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Meaning Of Conservatism 1st Edition

4.3 out of 5 stars 4 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-1890318406
ISBN-10: 189031840X
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Editorial Reviews


'...a marvellously lucid writer.' - Seamus Perry, Politics

--This text refers to the Paperback edition.

About the Author

Roger Scruton is a writer and philosopher. His books include The Dictionary of Political Thought, A Land Held Hostage: Lebanon and the West, and The Aesthetics of Architecture.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 220 pages
  • Publisher: St. Augustines Press; 1 edition (July 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 189031840X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1890318406
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.7 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.1 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,838,116 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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By L. J. McKinnon on September 7, 2003
Format: Hardcover
The English philosopher Roger Scruton has here written a book, which is, as he explains at the beginning, not so much a work of philosophy as an exercise in doctrine. By this he means that this book is not a reasoned argument for what is now called the paleo-conservative point of view, but is rather instead a systematic presentation of it. Scruton takes it for granted that a conservative philosophy naturally defends that which is virtuous in society as it stands, and that it is up to the progressive to provide the reasoned proof for why the status quo should be changed.
This is both a thoughtfully written and thought provoking book which should be compulsory reading for anyone interested in modern politics. Every subject that Scruton touches upon has obviously been deeply considered by him, and for this reason I have found this work not only interesting, but also a stimulus to deeper reflection on the nature of society and its institutions, even though I don't always agree with the views that he expresses. Although it is only two hundred pages long, this book covers a wide variety of topics, with chapters entitled The Conservative Attitude, Authority and Allegiance, Constitution and the State, Law and Liberty, Property, Alienated Labour, The Autonomous Institution, Establishment, and The Public World. There is also a philosophical appendix dealing with the subject of Liberalism versus Conservatism. These are issues central to politics today, and Roger Scruton's intelligent treatment of them makes this a worthy addition to the bookshelf of anyone who has a serious interest in public affairs.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is an extraordinarily well-written and energetic tome of small frame but great stature. Scruton, the Enblish conservative that he is, explains why conservatism is not a theory to be applied but a doctrine to be worked out. The dogmatics of conservatism, a phrase he uses, is that all of us are by nature social beings before we are individuals; indeed, our own individualsim is discovered only in confrontation with the "other". This social animal, known as man, has accured many rites, rituals, ceremonies, institutions, and habits that indoctrinate him before he even gets going. Of course, humans are free to modify and change these institutions, but it is alway thus -- modification and change of existent institutions, ceremonies, and the like. The conservative wants to preserve those rites, ceremonies, and institutions that have been tested by time, not for the sake of preservation, but for the sake of their timeless success.
With the Sixties, all these assumptions were turned on their head; everything was challenged, and much that was good and noble was like the proverbial baby thrown out with the bath water. For conservatives, it is sufficient to demonstrate that these instutions, tradtions, and histories worked; the fact that they worked is dogmatic, not theoretical or possible, but true and sure. Naturally, some of the assumptions and instutitions at the time of the Sixties were in need of reform, but for the most part, these reforms have begotten us worst institutions than preceded them.
Some of the subjects of which Scruton addresses are authority and allegiance, constitution and state, law and liberty, property, alienated labor, autonomous institutions, and the Establishment. He addresses all the familiar gripes by the Far Left in an intelligent and able manner.
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In high-school I was taught about Burke's conservatism, Smith's liberalism, and Marx's socialism. I've always felt that conservatism as an ideology was not on equal footing with liberalism and socialism. I saw it more as a partial response to 18th century events than a logical, coherent ideology.

This book sets out to presents a coherent, modern view of conservatism as an ideology. The book is thoughtful and has made me realise a certain amount of complexity that doesn't existing if your frame all issues on the classical liberalism-socialism continuum. I am not sure the author is 100% successful in describing the conservative ideology, but he certainly made me think.

If you are interested in political ideologies this is a must read. You do not need to agree with the author, but in fairness you should expose yourself to the ideas.
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Format: Hardcover
I am very conflicted in my response to this work. As an attorney and student of political philosophy, I was intrigued by the author's attempt to craft a conservative dogmatic, an effort that is sadly overdue in our times. His critique of liberalism is withering and effective. As an avid reader, I often enjoyed the author's prose. Here is an interesting extract with one of his many efforts to describe the conservative: "in so far as people love life they will love what has given them life; in so far as they desire to give life it is in order to perpetuate what they have. In that intricate entanglement of individual and society resides the 'will to live' that constitutes conservatism." And yet, my enjoyment was tempered by two shortcomings. As noted by a previous reviewer, I am not sure what the author is ultimately describing, but I am fairly confident that many would disagree with labeling his dogmatic "conservative." By way of illustration, many Americans who belong to the Republican party would be very surprised to see their views described as decidedly non-conservative, while many a loyal Democrat would read with wonder to discover that they were conservatives. Another limitation for the non-English reader is that many of the author's examples are parochially British and lack persuasive and/or explanatory power for the reader not intimate with life in Great Britain. That all being noted, I finished the book and then beleaguered my spouse with readings from all the pages that I had dog-eared because of the author's insights or delightful prose. An interesting and thought-provoking read, especially for the political scientists, philosophers, and politicians in the audience.
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