Christina Hoff Sommers & Sir Roger Scruton: Free speech, philosophy, and art | VIEWPOINT

Christina Hoff Sommers & Sir Roger Scruton: Free speech, philosophy, and art | VIEWPOINT

Christina: The philosopher, Sir Roger Scruton
is with me today. He is one of the most distinguished philosophers
of our age. Some have called him the greatest conservative
philosopher since Edmund Burke. He’s the author of more than 50 books. He’s also written an opera, several novels. During the Cold War, he made several trips
to Prague where we had clandestine philosophy seminars around the city. He was eventually arrested, expelled from
the country, and placed on an index of undesirable persons. Later, when freedom returned, Roger was awarded
the Czech Medal of Merit. The Factual Feminist is proud to say that
he has been my friend and ally for many years. Roger, welcome to AEI. Sir Roger: Well, thank you for inviting me. Christina: It’s so lovely to have you here. And you were recently knighted by Queen Elizabeth
II, and I wanna congratulate you for that. I’m not sure what I should call you. Sir Roger: Well, I think you can still call
me Roger. Christina: Sir Roger, Lord, Lord Sovereign,
I know. I immediately wondered about your father,
your late father. He was from a working-class background and
he had a lot of, let’s say, resentment toward the upper class. And when you were admitted to Cambridge University,
he was very angry. How would he feel about knighthood? Sir Roger: Well, he wouldn’t be pleased and
one part of him wouldn’t be pleased, but another part might be pleased, you know because he
was a contradiction. Like so many people who had come from the
bottom, he felt that it was a great achievement not to be what he was, but nevertheless, he
must retain the loyalty to what he was, and seeing me blithely, youthfully, striving ahead
was intolerable for him and I can understand that. But in the end, you know, he was awarded an
honor by the queen at one stage because he was an ardent environmentalist who devoted
a lot of his life to defending our little local town from the abuse of the developers,
and he organized a local society for the protection of the town. And this work was eventually recognized with
the little, you know, the medal, the MBE which is a much cover to the thing. Christina: And he was happy with that? Sir Roger: He had real problems with it. But he accepted it. And then on his grave in High Wycombe on a
tombstone, it says, “Jack Scruton, MBE.” You know, we felt that that does actually
recognize what the deep part of him wanted. Christina: For millennials out there, the followers
of the Factual Feminist are college age or younger, and they may have been in schools,
universities where conservatism was denigrated or simply not represented. So how do you define conservatism and what
are its virtues? Sir Roger: Well, this has been my life’s work
to define conservatism. At a certain stage, I realized that I was
a conservative, without knowing quite what it was. Let’s say in May 1968 in Paris when I saw
all the students protesting on behalf of essentially nothing, not knowing what they wanted, knowing
only what they were against. I felt this is outrageous that they should
be listened to. If people’s feelings are purely negative,
defining themselves in terms of what they dislike or even hate, then they are under
an obligation to find something that they love. So, I looked around myself for the things
I love, and I decided that they are the things that I already have, our civilization, the
rule of law. The ability to close a door and be secured
behind it, all those… Christina: That we take for granted… Sir Roger: That we take for granted. Christina: …the benefits of civilization. Sir Roger: Exactly. But they were threatened then by these crazy
students who’d had all these benefits, of course. Christina: Yes. It was very much an upper-middle class uprising. Sir Roger: Well, yes, exactly. I’ve observed it from my mansard in the street
below in Paris and it was a revolution supposedly against the bourgeoisie on behalf of the working
class. I looked down on the street for representatives
of the working class, the only ones I could see were those poor policemen whom they were
throwing stones at. Christina: Exactly. And we’ve seen this now on some of our college
campuses. Sir Roger: Exactly. So, my own thought anyway, over the many years
that I’ve looked into this question, my thought is that the essential feature of conservatism
is love of the actual, love of the things that you’ve inherited and a desire to reassert
that inheritance. Not uncritically you know, but it’s in the
way that you do with your family, your parents, your brothers, and sisters. You know their faults but you love them and
they’re a part of you, and it’s your primary duty to affirm that love, then work for any
improvements, of course. Christina: Now when you say improvements,
I can imagine someone from the left responding that what are you talking about conserving? What if what you are conserving is corrupt,
full of injustice, you know, institutions where women were second class citizens and
so forth, what do you say? Sir Roger: Everything is imperfect, but the
question is, what parts of what you’ve inherited can be improved and amended? What parts must be thrown away? But what parts are necessary if you’re to
do any improving at all? Edmund Burke said you know, “We reform in
order to conserve.” If we don’t do it that way, then we are at
risk losing the whole motive for reforming in the first place because we throw away our
identities as social beings. Christina: And it’s much easier to tear something
apart than to… Sir Roger: Well, of course. Christina: …build it. And so heedlessly, we’ve seen denigrations
of beauty in contemporary life and in education. Where young people aren’t introduced to great
works of the past or even something like the beauty of the common law. There’s not an understanding of where our
laws come from. I see students today that suddenly want to
dispense with due process or have, you know, they would like to change the first amendment,
no understanding of how these came into being and… Sir Roger: No, that’s right. Well, I think this is where one has to steer
a middle course between saying, “Look, this is our inheritance. Accept it.” And saying, “Get rid of all that and let’s
start again.” All attempts to get rid of everything and
start again like the French Revolution or the Russian Revolution or the Nazi Revolution,
end up as genocide because the controls that prevent people from exercising their basic
resentment and anger are taken away. So, you have to begin from the point that
we have inherited something that defines what we are, let’s see now whether we want to improve
it in this or that respect, and which parts of it are absolutely fundamental to our being
what we are. And you mention the common law which, of course,
is part of the shared inheritance of my country and yours, which most young people don’t fully
