Music as an Art

Music as an Art

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.

The Aesthetics of Music

The Aesthetics of Music

What is music, what is its value, and what does it mean? In this stimulating volume, Roger Scruton offers a comprehensive account of the nature and significance of music from the perspective of modern philosophy. The study begins with the metaphysics of sound. Scruton 7istinguishes sound from tone; analyzes rhythm, melody, and harmony; and explores the various dimensions of musical organization and musical meaning. Taking on various fashionable theories in the philosophy and theory of music, he presents a compelling case for the moral significance of music, its place in our culture, and the need for taste and discrimination in performing and listening to it. Laying down principles for musical analysis and criticism, this bold work concludes with a theory of culture--and a devastating demolition of modern popular music. "A provocative new study."--The Guardian

On Human Nature

On Human Nature

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 Averroës 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.

Conversations with Roger Scruton

Conversations with Roger Scruton

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.

The Roger Scruton Reader

The Roger Scruton Reader

The Roger Scruton Reader is the first comprehensive collection of Scruton's writings, spanning a period of thirty years. It gathers selections from some of his earliest works such as The Aesthetics of Architecture (1979) to his most recent Culture Counts (2007). The book also includes a good number of unpublished essays. It is made up of five sections - the last section of all contains some of Scruton's most pugilistic pieces on Dawkins and on The Iraq War. Scruton holds Burkean political views and his book The Meaning of Conservatism was a response to the growth of liberalism in the Conservative party. At all times he is concerned to shift the right way from economics towards moral issues such as sex education and censorship laws. But he has in fact written on almost every aspect of philosophy - always in prose which is accessible and written with pellucid clarity.

Culture Counts

Faith and Feeling in a World Besieged

Culture Counts

What is culture? Why should we preserve it, and how? In this book renowned philosopher Roger Scruton defends Western culture against its internal critics and external enemies, and argues that rumours of its death are seriously exaggerated. He shows our culture to be a continuing source of moral knowledge, and rebuts the fashionable sarcasm which sees it as nothing more than the useless legacy of 'dead white European males'. He is robust in defence of traditional architecture and figurative painting, critical of the fashionable relativists and urgent in his plea for our civilization, which more than ever stands in need of the self-knowledge and self-confidence that are the gift of serious culture.

Green Philosophy

How to think seriously about the planet

Green Philosophy

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, 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.

Conservatism: Ideas in Profile

Conservatism: Ideas in Profile

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.

Wagner's Parsifal

The Music of Redemption

Wagner's Parsifal

A superbly insightful and moving exploration of Wagner's last opera, by one of Britain's leading intellectuals Wagner's last music-drama tells the story of Parsifal, the 'pure fool, knowing through compassion', who has been called to rescue the Kingdom of the Grail from the sins that have polluted it. The Grail is a symbol of purity in a world of lust and power, but although Parsifal is the culmination of Wagner's life-long obsession with the religious frame of mind, the redemption sought by his characters is far from the Christian archetype. For Wagner, redemption occurs in this life, when compassion prevails over enslavement, and purity replaces spiritual pollution. His music here ties together suffering and contrition, sin and forgiveness, downfall and redemption in an inextricable knot, healing the fractures and uniting the warring elements in human life in a way that is clear, convincing and uncanny. More than any other of his works, Parsifal expresses in music a depth of feeling for which we do not have words. This short but penetrating book, by a writer who was uniquely both a leading philosopher and musicologist, shows us how Wagner achieves this profound work, explaining the story, its musical ideas, and their coming together into a sublime whole which gives us the musical equivalent of forgiveness and closure. There are few writers who can so enhance our understanding of one of the greatest works in western music.