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Culture Counts (Brief Encounters) Hardcover – May 1, 2007

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

Roger Scruton has written an aggressive, provocative, and persuasive counterattack against the nihilism of modern intellectuals who would repudiate the high culture of America and the West.

- Robert H. Bork

Boldly standing up to today's nihilisms and debasements of taste. CULTURE COUNTS offers a noble and compelling defense of high culture and the centrality of rich aesthetic experience for a full human life. The wisdom of Roger Scruton's judgments and the elegance of his prose are themselves powerful evidence for the truth of his thesis. Bravo.

- Leon R. Kass Harding Professor, The Committee on Social Thought, The University of Chicago; Hertog Fellow, The American Enterprise Institute

About the Author

Roger Scruton lives in Wiltshire.

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Product Details

  • Series: Brief Encounters
  • Hardcover: 120 pages
  • Publisher: Encounter Books; 1 edition (May 1, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1594031940
  • ISBN-13: 978-1594031946
  • Product Dimensions: 0.8 x 6 x 8.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #149,946 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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42 of 44 people found the following review helpful By Bernard Chapin on September 2, 2007
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Just about everything Roger Scruton writes I enjoy reading. He has one of the most penetrating and illustrious minds in all of conservadom, and Culture Counts is a book worthy of his reputation. Scruton is the type of intellectual heavyweight who can score points on every page which is exactly what he does here. Central to his theme is that western education exists to preserve knowledge and transmit it to the generations which follow. Our accumulated observations, values, and judgments must be conserved. Educating individuals is a secondary, and never the primary, goal of organized schooling. One's education is bigger than his person.

The idea I found most intriguing is that no information is superfluous or unworthy of accumulation. Almost every fact we gather in life adds to our general understanding of the world and is, thus, invaluable. Most people don't seem to comprehend this and act as if they are above many things and many individuals. Such attitudes are counter-productive, and are what make an ignoramus an ignoramus. The intrinsic merits of contemplation are today largely forgotten, but not to Mr. Scruton. He reminds us Aristotle regarded contemplation as being the highest good. I also appreciated his short section on the importance of laughter and the way it saves us from despair.

My only criticism is that, at just over 100 pages, Culture Counts is really more of an extended essay than a complete book. Twenty dollars is too expensive a price in my opinion. Of course, the great thing about Amazon is that stuff always sells at a discount here. Furthermore, the z shops have been a godsend for my wallet and I am sure they have been for yours as well.
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28 of 30 people found the following review helpful By Stanley H. Nemeth on November 11, 2007
Format: Hardcover
Roger Scruton's "Culture Counts" is much more than just another tiresome, stale screed attacking the postmodernist establishment. Instead, it is a refreshing defense of the actual, if neglected, inclusiveness and meaningful "multiculturalism" of traditional Western culture, and, simultaneously, an expose of the rigid orthodoxies and crude censoriousness which mark that allegedly open-minded, postmodernist "culture" flourishing at our universities, one he calls the "culture of repudiation." This regnant "culture" he sees as unworthy of a university, since it is in grave contradiction, for it argues that all cultures are relative and therefore of equal value, at the same time as it demonstrates a fashionable self-loathing by bashing traditional Western culture as beyond the pale. It is, in fact, merely nihilist and has nothing substantive to offer in place of what it would destroy.

Scruton is equally provocative in suggesting that current education has things just backwards. To him, the purpose of education is not merely the private benefit to the student, but rather the benefit to the culture, of which a truly educated student will himself be a future guardian. (Pace, John Dewey!)

Finally, it should be pointed out that Scruton is as versed in contemporary art, architecture, music and literature as he is in the traditional, and thus he does not follow his serious analysis with a counsel of impotence and despair, seeing instead convincing "rays of hope" in such current practitioners as, for example, Jacob Collins, Quinlan Terry, David del Tredici, Ian McEwan, Michel Houellebecq, Alain Finkelkraut, Tom Stoppard, Alan Bennett, Paul Johnson, Gertrude Himmelfarb, and James Wood.
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25 of 28 people found the following review helpful By Midwest Book Review on July 8, 2007
Format: Hardcover
Written by Roger Scruton (Research Professor, Institute for the Psychological Sciences in Arlington, Virginia), Culture Counts: Faith and Feeling in a World Besieged declares that rumors of the demise of Western culture are greatly exaggerated. Countering academic, external, and internal critics of Western Culture, such as dismissive attitudes toward the legacy of "dead white European males", Culture Counts reveals Western cultural contributions to moral education, defends traditional architecture and figurative painting, and urges renewed respect for the positive achievements of Western civilization. "We should see culture as Schiller and other Enlightenment thinkers saw it: the repository of emotional knowledge, through which we can come to understand the meaning of life as an end in itself. Culture inherits from religion the 'knowledge of the heart' whose essence is sympathy. But it can be passed on and enhanced, even when the religion that first engendered it has died. Indeed, in these circumstances, it is all the more important that culture be passed on, since it has become the sole communicable testimony to the higher life of mankind." A highly recommended, thought-provoking philosophical treatise.
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17 of 18 people found the following review helpful By George M. Hohl on September 13, 2007
Format: Hardcover
Roger Scruton's book "Culture Counts" is meant as an answer
to Western culture's two current threats: radical Islam and,
from within, multiculturalism. To that end he offers up an
examination of just what culture is: its origins and importance
for a civilization.

In a compact (108pp) format of seven chapters, Scruton discusses
the development of cultures generally, using relevant topics from
philosophy and religion, anthropology, and general history. When
commenting on Western Culture in particular, he offers up specific
examples of both popular and high culture drawn from literature
and drama, painting, architecture, and music. In the chapter
"Culture Wars" aim is taken at several factions of the
multiculturalist brigades.

The book is quite readable. However, for those only at the level of
interested layman (such as myself), there are some passages that wend
off into the esoteric. Fortunately, these excursions are few and
brief, and they did nothing to dissuade me from enjoying the book a
second time several weeks later.
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