Thursday, January 30, 2020

Remembering Roger Scruton

I only recently learned that Roger Scruton, eminent conservative and aesthetic philosopher of our day, passed on only a few short weeks ago. Between my own father's death and that of Fr. Jerome Bertram I am becoming wary of mortal news. All the same it is really worth re-visiting Scruton's thought and his journey from an apolitical, middle class rearing to that of a thinker who promoted a coherent and political significant understanding of the world.

That recounting will not happen here, but you can do it in this marvelous essay he penned seventeen years ago where he recounts his conversion while witnessing the students of Paris rioting against the bourgeoisie in '68. "I must find out what these people believe so that I may believe the exact opposite," he often said. I have alluded to Scruton in a post on searching for illumination in our post-Christian age and leaned on him significantly for two posts on what makes "good" ecclesiastical music (here and here). He even once wrote about Mgr. Alfred Gilbey in a book on wine. Do read those posts and Scruton's own essay on his intellectual conversion.

I do not know the condition of his soul in how he died, but I do find some lament in how he lived. He was a realistic and did not hanker after a past age. He wished to conserve traditions, meanings, and institutions given to us by the dead so that they may be passed on to the unborn; he was a true traditionalist. Aware of the irreligiosity of his age he was moved by the less radical Enlightenment and post-Enlightenment philosophers, namely Hegel and Kant, and seems to have latched on to some quieter ideas of the Romantic era, which used art and philosophy to replace the God sized hole in the human heart, perhaps including Scruton's own heart.

He was a traditionalist, too, in that he retained ancient ideas and questions and passed them on to the new generation.


  1. His book Gentle Regrets has almost a complete chapter (the chapter is published,I think,online) about the late Monsignor Gilbey, called Stealing From Churches.His tribute to the late Professor David Watkin is well worth reading and can be found on Roger Scruton's own website.

  2. His introduction to the 1998 edition of the book by Josef Piper, who was a prominent Thomist, "Leisure the Basis of Culture" (St. Augustine's Press,) was excellent.