Roger Scruton explores the place of God in a disenchanted world. His argument is a response to the atheist culture that is now growing around us, and also a defence of human uniqueness. He rebuts the claim that there is no meaning or purpose in the natural world, and argues that the sacred and the transcendental are 'real presences', through which human beings come to know themselves and to find both their freedom and their redemption.In the human face we find a paradigm of meaning. And from this experience, Scruton argues, we both construct the face of the world, and address the face of God. We find in the face both the proof of our freedom and the mark of self-consciousness. One of the motivations of the atheist culture is to escape from the eye of judgement. You escape from the eye of judgement by blotting out the face: and this, Scruton argues, is the most disturbing aspect of the times in which we live. In his wide-ranging argument Scruton explains the growing sense of destruction that we feel, as the habits of pleasure seeking and consumerism deface the world. His book defends a consecrated world against the habit of desecration, and offers a vision of the religious way of life in a time of trial.
Sir Roger Scruton is widely seen as one of the greatest conservative thinkers of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries and a polymath who wrote a wide array of fiction, non-fiction and reviews. He was the author of over fifty books.A graduate of Jesus College, Cambridge, Scruton was Professor of Aesthetics at Birkbeck College, London; University Professor at Boston University, and a visiting professor at Oxford University. He was one of the founders of the Salisbury Review, contributed regularly to The Spectator, The Times and the Daily Telegraph and was for many years wine critic of the New Statesman. Sir Roger Scruton died in January 2020.
Reviewed in The Economist.
Roger Scruton is one of our most interesting intellectuals... This is an important book, with a very wide cultural range. It is brave in pointing to a turning away from God as the fundamental plight of our times.
The Church Times
... if you want a handy pocket guide to humanity's perennial search for God, one that will take you safely round the edges of the current religious battlefield, this elegant and gracious book is one to buy.
Extract featured in The Catholic Herald.
... [Scruton's] sequence on the structure of the eff able (buildings) is good, and the book contains many interesting and prettily phrased thoughts.
Developing his 2010 Gifford Lectures at the University of St. Andrews, Scruton examines the view that God is to be understood through one's communion with fellow humans, and not through philosophical speculation about the ground of being. To this end, he explores the relevant meanings of the terms "I," "you," and "why," in connection with the ideas of the face of a person, the face of the world, and the face of God. His account distinguishes the states of persons from the states of nonpersonal animals in terms of "inter-personal intentionality" that is irreducible to a biological (or other natural scientific) category. One's familiar personal subjectivity (what it's like to be a person) resist full explanation by the best natural sciences, but this, according to Scruton, does not challenge its reality. Scruton develops this account with illuminating attention to some classic artworks (the book has 20 illustrations), and the book's introduction and five chapters are consistently nontechnical and accessible.
CHOICE - P.K. Moser, Loyola University Chicago