Scruton: True Ideals

“[F]or a free being, there is right feeling, right experience and right enjoyment just as much as right action. The judgement of beauty orders the emotions and desires of those who make it. It may express their pleasure and their taste: but it is pleasure in what they value and taste for their true ideals.”

– Roger Scruton, Beauty (p. 327)

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Scruton: Not Just Puritan Bigotry

“The old morality, which told us that selling the body is incompatible with giving the self, touched on a truth. Sexual feeling is not a sensation that can be turned on and off at will: it is a tribute from one self to another and – at its height – an incandescent revelation of what you are. To treat it as a commodity, that can be bought and sold like any other, is to damage both present self and future other. The condemnation of prostitution was not just puritan bigotry; it was a recognition of a profound truth, which is that you and your body are not two things but one, and by selling the body you harden the soul. And that which is true of prostitution is true of pornography too. It is not a tribute to human beauty but a desecration of it.”

– Roger Scruton, Beauty (pp. 275-276)

Wolfe: Sincere, But Sheer, Literature

“There were five standard tests for a scientific hypothesis. Had anyone observed the phenomenon – in this case, Evolution – as it occurred and recorded it? Could other scientists replicate it? Could any of them come up with a set of facts that, if true, would contradict the theory (Karl Popper’s ‘falsifiability’ test)? Could scientists make predictions based on it? Did it illuminate hitherto unknown or baffling areas of science? In the case of Evolution… well… no… no… no.. no… and no.

In other words, there was no scientific way to test it. Like every other cosmogony, it was a serious and sincere story meant to satisfy man’s endless curiosity about where he came from and how he came to be so different from the animals around him. But it was still a story. It was not evidence. In short, it was sincere, but sheer, literature.”

– Tom Wolfe, The Kingdom of Speech (pp. 27-28)

Scruton: Which Kind of Art You Adhere To

“The works of art that we remember fall into the first two categories: the uplifting and the demeaning. The total failures disappear from public memory. And it really matters which kind of art you adhere to, which you include in your treasury of symbols and allusions, which you carry around in your heart. Good taste is as important in aesthetics as it is in humour, and indeed taste is what it is all about. If university courses do not start from that premise, students will finish their studies of art and culture just as ignorant as when they began. When it comes to art, aesthetic judgement concerns what you ought and ought not to like, and (I shall argue) the ‘ought’ here, even if it is not exactly a moral imperative, has a moral weight.”

– Roger Scruton, Beauty (p. 171)

Scruton: Minimal Beauties

“Much that is said about beauty and its importance in our lives ignores the minimal beauty of an unpretentious street, a nice pair of shoes or a tasteful piece of wrapping paper, as though those things belonged to a different order of value from a church by Bramante or a Shakespeare sonnet. Yet these minimal beauties are far more important to our daily lives, and far more intricately involved in our own rational decisions, than the great works which (if we are lucky) occupy our leisure hours. They are part of the context in which we live our lives, and our desire for harmony, fittingness and civility is both expressed and confirmed in them. Moreover, the great works of architecture often depend for their beauty on the humble context that these lesser beauties provide. Longhena’s church on the Grand Canal would lose its confident and invocatory presence, were the modest buildings which nestle in its shadow to be replaced with cast-concrete office-blocks, of the kind that ruin the aspect of St Paul’s.”

– Roger Scruton, Beauty (p. 32)