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The Success of Roger Scruton’s 'The Soul of the World'

28 Jan 2015
Written by STI Expert Roger Scruton, 'The Soul of the World' is a Princeton University Press Bestseller, one of The Times’ Books of the Year and one of the Scotsman’s Books of the Year.

A British philosopher and freelance writer, Roger Scruton is a visiting professor of philosophy at the University of Oxford and a senior fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center in Washington, DC. He has participated in three STI Experts Meetings: Why marriage is in the public interest, Rethinking Business Management and Equality, Freedom of Conscience and the Common Good. He has published more than forty books. The last of them is The Soul of the World. Princeton University Press describes the work:

In The Soul of the World, Roger Scruton defends the experience of the sacred against today’s fashionable forms of atheism. He argues that our personal relationships, moral intuitions, and aesthetic judgments hint at a transcendent dimension that cannot be understood through the lens of science alone. To be fully alive —and to understand what we are— is to acknowledge the reality of sacred things. Rather than an argument for the existence of God, or a defense of the truth of religion, the book is an extended reflection on why a sense of the sacred is essential to human life— and what the final loss of the sacred would mean. In short, the book addresses the most important question of modernity: what is left of our aspirations after science has delivered its verdict about what we are?

Drawing on art, architecture, music, and literature, Scruton suggests that the highest forms of human experience and expression tell the story of our religious need, and of our quest for the being who might answer it, and that this search for the sacred endows the world with a soul. Evolution cannot explain our conception of the sacred; neuroscience is irrelevant to our interpersonal relationships, which provide a model for our posture toward God; and scientific understanding has nothing to say about the experience of beauty, which provides a God’s-eye perspective on reality.

Ultimately, a world without the sacred would be a completely different world—one in which we humans are not truly at home. Yet despite the shrinking place for the sacred in today’s world, Scruton says, the paths to transcendence remain open.

In 2009, Mr. Scruton produced and wrote a documentary titled “Why beauty matters,” related to this last publication. Watch it below:

"In this very short introduction, the renowned philosopher Roger Scruton explores the concept of beauty, asking what makes an object - either in art, in nature, or the human form - beautiful, and examining how we can compare differing judgments of beauty when it is evident all around us that our tastes vary so widely. Is there a right judgement to be made about beauty? Is it right to say there is more beauty in a classical temple than a concrete office block, more in a Rembrandt than in last year's Turner Prize winner? Forthright and thought-provoking, and as accessible as it is intellectually rigorous, this introduction to the philosophy of beauty draws conclusions that some may find controversial, but, as Scruton shows, help us to find greater sense of meaning in the beautiful objects that fill our lives." —BBC

Visit Roger Scruton's Expert profile

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