understand. They don’t see the amazing achievement of
a legal system that has grown out of the resolution of individual conflicts. And then the extraction of principles from
that so that it’s sensitive at every point to the actuality of human beings. Christina: And developed organically from
the ground up rather than from on high. Sir Roger: Yeah, imposed. See, but it’s a natural instinct in intellectuals
and the reason why intellectuals are so dangerous, is to impose things from on high to say, “Look,
we understand everything. We’ve got the answer to the human problem. Here are the principles. Those are gonna be accepted and we’ll deduced
from that the application in the individual case.” And that’s the opposite of how human conflicts
are resolved. That the principles are deduced from the particular
case and not the other way around. Christina: Not the other way around. And you have seen this, for example, in the
area of art and art history how there was a tradition of beauty and works of genius
and younger people were taught to appreciate and younger artist to emulate. And then suddenly, there were…well, it wasn’t
sudden, but there was a gradual move in modernity and then post-modernity and something was
lost, and you talked about this in… Sir Roger: Yes. Yeah. This is something that has troubled me because
I’ve always been interested in the arts. And for me when I was growing up, like many
of my generation, I was looking for something that would represent the civilization that
had almost destroyed itself in the Second World War. And what was so great, what is the symbol
of that that I would really want to hold onto? Of course, art, music, and literature became
symbols for me. And then I was faced, as all my generation
were faced with the strange puzzle that at a certain stage, artists themselves seemed
to be turning against their vocation. The vocation of art as I see it, is to produce
beautiful things through the beauty of which we understand our own predicament. You know, the human condition, as we know,
is full of woes, full of tragedy and full of… Christina: Mystery. Sir Roger: …mystery and one of the tasks
of art is to reconcile us to this, to show that in the very depths of despair, there
is beauty which redeems us. And all the great art of the past, you know,
right up to Van Gogh and Cézanne and so on, was devoted to this transcendental goal. Suddenly, there was a kind of culture of repudiation
that came about, that we don’t want this, we can’t do it, therefore, we’re going to
condemn it. And you get art like de Kooning and people
like that which became very fashionable in America, devoted to the goal of desecrating
in the human condition rather than redeeming it. And I think that that was, you know, a religious
person would say, “That was the devil’s work,” but I don’t want to put it quite in that way. But there is something in us which wants to
destroy, as well as the other thing that wants to affirm. And artists are particularly vulnerable to
this because, you know, let’s face it. At a certain stage in our civilization, the
artist became a kind of hero. He was adulated, he was made into the representative
of the human spirit for our times. And to get that status became, you know, an
object of great desire. Christina: Coveted. Sir Roger: Yeah. People coveted the status of artist. And so any way of getting attention at a certain
stage seemed good. So, you’ve got all that pop art stuff or worse,
you know, like Tracey Emin putting on display. Christina: From her bed, her… Sir Roger: Her disordered bed in which… Christina: Frightening. Sir Roger: Yes, in which all the mess of her
daily life is made into a spectacle and the people will queue to see that spectacle. This was a queue to see…used to queue to
look at crucifixions, but it doesn’t follow that the thing is beautiful. And it doesn’t follow that they’ll go away
from this improved or in any way made to reflect on their own condition and be reconciled to
it. Christina: Now, you have said that if we…well,
you have defended beauty because you say it is a way of finding ourselves, that it is…if
we lose it, we lose the meaning of life. Sir Roger: Yes. Yeah. I mean, we don’t do everything for the sake
of beauty. That would be an esthete of the Oscar Wilde
type. But… Christina: Yes, impractical. Sir Roger: Impractical, but also offensive
as well, because a large number of people can’t live their lives in that way. But nonetheless, there is still, in all of
us, the desire to make things fit, to make things harmonize. You know, when you enter a house where you’ve
been invited to supper, your manners, your language, your gestures are all expressed,
this is now to fit with these people. You may not know them very well. They would’ve laid the table so that it looks
inviting, etc. That’s something that human beings spontaneously
do and its part of making sense of life that we do that. Christina: And you see in the cities, in Washington,
and New York, people go to the parks where as soon as they can get outdoors in some kind
of rustic setting, it’s a longing in us for… Sir Roger: Yes. There is a longing for beauty and it isn’t
just that we want to fit together with our neighbors either. There shines through these very primitive
and ordinary experiences of beauty, another dimension of being. And we don’t necessarily notice it in our
day-to-day life or we certainly don’t have words for it, but just every now and then
we will stop and we’ll recognize that we have been granted a window onto the transcendental. And in ordinary people’s lives, those little
windows that open are absolutely vital, even if they can’t describe what it is that they
do. Christina: Yes, and we wanna keep those…make
those available to our children, to one another. And if you look at what’s happened with modern
architecture which you…I don’t remember your exact words but something like it’s,
you know, the greatest crime against beauty has been carried out by the modern architects
who built the glass boxes. Sir Roger: Yes. Well, it’s, yeah, a crime against the human
soul. I want to say that building, and especially
the building of cities is one of the most important enterprises that human beings engage
in because it’s their way of marking out a piece of the earth as their shared territory. You know, when you build a city or something,
like Washington or something, all the Washingtonians share. So, it really matters how the buildings face
onto the street. The typical modern building doesn’t face onto
the street at all. It doesn’t have a face. It’s just a glass screen on a few steeled
girders, and it’s erected to, usually on a space that involves destroying all kinds of
agreeable habitats. It’s not built to last. It’ll be pulled down at huge environmental
cost in 20 years’ time and replaced by an equally hideous thing. Meanwhile, the street, the fabric of the city,
