The Inaugural Colin Amery Memorial lecture, Policy Exchange - 14 Nov 18
The Fabric of the City - read the lecture HERE.
Watch the lecture HERE.
Published by PolicyExchangeUK on 1 Nov 2018 Sir Roger Scruton has been appointed as the chairman of the Government’s advisory committee on Building Better, Building Beautiful. As part of the Building Beautiful Month at Policy Exhange, Syrian architect and author Marwa Al-Sabouni spoke on “The Loss of Home”. Marwa appeared in conversation with Sir Roger and was introduced by Tom Tugendhat MP.
In the wake of recent attacks I have taken the unusual step of posting on this site some tokens of appreciation, by way of encouraging those who value my contribution to the life of the mind. Outside Britain it is quite normal for my work to be appreciated, and as an example I have included the remarks from Professor Jürgen Stolzenberg, with which he introduced my recent lecture on Parsifal at the Siemens Foundation. (Apologies for not translating.) Inside Britain, where my every deviation from political correctness is noted down and stored for the next bout of denigration, praise is somewhat more rare. However, following recent attacks in Parliament and elsewhere, several writers have been kind enough to suggest that I have been unjustly treated, and I include some instances of their support.
Douglas Murray (The Spectator) - https://blogs.spectator.co.uk/2018/11/the-ignorant-hounding-of-roger-scruton/
Owen Polley (Cap X) - https://capx.co/if-roger-scruton-cant-contribute-to-public-life-who-can/
and Toby Young (The Spectator) - https://blogs.spectator.co.uk/2018/11/in-defence-of-roger-scruton/
News from Scrutopia
Much has been happening, and we thought it best to send out a newsletter somewhat ahead of time. Shortly after returning from America, Roger gave a lecture at the Siemens Foundation in Munich, on the topic: ‘What is Parsifal about?’ An audience of solid burghers listened politely and questioned tenaciously, so that Roger came away more than ever convinced that he has yet to understand either Wagner’s masterpiece or the German response to it. Nevertheless, work on Parsifal continues, and has been and will be for the time being the most important thing that is happening. There followed preparations for the re-launch of Roger’s literary career, to happen next year on or around his 75th birthday, an event that will surely take the world by storm if the other storm (see below) has not swept him into the Thames.
At noon on 29th October a plaque was unveiled at the Divinity School in Cambridge, commemorating the course that Roger and others organised in communist Czechoslovakia, whereby students could study for the degree-level Cambridge diploma in theology, using this as a vehicle for philosophy, history, philology and literary studies, as well as theology. Few people now recall those times, or the great difficulty and danger that the students underwent in order to sit their clandestine exams. All six who took the exams passed, and two were awarded first class degrees, one of them going on to become deputy foreign minister. This cheerful but discreet event was attended by Marta Chadimová and her daughter, the lectures having taken place in Marta’s apartment.
Later that week Marwa al-Sabouni came to London, she and Roger giving a joint seminar at Policy Exchange on the question of architecture and social conflict, with special reference to Syria. Marwa’s modesty and sincerity melted all hearts, and her walk around London with Roger and the minister, James Brokenshire, enabled them to meditate, in a politically engaged way, on the social demands that are both woven into architectural forms, and also set on edge by them. Although inoculated by the tower-block ‘informalities’ that have had their part in promoting the Syrian conflict Marwa was nevertheless shocked by the inhuman nothingness of Victoria Street.
There followed a visit to Cambridge to take part in a private dialogue with Jordan Peterson, an event that may very well appear on you tube before too long. Roger returned to London to discover, first, that he had been appointed by James Brokenshire to the chair of a Parliamentary Commission on beauty in building, and secondly that the leftist rabble has refused to accept the appointment, since it was made above their heads and without reference to their right of veto. We post on this site Roger’s reply to charges of anti-Semitism and Islamophobia. However, concerned by the intellectual impoverishment of his attackers, Roger has decided to collect as many of his outrageous remarks as he can discover, so as to include them in a folder, to appear on this site. His opinions on many topics diverge shockingly from those of The Guardian, and it would be very helpful to his critics to be provided with the necessary evidence, together with snippets of the more easily digestible arguments, since those too will be proof of crime. Topics such as hunting, marriage, pop music, Israel, sex, gender, identity and the nation have provided Roger with such opportunities for criminal thinking that we are sure we will be able to provide our readers with a bulging folder of charges. This will save Roger's critics a lot of unnecessary trouble and serve to brighten their lives with a sense of their own righteousness. We will publish the results with our next newsletter.
Meanwhile Roger is beginning to assemble the commission on beauty and looks forward to getting on with the work, which is of the first importance for the future of our country. Anybody with an honest input should contact Izzy, via this site.
To read the full newsletter, please click here.
Statement from Professor Sir Roger Scruton:
“Following my appointment as the unpaid chairman of the Government’s advisory committee on Building Better, Building Beautiful, I have been offended and hurt by suggestions I am anti-Semitic or in any way ‘Islamophobic’.
“Nothing could be further from the truth, and I wish to rebut these incorrect assertions.
