Apprehending the Transcendent

For this posting, I reproduce the title of the video to which I am linking. I myself was unaware of the work of Sir Roger Scruton who passed away only a few days ago. This dialogue reveals many of the themes that have attracted me to Platonism, Romanticism and the esoteric Christian tradition.

We are reminded of a theory of knowledge and truth that is entirely comparable to that of the German Romantics of the 1790’s and 1800’s – the truth being a transcendent object of desire, not only of the intellect but also of the imagination. I am very heartened to hear such talk today in criticism of the prevailing nihilistic and post-modern paradigms.

Sir Roger was also a strong supporter of English political conservatism. He was concerned for a sense of identity of our country against the backdrop of radical socialism, also for the rule of law and public order. He was apparently not very concerned for the individual person in the social contract, though he was not a collectivist. Critical of the modern feminist movement with its assumptions of “predatory” instincts in all men, he held to traditional values of modesty for women and chivalry for men. It is significant that he expressed sympathy for early feminism such as that of Mary Wollstonecraft. What is praiseworthy in Scruton is his philosophical perspective in questions of social doctrine and politics rather than the repeated slogans and hot buttons to which we are subjected in the social media. His observations on education remind me somewhat of the German concept of Bildung.

Listening attentively to the dialogue, I had the impression that many subjects were “bounced” over, but that is understandable since time was limited. I warmed to the essentially Romantic and Platonist philosophical root of the dialogue. I identify easily with the refusal of nihilism and “post-truth” post-modernism. I felt a certain sympathy for the Left in the polemics over Brexit over the course of last year, but I have seen that the failure of the Labour party was largely due to Corbyn’s “dinosaur” communism. Scruton’s conservatism rather reminds me of some ideas that circulated among some French traditionalist Catholic intellectuals in works like Eric Vatré, La Droite du Père, Paris 1994. That book contains interviews with a wide range of thinkers, and it was brought back to my mind as I listened to some of Scruton’s ideas.

I recommend watching this video and investigating the work of this distinguished philosopher and educator.

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