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Beauty: A Very Short Introduction. Roger Scruton. Series: Very Short Introductions. Beauty can be consoling, disturbing, sacred, profane; it can be exhilarating.
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A Very Short I Arts and Humanities Archaeology. Human Rights and Immigration. Jurisprudence and Philosophy of Law. Legal System and Practice. Medical and Healthcare Law. Public Health and Epidemiology. Earth Sciences and Geography. History of Science and Technology.

Criminology and Criminal Justice. Front Matter Preface List of illustrations 1. Taste and order 7. But as Roger Scruton points out in this splendid book, the same cannot be assumed of the beautiful. Why, for instance, Consider the great triad of the true, the good, and the beautiful. Why, for instance, doesn't the pursuit of the beautiful make its seekers virtuous — and quite the reverse in many instances?

Otherwise, why would we spend hours discussing the beauties we perceive with the eye and the ear visual and musical art , while the pleasures of smell, taste, and touch occupy much less of our intellectual attention? What can we say about beauty? But the highest form of reproduction would be to ascend to the contemplative sphere and make copies of the beautiful object or person in the realm of pure forms. True, he says that eros is interested in the response of the person being depicted, while porn is interested in the person only as a means of satisfying desire Ch.

Beauty: A Very Short Introduction

A second noteworthy theme that Scruton develops is the beauty of nature. The beauty of a garden, he explains, depends upon an appreciation of natural beauty outside of any actual garden. The proximity and overlap between the beautiful and the sacred becomes a stronger theme in the final chapters of the book, leading Scruton to valuable insights on modern modes of idolizing beautiful things — or of desecrating or transgressing their meaning.

Beauty points the way out of this alienated state, he concludes Oct 27, Alex Stroshine rated it really liked it Shelves: A sublime introduction to beauty and aesthetics.

Roger Scruton traces trends of conceptualising beauty, shows how we are to properly judge beauty, discusses the difference between human and natural beauty, defends taste and high culture while condemning the cheapness of kitsch, differentiates erotic art from pornography and discusses the "aesthetics of ordinary life" that are often overlooked.

Beauty is about contemplation, about moving out of ourselves towards the other. Particularly helpful to A sublime introduction to beauty and aesthetics. Particularly helpful too are the inclusion of images, allowing Scruton to name a piece and the reader to gaze upon it for themselves in order to appreciate Scruton's remarks on the piece. This warrants a re-read, closer to a 4.

The sense of beauty is one of the most fundamental human universals. No one is immune to aesthetic appeals, and it seems that the appreciation of the beauty is an exclusive human characteristic. This very short introduction aims to introduce the general reader to some of the fundamental intellectual underpinnings of this essential concept. Unfortunately, the book falls short with respect to this objective. I am a huge fan of Roger Scruton's writings, and have read many of his articles and books, The sense of beauty is one of the most fundamental human universals.

I am a huge fan of Roger Scruton's writings, and have read many of his articles and books, and have reviewed several of his books including his other book in this series [[ASIN: A Very Short Introduction]]. He is extremely erudite and insightful, and he is able to find a new, fresh, perspective on many of the ageless topics. However, I think that with this Very Short Introduction he has widely missed the target. He makes no bones about the fact that this is an exclusively philosophical outlook on beauty, which is extremely disappointing considering all the great insights that the psychology has given us in recent decades on that topic.

At the beginning of the second chapter Scruton attempts to give some evolutionary backing for the sense of beauty, but after just a few pages that approach fizzles away and transforms into various philosophical speculations and musings on sexuality. In his philosophical musings Scruton doesn't seem to be grounding much of his ideas within the overarching western philosophical tradition.

He mentions Plato and Kant a few times, and maybe on a few occasions some of the other prominent philosophers. For the most part, though, one gets a sense that the material in this book has been wrought whole-cloth out of Scruton's own omphaloskepsis. Scruton is indeed a great thinker, and many of his ideas are extremely interesting, but after a while I got really bored with all the self-indulgent writing.

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The book is very long for a very short introduction, and at pages it is one of the longest ones that I had read. It could have used a fair amount of editing for content length. If you are interested in some interesting philosophizing on the topic of beauty, then this book may appeal to you. However, this is far from being an authoritative and up-to-date account of our understanding of beauty as a concept. Dec 22, Rich rated it really liked it Shelves: It has been some time since I've read a book of pure philosophy and this book did stretch me.