the sense of the city as a home to all its dwellers is mutilated and destroyed. And I think this is…it’s not the great works
of modern architecture that do this. You know, it’s the ordinary day-to-day business
architecture which is conceived purely a work of engineering, but which is sweeping away
all the texture of the city as we used to know it. And I think this is having an impact on people’s
lives. The first impact it has is, of course, drive
people out to the city. They don’t live in the city anymore. Christina: They don’t wanna be there. Sir Roger: Yeah. They go, they retreat to the suburbs and into
their own private space, their own silence instead of being out on the street mingling
with each other. Christina: You lived in Boston for many years,
do you remember the Boston City Hall? It was a brutalist. It’s still there. Sir Roger: Absolutely horrible, yes. Christina: A horrible building. And if you look at the old city hall, it was
beautiful, Second Empire French design with, you know, it had a mansard roof and very…I
look at this desecration. First of all, it’s terrible in every way. It cuts the city in two in ways which make
it impossible. And it has an open expense. No one wants to go there. It’s all cement, no trees and then it’s an
upside down, you know, concrete cake. It’s hideous inside and out and, you know,
people wanna tear it down but it’s too expensive. What were they thinking? They built it in ’68. Sir Roger: Yes. Well, we all know that the ’60s was the time
when everything went wrong because it was the time when the baby boom generation matured
or rather, they grew into immaturity. And took possession of their inheritance and
their first, like a child, being given a precious stove from the playbooks in the attic, start
pulling it apart, you know. It was like that. And that the architects at that time decided
they were going to pull their own inheritance apart, and that was their way of making a
mark. Christina: Well, is it stopped, don’t you
think, for getting a little better? Sir Roger: Yes. What I was criticizing earlier was not the
work of the architects who pride themselves on their work but of the ordinary… Christina: Utilitarian. Sir Roger: Yeah, ordinary architect’s office
which is occupied by people who have never been educated in architecture. They wouldn’t know, for instance, how to draw
the shadow on a Corinthian capital in the middle of the day or how a campanile looks
or the shadow of a campanile on a sloping roof. Those are the things that architects have
to study and know before they could qualify, right up to the Second World War. But thanks to propaganda of people like Le
Corbusier and Gropius, that curriculum was swept away and all they study now is engineering
and isometric drawings, you know, just ground plans repeated 20 times over. Christina: Could we build beautiful cities
without bankrupting ourselves and beautiful towns? Sir Roger: Of course, we could. And it is, in the long term a building like
this in which we are conducting this interview is much more economical than those 20-story
glass boxes because it can change its use. People will keep it because it’s… Christina: Because they like it. Sir Roger: Yeah, because it’s beautiful. I wanna ask you about the universities and
some of your work. Your recent book is called, “Fools, Frauds,
and Firebrands: Thinkers of the New Left.” The Guardian calls it a brilliant and patient demolition. Which fools and frauds and firebrands do you
have in mind? Sir Roger: Well, there’s an awful lot of them
as you well know. But for example, not all of them are frauds
actually, let’s face it but among the frauds Deleuze, Lacan, Badiou, Žižek. Christina: Foucault. Sir Roger: I don’t call him a fraud Christina: No, no he’s not a fraud. Sir Roger: I think he’s a serious thinker. Christina: He’s quite brilliant. Sir Roger: Yeah. I have a… Christina: Althusser but… Sir Roger: Althusser. I have a soft spot for Sartre and Foucault. Christina: I do too. Sir Roger: And Sartre is a genius in fact. But then there are the mere fools who just
go on iterating senseless jargon Which, if you reproduce it, people think you must be brilliant that you’ve seen into the real
meaning of that because I don’t see the real meaning of it. Christina: Well, someone once said, a philosopher
I greatly admired and you too, John Stuart Miller said, “Mill wrote so clearly, he could
be found out.” Sir Roger: Yes.That’s a very good point. Well, I consider it a great virtue, clarity. And you go to these post-modernists and it is a secret language. So, it is a kind of initiation and I think students have, maybe their first . sort of genuine feeling as though they’ve had some kind of genuine intellectual experience and they form a little group of… Yes. And that there is something, what you’re talking about, part of the pathology of the human condition, that mumbo jumbo at a certain point gives people the sense of being lifted out of the ordinary mundane life into a realm of illumination, you know. Of greater importance. Sir Roger: Yes. Exactly And sometimes, it can be like that, you know. Religious initiations in the old world The mysteries of, you know, the Greek religion were like that. And the mumbo jumbo was there to give people a sense of a superior authority. And the less it could be understood, the more
effective it was. Christina: So, there was this obscurantism
but at least, in that case, it led to a mystical experience or something. I don’t know, this seems to lead to the current
state in our universities which is a lot of moral relativism. Students reading history to debunk and to
take it apart, to feel superior to our predecessors. And then works of art that you’re taught to
look at them with a hermeneutic of suspicion, that’s the phrase. Sir Roger: Yeah, that’s right. Well, I do see this as an enormous problem
in education. One aspect of it is that the student tends
to be given, especially the students come to study literature and he or she really wants
to read Keats and Shelley and, you know, the modern classic stories and folklore and so
on. And instead, it’s given these impenetrable
tomes, Deleuze, for instance, is huge. Whatever. All the books are 700 pages long and unintelligible. And after a while, there seems to…he’s not
gonna be examined on Shelley and Keats. He’s gonna be examined on this. So eventually, spends his three years filling
his mind with this impenetrable jargon, just learning how to reproduce it. And losing all love of literature along the
way, because how can you love this stuff? Christina: Yes, and it was last year, last
spring, students at Yale protested that there was a course, the Major English Poets, pre-1800
to the 1900. And they focused on Chaucer, Shakespeare,
Milton, Spenser, Donne, Pope, Wordsworth. The petition accused them of excluding women,
people of color, people from the LGBQT community. Now, there are many courses at Yale that have
poets that would, you know, meet you know, female poets and poets of color and so forth. But they were unhappy about this course, and
