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Beauty Hardcover – 26 Mar 2009

3.6 out of 5 stars 18 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 240 pages
  • Publisher: OUP Oxford; 1 edition (26 Mar. 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 019955952X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0199559527
  • Product Dimensions: 17.5 x 2.3 x 12.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 643,435 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

Product Description


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 most recent books are On Hunting (1998), An Intelligent Person's Guide to Modern Culture (1998), Spinoza (1998), and England: an Elegy (2000).

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
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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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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Format: Hardcover
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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Format: Hardcover
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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