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Modern Culture [Paperback]

by Roger Scruton
3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)

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Book Description

November 24, 2006 0826494447 978-0826494443
<div><br/><div>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.  In this thought-provoking book, 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.  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.</div></div>>

Editorial Reviews


"...Scruton offers both a trenchant critique of pop culture and a defense of the opposing "high culture".... Many readers may find themselves asking whether moral aestheticism, without any explicit religious element, can deal with the more destructive aspects of modern culture."- Robert Grano, Touchstone, October 2006

(Touchstone: A Journal Of Mere Christianity)

"…Scruton offers both a trenchant critique of pop culture and a defense of the opposing "high culture"…. Many readers may find themselves asking whether moral aestheticism, without any explicit religious element, can deal with the more destructive aspects of modern culture."- Robert Grano, Touchstone, October 2006

(Touchstone: A Journal Of Mere Christianity)

About the Author

Professor Roger Scruton is Resident Fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, Washington and Senior Research Fellow at Blackfriars Hall, Oxford. His other books include Sexual Desire, The West and the Rest, England: An Elegy, News from Somewhere and Gentle Regrets (all published by Continuum).

Product Details

  • Paperback: 192 pages
  • Publisher: Bloomsbury Academic (November 24, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0826494447
  • ISBN-13: 978-0826494443
  • Product Dimensions: 7.7 x 6.5 x 0.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7.8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #594,082 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

