What is culture? Why should we preserve it, and how? In this book renowned philosopher Roger Scruton defends Western culture against its internal critics and external enemies, and argues that rumours of its death are seriously exaggerated. He shows our culture to be a continuing source of moral knowledge, and rebuts the fashionable sarcasm which sees it as nothing more than the useless legacy of "dead white European males." Ranging widely over the arts and philosophy, Scruton defends what Eliot called "the common pursuit of true judgement" against the dismissive attacks of the new academicians. In his striking account of music, and its role in moral education, he defends the classical tradition as well as the American popular song, and points to the damage done to the psyche by the new forms of pop. He is robust in defence of traditional architecture and figurative painting, critical of the fashionable relativists and urgent in his plea for our civilization, which more than ever stands in need of the self-knowledge and self-confidence that are the gift of serious culture. Scruton points to the damage done to Islam by the loss of its culture, which has left the stark belligerence of untempered dogma in full possession of the field, without the cultured voices that once subdued and corrected it. It is precisely because we have not yet lost our culture that we can enjoy the tolerance and the open-ness that distinguish Western civilization from its current self-appointed enemies. Let's keep it that way, so that we can face down those who threaten us in full confidence that the conflict is their doing, not ours.
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.