Are thoughts experiments experiments at all? Or something else? And do they help us think clearly about ethics or not?
Roger Scruton: Defender of the Soul & Civilization
The death of Roger Scruton on January 12, 2020, came as a surprise, even a blow, to me. I knew he was fighting a terrible battle with cancer, but I was under the misimpression that he had turned a corner for the better. We had been intermittently in touch by email in recent months, and I admired his spirit and his continuing vigor and alertness. He had been honored throughout the fall of 2019 by the Czech, Polish, and Hungarian governments, respectively, in a welcome display of gratitude for his courageous efforts to aid the intellectual underground in each of those countries in the decade before the revolutions of 1989 that felled European Communism, seemingly once and for all. That story is best told in Chapter Five of Conversations with Roger Scruton (2016), discourses ably initiated and conducted by the Irish philosopher Mark Dooley. I know that these honors meant a great deal to Roger, as one can immediately tell by looking at the photographs of him as he was about to address the Czech Senate in the fall. This English patriot, this able theoretician of the dignity of territorial democracy and national self-government, was also at home in the great and ancient nations of Eastern Europe, in his beloved France (a second intellectual home that took great interest in his work in the last few years), in the United States (where he had so many friends and admirers), and even in Lebanon (whose decimation at the hands of assorted fanatics he chronicled in one of his first and best books). As he argued in his splendid address upon receiving the Western Civilization Award from the Intercollegiate Studies Institute in the fall of 2019 (given his illness, his remarks were delivered by Skype), to be a friend and partisan of Western civilization is to be a friend and partisan of civilization, simply. His oikophilia, his principled love of home, was in truth a proposition for all mankind.
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