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Influenced by T.S. Eliot (“worth 20 volumes of Hegel”, he has said), his sense of self is utterly opposed to that outlined in Adam Zeman’s more recent piece on cognitive science: “That to which we reach, because it promises redemption, must be understood in personal terms. It is the soul of the world . . . that spoke to Moses from the burning bush.” Thus Scruton tries, in his elegantly subjective way, to do what he says art does — to “realise what is otherwise inchoate, unformed and incommunicable”. He is, after all, an artist-philosopher (and a better creative writer than Eagleton: see, for example, his atmospheric romance set in Communist Prague, Notes from Underground).

All the same, some non-believers who admire his aesthetics and his search for spiritual meaning look forward to an account of the spirit which understands the transcendence of religion and high culture as part of a reworked, more subtly materialist model of the mind and its representation of the world. There is an emerging cognitive science of culture informing some philosophy, which neither Eagleton nor Scruton has time for, partly because they are both wary of the scientific.

Scrugletopia is a thought-provoking place: it finds our culture in a mess; it is not satisfied with our politics; it rejects atheism but also the after-life; it needs faith; it looks for salvation in art, in the humanist and idealist tradition, and in the Christian religious heritage; Scruton is all for personal transcendence while Eagleton, though now less entrenched in leftist “repudiation”, searches for the civilised egalitarian vision.

Each continues to modify and embellish his castle — Scruton with his rich heritage of proudly high culture, his love of beauty and Wagner, and his faith in the Christian tradition (not to mention fine living); Eagleton to ponder yet again how he can resolve the tensions between his dislike of postmodernist-capitalist-atheist culture, his admiration for humanist and Christian literature, and the dreamily enchanting Marxian hills. They have always been able to rely on each other — as have we on them.
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David Gerhard
July 8th, 2017
5:07 PM
Just to be clear, by the comment ‘above’, I meant the one by Winston Salem (who seems to be named after a city in North Carolina), which I now see is below. And I agree with Martin Adamson – Foucault was a real revolutionary, and said, for example, that ‘when the proletariat triumphs, it will exert a power which is violent, dictatorial and even bloody over the class it has supplanted. I don’t know what objection one can make against this’. Somewhat scary.

David Gerhard
July 7th, 2017
9:07 AM
For a much fairer, more temperate and appreciative comment than the sour one above, see this link to a post by New Criterion critic Andrew Shea: https://www.newcriterion.com/print/post/8735

Martin Adamson
July 4th, 2017
9:07 AM
Certainly as far as Foucault is concerned, once I found out that his preferred model of justice was the September Massacres, I rather lost interest. Hard to believe that it is worth spending much time engaging with someone whose ideal is that criminals should be punished by being chopped into pieces by an angry mob, and then having their body parts paraded through the streets of Paris stuck on a pike.

Winston Salem
July 1st, 2017
12:07 PM
"He saves us, if we need saving, from wading through Althusser, Habermas and Foucault." Well, you kept up a facade of intellectual engagement for as long as possible, but then it slipped. Let's leave aside the complicated question of Althusser for the moment, and ask: are you really so self-satisfied and blinkered as to believe that Habermas's immense synthesis of streams of ideas, and his reconstruction of social liberalism has nothing to teach you? That Foucault's inquiries into the transformation of social modes - sexuality, law, selfhood - are of no interest in comprehending the contemporary world? Pathetic and wearying, and one clue as to why the Right are so rudderless at the moment - their intellectual bases have become so narrow and self-flattering that the whole thing is toppling over.

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