An Intelligent Person's Guide to Modern Culture
Scruton (Roger)
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Inside Cover Blurb

  1. What do we mean by 'culture'? This word, purloined by journalists to denote every kind of collective habit, lies at the centre of contemporary debates about the past and future of society.
  2. In this thought-provoking book, the writer and philosopher Roger Scruton argues for the religious origin of culture in all its forms, and mounts a defence of the 'high culture' of our civilization against its radical and 'deconstructionist' critics.
  3. He offers a theory of pop culture, a panegyric to Baudelaire, a few reasons why Wagner is just as great as his critics fear him to be, and a raspberry to Cool Britannia. A must for all people who are fed up to their tightly clenched front teeth with Derrida, Foucault, Oasis, and Richard Rogers.

    Preface – vii
  1. What is Culture? – 1
  2. Culture and Cult – 5
  3. Enlightenment – 21
  4. The Aesthetic Gaze – 28
  5. Romanticism – 44
  6. Fantasy, Imagination and the Salesman – 51
  7. Modernism – 63
  8. Avant-garde and Kitsch – 79
  9. Yoofanasia – 89
  10. Idle Hands – 105
  11. The Devil's Work – 116
  12. Conclusions – 129
    Notes – 139
    Quite Interesting Bibliography – 143
    Index – 150


Duckworth, London, 1998, Hardback

"Scruton (Roger) - An Intelligent Person's Guide to Modern Culture"

Source: Scruton - An Intelligent Person's Guide to Modern Culture

Preface (Full Text, truncated)
  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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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