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Beauty: A Very Short Introduction (Very Short Introductions) [Kindle Edition]

Roger Scruton
3.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)

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Book Description

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?

Forthright and thought-provoking, and as accessible as it is intellectually rigorous, this introduction to the philosophy of beauty draws conclusions that some may find controversial, but, as Scruton shows, help us to find greater sense of meaning in the beautiful objects that fill our lives.

Product Description


Review from previous edition As always with Scruton, his prose is exquisite and wonderfully clear, which fact together with the illustrations make his book a thing of beauty itself. (A. C. Grayling, The Art Newspaper)

Careful and absorbing. (A. C. Grayling, The Art Newspaper)

This is a fascinating and thought-provoking little book. (A. C. Grayling, The Art Newspaper)

Roger Scruton has moments of great insight and clarity in this attractively slim volume. (Sebastian Smee, The Observer)

A fascinating book, which I heartily recommend. (Bryan Wilson, Readers Digest)

Short, fast paced, and wide ranging. (Michael Tanner, Literary Review)

About the Author

Roger Scruton is research Professor at the Institute for the Psychological Sciences based in Arlington, Virginia. His previous academic affiliations have been Professor of Aesthetics at Birkbeck College, London, and subsequently Professor of Philosophy and University Professor at Boston University. His published works range from academic philosophy, specialising in aesthetics, to fiction, and political and cultural commentary. They includeOn Hunting (1998), An Intelligent Person's Guide to Modern Culture (1998), Spinoza (1998), Perictione in Colophon (2000), and England: an Elegy (2000).

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 711 KB
  • Print Length: 233 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: B002R81CPU
  • Publisher: OUP Oxford; 1 edition (24 Mar. 2011)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B005CU4THS
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 3.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #106,632 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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More About the Author

Roger Scruton is currently Research Professor for the Institute for the Psychological Sciences where he teaches philosophy at their graduate school in both Washington and Oxford. He is a writer, philosopher and public commentator. He has specialised in aesthetics with particular attention to music and architecture. He engages in contemporary political and cultural debates from the standpoint of a conservative thinker and is well known as a powerful polemicist. He has written widely in the press on political and cultural issues.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
34 of 35 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Beauty not the beast 7 April 2010
Roger Scruton is one of Britain's leading philosophers, though now based at an American university. He combines, unusually, great erudition with the ability to write in a way that is not merely comprehensible but actually enjoyable. He has been called a "popularist" but I think that is wrong: he is popular because he writes well and thinks of the reader. Aesthetics is a particular concern of Scruton's and this book is up to his own high standards. He deals with, and dismisses, the simple argument that there is no such thing as beauty and that all things are relative, which is the same as saying that nothing is beautiful. If you saw Scruton's television programmes about beauty then you will enjoy this book, though it is not based on the series. The book is pocket-sized but has some 14 illustrations, themselves worth the price of the book. Scruton writes about beauty in the visual arts, painting and sculpture, but also in architecture, film, music and nature as well as what he calls "the aesthetics of everyday life." This is a book on philosophy for those who do not normally read books about philosophy. At a time when so much is nihilistic, here is a book that affirms the beautiful and the sublime. I especially recommend it as a present for young people just going up to university. It is a book to read, re-read, to keep and treasure.
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21 of 22 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars With grace and charm - a better way to live 17 Aug. 2010
By John Ferngrove TOP 500 REVIEWER
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Small in size, brief in length, but with great density of content, this book is itself a physical realisation of the values it propounds. In many ways it serves as the introduction to aesthetics that I was expecting, and which would have perhaps shallowed the learning curve that I had to negotiate, with his far more demanding The Aesthetics of Music. As ever, the clarity of Scruton's arguments matches the precision and elegance of his prose. The main bulk of the book is a presentation of the broad history of aesthetic ideas arranged according to themes that assess our responses to beauty in nature, everyday life and our fellow beings. This culminates in the discussion of beauty in Art where some hint of the intensification of the vexatiousness and technical difficulties of the attendant issues is given. The final two chapters are social commentary dealing with themes that will be familiar to those who have read other Scruton titles; the proper role of the erotic in Art, and the apparent 'retreat from beauty' that would seem to characterise much of modern life. Along the way new ways of seeing, thinking and feeling about familiar things are suggested to us, and we are assisted in giving explicit rational form to our inchoate intuitions, and perhaps most importantly we are asked to consider how they contribute to a life well lived. Scruton is a rare and marvellous example of a modern philosopher who is determined to tackle those questions that define its most venerable traditions, and which most modern philosophy has abandoned, namely those that pertain to the right way to live. Read more ›
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Scrutable Scruton 12 Jan. 2010
By Colly
A marvellously erudite book full of clear and orderly insights into Beauty. Some of which I have arrived at myself, but never thought through as succinctly. Another wonderful book of beautiful prose and gently convincing augument from Mr Scruton.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Beauty in the Age of the Self 20 Sept. 2012
Professor Scruton's ravishing little book Beauty cannot be praised highly enough reading his erudite and passionate argument for beauty brought tears to my eyes. Francisco de Goya famously said that "the sleep of reason breeds monsters". Well, in the twenty-first century we are seeing the children of these monsters, who were born out of societies egregious indifference to traditional artistic ideals at the turn of the twentieth century and enthusiasm for the ridiculous and the self-obsessed, now dominate the artistic and intellectual landscape with such ferocity, decimating the sacred notion of beauty our rational society once held so dear.

