Roger Scruton

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Sir Roger Scruton in Feb 2015

Sir Roger Scruton (b. 27 February 1944) is a philosopher, public commentator and author of over 50 books. He has specialised in Conservatism and aesthetics, with particular attention to culture, music, and architecture.

He engages in contemporary political and cultural debates from the standpoint of a conservative thinker and is well known as a powerful polemicist.

He is Fellow of the British Academy and a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature. Scruton was knighted in the 2016 Birthday Honours for "services to philosophy, teaching and public education". The 2016 Queen's Birthday Honours List. www.gov.uk (10 June 2016).</ref>

In November 2018, Scruton was appointed to head the British Government's new Building Better, Building Beautiful commission. The commission was established to "promote better design and style of homes, villages, towns and high streets".[1] Shortly after being appointed to the role, Scruton faced calls to quit because of a number of controversial comments that he had made in the past.[2]

Family background

Scruton was born in Buslingthorpe, Lincolnshire[3] to John 'Jack' Scruton, a teacher from Manchester, and his wife, Beryl Claris née Haynes, and was raised with his two sisters in Marlow and High Wycombe, Buckinghamshire.

Career

He graduated from Cambridge University in 1965, spent two years abroad and then pursued an academic career in philosophy, first in Cambridge, and then in London.

Controversy

Scruton is possibly best known as the editor of the staunchly Tory journal, The Salisbury Review which brought him firmly into the focus of the broad Left in Britain. In 2002 he described the effect of the editorship on his life:

It cost me many thousand hours of unpaid labour, a hideous character assassination in Private Eye, three lawsuits, two interrogations, one expulsion, the loss of a university career in Britain, unendingly contemptuous reviews, small 'c' conservative suspicion, and the hatred of liberals everywhere. And it was worth it.[4]

In 1990 he took a year's leave of absence to work for an educational charity in Czechoslovakia. This charity grew from the 'underground university' which colleagues and he had established in the last decade of communism. His contacts with the countries of the old Eastern Bloc remain strong and recently he was honoured by the Lech Kaczynski Foundation with the Medal for Courage and Integrity, in recognition of his work in Poland in the 1980s.

He remains dedicated to freedom of expression and speech, an example of this was his brushing aside Far-Left smears and addressing a packed meeting of the ultra-Tory Traditional Britain Group in Mayfair on 20th February 2015.

USA

He taught part-time at Boston University, Massachusetts, until the end of 1994, while building up a public affairs consultancy in Eastern Europe. Since then he has been a free-lance writer and consultant, taking on short-term contracts when necessary.

Today

He is currently a Senior Fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center in Washington, D.C., and Professor in the Humanities Research Institute at Buckingham University, England.

His principal activity remains what it has been for the last 30 years, which is writing, and his books and articles cover a broad range of topics in several genres. His serious academic research has been in the area of aesthetics, with two books – The Aesthetics of Architecture and The Aesthetics of Music – which he would like to think have made a small contribution to their respective fields. In addition he has written essays, criticism, an autobiography, invocations of country life, novels and poems.

His recent articles include The Liar Paradox and Thinking with Wine, published in The Spectator 'Life' magazine, to which he is a regular contributor. He is also on Twitter or on Roger Scruton Quotes, a Twitter account run by John Williams. The majority of his essays and other work can be found on his website.

He sits on the editorial board of the British Journal of Aesthetics,[5] and on the board of visitors of Ralston College,[6] and is as well a senior fellow of the Ethics and Public Policy Center.[7]

Music

Scruton's hobby as an amateur composer is an interesting aspect of the man. (His opera Violet has been produced.) He is a Senior Fellow at the Future Symphony Institute - a think tank dedicated entirely to classical music. He shares this passion with founder Andrew Balio and his wife Laura Jean, and together they challenge the problems facing classical music and orchestras in this modern day. Their mission is to formulate a strategy for the renaissance of live classical music and to translate that strategy into programmes made freely available to everyone. Among recent interviews and profiles on him is one by Eugénie Bastié in Le Figaro.

Beauty

Surprisingly BBC 2 engaged him to produce a documentary entitled Why Beauty Matters, broadcast in November 2009, on the importance of beauty in the arts and in our lives, remains among the most popular of Scruton's productions and can be found on YouTube, with even a version with Portuguese subtitles. Originally blocked on YouTube he stated that "The BBC does not permit its circulation in Britain, any more than I would permit the BBC if I had the power." However the BBC subsequently relented. Consequently Scruton wrote his 2009 book What is Beauty.[8]

Family

In 1996 he married his second wife (after a long interval) Sophie Jeffreys, an architectural historian, and they have two children, Sam (b.1998) and Lucy (b.2000).

References

  1. "Traditionalist Roger Scruton to chair government’s new ‘beauty’ watchdog" (in en). Architects Journal. https://www.architectsjournal.co.uk/news/traditionalist-roger-scruton-to-chair-governments-new-beauty-watchdog/10036850.article. 
  2. "Academic Scruton's housing role defended" (in en-GB). BBC News. 2018-11-12. https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-politics-46128371. 
  3. Cumming, Naomi. "Scruton, Roger", Grove Music Online, January 2001.
  4. Scruton, Roger. "My life beyond the pale", The Spectator, 21 September 2002.
  5. "Editorial board", British Journal of Aesthetics, accessed 6 December 2010.
  6. Ralston College. Retrieved on 29 May 2018.
  7. Roger Scruton. Ethics and Public Policy Center. Retrieved on 10 January 2013.
  8. What is Beauty, Oxford University Press, 2009, ISBN: 978-0-19-955952-7