The Ability to See

Through books on subjects ranging from wine to hunting, music to environmentalism, British philosopher Roger Scruton has constructed a multifaceted attack on liberalism.  In his latest book, Scruton addresses the contention that religion is a byproduct of our culture or our genes, and therefore ultimately some kind of a fantasy projection.  Liberals have convinced themselves that biology explains God, and that the philosophical traditions of the West, as well as the other great world cultures, have nothing to say about human nature.  Scruton, drawing on figures as diverse as Hegel and Mozart, shows that religious concepts are perfectly consistent with scientific reasoning (properly understood), but they point beyond science to something that can be, and has been, understood as transcendence.  The core problem with liberalism, he wrote in an essay some years ago, has been

the relentless scoffing at ordinary prohibitions and decencies and the shrill advocacy of “alternatives” that ordinary people in their hearts are unable to recognize.  Liberal sarcasm is the ideology of a ruling class.

Religion embodies those prohibitions and decencies enshrined in ritual, concepts of the sacred and profane, and a personal relationship with the divine.  Conservatives need to convince society to return to a sort of piety, even if the postliberal world is not ready for a return to...

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