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Roger Scruton, conservative philosopher, has died

by Dustin Messer
Posted 1/13/20, 11:41 am

Cultural prognosticator Roger Scruton died Sunday from cancer at the age of 75. In more than 50 books, he argued against trendy subjectivism and insisted that objective reality is a gift from God.

How did his ideas develop? Scruton grew up in England and, while working on a doctorate at the University of Cambridge, visited France and strolled the chaotic streets of Paris during its 1968 riots. He saw the tumult as the inevitable consequence of relativism and became a political conservative. His unapologetic defense of Western culture often left him fighting the Marxism rampant among British intellectuals. During the Cold War, he risked arrest by frequently traveling to Czechoslovakia and Hungary to teach and help dissidents: In 2015, the Czech Republic and Poland honored him, and Queen Elizabeth II knighted him the following year.

Scruton taught at the universities of Oxford and St. Andrews, along with other U.K. institutions, and at Boston University from 1992 to 1995. In 1999, he and his wife, Sophie, acquired a run-down English sheep farm, which they named “Scrutopia” and lovingly husbanded back to vibrancy. They were Church of England members and embraced a rural lifestyle with some traditional British practices, including fox hunting.

“Coming close to death you begin to know what life means,” the cancer-ridden Scruton recently wrote, “and what it means is gratitude.” Sophie and their two children survive him.

Dig deeper: Read WORLD’s 1998 review of Scruton’s book An Intelligent Person’s Guide to Philosophy, in which Chris Stamper called Scruton “one of the most important thinkers you’ve never heard of.

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Dustin Messer

Dustin is a graduate of the World Journalism Institute’s mid-career class.

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    Posted: Mon, 01/13/2020 03:29 pm

    I don't know that I have ever heard his name. Is he a closely guarded American secret? Maybe I have avoided philosophy because it doesn't fit with Christianity? I'm sure he wouldn't be welcome to speak or teach at American colleges. 

  • Kevin
    Posted: Tue, 01/14/2020 03:48 pm

    I don't think I've ever heard of him either.  You are probably right about being welcome to speak or teach at American colleges.  Avoiding philosophy, however, isn't a great idea, and doing so because it doesn't fit with Christianity is a particularly bad reason for doing so.  There are Christian philosophers worth reading.  William Lane Craig, J. P. Moreland, Alvin Plantinga, Norman Geisler.  Consider the strategy of avoidance in light of Seu's article, for example.