Eminent writer and philosopher, Prof Sir Roger Scruton has for over three decades taught at institutions on both sides of the Atlantic including Birkbeck College, Boston University, and more recently, the University of Buckingham. He is an author of over forty books. In his work as a philosopher he has specialized in aesthetics with particular attention to music and architecture. He has written several works of fiction, as well as memoirs and essays on topics of general interest. He engages in contemporary political and cultural debates from the standpoint of a conservative thinker and is well known as a powerful polemicist.
He is a fellow of the Royal Society of Literature and the British Academy. He has been officially honoured by the Czech Republic, by the City of Plzen and by Virginia’s General Assembly. In 2004 he received the Ingersoll Weaver Prize for Scholarly Letters. In 2015 he published 3 books all of which were chosen among people’s ‘books of the year’. In 2016 he was recipient of the Polish Lech Kaczynski Foundation’s Medal for Courage and Integrity, was awarded the Italian Masi Prize for the Culture of Wine in recognition of his book I Drink Therefore I Am (Bevo, dunque sono), and was knighted in the Qiueen’s Birthday Honours List.
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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.
“Scruton fastidiously argues for tonality and expression as significant components of musical compositions in this enlightening academic work.” – Publishers Weekly
PUBLISHER: Bloomsbury Continuum
PUBLICATION DATE: 23rd August 2018
Addressing one of the most politically turbulent periods in modern British history, philosopher Roger Scruton asks how, in these circumstances, we can come to define our identity, and what in the coming years will hold us together. To what are our duties owed and why? How do we respond to the pull of globalisation and mass migration, to the rise of Islam and to the decline of Christian belief? Do we accept these as inevitable or do we resist them? If we resist them on what basis do we build? This book sets out to answer these questions, and to understand the volatile moment in which we live.
Roger Scruton slices characteristically through the fog of debate with this sensible and profound account of our collective identity; essential reading for anyone interested in what it means to be British, what that might come to mean in future, and who wonders how we can define our place in a rapidly changing world.
THE RING OF TRUTH — Buy it here
Richard Wagner’s Ring of the Nibelung is one of the greatest works of art created in modern times, and has fascinated both critics and devotees for over a century and a half. No recent study has examined the meaning of Wagner’s masterpiece with the attention to detail and intellectual power that Roger Scruton brings to it in this inspiring account. The Ring of Truth is an exploration of the drama, music, symbolism and philosophy of the Ring from a writer whose knowledge and understanding of the Western musical tradition are the equal of his capacities as a philosopher.
Scruton shows how, through musical connections and brilliant dramatic strokes, Wagner is able to express truths about the human condition which few other creative artists have been able to convey so convincingly. For Wagner, writes Scruton, the task of art is to ‘show us freedom in its immediate, contingent, human form, reminding us of what it means to us. Even if we live in a world from which gods and heroes have disappeared we can, by imagining them, dramatize the deep truths of our condition and renew our faith in what we are.’
Love, death, sacrifice and the liberation that we win through sacrifice – these are the great themes of the Ring, as they are of this book. Scruton’s passionate and moving interpretation allows us to understand more fully than ever how Wagner conveys his ideas about who we are, and why the Ring continues to be such a hypnotically absorbing work.
PUBLISHER: Allen Lane
PUBLICATION DATE: 9th June 2016
FOOLS, FRAUDS AND FIREBRANDS: THINKERS OF THE NEW LEFT
The thinkers who have been most influential on the attitudes of the New Left are examined in this study by one of the leading critics of leftist orientations in modern Western civilization. Scruton begins with a ruthless analysis of New Leftism and concludes with a critique of the key strands in its thinking. He conducts a reappraisal of such major left-wing thinkers as: E. P. Thompson, Ronald Dworkin, R. D. Laing, Jurgen Habermas, Gyorgy Lukacs, Jean-Paul Sartre, Jacques Derrida, Slavoj Zizek, Ralph Milliband and Eric Hobsbawm. In addition to assessments of these thinkers’ philosophical and political contributions, the book contains a biographical and bibliographical section summarizing their careers and most important writings.
In Thinkers of the New Left Scruton asks, what does the Left look like today and as it has evolved since 1989? He charts the transfer of grievances from the working class to women, gays and immigrants, asks what can we put in the place of radical egalitarianism, and what explains the continued dominance of antinomian attitudes in the intellectual world? Can there be any foundation for resistance to the leftist agenda without religious faith?
Scruton’s exploration of these important issues is written with skill, perception and at all times with pellucid clarity. The result is a devastating critique of modern left-wing thinking.
PUBLISHER: Bloomsbury Continuum
PUBLICATION DATE: 8th October 2015
GREEN PHILOSOPHY: HOW TO THINK SERIOUSLY ABOUT THE PLANET — Buy it here
The environment has long been the undisputed territory of the political Left, which has seen the principal threats to the earth as issuing from international capitalism, consumerism and the over-exploitation of natural resources. In Green Philosophy, Roger Scruton shows the fallacies behind that way of thinking, and the danger that it poses to the ecosystems on which we all depend. Scruton contends that the environment is the most urgent political problem of our age, and sets out the principles that should govern our efforts to protect it. The current environmental movement directs its energies at the bigger picture but fails to see that environmental problems are generated and resolved by ordinary people. In Green Philosophy, Scruton argues that conservatism is far better suited to tackle environmental problems than either liberalism or socialism. He shows that rather than entrusting the environment to unwieldy NGOs and international committees, we must assume personal responsibility and foster local sovereignty. People must be empowered to take charge of their environment, to care for it as a home, and to affirm themselves through the kind of local associations that have been the traditional goal of conservative politics. Our common future is by no means assured, but as Roger Scruton clearly demonstrates in this important book, there is a path that we can take which could ensure the future safety of our planet and our species.
PUBLISHER: Atlantic Books
PUBLICATION DATE: 1 January 2013
BEAUTY — Buy it here.
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. Here, 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.
PUBLICATION DATE: March 2009