are we there yet?
"It's a mystery..."
Scoobydoo's famous line enters the world of philosophy via Roger Scruton... or vice versa.
Roger Scruton has just been in Australia to defend western civilisation. As a guest of the Institute for Public Affairs (IPA), Scruton was brought here to be a keynote speaker at the Liberty and Democracy in Western Civilisation symposia in Sydney and Melbourne. He is described on the brochures for the event as ‘the world’s greatest conservative thinker’.
Roger Scruton is an old fellow— an old fart like Gus — a passed-his-used-by-date kook... No shame in that. I kick arses for fun.
But unlike Gus, Scruton chose to become encrusted with the quiet hypocrisy of traditional conservatism illusions though he would not put it this way... To me, in his own very busy way, Scruton's philosophical wingspan does not reach that of Plato nor that of Aristotle. It could not in a million years.
When he was in a debate about beauty, Scruton set a funny trap that to some extend was very naive, especially coming from a deep thinker:
"In an Intelligence Squared debate in March 2009, held at the Royal Geographical Society, Scruton (seconding historian David Starkey) proposed the motion: "Britain has become indifferent to beauty" by holding an image of Botticelli's The Birth of Venus next to an image of the British supermodel Kate Moss, to demonstrate how British perceptions of beauty had declined to the "level of our crudest appetites and our basest needs".
Well, really? Indifferent?.... At the time of the debate, would you have taken home Venus or Kate? Hum, if you are sexually motivated as per a Freudian theory with a libido the size of the Eiffel Tower, taking Botticelli's Venus (possibly an Italian beauty, and certainly not English) could reveal some deviant characteristics (would not bother me, anyway) — though you may value the painting for what it's worth on the open art market and be a capitalist first — before anything else, sexually or being a beauty philosopher or perfection specialist. Who knows... It's a poor cheap philosopher's trick trying to make dumb audiences see some light into not having fantasy sex with Kate. And his experiment showed a lot of insensitivity towards a living creature: Kate...
Jonathan Dollimore writes that Scruton's Sexual Desire (1986) based a conservative sexual ethic on the Hegelian proposition that "the final end of every rational being is the building of the self," which involves recognizing the other as an end in itself. Scruton argues that the major feature of perversion is "sexual release that avoids or abolishes the other," which he sees as narcissistic and solipsistic. He wrote in an essay, "Sexual morality and the liberal consensus" (1989), that homosexuality is a perversion for that reason: because the body of the homosexual's lover belongs to the same category as his own. In The Guardian in 2010 Scruton stated that he had changed his views on homosexuality, and would no longer defend what he had argued in the past. Mark Dooley writes that Scruton's objective is to show that sexual desire trades in "the currency of the sacred."
Scruton's book Sexual Desire was described by Alan Soble as "certainly by a long way the most interesting and insightful philosophical account of sexual desire produced by analytic philosophy".
Beautifully wanking, though sexual desires produced by analytical philosophy don't do it for me...
But, way to go mate... Go and philosophise with our CONservatives luminaries at the IPA... It's a place where religious dogma and the illusion of freedom walk hand in hand, away from a lot of plausible knowledge, especially sciences. But I am always a bit hasty for my own good... I am like a race horse, always at the gate, about to jump at the start and go full bore to end up last in the final sprint, completely puffed out... Slow down Gus...
The contrary premises here are that I don't believe in the "soul" and second that the concept of "mystery" (borrowed by Scruton) is often used like spattle to fill a gap of knowledge, like filler on a useless disintegrating brick wall. Scientists use the uncertainty principle for good reasons. It works. The Chaos theory is full of imponderables but the word "mystery" is not one of them.
One can go in circles. One can love circles —especially if we live in a jar. Flying in circle can alleviate the boredom of sitting still... And since my days on school benches studying "philosophy" I have described this artful discipline as the study of jars on a shelf that is too high to be reached.
Philosophy — or the "understanding of life" — is the tool to manage our illusions, personal and collective. It has many levers, from religion to sciences trying to come as close as possible to make our lives relatively pleasant — should we choose to (some people prefer pain instead of contentment).
I personally believe that most of science is closer to the truth than religion can be. Religion is bathed in arcane and spiritual "mystery" that can easily be debunked and shown as a fraudulent expression of reality. Most scientific interpretations work.
He (Scruton) lives on a farm in rural Wiltshire, is a proud member of the Anglican Church, a monarchist, a traditionalist and a pessimist;...
Scruton's views are based on ragged, dimmed and often false memories of history. If we'd listen to him we'd still be building stone palaces with gargoyles... Have you ever studied gargoyles at one stage of your life?... I have... Most of them go with middle-ages stone roads with the gutter in the middle of the street, in which chamber-maids empty chamber-pots from the second floor of huddled crooked houses... Don't be fooled. The beauty and system of governments that Scruton speaks of with glee were never democratic, and most of these "beautiful" marble statues were financed with moneys stolen from the poor — or stolen from another civilisation through wars.
In his emphatic regression towards old stuff that has long been plunged into decrepitude, but restored by trusts to embalm them for heritage listings, Scruton forgets to mention the pyramids or the Greek Parthenon — or slaves.