39 of 43 people found the following review helpful
A defence of the high culture,
This review is from: Modern Culture (Continuum Compact Series) (Paperback)
The author starts by giving a definition of the concept of culture and states his intention to pursue an "archaeological" method in studying his subject. He then discusses the difference between cult and culture in which he sees religion as the guarantee of social knowledge and asserts that there can be no scientific culture because culture addresses the question of what we feel. Mr Scruton then proceeds by defining the Romantic movement in art and literature and linking it to the decline of Christian faith and the Enlightenment, the aesthetic thus replacing the religious. And so art and literature ceased to be recreation and became studies. Since the aesthetic is the realm of value, the question of taste arises. He underlines the importance of fiction in high culture because it is the product of the imagination. Art being the product of the human spirit, it is higher than nature and apart from it.
Mr Scruton then concentrates on Romanticism which had nature, erotic love and the world before Enlightenment as its dominant themes. Works of art also pose the question of the importance of fantasy and imagination. Modernism is also discussed with the example of Baudelaire, then avant-garde and the concept of kitsch in which advertising is important because it creates a fantasy in which value can be purchased so that price and value are one and the same.
The author then discusses the issue that the relationship between a painting or a novel and its subject is an intentional one, not a material one as opposed to photography.
A further topic is modern music in which it is not the music that is the focus of attention but the singer himself. In the music of youth, the music is at the service of the performer and not the other way round.
Finally the author concludes that culture is rooted in religion and that the role of modern high culture is to perpetrate the common culture not as a religion but as art.
An interesting study of modern values and of the importance of aesthetic principles which shows that "culture" does not merely denote every kind of collective habit.