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A Political Philosophy: Arguments for Conservatism [Paperback]

Roger Scruton

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Book Description

May 10 2007 0826496156 978-0826496157 New edition
Over the past twenty years, Roger Scruton has been developing a conservative view of human beings, society and culture. The tone of this book is positive and the arguments are recommendations with the aim of convincing the reader that rumours of the death of Western civilisation are greatly exaggerated. Much of our present self doubt, argues Scruton, is brought about by the Darwinian theory of evolution. Darwin encourages us to see human emotion as a reproductive strategy. This is a perspective which Scurton attacks vehemently especially in its modern proponents- Desmond Morris and Richard Dawkins. This the author believes undermines the belief in freedom and the moral imperatives that stem from it.

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Review

'What may be found here is a collection of acute observations about modern attitudes, arguments underming their essential assumptions, and references to the past which enable the reader to set moral and intellectual enquiry into a wide frame of reference.
The essays are certainly polemical, and are clearly intended to be; they are, however, elevated above the trivial rhetoric of modern politics, and achieve a distinction that is at once apparent and readily accessible.
His essays are prophetic assaults upon the superficial and false understandings inherent in the substitute morality now mandatory in modern materialist thought...there remains intellectual engagement of a high order.'
(Edward Norman Church Times)

"An intelllectual challenge and an entertaining read."
(Richard Hayton, Political Studies Review)

'What may be found here is a collection of acute observations about modern attitudes, arguments underming their essential assumptions, and references to the past which enable the reader to set moral and intellectual enquiry into a wide frame of reference.
The essays are certainly polemical, and are clearly intended to be; they are, however, elevated above the trivial rhetoric of modern politics, and achieve a distinction that is at once apparent and readily accessible.
His essays are prophetic assaults upon the superficial and false understandings inherent in the substitute morality now mandatory in modern materialist thought...there remains intellectual engagement of a high order.'
(Sanford Lakoff Church Times)

"An intelllectual challenge and an entertaining read."
(Sanford Lakoff)

About the Author

Professor Roger Scruton is Resident Fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, Washington and Senior Research Fellow at Blackfriars Hall, Oxford. His other books include Sexual Desire, The West and the Rest, England: An Elegy, News from Somewhere and Gentle Regrets (all published by Continuum).

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.0 out of 5 stars  6 reviews
48 of 52 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic collection of essays Jan. 4 2007
By Eduardo Veiga - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
British philosopher Roger Scruton shows brilliance and great erudition in a collection of essays on marriage, death, religion, the nature of evil and 'Eliot and conservatism', for example. Quite a trip. Reminded me of Irving Kristol's fantastic 'Neo-Conservatism: The Autobiography of an Idea'. This was my first book by Scruton--I came across him in a co-ed piece he wrote to the Wall Street Journal--and fortunately he authored many others. Wikipedia says "he is widely regarded as the most important living British conservative philosopher", which is not at odds with the high caliber of these essays. The book also contains ample footnotes for those interested in his bibliography, and of course an index.
52 of 62 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful Book March 31 2007
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
Roger Scruton presents a conservatism largely at odds with the American self-styled conservatives of libertarian or neo-con persuasion. Part of his presentation is based on the idea of the social contract as a form of trusteeship between the unborn, the dead and the (merely) living. This is a very persuasive Burkean view leading to all kinds of conclusions that will surprise American readers.

For example, he devotes chapters to the morality of eating animals and the squandering of natural resources by the living generation. Consider this statement and compare it to the Republican Party's platform: "Environmentalists and conservatives are both in search of the motive that will defend a shared but threatened legacy from predation by its current trustees." That is, he argues forcefully that conservation (of both morality and the natural world) flows naturally from conservativism, an argument that would have him thrown off the WSJ's top floor.

One of Scruton's great strengths is his unwillingness to bend his thought to a given political platform. In this regard, I see no similarity whatsoever with American neo-cons. Further, Scruton has a very sophisticated, historically-grounded theory of State (with traces of Hegel to boot), something wholly absent from contemporary advocates of America as an ideology and nothing more. This man is the thinking man's conservative, a creature long-absent in American thought. Let's hope he begins to make an impression here. Wonderful.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Unique Discussions on Conservatism March 2 2013
By Samuel J. Sharp - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This collection of 11 essays presents British philosopher Roger Scruton's ideas on a variety of subjects, from the importance of national sovereignty to the conservatism of T.S. Eliot. Scruton writes forcefully and reaches conclusions on environmental protection and assisted suicide that will intrigue American conservatives. His chapters on politics are insightful and appropriately nuanced, but not always as argumentative as the book's title suggests. Because the book is a collection of essays rather than a monograph, the ideas in each chapter are never tied together to present an overarching system of political thought. Rather than "arguments for conservatism", the collection is better characterized as "observations from a conservative disposition on various topics." This is not to say the collection is not worth reading, only that readers looking for a more cohesive book may prefer Scruton's "Meaning of Conservatism" instead.
4.0 out of 5 stars Stimulating and well researched March 18 2014
By pearl - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
Here in the UK Scruton is not really given his due, but then it's unlikely he would be, given that he is the conservative's conservative, consciously at odds with the Marxist brainwashing compound that the modern day UK has become.
He stands for tradition where the political and media class are for permanent cultural revolution.
I enjoy his writing and I like his style but he has always been a political party of one.
I think he rather likes the role of solitary prophet.
I wish he would be a bit punchier in his approach.
He is a poor public speaker, which is a great pity, he has a tremendous amount of good sense to impart.
2 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Very stimulating Sept. 15 2011
By Ken Braithwaite - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
An excellent collection of essays whose connecting thread is the value of the traditional nation state. Lots to agrre with and lots to disagree with, but always well put.

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