While I enjoyed the book, I think I enjoyed the special even more. He avoids defining beauty out right but he does go after relativistic ideas of beauty. He claims that beauty is rationally founded and therefore an objective quality but stops short of enumerating the It has been some time since I've read a book of pure philosophy and this book did stretch me. He claims that beauty is rationally founded and therefore an objective quality but stops short of enumerating the aspects of the quality. The book is filled with great quotes.

I found this one particularly profound: And this desecration, which spoils the experience of freedom, is also a denial of love. It is an attempt to remake the world as though love were no longer a part of it. And that, surely, is what is the most important characteristic of the postmodern culture The false art of our time, mired in kitsch and desecration, is one sign of this. Beauty causes us to wonder and wonder leads to love which leads to sacrifice.

If we have become a culture which is radically individualistic, the idea of pouring myself out for another is repugnant and therefore I never truly enter into the depths of love. Thus, I desecrate and pervert beauty as a way of being pulled back out of myself. But how long can a culture deny beauty? It draws us out of ourselves even as we attempt to deny or pervert it. At some point at least I hope people will begin to awaken to the problems of post modern culture because they will wake up and find no beauty, yet their hearts will still long for it.

I'm convinced once again by the words of Dostoyevsky: May 26, Nick Gibson rated it liked it. Scruton boxes in a different weight class than the layman reader. I can only give my impressions as that layman - and as an admirer both of Scruton's political philosophies and many of his higher-layer opinions on art and the good life. In this book, he reveals the shaky deeper layers of his philosophy. Speaking in Schaefferian terms By refusing to acknowledge a personal God, Scruton attempts to prop up beauty itself as an integration point for meaning in the human life.

The result just isn't Scruton boxes in a different weight class than the layman reader. The result just isn't convincing, and Scruton must retreat into ambiguities and highly compressed arguments to maintain plausibility. Still, those passages in this book where he ventilates on the surrounding phenomenon - pornography vs erotica, modernism, post-modernism, form, function, etc - are convincing and useful. The fact that his arguments and theories, built on a humanist integration point, are so compatible with the arguments and theories of a Biblical Christian worldview suggests to me that what he implicitly relies on what he denies - a personal God - more than he'd like to admit.

I'll keep reading Scruton, and agreeing with him quite often. But now I know he's building excellent arguments using Biblical Christian fremdtkapital. May 13, David Withun rated it really liked it Shelves: While all of the members of the traditional Platonic trinity of the Good, the True, and the Beauty have taken some heavy hits in recent decades, beauty has perhaps suffered the hardest blows and, no doubt, the greatest neglect. The concept of "beauty" is hardly discussed in philosophical or artistic education other than as an antiquated notion no longer to be taken seriously.

Scruton sets out to correct this great wrong. Drawing heavily on Kant's Critique of Judgment , Scruton pursues a course tha While all of the members of the traditional Platonic trinity of the Good, the True, and the Beauty have taken some heavy hits in recent decades, beauty has perhaps suffered the hardest blows and, no doubt, the greatest neglect.


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Drawing heavily on Kant's Critique of Judgment , Scruton pursues a course that he hopes will lead the reader to believe in the existence and importance of the objectively beautiful. Along the way, there are significant and quite interesting looks at the beauty of nature, the beauty of art, the beauty of music, and the beauty of the human body.

While my own tendency is to agree with Scruton, there remain, I think, some holes in the case that he makes. Ultimately, I think there are aspects of his argument that would prove unconvincing to those who are not already inclined to believe in the idea of beauty. Mar 10, Jim Belcher rated it it was amazing. He provides a good summary of the difference between the erotic in art and pornography and why port is killing our culture. He makes a strong case why we need to regain beauty in our lives, culture and education.

The false art of our time, mired in kitsch and desecration, is one sign of this". And the most widespread form of degradation [ Kitsch begins in doctrine and ideology and spreads from there to infect the entire world of culture". Desecration is a kind of defence against the sacred, an attempt to destroy its claims.

Beauty: A Very Short Introduction | Roger Scruton | | Oxford University Press Canada

In the presence of the sacred things, our lives are judged, and in order to escape that judgement, we destroy the thing that seems to accuse us". But that is mainly due to the fact that beauty as a subject is elusive. My favorite part was the end where Scruton explains why our culture is hell bent on denying beauty at every turn. Jul 11, hannah renee. As a philosophical commentary, it could be a bit heady at times but otherwise had some good things to say.

