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Roger Scruton
1944 -

Professor of philosophy, University of London, repeated presenter of Herbert Spencer Lectures at Oxford University, advisor to former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, author of The Meaning of Conservatism (1980), A Dictionary of Political Thought (1982), and other works

Books by Roger Scruton
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An Intelligent Person's Guide to Philosophy (1999)
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Modern Philosophy : An Introduction and Survey (1996)
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Click here for essays by Roger Scruton
We all know in our hearts, even if we never put the matter into words, that the human subject is the strangest thing that we encounter.

1996 - from An Intelligent Person's Guide to Philosophy
I don't want to be right-wing, but I just am.

Nov. 30, 1996 - quoted in "And God created Scruton", published in the London Daily Telegraph
[My aim in philosophy is to] replace the sarcasm which knows that we are merely animals, with the irony which sees we are not.

quoted in "And God created Scruton", published in the London Daily Telegraph
Punishment is a good thing. There should be more of it, and it should be more severe.

quoted in "And God created Scruton", published in the London Daily Telegraph
'The dogma of conservatism ... [is] startling and even offensive to many whose feelings it none the less quite accurately describes.

1984 - from The Meaning of Conservatism
It is a remarkable fact that people recognise authority... in social arrangements, in institutions, and in the state. It is equally remarkable that this authority can command their allegiance... For conservatives, legitimacy is as much a matter of prejudice as it is of reason... The condition of society presupposes this general connivance, and a conservative will seek to uphold all those practices and institutions - among which, of course, the family is pre-eminent - through which the habits of allegiance are acquired.

1984 - from The Meaning of Conservatism
The conservative philosophy of liberty proceeds from the conservative philosophy of authority, authority which is to be found in the social order.

1984 - from The Meaning of Conservatism
The autonomous individual is the product of practices which designate him as social. The individual man is the man who recognises that he is no mere individual ... Individual freedom is the great social artifact which, in trying to represent itself as nature alone, generates the myth of liberalism.

1984 - from The Meaning of Conservatism
Enlightenment: a scepticism towards traditional authority in matters of religion and politics, an openness of outlook, and a respect for reason as the guiding principle and defining property of the human condition.

1982 - from A Dictionary of Political Thought
An institution is said to have an identity when the members are able not only to distinguish it from other institutions, but also to convey its distinctive character in words, gestures and practice, so as to reassure themselves that it should exist and that they have reason to belong to it.

1982 - from A Dictionary of Political Thought
[In their] life and death struggle for survival [under communist oppression] the Czechs were sustained by their consciousness of history and by their religious and cultural inheritance.

Jul. 21, 1998 - from a article in the London Times
... in philosophy ... truth is all-important, and determines the structure of the discipline.

1994 - from Modern Philosophy, Penguin Books
Fascism: An amalgam of disparate conceptions.

1982 - from A Dictionary of Political Thought
The market economy means simply the democratization of economic life - the return of economic decisions to the people. A true democrat, therefore, must always in the end lean towards the market economy.

Aug. 1998 - from "Christian Democracy and the Czech Republic", published in The New Presence
Where people take no responsibility for major decisions, they cease to expect politicians to behave any differently. Conversely, where the habit of responsible accounting endures, politicians are under pressure to behave like the rest of us.

Aug. 1998 - from "Christian Democracy and the Czech Republic", published in The New Presence
Social democrats are no longer explicitly socialist, but they retain the socialist conviction that people should be looked after by the state. This means that many decisions affecting peopleís lives should be taken by others. It is the state that decides on pensions, welfare, health-care, housing and so on. The result is that political order is gradually voided of individual accountability. Individual voters and individual bureaucrats are equally without responsibility for big decisions. All responsibility resides in the state - that bodiless abstraction which can, in the last analysis, be neither praised nor blamed.

Aug. 1998 - from "Christian Democracy and the Czech Republic", published in The New Presence
When a party is based on ideology, it believes that it has a right to power and that if the people donít agree with it, they are mistaken and ought to be corrected. Social democrats have accepted the ideological program of socialism, while also acknowledging the right of the people to reject it: an uneasy position, as history has shown, and one of the causes for the new kind of social democracy, which tries to distance itself as far as possible from the socialist idea.

Aug. 1998 - from "Christian Democracy and the Czech Republic", published in The New Presence
The visitor to the socialist countries comes away with the overwhelming impression of having travelled backwards in time. The smell of coal fires, the sight of trams and steam trains, the decaying, uncared-for buildings, the empty shops, the queues of people in drab, imperfect clothing, the sense of an overbearing public concern which gathers people up and robs them of initiative: all this returns the visitor to a distant experience, a confused memory of ration books and Pathe newsreels.

1983 - from a column in The Times, London
To make the market economy into the cornerstone of politics is indeed to simplify human existence beyond recognition. But to ignore its true merit as the most widespread and immediate experience of human peace ... is to take a step in a dangerous direction.

1983 - from a column in The Times, London
Moral judgements are not "counsels of prudence", to use Kant's idiom, but principled conclusions about what ought to be done. Hence, I must set aside my interests and look impartially on the problem, as though it were not I, but another, who chooses.

Jan. 22, 2001 - from his review of Writings on an Ethical Life by Peter Singer, review published in the New Statesman
The sophists are back with a vengeance, and are all the more to be feared, in that they come disguised as philosophers. For, in this time of helpless relativism and subjectivity, philosophy alone has stood against the tide, reminding us that those crucial distinctions on which life depends - between true and false, good and evil, right and wrong - are objective and binding.

Aug. 11, 1997 - from "The Return of the Sophist", published in the London Times
The philosopher, in Plato's characterisation, awakens the spirit of inquiry. He helps his listeners to discover the truth, and it is they who bring forth, under his catalysing influence, the answer to life's riddles. The philosopher is the midwife, and his duty is to help us to be what we are - free and rational beings, who lack nothing that is required to understand our condition. The sophist, by contrast, misleads us with cunning fallacies, takes advantage of our weakness, and offers himself as the solution to problems of which he himself is the cause. There are many signs of the sophist, but principal among them are these: mumbo-jumbo, condescension and the taking of fees.

Aug. 11, 1997 - from "The Return of the Sophist", published in the London Times
The basic premise of conservatism is that worthwhile institutions are hard to build, and easy to destroy, and that a life without institutions is seriously impoverished.

1983 - from an essay in the London Times, quoted by C.R. Brand in "Quotations about the psychology of politics, social attitudes and political extremism"