Preface (Full Text, truncated)
- This book presents a theory of modem culture, and a defence of culture in its higher and more critical form. It is impossible to give a convincing defence of high culture to a person who has none. In the following book I shall therefore assume that you, the reader, are both intelligent and cultivated. You don't have to be familiar with the entire canon of Western literature, the full range of musical and artistic masterpieces or the critical reflections which all these things have prompted. But it would be useful to have read Les Fleurs du mal by Baudelaire and T.S. Eliot's Waste Land. I shall also assume some familiarity with Mozart, Wagner, Manet, Poussin, Tennyson, Schoenberg, George Herbert, Goethe, Marx and Nietzsche. In Chapters 6 and 7 I offer criticisms of two important cultural figures - Michel Foucault and Jacques Derrida. I have tried, though perhaps without success, to make these criticisms intelligible to people who have not read, and maybe do not intend to read, Foucault or Derrida.
- Culture, I suggest, has a religious root and a religious meaning. This does not mean that you have to be religious in order to be cultivated. But it does mean that the point of being cultivated cannot, in the end, be explained without reference to the nature and value of religion. That suggestion is controversial; to many people it will seem absurd. Moreover, I have found no conclusive argument in support of it, but only avenues of speculation and associative thought. My consolation, in considering the inadequacy of what I have written, is that every other attempt I have come across is just as bad.
- What follows would have been even worse, however, were it not for criticisms and suggestions offered by Fiona Ellis, Bob Grant, Jim Johnson, and David Wiggins, and I am greatly indebted to all of them. [ … snip …]
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