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Jan 28, Patrick rated it really liked it Shelves: I have recently finished Roger Scruton's "Beauty," which I had been reading slowly over a period of time and have referenced previously in this blog. This is a generally conservative approach to "beauty," but conservative in that sense of "is change necessary or is this change for the sake of change? I very much enjoy both, but an i I have recently finished Roger Scruton's "Beauty," which I had been reading slowly over a period of time and have referenced previously in this blog. I very much enjoy both, but an interesting point and one that I do not think Scruton raises explicitly arises when comparing the two as representatives of modes of art.

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Hopper maintained the figurative -- was in essence a traditionalist despite the Cubist and abstraction revolutions that occurred during his lifetime. Rothko never really was at home with figurative painting, abandoned surrealism, and moved wholeheartedly into abstraction. For many years, Hopper was rejected as "important" because his art was, well, traditional. Rothko sought innovation in form. Hopper was not anti-innovation, but his innovations are less obvious.

But innovation for innovation's sake propelled only innovation Cubism, abstraction, abstract-expressionism, etc. It seems that once innovation became important, the "ism" associated with that innovation fell to the past as old faster than in previous centuries of art. A symptom of an incorrect emphasis in artistic endeavors, perhaps? Interestingly, Scruton comments how many of the modernist experiments in literature and music were attempts to reclaim tradition: I am, in the end, very sympathetic to Scruton's book because he finds, as I do, a value in beauty: Beauty is not about avoidance but about embracing.

Scruton's view of kitsch is particularly interesting in this regards. Kitsch "is a world of commodities to be consumed, rather than icons to be revered. It seems to me that Scruton is not out to tell us what is beautiful but, instead, is out to inform us of the value of the beautiful, which is far more important. Many will disagree with me about Rothko's paintings as beautiful Scruton does , but when we talk about Rothko's work, we should ideally be discussing its value as something beautiful.

What we must avoid is the overthrow of beauty in art because we have lost the sense of the beautiful in the world. Feb 11, Justine Olawsky rated it really liked it.

Beauty : A Very Short Introduction (Very Short Introductions) [Paperback]

Can there be an objective set of standards for Beauty? Is it only taste? Is it only subjective? Can the traditional questions addressed by the humanities still be asked today? British philosopher and all around spectacular fellow Roger Scruton opens his extended meditation on Beauty as abstraction, as ideal, as concrete, as truth with questions about judging the universal desire of the soul, before he ever delves into its many facets.

It is apropos, of course, because the job o Can there be an objective set of standards for Beauty? It is apropos, of course, because the job of the philosopher is to ask the questions that will lead to enlightened discussion. First examined is human beauty -- the Beauty of desire, a very personal response to Beauty. It is interesting that Mr. Scruton emphasizes that the more reverent this response to Beauty is in another, the less sexual is the desire.

It becomes more contemplative. Scruton turns his eye to the love of every true Englishman: The beauty of Nature is the beauty of awe mixed with a sense of awareness that, "a world that makes room for such things makes room for you. Scruton then narrows his scope toward the world of human creation, what he calls "Everyday Beauty. The correctly-placed doorway in a building; the beautifully appointed table, the well-tuned out woman or man; these are expression of beauty in the everyday.

Scruton writes upon that most debated aspect of Beauty, Artistic Beauty, which is the beauty of representation and expression. Can there be a set of universal guidelines to delineate which works of art are Beautiful? Must all Art be Beautiful? Scruton posits that all memorable works of art fall into two categories: It is a cultural, and even moral, imperative that the uplifting and the beautiful be acknowledged and taught as the higher human aspiration.

In a way, it seems, he is saying that Beauty in art is realized not only in the response of the viewer, but also in what the artist carries inside him when he creates his piece and offers it to the world. The last several chapters of the book constitute and extended plea for re-capturing Beauty as the cultural ideal.

I came to this book pre-disposed to agree with the author and read nothing here to cause me to change my mind. One last thought is on the way that Mr. Scruton weaves throughout the pull of the soul toward the Sacred with the pull toward Beauty. It made me wonder if there is no room for experiences of the sacred in a soul, will the profane that rushes in to fill the void crowd out beauty -- or kill it?

Roger Scruton is definitely not trying to be fashionable in his aesthetic opinions. Quite the opposite, actually. Fine art darlings such as Adorno get a boot here and there.