What was once thought to be an ephemeral phase of teenage rebellion against tradition by raising the likes of Duchamp et al to the altar of living gods has now gone beyond a joke and it clearly amounts to a disaster when even the cultural cognoscenti, who were once steadfast in their opposition to this trend as guardians of tradition, can not see the social and artistic benefits of beauty. Of beauty itself Scruton writes clearly and unflinchingly.

`To speak of beauty is to enter another and more exalted realm--a realm sufficiently apart from our everyday concerns as to be mentioned only with a certain hesitation.'

In his short and concise book Scruton lays out the philosophical progression of aesthetics, its meaning to us as a society as well as artistic responses to human behaviour, religion and nature, explaining too the emotional catharsis one feels when experiencing beauty.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
1.0 out of 5 stars This is not a review of the content but a ...
This is not a review of the content but a comment on the edition produced by Oxford University Press. Read more
Published 9 months ago by John Houghton
4.0 out of 5 stars Okay - for a general survey of the topic!
In the main, an artistically and intellectually sophisticated account of beauty that requires a good acquaintance with high art - especially music -to fully appreciate!
Published 17 months ago by artlover777
4.0 out of 5 stars Roger Scruton's Very Short Introduction to Beauty
Broad and complex subjects may be approached in many ways. The subject of Roger Scruton's "very short introduction", "Beauty" (2009), for example, might have been written as an... Read more
Published 19 months ago by Robin Friedman
3.0 out of 5 stars A Philosopher's View of Beauty
The sense of beauty is one of the most fundamental human universals. No one is immune to aesthetic appeals, and it seems that the appreciation of the beauty is an exclusive human... Read more
Published on 24 April 2013 by Dr. Bojan Tunguz
1.0 out of 5 stars Liberal justifications for Conservative values
The problem is Scruton claims to be a Conservative but is forever quoting non-Conservatives like Plato and Kant. Read more
Published on 3 Feb. 2013 by David Howells
1.0 out of 5 stars Why Snobbery matters...
This is the angry rantings of a blinkered aesthete, who is saddened that the classical canon (or, in other words, the standard of taste believed in by middle-class white... Read more
Published on 29 Oct. 2012 by Mr. S. Doyle
1.0 out of 5 stars Hideous
Perhaps the reason beauty is disappearing from the world is that there are too many pompous writers like Scruton that use the topic to show off how many pieces of classical music... Read more
Published on 19 July 2012 by wanderkunstler
1.0 out of 5 stars Not great.
Scruton's is an old-fashioned, classical, narrow, positivist and elitist view of beauty. If you want a good modern and critical view of the subject read Umberto Eco's book 'On... Read more
Published on 8 Sept. 2011 by Book Buff
5.0 out of 5 stars R. Scruton's BEAUTY
Roger Scruton, the radically independent thinking English philosopher, has written a masterpiece. While he does take pains to explain in detail concepts which any MFA SHOULD... Read more
Published on 10 July 2011 by Floyd ALsbach
5.0 out of 5 stars Scruton on Beauty
A Kant-like analysis of aesthetics in visual Art and Music ( perhaps also with roots in F. R. Leavis' approach to literature ? Read more
Published on 14 Feb. 2011 by C. J. Terry
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