this course is legendary at Yale. It’s been taught since the 1920s. And one young woman described herself as being
sort of traumatized by her English major at Yale and particularly, this course. And just the idea that they would take a poet,
they would take Shakespeare and Milton and Spenser and Donne and put them all in the
same category as, you know, dead white men. Sir Roger: Yes. I mean, yeah. I mean, this is something new. This desire of students to police the curriculum
that they’ve come to learn. You know, when we went to university as you
will remember, we went in due humility thinking, “My God, look, there’s masses of knowledge
which I need to acquire and there are people there are gonna teach me. It’s not for me to set the curriculum. It’s for them to set the curriculum.” Christina: Yeah, did you…what the students
will say, I don’t see myself reflected in the curriculum. You know, it doesn’t validate my identity. I don’t… Sir Roger: Yeah, well that’s the point of
it. Christina: Isn’t that the purpose of education
is to introduce you to a larger world and take you out of yourself? Sir Roger: I know, at a certain point, if
people go on reacting in that way, the correct response is to say, “Yeah, that’s true. You wouldn’t see yourself in this, but since
you are so satisfied with yourself, there’s no need for you to come to university anyway. So why don’t you…here is the front door,
out you go.” I wanna ask you about some sort of contemporary debates on the campus. About freedom of speech, freedom of expression or meaning of freedom altogether, but let’s talk about freedom of speech. There’s an understandable desire on the part of campus administrators to preserve stability. And I’m quite sympathetic with that. I do wish people would be polite and civil. It would be shocking to me as a teacher if students were saying hideous things to one another in my class, I would tell ’em to stop. But as soon as they start issuing speech codes or and then enlarging the meaning of hate speech or offense to include simply irritating someone or saying something they don’t agree with, then we begin to have a, you know, almost a ministry of truth and thought in what can be said and what can’t be done. Is there some way to resolve this? There is a great distinction
that we should bear in mind between giving offense and taking offense. A lot of education, these days, is about the
art of taking offense, gender studies is all about this. How to take offense at things which are meant
kindly and innocently, but by reading into them some illegitimate denigration of women
or… Christina: Yes, and motives no longer matter. Perhaps someone can have good motives they
can, you know, a man can want to open a door for you to be helpful, he thought, but that’s
benevolent sexism. Sir Roger: All that, yes, all that is a way
of raising the temperature of ordinary relations between people to the point where they don’t dare to engage in them. This is what I worry is that it’s going to undermine friendship. When the best way to overcome prejudice is that everyone has them and you meet someone from somewhere, you know nothing about them. You will have stereotypes. What breaks them down is becoming friends and in speaking, you know, casually and not being monitored, not being afraid, not having to tread on. And that’s all absolutely true. And I think older people, people of our generation especially have a duty to point all these out to young people to say, “Look, there are some opinions which we really dislike, you know. I hate the whole Marxist way of looking at society, and I think that it has been responsible for some terrible things that have happened that a lot of crimes have their roots in that way of seeing everything in terms of class conflict. But I don’t want to stop people from studying Marx or for even from describing their experience in this way. I want them to do it and to engage with them in argument. You know what I find interesting is that I don’t dislike my ideological opponents. I disagree with them. I think they’re wrong, but I think they’re misguided. And sometimes I’m reading things and I realize that they hate me. Sir Roger: I think that this is a difficulty that I’ve had as well. That I think they’re mistaken but they think that I’m evil because I disagree with them. They have a world view which is moralized through and through You’ve got to have certain beliefs or at least you’ve got to say certain things otherwise, you’re outside the fold of the redeemed humanity. And I think that lies behind a lot of these campus attacks on free speech, you know. That the people who are saying the things that they don’t like to hear can only be saying them because they’re evil and wanting to stir up human beings into some terrible conflict. Christina: They want to attribute the worst possible motive and they do see you as a kind of evil that should be silenced spotted out and then and that’s why there’s suddenly this urge to disinvite people from campus. They take someone like Ayaan Hirsi Ali and someone I admire so much, and they speak poorly of her and accuse her of all sorts of things. I wanted to end by asking you a more general question about freedom and I heard you quote recently Matthew Arnold who said that, “Freedom is a very good horse to ride but to ride somewhere.” Well, I think I know what he meant by that but what does it mean to you? Well, freedom is, for me, a sine qua non. Without freedom, I don’t have the ability to shape my own life, nor the ability to help others shape theirs. So, I must have basic freedoms if I am to live a fulfilled life as a human being. But I must also have a sense of what that fulfilled life is or would be. What should I be aiming at? At what point, can I look on myself and say, “What you are, it’s good to be?” You know that is what human happiness consists in. It doesn’t consist in pleasure and appetite and, you know, having all the good things, etc. It consists in looking on yourself and saying, “That thing is a good thing to be and I’ve done it.” And it’s hard because every now and then, we do have that sense. But then if we are truly worthwhile people, we will quickly think, “No, there are things still to be improved.” So, I think that all that Matthew Arnold meant was that just to emphasizing freedom, doesn’t distinguish a good society from an anarchic one. Anarchy leads in Hobbes’s famous words to, “Life it is solitary, poor, nasty, brutish and short.” And we want the opposite of all those things. Christina: We want the opposite. And because this is the American Enterprise Institute and we are very pro free enterprise. You are a reluctant capitalist. Explain what you mean and it’s connected with our freedom because we are free to be happy consumers but that’s a temptation away from a good… Sir Roger: Well, yeah, thinking for inviting
me. Christina: Delightful. Sir Roger: Yeah, it’s great to be back.

