Roger Scruton

Roger Scruton

Roger Vernon Scruton (born 27 February 1944) is a British philosopher. He is (or has been) an academic, editor, publisher, barrister, journalist, broadcaster, countryside campaigner, novelist, and composer.



  • [Burke] emphasized that the new forms of politics, which hope to organize society around the rational pursuit of liberty, equality, fraternity, or their modernist equivalents, are actually forms of militant irrationality.
  • All of us need an identity which unites us with our neighbours, our countrymen, those people who are subject to the same rules and the same laws as us, those people with whom we might one day have to fight side by side to protect our inheritance, those people with whom we will suffer when attacked, those people whose destinies are in some way tied up with our own.

Modern Philosophy (1995)Edit

[Allen Lane The Penguin Press ISBN 0713991402]
  • A writer who says that there are no truths, or that all truth is 'merely relative,' is asking you not to believe him. So don't.
    • "The Nature of Philosophy" (p. 6)
  • Kant's position is extremely subtle — so subtle, indeed, that no commentator seems to agree with any other as to what it is.
    • "Some More -isms" (p. 25)
  • In argument about moral problems, relativism is the first refuge of the scoundrel.
    • "Some More -isms" (p. 32)

Modern Culture (2000)Edit

[ Continuum ISBN 0826494447]
  • The core of common culture is religion. Tribes survive and flourish because they have gods, who fuse many wills into a single will, and demand and reward the sacrifices on which social life depends.
    • "Culture and Cult" (p. 5)
  • The first effect of modernism was to make high culture difficult: to surround beauty with a wall of erudition.
    • "Avant-garde and Kitsch" (p. 85)
  • Without the background of a remembered faith modernism loses its conviction: it becomes routinised. For a long time now it has been assumed that there can be no authentic creation in the sphere of high art which is not is some way a 'challenge' to the ordinary public. Art must give offence, stepping out of the future fully armed against the bourgeois taste for kitsch and cliché. But the result of this is that offence becomes a cliché.
    • "Avant-garde and Kitsch" (p. 86)
  • Faith exalts the human heart, by removing it from the market-place, making it sacred and unexchangeable. Under the jurisdiction of religion our deeper feelings are sacralized, so as to become raw material for the ethical life: the life lived in judgement.
    • "Avant-garde and Kitsch" (p. 91)
  • The ethical life... is maintained in being by a common culture, which also upholds the togetherness of society... Unlike the modern youth culture, a common culture sanctifies the adult state, to which it offers rites of passage.
    • "Idle Hands" (p. 127)

Hayek and conservatism (2006)Edit

"Hayek and conservatism", in Edward Feser (ed.), The Cambridge Companion to Hayek (2006)

  • Hayek’s theory of evolutionary rationality shows how traditions and customs (those surrounding sexual relations, for example) might be reasonable solutions to complex social problems, even when, and especially when, no clear rational grounds can be provided to the individual for obeying them. These customs have been selected by the ‘‘invisible hand’’ of social reproduction, and societies that reject them will soon enter the condition of ‘‘maladaptation,’’ which is the normal prelude to extinction.
  • Hayek fails to account either for the passion among intellectuals for equality, or for the resulting success of socialists and their egalitarian successors in driving the liberal idea from the stage of politics. This passion for equality is not a new thing, and indeed pre-dates socialism by many centuries, finding its most influential expression in the writings of Rousseau. There is no consensus as to how equality might be achieved, what it would consist in if achieved, or why it is so desirable in the first place. But no argument against the cogency or viability of the idea has the faintest chance of being listened to or discussed by those who have fallen under its spell.
  • Hayek sees that the zero-sum vision is fired by an implacable negative energy. It is not the concrete vision of some real alternative that animates the socialist critic of the capitalist order. It is hostility toward the actual, and in particular toward those who enjoy advantages within it. Hence the belief in equality remains vague and undefined, except negatively. For it is essentially a weapon against the existing order – a way of undermining its claims to legitimacy, by discovering a victim for every form of success. The striving for equality is, in other words, based in ressentiment in Nietzsche’s sense, the state of mind that Max Scheler identified as the principal motive behind the socialist orthodoxy of his day. It is one of the major problems of modern politics, which no classical liberal could possibly solve, how to govern a society in which resentment has acquired the kind of privileged social, intellectual, and political position that we witness today.

A Political Philosophy (2006)Edit

[ Continuum ISBN 0826493912]
  • Conservatism is itself a modernism, and in this lies the secret of its success.
    • "Eliot and Conservatism" (p. 194)
  • The conservative response to modernity is to embrace it, but to embrace it critically, in full consciousness that human achievements are rare and precarious, that we have no God-given right to destroy our inheritance, but must always patiently submit to the voice of order, and set an example of orderly living.
    • "Eliot and Conservatism" (p. 208)
  • The future of mankind, for the socialist, is simple: pull down the existing order and allow the future to emerge.
    • "Eliot and Conservatism" (p. 208)

Culture Counts (2007)Edit

[ Encounter Books ISBN 1594031940]
  • A civilization is a social entity that manifests religious, political , legal, and customary uniformity over an extended period, and which confers on its members the benefits of socially accumulated knowledge.
    • "What is Culture?" (p. 2)
  • The culture of a civilization is the art and literature through which it rises to consciousness of itself and defines its vision of the world.
    • "What is Culture?" (p. 2)
  • This "knowing what to do"… is a matter of having the right purpose, the purpose appropriate to the situation in hand... The one who "knows what to do" is the one on whom you can rely to make the best shot at success, whenever success is possible.
    • "Knowledge and Feeling" (p. 35)
  • [T]o teach virtue we must educate the emotions, and this means learning "what to feel" in the various circumstances that prompt them.
    • "Knowledge and Feeling" (p. 37)
  • In all the areas of life where people have sought and found consolation through forbidding their desires—sex in particular, and taste in general—the habit of judgment is now to be stamped out.
    • "Rays of Hope" (p. 106)

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