ROGER SCRUTON: BURKEAN AND BOHEMIAN

By Prof. John Haldane, First Things, 18 January 2020

The death of Sir Roger Scruton has deprived academic aesthetics of one of its most creative, insightful, and wide-ranging practitioners. Roger was one of a kind: poetic, courageous, and funny. We have lost a truly great figure, but his writings remain to nourish, encourage, and educate those who value the humane conversation of mankind and the wisdom philosophy can bring to it. 

I first got to know Roger forty years ago at London University’s Birkbeck College, where he was lecturing in philosophy and I was studying it. He was not one of my teachers, but I learned a good deal from listening to him in various settings—including reading parties at Cumberland Lodge in Windsor Great Park. 

Eventually Roger left the academy to give himself wholly to writing, public lecturing, broadcasting, and afflicting the comfortable in the prevailing liberal-socialist establishment. Michael Dummett and Bernard Williams were leading members of the tribe that Roger taunted (sometimes needlessly), and this led to a long delay in his merited election to the Fellowship of the British Academy. In fact, however, he and Williams had much in common as philosophers. 

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