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Beauty can be consoling, disturbing, sacred, profane; it can be exhilarating, appealing, inspiring, chilling. It can affect us in an unlimited variety of ways. Yet it is never viewed with indifference. In this Very Short Introduction, the renowned philosopher Roger Scruton explores the concept of beauty, asking what makes an object--either in art, in nature, or the human form--beautiful, and examining how we can compare differing judgments of beauty when it is evident all around us that our tastes vary so widely. Is there a right judgment to be made about beauty? Is it right to say there is more beauty in a classical temple than a concrete office block, more in a Rembrandt than in an Andy Warhol Campbell Soup Can? Forthright and thought-provoking, and as accessible as it is intellectually rigorous, this introduction to the philosophy of beauty draws conclusions that some may find controversial, but, as Scruton shows, help us to find greater sense of meaning in the beautiful objects that fill our lives.
Kant is arguably the most influential modern philosopher, but also one of the most difficult. Roger Scruton tackles his exceptionally complex subject with a strong hand, exploring the background to Kant's work and showing why the Critique of Pure Reason has proved so enduring.
In The Soul of the World, renowned philosopher Roger Scruton defends the experience of the sacred against today's fashionable forms of atheism. He argues that our personal relationships, moral intuitions, and aesthetic judgments hint at a transcendent dimension that cannot be understood through the lens of science alone. To be fully alive--and to understand what we are--is to acknowledge the reality of sacred things. Rather than an argument for the existence of God, or a defense of the truth of religion, the book is an extended reflection on why a sense of the sacred is essential to human life--and what the final loss of the sacred would mean. In short, the book addresses the most important question of modernity: what is left of our aspirations after science has delivered its verdict about what we are?Drawing on art, architecture, music, and literature, Scruton suggests that the highest forms of human experience and expression tell the story of our religious need, and of our quest for the being who might answer it, and that this search for the sacred endows the world with a soul. Evolution cannot explain our conception of the sacred; neuroscience is irrelevant to our interpersonal relationships, which provide a model for our posture toward God; and scientific understanding has nothing to say about the experience of beauty, which provides a God's-eye perspective on reality. Ultimately, a world without the sacred would be a completely different world--one in which we humans are not truly at home. Yet despite the shrinking place for the sacred in today's world, Scruton says, the paths to transcendence remain open.
Father of the Enlightenment and the last guardian of the medieval world, Spinoza made a brilliant attempt to reconcile the conflicting moral and intellectual demands of his epoch and to present a vision of man as simultaneously bound by necessity and eternally free. Ostracized by the Jewish community in Amsterddam to which he was born, Spinoza developed a political philosophy that set out to justify the secular state ruled by a liberal constitution, and a metaphysics that sought to reconcile human freedom with a belief in scientific explanation. Here, Roger Scruton presents a clear and systematic analysis of Spinoza's thought and shows its relevance to today's intellectual preoccupations.
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