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Being Cultured: In Defence of Discrimination (Societas) Paperback – 1 Apr 2014


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Product details

  • Paperback: 236 pages
  • Publisher: Imprint Academic (1 April 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1845405706
  • ISBN-13: 978-1845405700
  • Product Dimensions: 21.3 x 13.6 x 1.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 327,756 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

ANGUS KENNEDY was born in Canada in 1968. He has degrees in Classics from Christ Church Oxford, in Linguistics from Birkbeck, and an M.Phil in Artificial Intelligence from Dundee. He is head of external relations at the Institute of Ideas and founder of its educational initiative, The Academy. He lives in Sussex.

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Review

Being Cultured is a strongly argued and clear account of what culture is, why it matters and why it is now under threat. Angus Kennedy lays bare the connection between culture and discrimination, in ways that leave the cultural shibboleths of our time in ruins. This is a book that ought to be read by all students of the humanities as well as the politicians, bureaucrats and impresarios who are responsible for cultural policy and who seem to have lost all sense of why and how there could be such a thing or what would be achieved by it --Roger Scruton Jan 6, 2014

About the Author

Angus Kennedy is head of external relations at the Institute of Ideas and founder of its educational initiative, The Academy. He has a degree in Classics from Christ Church and lives in Sussex.

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19 of 20 people found the following review helpful By Denis Joe on 27 April 2014
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Today it seems as if it is nigh on impossible to criticise without inviting condemnation. The domination of relativism that accompanies the multicultural doctrine ensures that there is little tolerance of making distinctions between pop music and classical, doggerel and poetry, even childish paintings and masterpieces. We no longer see the finished work but are exhorted to consider the effort that went into creating a work. The demarcation between entertainment and art, between the amateur and the professional, that has served mankind well for centuries are, today, routinely ignored.

So Angus Kennedy's 'Being Cultured: In Defence of Discrimination' is not just timely but is also a very importantant book that questions the stultifying atmosphere that surrounds much of our understanding of culture today, and shows us the importance of discriminating:

"Without discrimination we would be plunged into a Protean chaos where no sooner something is the it was not: a world without boundaries; of fantastic and unlimited imagination, a world of unreason." [p.51]

In discriminating we create our morality and build an understanding of the world about us and how we live in that world.

By enforcing the view that one culture is no less inferior to any other - the insistence on referring to African culture, women's literature, gay poetry, etc. - is not liberating in any sense, but only re-enforces identity that further sets us apart from each other.

This relativistic approach also denies reality. So, for instance, by equating entertainment with art is to deny our relationship with those forms; entertainment allows for us to passively accept it; we see ourselves in it it affirms us.
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By Bluecashmere. TOP 1000 REVIEWER on 17 April 2015
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
There is already an excellent review of this book. I am wholly in agreement with it both in spirit and detail and shall not try to compete with it or replicate its content.

“Being Cultured” seems to me an ambitious book, learned and thoroughly documented. Angus Kennedy takes on culture in all its panoplies of meaning and deftly draws them into a coherent account of the retreat from standards and what was once referred to as “high culture.” It is first and foremost an account of the “retreat from idealism to crude pragmatism”. Mr Kennedy identifies the key figures in this process, Susan Sontag, John Berger, Pierre Bourdieu et al, and might well have included other post-modernist European and American intellectuals, who collectively have deconstructed the old order and reduced art to “what you can get away with” in Warhol’s words.

I have to confess that my expectations from this book were both more limited and more specific. What I had anticipated was a narrower focus on the “defence of aesthetic standards” a more explicit statement of the criteria by which we judge that this is beautiful…. that is ugly” .In short an enquiry into the basis for not only aesthetic judgements but moral ones, ones that enshrine the heritage of the enlightenment, a respect for reason and freedoms that have been largely surrendered, sacrificed on the altar of cultural (multi-cultural, politically correct) egalitarianism. We are now in a society in which if we commit a crime, the identity of the victim is likely to be the determining factor in the sentence; and where to express views in opposition to currently received wisdom may well be treated as criminal in itself. Culture has indeed become the handmaiden of politics.
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