Beauty

Roger Scruton

Beauty

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. Here, 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 judgements of beauty when it is evident all around us that our tastes vary so widely. Is there a right judgement 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 last year's Turner Prize winner? Scruton hopes that his conclusions, while perhaps controversial to some, will help us to find greater sense of meaning in the beautiful objects that fill our lives. 3.9 out of 5 based on 4 reviews
Beauty

Omniscore:

Classification Non-fiction
Genre Society, Politics & Philosophy, Art, Architecture & Photography
Format Hardback
Pages 176
RRP £10.99
Date of Publication March 2009
ISBN 978-0199559527
Publisher OUP
 

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. Here, 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 judgements of beauty when it is evident all around us that our tastes vary so widely. Is there a right judgement 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 last year's Turner Prize winner? Scruton hopes that his conclusions, while perhaps controversial to some, will help us to find greater sense of meaning in the beautiful objects that fill our lives.

Read an extract at Times Online

Reviews

The Guardian

Steven Poole

[A] congenial essay... Some of the book's best and most original passages dramatise the appreciation of beauty as an exchange between friends, one of whom convinces the other to consider anew an art object - a Whistler painting, or a Brahms symphony (Scruton's narrated defence of which persuaded even me to resolve to try Brahms again). So aesthetics continues to be a social process, though the wider "community of taste" for which Scruton yearns nostalgically cannot be recovered, if indeed it ever existed.

28/03/2009

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Standpoint

Noel Malcolm

For Scruton, art and beauty matter in the same way that moral virtues matter... This may sound pious and preachy when summarised so abstractly; but the case he makes is built on concrete examples, and seldom veers away from genuine experience. Except for one point. When he writes that great art tells us the "truth", in words, images, or melodies, I stumble over that final claim. What "truth" is expressed by a beautiful tune?

01/03/2009

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The Observer

Sebastian Smee

Roger Scruton has moments of great insight and clarity in this attractively slim volume, but he is less than deferential to the buzzing and gurgling body. He seems to find it distasteful. For him, beauty is not connected to animal joy, but to human reason. I'm not at all sure he has it right.

22/03/2009

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The New Statesman

Leo Robson

Amiably terse yet exhaustingly dense... Scruton knows that it is easier to dismiss an argument if you first burlesque it, to issue a grand claim if you don’t follow it up, to presuppose the validity of a position rather than argue it. These short cuts must save him a great deal of energy and effort, but the author’s lightened load equals less enlightenment for the reader.

07/05/2009

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