“If people actually read my comments regarding the interplay between George Soros and Hungary they will realise they are not in any way anti-Semitic, indeed quite the opposite.
“Only two years ago I supported George Soros by making representations to Prime Minister Orban’s regime to keep open the Central European University so that intellectual freedom could continue to flourish in Hungary.
“My statements on Islamic states points only to the failure of these states, which is a fact. My views on Islam are well known and can be found in my book The West And The Rest.”
You can now watch and listen to Sir Roger on the Roger Scruton Official YouTube channel.
This new platform will be home to discussions, interviews and talks and a welcome message can be viewed HERE.
The Law of the Land.
I joined the Inner Temple as a student forty-four years ago. Although called to the Bar I never pursued a legal career. But I look back on my legal studies with profound gratitude. For they implanted in me a vision of the English law that I have never ceased to cherish, and which has profoundly influenced my philosophical outlook. I would like to take this opportunity to share that vision with you, since it touches on matters that are vital to the condition of our country today.
The first discovery that I made when reading for the bar is that Parliament is only one source of our law, and not the most important source. Acts of Parliament become law only because they are inserted into a living legal system, and are interpreted according to the pre-existing principles of our courts. Those principles were not laid down by Parliament, but inherited from the many attempts made by the people of this country to bring their disputes to judgement. The vast body of English law remains unwritten, except in the form of reports and commentaries. And, taken as a whole, it exhibits a process of problem solving that entirely refutes, to my way of thinking, the idea that law is a set of edicts, laid down by the sovereign power. In the English understanding the sovereign enforces the law, but does not dictate it.
When I first met David Watkin I was beginning my second year as a Research Fellow at Peterhouse, and David had just been elected to the Fellowship. There was much muttering in the Senior Combination Room concerning this scandalous appointment. Dr Watkin, it was rumoured, dressed in a manner too stiff and punctilious ever to be tolerated in a liberal institution. He believed in God, possibly in Hell and damnation. He was an outspoken opponent of modern art, modern architecture, modern music and modern everything else. Worse still he had impeccable manners in a place where manners, if they existed at all, had to be decidedly peccable. His appointment was a retrograde step in the college’s on-going march towards liberty, equality and diversity, a breach in the armour of enlightenment through which the counter-reformation might at any moment gush in like a suffocating wind.
Please watch this space for the new dates for the 2019 Summer School. If you would like to know what our previous students had to say, here are a few snippets to tempt you!
"Just to reiterate what so many have said - I had such a wonderful time - stimulating and fun. What could possibly be better?"
"This event was a marvel to me and eye-opening. You are all amazing and it was absolutely lovely to meet all of you."
"I feel extremely energized and inspired after this week. I have to say it was rather surreal to step out in the real world again after spending an entire week in an intellectual paradise."
"I am back with so many books to read, so much music to hear, so many paintings to see, so much modern architecture to detest, so many leftists to refute and so many memories to savour that I think I will spend this whole year (but, alas, in a virtual way) in Scrutopia."
"Scrutopia fulfilled all my expectations and more. I felt quite nervous during the months and weeks before arriving and none of my fears were realized.
The gathering of like minded people all invested in making the most of the event made for a very stimulating environment. The international perspective with so many delegates from overseas was a big bonus for me and the ability to make friends across the world added to the experience.
The school dinners in the "College" refectory actually helped make things more informal and relaxed. The plentiful supply of wine oiled the conversation and by the end of the Gala dinner some of us were having a disco and dancing!! The ice had well and truly been broken."
"With much gratitude for a perfect week of learning with new friends."
"Thank you for an inspiring week."
"I feel like I’m in orbit! Many thanks for a great experience."
"Thank you for opening up Scrutopia both physically and mentally. Lectures, trips, a concert and dinners, all in perfect harmony."
From no angle does this ostentatious building fit in with its surroundings, nor did it occur to its architects that it should
I have the good fortune to be able to borrow a flat on the Île de la Cité in Paris from which I see from one side the towers of Notre Dame above the roof of a 19th-century seminary, and from the other side, across from the Seine, the ornate reconstruction of the 17th-century Hôtel de Ville, which burned down in 1871. To the right of the Hôtel de Ville the classical façade of the Church of Saint-Gervais-et-Saint-Protais rises above terraced streets of Lutetian limestone, and to the left of the Hôtel the same serene limestone forms a terraced background to life in a popular square.
How many writers, educators, and opinion formers, urgently wishing to convey the thoughts and feelings that inspire them, have found themselves confronted with the cry “that’s not relevant?” In the...
I began my career as an academic philosopher, and am often asked what philosophers do. ‘Philosophy’ means ‘the love of wisdom’, but what is wisdom? Does the person with wisdom...
'Apprehending the Transcendent' A conversation between Dr Jordan Peterson and Sir Roger Scruton, moderated by Dr Stephen Blackwood, introduced by Professor Douglas Hedley, presented by The Cambridge Centre for the Study of Platonism and Ralston College,...
Bloomsbury (August 2018) 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...
Bloomsbury (November 2017) Addressing one of the most politically turbulent periods in modern British history, philosopher Roger Scruton asks how, in these circumstances, we can come to define our identity,...