The Philosopher of Love
Sir Roger Scruton (1944-2020)
I remember so vividly waking up one morning, having stayed the night at Roger and Sophie's farm in Wiltshire, entering the drawing room quite early - it must have been around seven - and seeing Roger reading in deep concentration with a back as straight as an arrow. To me, this devoted posture - typical of him - symbolised the humbleness of his character. No matter how much success he had or how praised he was, he never forgot the importance of study.
The day before, we had discussed my Ph.D., of which he was the supervisor, while driving through the English countryside. And although Roger was fabulous in his argumentations along the way, he never ceased to indicate the porches and façades and chapels we passed, he kept making the connection with T.S. Eliot's poems and local heroes and forgotten luminaries. The purpose of all of this being that ultimately, intellectual rigour could never quite suffice in making the point - which was to him, in the last instance, an aesthetic one. What he seemed to mean was that I could only understand the ultimate argument for - in this case - the nation-state by understanding the feeling of home. And beauty, poetry, religious rituals were the key to that. Reversely, this was precisely why political concepts such as the nation-state were under threat in the modern era: because our aesthetic sensibilities were fading. He concluded the tutorial with the statement that 'conservatism is the philosophy of love'. Love for what exists around you, for human limitations: and for the home which is under threat from modern, atomized - and indeed loveless - society.
Roger, of course, famously tried to reconstruct that home in his Wiltshire farmhouse, and the Sunday Hill Farm was indeed a place of unique tranquility and peace. Yet it was also a place where very hard work was done, and to me, both of these elements came together at that quiet, tender moment at seven o’clock in the morning. To be a conservative in the modern era means constantly to battle to reclaim the home. It requires a very straight back - as indeed Roger has experienced throughout his much-contested intellectual life. But his fight to reclaim and restore was ultimately about a renewed sense of belonging - and thus about selflessness and, indeed, humility. Roger managed to embody all of this. I am deeply grateful for everything he has given us. May we all keep our backs as straight as he did. And may his spirit live on forever.
Lees hier het langere, Nederlandstalige artikel dat Thierry Baudet schreef als afscheid aan Roger Scruton: https://www.nrc.nl/nieuws/2020/01/13/roger-scruton-mijn-leermeester-op-zoek-naar-het-verloren-thuis-a3986651