Professor David Watkin Eulogy - 24th September 2018, Kings Lynn Norfolk.

David Watkin

 Roger Scruton

When I first met David Watkin I was beginning my second year as a Research Fellow at Peterhouse, and David had just been elected to the Fellowship. There was much muttering in the Senior Combination Room concerning this scandalous appointment. Dr Watkin, it was rumoured, dressed in a manner too stiff and punctilious ever to be tolerated in a liberal institution. He believed in God, possibly in Hell and damnation. He was an outspoken opponent of modern art, modern architecture, modern music and modern everything else. Worse still he had impeccable manners in a place where manners, if they existed at all, had to be decidedly peccable. His appointment was a retrograde step in the college’s on-going march towards liberty, equality and diversity, a breach in the armour of enlightenment through which the counter-reformation might at any moment gush in like a suffocating wind.

Summer School Testimonials

Please watch this space for the new dates for the 2019 Summer School. If you would like to know what our previous students had to say, here are a few snippets to tempt you! 

"Just to reiterate what so many have said - I had such a wonderful time - stimulating and fun. What could possibly be better?"

"This event was a marvel to me and eye-opening. You are all amazing and it was absolutely lovely to meet all of you."

"I feel extremely energized and inspired after this week. I have to say it was rather surreal to step out in the real world again after spending an entire week in an intellectual paradise."

"I am back with so many books to read, so much music to hear, so many paintings to see, so much modern architecture to detest, so many leftists to refute and so many memories to savour that I think  I will spend this whole year (but, alas, in a virtual way) in Scrutopia."

"Scrutopia fulfilled all my expectations and more. I felt quite nervous during the months and weeks before arriving and none of my fears were realized.

The gathering of like minded people all invested in making the most of the event made for a very stimulating environment. The international perspective with so many delegates from overseas was a big bonus for me and the ability to make friends across the world added to the experience.

The school dinners in the "College" refectory actually helped make things more informal and relaxed. The plentiful supply of wine oiled the conversation and by the end of the Gala dinner some of us were having a disco and dancing!! The ice had well and truly been broken."

"With much gratitude for a perfect week of learning with new friends."

"Thank you for an inspiring week."

"I feel like I’m in orbit! Many thanks for a great experience."

"Thank you for opening up Scrutopia both physically and mentally. Lectures, trips, a concert and dinners, all in perfect harmony."

'The Pompidou Centre, Paris's great blemish' Spectator Life - Sept 18

From no angle does this ostentatious building fit in with its surroundings, nor did it occur to its architects that it should

I have the good fortune to be able to borrow a flat on the Île de la Cité in Paris from which I see from one side the towers of Notre Dame above the roof of a 19th-century seminary, and from the other side, across from the Seine, the ornate reconstruction of the 17th-century Hôtel de Ville, which burned down in 1871. To the right of the Hôtel de Ville the classical façade of the Church of Saint-Gervais-et-Saint-Protais rises above terraced streets of Lutetian limestone, and to the left of the Hôtel the same serene limestone forms a terraced background to life in a popular square.

'Classical music is a unifying tonic in a world awash with trivial noise and identity politics' The Telegraph - Aug 18

Do concert halls offer something people used to get out of church?

All over the British Isles, during the summer months, there are festivals devoted to classical music. Some have become integral parts of the national culture, like the Cheltenham Festival. Others remain small and experimental, like the festivals of Presteigne and Chipping Camden. If I had time and energy I would explore them all, since nothing delights me more than a provincial town dressed up for music. But there are books to read, articles to write, meadows to mow and animals to care for. Summer is a time when I cannot travel.

Thanks to the radio, however, I can attend the greatest summer music festival of all, that of the...

Please sign in to The Telegraph to read the full article. 

 

"The art of taking offence" The Spectator - Aug 18

The emerging witch-hunt culture would be an object of half-amused contempt, were we still protected, as we were until recently, by the robust law of libel. It is still possible to laugh at the absurdity of it all, if you sit at home, avoiding contact with ignorant and malicious people, and getting on with real life – the life beyond social media. Unfortunately, however, ignorant and malicious people have discovered a new weapon in their unremitting assault on the rest of us, which is the art of taking offence. Click to continue reading. 

National Review Interview - What it means to be a Conservative. July 18

Sir Roger Scruton speaks to Madeleine Kearns for The National Review. The full interview can be found online HERE.

The celebrated philosopher talks to National Review about what conservatism is, isn’t, and ought to be.

Madeleine Kearns: In your most recent book, Conservatism: An Invitation to the Great Tradition, you provide a distilled synthesis of modern conservative thought. First, I’d like to begin with your book’s last chapter, “Conservatism Now,” in which you reference William F. Buckley Jr.’s first book, God and Man at Yale (1951). In that book, which arguably launched the conservative movement in America, a 24-year-old Buckley wrote: “I believe that if and when the menace of Communism is gone, other vital battles, at present subordinated, will emerge to the foreground. And the winner must have help from the classroom.”

Do you think Buckley was correct? If so, what are these “other vital battles”?

Sir Roger Scruton: Yes, Buckley was right. There is the vital battle to defend fundamental institutions, such as marriage and the family, and to counter the censorship of all opinions that express an attachment to our cultural and political inheritance.