100 thoughts on “Christina Hoff Sommers & Sir Roger Scruton: Free speech, philosophy, and art | VIEWPOINT

  1. List on undesirable persons? Is that like some feminist list that contains a list of guys that are not to be dated by any woman?

  2. Wait a sec–the boomers were in their 20s, at the oldest, in the 1960s. The designers, architects, and producers of 60s hideosities were born in the first third of the 20th century, and had been at work for quite a while.

  3. Thanks for the great interview Christina, Does anyone else feel a new loosely defined center forming around the loud polarization? My fingers are crossed that 2017 will go down as the year we develop online conversational ethics which is to say you don't get a pass from the golden rule just because someone can't punch you through the screen yet. I mean when is the last time you told someone at a bar GFKYS or drink bleach? HA. I'll look forward to reading Roger's book

  4. Thanks for this, always good to hear Roger Scruton's thoughts about modern life. This is the first time I've seen Christina Hoff Sommers – not to be sexist, but she is rather beautiful…

  5. Scrotum comes off as someone who is both sincere and genuine ; such personal integrity is in short supply these days…

  6. When listening to them talk about architecture I wondered what Sir Roger Scruton would make of the architecture seen in science fiction films like "Blade Runner", "Ghost in the Shell", or the old SF movie "Metropolis".

  7. Thank you Christina Hoff Sommers, for this presentation of Sir Roger Scruton, I will enjoy his style And manners as a Gentleman of high Quality…! He is Inspiring ,soft spoken and very intuitive plus he could teach men to be better & absolutely not be just navel gazer especially our own…! I think that it becomes quite unhealthy & very dangerous to be so concentrate too much in our own self…!

