America the Beautiful?
On May 21, 2012, CSS hosted a discussion with Roger Scruton on the importance of aesthetics in public life.
In Democracy in America, Alexis d’Tocqueville remarked that Americans’ “taste for the useful predominate over [their] love of the beautiful.” A look at the modern American city, complete with its ubiquitous sky scrapers and brutalist concrete structures, and surrounded by a sprawl of suburban McMansions, seems to bear at least part of this observation true. Paradoxically, though, a disregard for beauty in cities has made them actually less useful since a great many Americans no longer want to live in them. Moreover, America’s cities, as seen through visual media, help shape the “face of America” to an outside world. In this discussion, British philosopher Roger Scruton argued for the importance of aesthetics and an appreciation for beauty as he offers thoughts on American living in the 21st century and suggests solutions to once more bring beauty—and people—back to the city.
Check out Roger Scruton’s latest book, How to Think Seriously About the Planet: The Case for Environmental Protectionism (Oxford University Press, 2012).
About the Speaker: Roger Scruton, Ph.D., serves on the Advisory Board of the Common Sense Society, is a visiting scholar at the American Enterprise Institute (AEI), and is a professor at Oxford University. A writer, philosopher and public commentator, he has written widely on political and cultural issues, with particular emphasis on aesthetics, music, and architecture. He played an active role in the underground samizdat movement in Eastern Europe in the 80s, regularly visiting Prague, Bratislava, and Budapest. He is an ardent advocate of fox hunting, leads a dedicated fight against postmodern art, and promotes the preservation of the common cultural heritage of the West. The author of more than 30 books, his most recent ones include, The Uses of Pessimism and the Danger of False Hope, Beauty, and Culture Counts: Faith and Healing in a World Besieged. His forthcoming book, How to Think Seriously About the Planet: The Case for an Environmental Conservatism, will be released in June of this year. Mr. Scruton is also a founding editor of The Salisbury Review and the founder of Claridge Press, now part of Continuum International Publishing Group. His work is regularly featured in The American Spectator, City Journal, The Wall Street Journal, among many other journals.