MK: The second half of God and Man at Yale’s title is “The Superstitions of Academic Freedom.” Is academic freedom a superstition?

SRS: No, but professors praise it without really believing in it. They do not grant freedom to those who threaten them intellectually or ideologically. This has been documented by people like Roger Kimball, and it has certainly been my experience.

'What Trump Doesn't Get About Conservatism' The New York Times, July 18

I have devoted a substantial part of my intellectual life to defining and defending conservatism, as a social philosophy and a political program. Each time I think I have hit the nail on the head, the nail slips to one side and the hammer blow falls on my fingers.

Like many others, both conservative and liberal, I did not foresee the political career of Donald Trump, nor did I imagine that such a man could occupy the highest office of state, in the name of a party that specifically makes appeal to conservative voters. Is this simply an aberration, or are there some deep links that tie the president to the great tradition of thought that I describe in my recent book, “Conservatism: An Invitation to the Great Tradition”?

'Kant vs cant: How liberals lost their way' - Spectator Life, June 18

I recently attended an academic seminar, along with some of the most thoughtful and distinguished members of what is sometimes called the ‘liberal establishment’. The topic was ‘the crisis of liberalism’. Many of those present believed that there is such a crisis, and that it is caused by the inability of liberal ideas to prevail over the growing threat of ‘populism’. The thing called populism is amorphous and eludes every attempt to define it. However it is out there and ready to pounce, as it did with the election of Donald Trump, with the vote for Brexit, and with the recent emergence of the Italian Five Star Movement, the German AfD and the National Rally in France, formerly the Front National.

Whether or not there is such a thing as populism, there is certainly such a thing as liberalism. It is associated with the great names of Enlightenment thinking, including Locke, Montesquieu, Hume, Kant and Smith, according to whom the business of government is not to gratify autocratic power, but to maintain individual liberty. Liberalism is the philosophy of limited government. It seeks to reconcile the liberty of citizens with the equal liberty of their neighbours. It has an ideal of civic patriotism, which unites us in a shared commitment to defending the government that protects us all. It leads of its own accord to democratic institutions, since it aims to make government accountable to the people.

The modern dog's life: two families, two homes and a commute - The Times, April 18

There’s nothing like a second home in the country to ease the stress and strain of urban life. After a few weeks marching up and down the Kings Road and listening to the latest Hurlingham Club gossip at home in Fulham, Paddy Paterson is running up the steps to Paddington station and steaming towards the train that will take him into the green heart of Wiltshire. Here his lungs will be filled not with dusty city life, but with air so fresh it will make him sneeze. He is lulled into dribbly dreams by the motion of the train and the thought of the 100 acres that he’ll roll across at the end of this regular journey.

Luckily there are fewer rules outside London society,…Click HERE to read the full article. 

 

'How to Build a Skyline at Human Scale' - The American Conservative, May 18

Buildings touch the ground, and the business of resting on the ground, rather than crushing, mutilating, or annihilating it, is one fundamental part of the architectural task. But buildings also touch the sky, and in doing so they create one of the most significant boundaries in our world—the skyline, which is the boundary between the city and the heavens.

Latest Articles

Roger Scruton on why conservatism is better for the environment, FT - March 19

 An interview with Jane Owen in advance of the FT Oxford Literary Festival, the full article can be read online here.  https://www.ft.com/content/43e6ef1e-464b-11e9-a965-23d669740bfb  

Le Figaro - March 19

Earlier this month, Roger spoke with Eugenie Bastie for Le Figaro - Click here to read the article.

BBC Radio 4 Any Questions? 22 Feb 19

Jonathan Dimbleby chairs political debate from Tewkesbury in Gloucestershire, with a panel consisting of Robert Buckland MP, Baroness Smith, Chuka Umunna MP and Sir Roger Scruton. Listen back to the...

The Virtue of Irrelevance - Future Symphony Institute, Feb 19

How many writers, educators, and opinion formers, urgently wishing to convey the thoughts and feelings that inspire them, have found themselves confronted with the cry “that’s not relevant?” In the...

Recent Books

Souls in the Twilight

Beaufort Books  (October 2018) As the lights that have guided us go out, people begin to wander in the twilight, seeking their place of belonging. In these stories, set in...

Music as an Art

Bloomsbury  (August 2018) Music as an Art begins by examining music through a philosophical lens, engaging in discussions about tonality, music and the moral life, music and cognitive science and German...

Where We Are: The State of Britain Now

Where We Are: The State of Britain Now

Bloomsbury (November 2017) Addressing one of the most politically turbulent periods in modern British history, philosopher Roger Scruton asks how, in these circumstances, we can come to define our identity,...

2019 Events

Wed 31st Jul - Fri 9th Aug - 2019 Scrutopia Summer School

Thur 29th Aug - Sun 1st Sept - Scrutopia Alumni Meeting 

Fri 26 - Sat 27th April - CRASSH conference, Cambridge

Sat 15th June - Philosophy Day

Thurs 19th Sept - ISI Gala for Western Civilization, Philadelphia

Sat 30th Mar - FT Oxford Literary Festival