To Roger Scruton, Art Was a Sign of a Society’s Moral Integrity

November 6, 2023 | Ronen Shoval
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The late English philosopher Roger Scruton devoted much of his career to probing the links between tradition and the moral life. Another abiding concern of his work was beauty, a philosophical subject about which he published major studies, covering music, architecture, and the visual arts. Reviewing a new book by Ferenc Hörcher on the role of aesthetics in Scruton’s thought, Ronen Shoval writes:

As one of the most prominent and productive conservative thinkers of the late 20th and early 21st centuries, Scruton lived a long and prolific life as he dedicated himself to exploring philosophy. His life was characterized by a deep appreciation for tradition, community, and the aesthetic aspects of the human experience. He was renowned for his ability to combine theoretical understanding with practical applications.

One of the central themes Hörcher developed in his book is “aesthetic conservatism,” a term that captures Scruton’s belief in the importance of beauty and art in a healthy society. Scruton argued that art, culture, and tradition are not only intrinsically valuable but also essential to a community’s social and moral fabric. He saw the degradation of art and culture as symptomatic of social decline.

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