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Homage to Roger Scruton

My personal and philosophical inspiration.

This small work is dedicated to England's late and great conservative philosopher, Sir Roger Vernon Scruton. In this text, I will discuss in my own understanding, the wisdom which has influenced me and I hope sparks a form of intrigue within your consciousness that will lead you from me onto Sir Scruton's works.

Firstly, Roger Scruton was in no way dissimilar to any other great writer or thinker in the way in which he made it possible to put in words the thoughts you already knew to be true but could never articulate. The first example of this his understanding of culture as a mode of being. Essentially, the idea follows from Homer's Odyssey. Sir Scruton recalled where in the epic, Elpanor, a soldier who dies unbeknownst to the crew, haunts Odysseus until he is buried. Yet Homer phrases it that the interaction between the two characters is Elpanor giving the imperative to Odysseus that 'You must bury me, and you must mourn me'. One could read this and just believe it to be a plot point for the story, but overall this interaction bears nothing on the poems outcome. Instead, Scruton believed that this was Homer directly speaking to his audience in leading them with how to act towards the dead. That there are certain actions one must take to be like the heroic Odysseus. In essence, 'Culture', the mediums we interact with such as stories, poems, art and so forth, are spiritually aligning agents. Culture aims to 'inform'. Not in the sense that information is just data being understood but to dissect the word, to put you 'in-form' to form your alignment with the world in a particular direction. We can see this in all types of over fiction. The bible for instance in Jesus as the hero is the same. It is a figure in which one must act in accordance with. A newer example would be Harry Potter, J.K. Rowling, with her wisdom by using the myths that have come before her, makes Harry the courageous hero figure with which her audience align with. Voldemort is the antithesis of Harry, this is a cultural icon by which we are directly aligned against being. From this, Roger opened my understanding of culture and personal alignment. Moving forward, we must remember that we ought to bury our dead, we must mourn our dead.

His second philosophical outlook which inspired me greatly was his ideas of the living, the dead, and the unborn. With whom all three hold a tightly knit relationship. A connection many would wish to believe was not close at all. This is the founding relationship when aiming to understand 'conservatism'. Small 'c' conservatism, as it is often called, is by which society is build upon the labour and the values of the dead. The living must in their time uphold the values which have kept society functioning and if they manage to keep it functioning, they can then conserve the values which make the society cohesive. The relationship between the living and the dead is essentially, 'don't fuck up the good things we left you'. The living, must also fix the problems in which they face. This is so that a good society may be persevered to be inhabited by the unborn, the same category in which the living was before the dead died. An example of conservation of society is the discussion of environmentalism. Here the phrase which is often repeated is 'What world are our children going to inhabit?' and many believe that due to global warming, it will be one of high seas, hot winters and no polar bears. This cycle of life is one I firmly hold ought to be in the consciousness of the thoughts of all who make decisions involving society, which is everyone who is active in it. These questions are "What did our ancestors leave us? What were the good things we've inherited?" The living must also then ask "How best are we to treat was we've been given and should these values be upheld?" Lastly the living must ask themselves "What has remained of our ancestors that our children will inherit? What must we fix to leave well for the unborn?". I have most likely butchered what Sir Roger Scruton put eloquently in books such as 'How to be a conservative' and 'Conservatism'. Therefore, I strongly urge you pick up those books and interpret them yourselves.

I like threes, so I shall give you a third and final area of Roger Scruton's work which is in philosophical aesthetics. The man was a worshiper of beauty. Yet not the expedient type, of women and other such base 'beauty'. No, instead Roger was concerned with the world we inhabited, and the buildings we created. It was his vision that the buildings reflected the people of the time and it so happened we began to make them ugly. Beauty is what brought us closer to the transcendental, a higher mode of being. When buildings are made for a higher purpose than to serve the living they are often made with attention to detail, for it will be the unborn to inherit and understand what the dead were building towards. For Roger, we are now building for today and today only. Tall high rises laden with glass to create expensive housing in a city that is soon becoming unidentifiable with other cities around the globe. He says in one of documentaries (Why Beauty Matters) whilst standing underneath a block of horrible vandalised offices "We shouldn't blame the vandals, this place was built by vandals and those who added the graffiti merely finished the job." Instead of us looking to create in a pure sense of utility, we should instead follow Kant's aesthetic judgement. That we must look at all art and culture devoid of how we might use it, merely look at it and try understand how it makes us feel. If you feel repulsion by the sight of a 30 floor high square glass cube, it may not be something you want to live in, not matter how useful. Beyond architecture, Roger Scruton can be known as a lover of music. He was a pianist, with a deep admiration for classical music, and the formation of sound and its impact on being. To bring us full circle with the first point, when we make beautiful music, we culturally align them to be beautiful. When we make ugly music, we make ugly people.

I hope this short read on some of the very basic philosophy Sir Scruton offered has given some understanding to the type of man he was. I would highly advise everyone who read this to pick up one of his books. 'How to be a conservative' was a book that greatly inspired me into understanding what a 'conservative' is. I will leave you with these three short snippets of Sir Roger Vernon Scruton's work:

Understand your cultural alignment.

View the world with the dead and unborn in mind alongside the living.

Build beautifully.


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