  8. Tracey Emin doesn't suck because her work is ugly, it's because she has no talent or inspiration. Scruton's obsession with beauty shows that he doesn't understand that creativity can be ugly. He just wants false anodyne impressions of utopias.

  9. Professor Roger Scruton does not understand of Art nothing. Art usually mirrors the real life. Artist usually is very sensitive to the life and even are able to predict the future. That why Artist usually are not very politicly collect. Artist is free spirits. About Architecture I totally agree his concepts. Where is free speech that you have the title of this video? What happens at this moment in England or in the world? Why you don't talk about hot issues. Are you asleep or you are totally frozen icebergs full of money and blind for the world's problems now? And very…. politicly correct…. What kind of Professor are you terrible job

  10. perhaps Sir Roger dinner believes talks with mediocre Architects acquaintances qualify him to comment frivously on modernity. Hoff and Scrutton feel competant enough to mix Gender Studies with Architecture as casually as composing set pieces of IKEA furniture. Hoff seems to recycle the same complaints against generations and establishments within each interview but with the gusto of a debate rebuttal. To mix Gropius with LeCorbusier proves their lack of intelectual penetration; their euphonious nodding and waving coupled with stretched out vowels does not substantiate prowess, instead it signals drowning pretensions.

  11. Here's the thing. I disagree with this man. I disagree with the idea that there's no beauty in a bedroom or any value in deconstruction.

    On the other hand though, a) he's calm and polite enough that I don't feel like I need to tear him down, and b) I also disagree with the postmodernists enough to know that he does have a purpose.

    In other words, at last, I have found a Conservative that I can respectfully disagree with. Finally.

  12. Everyone is seems to be unaware of the artist as a practice joker i.e. in Berlin Gallery a dome of scrunched up A4 paper in the middle of floor is an installation and it was made kinetic because the art gallery had to assign a guard to continually circle it to stop the teenagers on school excursions from setting it alight or pinching bits of the paper.

  13. I am pleased he makes a distinction between the great works of modern architecture and the day-to-day ones. Because I love brutalism.

  14. It is perfectly obvious that many students today are not suited to the intellectual environment a University fosters. The whole point is one is exposed to a wealth of ideas and thoughts that require effort to understand and meaningfully explain. All sorts of information is there to be sought, marshalled and utilised to help one understand the world we live in. Why do we think the way we do? How did we get here?! What do we know about our ancestors? What can we reliably now about them? What knowledge matters? What is knowledge? How has the past shaped our world today? Why does my society have certain rules? Do we need rules? Should we offend people? Do we have a duty to offend? Is offending people disgraceful? What matters in life? Who should we listen to? Etc etc etc. A mature person asks questions and listens to the answers and tries to understand what answers are important. Too many students have no concern for freedom of speech and are determined to be offended. They will learn if they adopt some humility.

  15. having recently graduated from architecture school, i could not agree more in regards to post-modernist literature being a secret language and completely lacking in clarity.

  16. I agree with Roger Scruton about the benefits of Common Law over Civil Law, however his statement at 8:07, "the principles are deduced from the individual case and not the other way around", is clearly false: if it were true then there would be no need for any principles, they would act merely as an intellectual curiosity. In reality we often (but not always) reason about the morality/justice of new situations from general principles such as freedom, utility, equal opportunity, etc. Even in Common Law rulings a judge and jury need to have some general principles to guide them. A bigger problem with Civil Law is the fact that it is more easily corruptible by those in power (as evidenced by the ease with which Hitler and other 20th century European dictators were able to change laws in ways that had monstrous outcomes).

    Roger Scrutons criticisms of intellectuals also seems a bit off the mark; intellectuals do not impose things, politicians do. Intellectuals merely give opinions and advice, just as he, an intellectual, is doing himself.

  17. Your respect for 'due process' is misplaced: at least in the UK. The Establishment can use and alter 'due process' to avoid actual JUSTICE, in order to maintain the status quo: and it frequently does. The UK does not have an independent judiciary: just scrutinise the Class that its judiciary is drawn-from; and belongs-to. They do the Establishment's bidding. This is why there is not a great deal of respect for the Law within the UK.

  18. A question of video aesthetics just occurred to me: Why is it that in so many of these videos anymore, the viewer's eyes are distracted by the guts of the studio?? The lights, the mikes, the random clutter on the floor…when did this technique come about??

  19. It really is time to scrap the honours system. That notwithstanding Miss Hoff Sommers' oleaginous and adolescent sycophancy is embarrassing; she seemed, at one point, almost to be squirming out of her knickers. Scruton gives a very good impression of indulging an idiot.

  20. I just looked up Boston City Hall. That is one monstrously ugly building indeed. There are lots more like it. It's almost as though there is a camp of modern architects who are bitter, resentful people who delight in plopping these hideous buildings in the middle of beautiful spaces. EDIT: Upon further reading, I discovered it was designed in 1962. No surprise there. Just about every building designed and built in the 1960s and 1970s is a monument to ugliness that should be razed.