3.8 out of 5 stars
3.8 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
69 of 73 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Cultured Book about Culture June 24, 2000
Roger Scruton has written a very good book. He divides culture into three 'forms': common, high, and popular. He is unashamed in his belief in the primacy of high culture, which is linked to common culture, and considers what popular culture offers far less significant than what higher culture gives us. But that does not mean that Scruton merely dismisses popular culture; rather, it takes up at least three chapters, in which Foucault, Derrida and youth culture (including music) are carefully examined and the bankruptcy of their appeal easily exposed. In that sense the book lives up to the title of the series ('An Intelligent Person's Guide to... '), and Scruton is quite clear on this in the preface. Its audience is thus university students and academics, and possibly the interested, educated common reader. I consider the chapter on youth culture ('Yoofanasia') particularly good and it is just unfortunate that those who may well have their eyes opened by it are the least likely to read it - or to be able to read it. This is, and will continue to be, an unpopular book in fashionable circles; after all, it is by an unfashionable man. On these grounds alone, the book demands to be read, and those with strong ideas on culture will not fail to engage with it.
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62 of 70 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Insightful here and there July 3, 2000
By A Customer
For those familar with Roger Scruton's brillant essays for City Journal, this book offers more of the same. And, while Scruton vigorously argues against the virulent form of nihilism that characterises our age, his own philosophical timidity leaves little by way of solution to many of the problems he lays at the door of modernity and its proponents. In the first chapter, Scruton provides a kind of reductivist anthropological-psychological analysis of religion that would seem to completely demystify Christianity. Scruton notes the important social and psychological functions "ritual" plays in affirming moral identity and transitional phases in an individual's life with respect to the collective an individual helps comprise. Scruton then develops this line of thought by way of introducing his working thesis: when a civilization no longer believes in God, it can either affirm those values that speak to the human Good religion held in place, or it can attempt to find some sense of authenticity and meaning in rejecting the Old Order altogether. Scruton claims his book will argue for the first option, given the destructive, evil nature of the latter. However, herein lies the problem: by adhering to a form of what seems to be little more than a variation on Enlightenment pragmatic liberalism, Scruton himself falls victim to nihilism. His language implies that he himself rejects the idea that there is a transcendent, mind-independent Truth that ontologically grounds man's being. But if this is the case, whatever moral or aesthetic view of the world one adopts will be as arbitrary as any other: reason will not be able to determine a 'fact of the matter' with regard to the Good. Read more ›
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29 of 34 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars "May I Know the Whole ... July 30, 2004
of which you are so beautiful a part," was a favourite prayer of the man about whom I wrote my doctoral dissertation, the philosopher of religion, William Earnest Hocking. Scruton's conclusion to his work on modern culture reminded me of that prayer. Initially, like many other reviewers on this site, I was annoyed with what I thought were too few answers. And yet the more I pondered Scruton's reference to to the natural piety of Wordsworth, and the ethos of Confucianism, I found myself agreeing with the suggestions he offers.
Again, as with at least one other reviewer, I felt that "Yoofanasia" is worth the price of the book. The tragedy is, indeed, that many of those who might benefit most from these insights are probably unlikely to read the book or this chapter and possibily unable to do so. As one who second career involved thirty years of trying to get adolescents to learn to think, and who refused to buy into the cult of self-esteem and child-centred education, Scruton is right on in this analysis. When I pondered my own experience of how ungrateful were most of these charges of mine, it seemed eminently clear that natural piety could provide some corrective to that and the civility, courtesy, and deference to wisdom of traditional Confucianism could do that as well.
I recommend the book particularly to educators concerned about schools which are warehouses for adolescents and for those who want to make of them anything but. I recommend it for those concerned with media ecology. I recommend it for those whose own hearts leap up when they behold rainbows in the sky, or the warmth of furry, purring kittens, or the smiling, silent face of their beloved.
Catherine Berry Stidsen, Cayuga, Ontario, Canada
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28 of 36 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A Meditation On Culture September 18, 2000
Scruton's title is somewhat misleading - he's written, not so much a guide to modern culture, as an extended meditation on its history, beginning with Religion, and continuing on through the Enlightenment, Modernism, and Post-Modernism. As you might expect from this philosopher, he does not approve of the trend - "art is the consolation prize for our loss of religion."
The question is, what is to be done about culture, and why should it matter? Scruton's book is engaging and provocative, but short on answers. It is perhaps worth reading as a brief history of how Western culture lost its way. But those who are hoping for an incisive diagnosis, and a clarion call to arms, will come away disappointed.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Insightful cultural history.
This is one of my favorite books, and deserves to be much more widely read. If it were up to me it would be assigned in every university humanities department. Read more
Published 18 months ago by Richard G
3.0 out of 5 stars Nice try, but not quite ....
I like Scruton's books, but this is the weakest one I've read. He's conservative in the manner of the British philosopher he is, so in a very reasoned way and quite different from... Read more
Published on November 8, 2008 by T
5.0 out of 5 stars The Apparatchiks of Subversion
It is unusual in our day to find a philosophical work that is profound, erudite, and oblivious to current intellectual fashion. Read more
Published on October 1, 2008 by Gary Wolf
3.0 out of 5 stars Anyone out there interested in the basic issues?
I'd hoped to enjoy the the knowledge and insight of the reviewers as well as the author of the book in question - letting me know whether I should buy it or borrow it through my... Read more
Published on February 4, 2007 by Frank T. Manheim
2.0 out of 5 stars A "conservative" view pining
Roger Scruton, like many so-called "conservatives" has made a noble swing (hence the two stars) at assessing the spiritual and philosophical problems of our day that have produced... Read more
Published on November 18, 2006 by thisisgibbie
5.0 out of 5 stars A defence of the high culture
The author starts by giving a definition of the concept of culture and states his intention to pursue an "archaeological" method in studying his subject. Read more
Published on April 23, 2006 by HORAK
4.0 out of 5 stars Twilight of the gods
This is a great guided tour through the last few centuries of culture. Scruton appears to be an advocate of natural law (the notion that the good will become obvious to the... Read more
Published on May 10, 2002 by Craig Scott
4.0 out of 5 stars Probing the white underbelly of postmodernism
A fascinating tour through the last three centuries of culture. This book gave me my first real grasp of what modern and postmodern labels are all about. Read more
Published on May 9, 2002 by Craig Scott
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