Thursday, September 27, 2012

Roger Scruton on Music

In a recent discussion with Terry Eagleton, Roger Scruton said,
"I think of culture as a form of practical knowledge: something which gives you a sense of what to do, what to feel, how to be towards other people in a community in ways which will enhance your own social and emotional competence. I think this is what you learn from literature, and I think in particular you learn it from music...The greatest achievement of our civilization, if you leave religion and science to one side, has been music: a continuous tradition of reflection through the articulate sound on what it is to be human, and a constant attempt to take that reflection further, to build abstract structures in which nevertheless we see mirrored our own emotional nature as rational and social beings. This great achievement is something which I think can be imparted to the young, and it changes their lives. It changes their way not only of thinking about the world, but of seeing each other." 
All of Scruton's writing on music is worth reading, particularly his books on musical aesthetics, his monograph on Wagner's Tristan, and his forthcoming review of Dmitri Tymoczko's new book, a draft of which is available at Scruton's website

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