10 Quotes from Roger Scruton, One of my Favorite Writers


Picture Most people who like to read can name a writer that has made a profound impact on them.  I’d like to hear about yours.  

One that comes to mind for me, who I have quoted quite a bit, is Roger Scruton.  

He has had a significant influence on me because for years I tried to fit together the pieces of the puzzle on some seemingly contradictory things:

  • The US and UK are two of the wealthiest countries in the world.
  • The US and UK are billed as the most “modern” and “progressive” in the world.
  • The US and UK have the highest rates of mental illness in the world.
  • The US and UK are the most individualistic, alienating, and atomized modern places in the world.
  • There is a connection between culture and mental health.
  • Scruton writes about love of home and about making a place in the world, and how this is necessary for a healthy society, including mental health.
  • His work invokes many themes- art, science, music, architecture, sports, religion, sex, family, agriculture, philosophy, friendship, and politics.  
  • All of these subjects are connected, just as all subjects are connected.

These are some quotes I wrote down from a series of essays I read of his, in a book format called “The Roger Scruton Reader.” Enjoy:

10 Quotes from One of My Favorite Writers, Roger Scruton
“Without tradition, originality cannot exist: for it is only against a tradition that it becomes perceivable.  Tradition and originality are 2 components of a single process, whereby the individual makes himself known through his membership in the historical group.”
“There is an iron law of domination. Society requires organization and organization breeds control.”
(On modernity) “We are emphasizing the contract, but disregarding the membership.”
“We can, at any moment, turn away from desecration and ask ourselves instead what inspires us and what we should revere…We can turn our attention to things we love- the woods and streams of our native country, friends, and family, the ‘starry heavens above’ – and ask ourselves what they tell us about our lives on earth, and how that life should be lived.  And then we can look on the world of art, poetry, and music and know that there is a real difference between the sacrireligious, with which we are alone and troubled, and the beautiful with which we are in company and at home.”
“Aesthetic judgement matters, that it is not merely a subjective opinion…And, so it seemed to me, the aesthetics of modernism, with its denial of the past, its vandalization of the landscape and townscape, and its attempt to purge the world of history, was also a denial of community, home, and settlement.  Modernism in architecture was an attempt to remake the world as though it contained nothing save atomic individuals, disinfected of the past, and living like ants within their metallic and functional shells.”
“Real freedom, concrete freedom, the freedom that can actually be defined, claimed, and granted, was not the opposite of obedience but its other side.  The abstract, unreal freedom of the liberal intellect was really nothing more than childish disobedience, amplified into anarchy.” (commenting on the French riots of 1968 of which he was an observer)
“It was to observe, to know, to understand. And so I acquired the consciousness of death and dying, without which the world cannon be loved for what it is.”
“We should aim, not for a world without power, but for a world where power is peacefully exercised and where conflicts are resolved according to a conception of justice acceptable to those engaged in them.”
“Freedom consists, not in the absence of domination, but in the presence of a domination congenial to those contained by it.”
“To speak of coercion where there is need is to render freedom unobtainable.”
Philosophy isn’t for everyone, but if you like reading about the intersection of everything, I recommend his work.


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