  21. Two of my very favourite thinkers.

    The radical left think those who disagree are "evil" because they are projecting their own hatred onto others (ie: they themselves are full of hate, as you can see in the contorted features of so many protestors, so they expect others must be also).

  22. Softspot for Sartre & Foucault? Yikes. Midwives of decadence and the shift towards total subjectivism. And Sarte an apologist not only for Marxism but Stalin. How curious.

  23. Imagine an English (loosely described) major unable to read men. Respectfully ma'am (I think) you need to get over yourself.
    Or will you climb back up into the trees and start all over again? I think not. (I thought not.) MIschief afoot, that.

    That bit about modern architecture. Of course the Emperor has no clothes on! A thousand holy hosannas for gracing my tired ears with the sad truth. That muck is entirely a crime against humanity. Our built environment is designed only to drive through, with eyes, minds, souls diverted.

    I work on a campus and read all the books that the students don't read anymore. (Well, considerable numbers of them, anyway.)
    My first clue is that I get to renew them endlessly, and no-one else ever puts a hold on them. North America's third largest library collection…all for my private enjoyment. This happy quip represents that sad a state of affairs.

    Of course an education should be an expansion of awareness – not a closing down into a matchbox consciousness. I find it more like an unconscious zombie-walk of texting with no context at all.
    I overheard a quote on CBC the other day, about the numbers of post educational people who, when finished with their formal credential requirements, will never again pick up a book. That thought took my breath away. As in watching some terrible cyclonic devastation approach from across a vast sea.

    Obviously, I think this matters. My formal education ended some four decades ago. My real education started almost immediately afterward. And what fun it's been!

    Sir Roger, I'm looking forward to reading you. I will start with Fools, Frauds and Firebrands. It is on order as I speak.
    Many thanks (in advance) for all your work.

  24. WOW, Love of the Actual, coming to the understanding of God's Love for us, is beautiful and part of our inheritance.

  25. 21:54 – 22:05 Shouldn't that be part of our analysis of the past though? Why should the past be assumed to have only accurate lessons?

  26. It is so true what he says about academics having a propensity to try and impose from upon high, it is the arrogance of the intellect. It is what the entire story of Lucifer is based around. God's most beloved and most esteemed angel grew envious of God's natural order and wished to usurp it with a framework of his own, as a result he became fallen.

  27. The problem with Scruton's conservatism is that he'd rather not share the things he cherishes with people who he regards as beneath him. Socialism on the other hand seeks to make things that are precious available to all. That's why the UK has a national health service, which presumably Scruton and his family have benefitted from.
    Scruton also claims to despise optimistic revolutionary narratives, which he says slways lead to state oppression. How does he think America began?

  28. "The Baby Boom generation grew into immaturity." How very well put! I was there: I was one of them. May succeeding generations forgive us!

  29. 16:00 – This is nonsense. He thinks people don't live in the city because the architecture is unattractive? It's because it's too expensive. A typical out of touch academic.

  30. Superb dialogue. Bravo. Two great minds! Thoughtful. Illuminating. Respectful. Listen, learn & emulate these wonderful individuals.

  31. There has to be a balance between the traditional values and the changes in society if for no other reason than that the traditional values give people the space to adapt to changes. Neither side is right. People politicize one side or the other. The question has to be separated from politics in order for people to understand each other. Then, when they understand each other, they are better able to work out some kind of a compromise. I understand how the Conservative people feel, but it would be impossible for me to live a Conservative life. The fact that I accept their desire to live a certain way does not mean that I want them telling me how to live. Extreme adherence to one side or the other is bad for society and inevitably causes a backlash.

  32. I'm really not sure that Sir Roger is a Conservative, small 'c' perhaps. He seems to me a Christian, and very much one of the Anglican/Catholic persuasion. His admiration for the transcendent divine reality is striking and he encourages me to ponder the intrinsic beauty of the human person, 'created in the image'. Nar laga Dhia thu.

  33. It is seldom that one listens to an interview where both interviewer and subject have such lovely voices. It was a pleasure to listen to it.

