philosophers of our time, whose often provocative views never fail to stimulate debate. In Modern Philosophy he turns his attention to the whole of the field, from the philosophy of logic to aesthetics, and in so doing provides us with an essential and comprehensive guide to modern thinking. Considered by many to be the best philosophical primer since Bertrand Russell's The Problems of Philosophy, this book is a must for both the student and the general reader.
Set in the twilight years of the Czechoslovak communist regime, recalled from the suburbs of Washington, this novel describes a doomed love affair between two young people trapped by the system. Roger Scruton evokes a world in which every word and gesture bears a double meaning, as people seek to find truth amid the lies and love in the midst of betrayal. The novel tells the story of Jan Reichl, condemned to a menial life by his father's alleged crime, and of Betka, the girl who offers him education, opportunity and love, but who mysteriously refuses to commit herself. Through his encounter with the underground culture Jan comes to understand that truth will always elude those who pursue it, and will come only when they least expect it. Hope comes to him from Father Pavel, a priest in the underground church, who opens a door into the faith that has inspired and guided him. Jan is deeply moved by Father Pavel's vision, but distrusts it too. He attends the underground seminars, where the dissidents gather in defiance of the system; but here too distrust prevails. All roads that seem to promise freedom lead to dead ends. But what of Betka: is she the door that opens out of the underground or the door that finally shuts him in? As the story moves to its tragic conclusion the communist system enters its death throes. Jan enjoys freedom at last, only to understand that he has lost the love that would have made freedom meaningful.
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