  34. I m very glad that I can understand a bit of english bc I can understand the dialouge of such positive personages developing ideas for the good of all. 🙂 But I m also having mixed feelings about some of it. I'll try to explain it with my meager abilities in english, so please be patient with me 🙂 Actualy I ve seen many interviews with Jordan Petersen and many interviews with Roger Scruton. And in some degree it is valuable to see them as connected thinkers. But I want to say smt about one idea about which both of them seem to speak so idealisticaly, so uncriticaly, viewing it as only positive topic with positive influence on our society and life. Petersen changed my view about hierarchies of a society, and from now on I dont view it only as something bad and cruel – a horrible historic inheritance of medieval times or even an inheritance of caveman in our mind who like only domination over others and dont stand equality. 🙂 But of course I also can see the pathological aspects of hierarchic society. The pathology of the ppl who has some achievements and dont like new ppl getting upon their ladder also, and the older ppl with achievements dont like to give a hand to newer ppl up the ladder of career, or achievements. I now also view the hierarchy as a mean of development, a ladder which gives many persons some purposes to develop into. And start to being more competent, more knowledgable, smarter, and also more caring. I think that if in any imaginable future we as culture can spread the ideals of equality as far as to end all social hierarchies, it would be utopian world but also a dark utopia. Becouse this way we would end all need of development, there will be no motivation to be better or smarter or more active or achieving smt new and so all development will stop. But the rulers of such totalitarian regime will be ruling over the gray masses of identical idiotic persons (idiocracy) who even dont know how to want to be smarter and stronger and developing anything in their life. And it will be very thin layer of elites (realy inteligent and educated) ruling over gray mass of uneducated cheap workers. Without imagination and ambitions. How fun 😀 So Petersen showed me that hierarchy has pathologies (cruel, dominant psychopathological persons who rule over milions of others without care and dont like the share of power becouse it will be diminishing of their political stranght) but hierarchy its not inherently bad and cruel, its very much needed as a mean of giving ppl their motivation for aiming higher. Social hierarchy has not only a definition of power structure, of political dominance (like in this triangle of masonic hierarchies or othe secret power structures), it also has definition of ideals bigger than ourselves toward which we aim. To better ourselves. But it seems now for me that western schools and western ideologies (maybe in eastern Europe it is not so popular yet), dont like to teach our children how to be better, smarer, more knowledgable, be interested in some ambitious topics not only in fun and games. They seem to tell them – its ok to be lazy and fat and uneducated and stupid and only playing and not caring for your future and being ideologicaly educated but not realy educated, and be proud of being a minority but not proud of giving smt of value to all society. They seem to teach young ppl only expecting to be given anything for free, and not being creative and caring and making some values for all. But now Roger Scruton talked about conservatism as something only valuable and needed, and he says that the essensial feature of conservatism is the love of the actual, and so not the love of change. Esp, I guess not the love of change for the sake of change only. Of course such things as "the rule of law", and "the privacy imperative", and "the freedom of speech" should be conserved becouse they are elemental values of our culture and we had spilled blood for these civilisational achievements for hundreds of years!. But I think that he has also this un-critical view about "the actual", the idealistic view of "to conserve the good things", he does not see the pathological aspects of stagnation. And that "the good things" to being conserved could be also only the things which only the elites, the higher hierarchies view as good things, I mean their stagnant higher status, without the influx of new ppl and new ideas. Both of them speak about hierarchies (Petersem) and conservation (Scruton) as smt inherently good and only good. But both of them seem to understand the goodness of it only from the elites view. Too idealisticaly. In social hierarchy we have the chance to find our higher goals to be better and we can find in it also the pathologies of insanely cruel ppl who want to destroy any who can take up the ladder with them, and in natural need of conservation of "the good traditional values" (which are good values though most of them were also the topic of revolutions hundreds and tousands years ago, yes the conservative values were smt for which we have fought to achieve for millenia), we have also the conservation of actual groups of power, persons upon the top of hierarchy, who does not like to share the power – which means that our democracy is mostly futile and a pathetic show in tv. Bc todays democracy dont represent most of us, only the interests of few rich bastards 😀

  35. And the idiotic media in the UK have just got him sacked because he had the temerity to point out facts.

  36. Fastforward 51yrs and what do we have ? students protesting on behalf of essentially
    nothing not knowing what their against but against it anyway. seems we've come full circle

  37. We already have a Society that is completely open to REAL Progress. We no longer need the "progress proffessionals". Regressive Leftists are an useless appendix.

  38. Scruton is totally timid about the woman-question. Its irresponsible, from an otherwise supremely responsible gentleman.

  39. I used to see conservatives as conservatives now describe the SJW Left activists:
    Selfish, irrational, petty, hypocritical, abusive, snide, obsessed with what they hate not what they love, meddling in lives of strangers, know what's best for everyone, anti freedom and anti liberty – except for a few examples of liberty THEY admire, such as unlimited freedom for "corporate persons" (which are (not) created by God), freedom to impose their religious ideals on others, freedom to own guns.

    Some ARE just that. Now I know more about tradition, stability, and Left insanity.

  40. To both of you, Thank you for your work and generosity in sharing such an interesting and thoughtful conversation between yourselves, two first class scholars. I think this is required listening.

  41. I'm very grateful to Sir Roger Scruton. Although I graduated from the universities of Leiden and Utrecht, I never had much liking for books about philosophy. The books of Sir Roger Scruton changed this. Many thanks and best wishes from the Netherlands.

  42. On architecture: How does Norman Foster get away with buildings like the Gherkin that waste enormous amounts of the clients space? Shearly his fame (or is "notoriety" the better word?), I would guess.

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