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Conservatism: An Invitation to the Great Tradition

(Ideas in Profile)

3.90  ·  Rating details ·  581 ratings  ·  92 reviews
“…one of the most eloquent and even moving evocations of the conservative tradition in Western politics, philosophy and culture I have ever read…the ideal primer for those who are new to conservative ideas…” —Richard Aldous, Wall Street Journal

A brief magisterial introduction to the conservative tradition by one of Britain’s leading intellectuals.

In Conservatism, Roger Scr
Hardcover, 176 pages
Published June 19th 2018 by All Points Books (first published 2017)
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Benjamin Banholi Of the 3, Conservatism is the only one I've read. After skimming over How to be a Conservative and The Meaning of Conservatism, it looks like one is a…moreOf the 3, Conservatism is the only one I've read. After skimming over How to be a Conservative and The Meaning of Conservatism, it looks like one is about his take on topics related to Conservatism and the other is his systematization of Conservatism, rather than the evolution of that philosophical systematization. In Conservatism, he approaches the subject historically, explaining thinker by thinker, from Aristotle and Hobbes to Huntington, Manent and himself.(less)

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Sep 05, 2018 rated it really liked it
In recent years I’ve had to ask myself an awkward question: Am I, after all, a conservative?

I call the question awkward because it is political (I dislike politics) and because I have vaguely considered myself a liberal, leaning toward moderate, most of my adult life. I see, however, that I live conservatively, and as “liberalism” drowns in the incoming tide of social progressivism, I find myself stepping briskly out of the surf.

If I adopt the definition of conservatism that Roger Scruton commun
May 09, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-19, politics
Scruton traces the history of modern conservatism, and in the process defines what conservatism is and what it has stood for throughout time. I've always been conservative-leaning, but now I better understand conservatism as a philosophy in its own right and not just as a jumble of positions on different issues. It's given me a framework to navigate politics and social issues, and I will definitely be following it up with How to Be a Conservative. ...more
David Huff
Jul 06, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I had run across Sir Roger Scruton’s name at various times over the past few years, and became more acquainted with him from his numerous interviews, talks, and panel discussions available on the internet. He is a lifelong writer, philosopher, musician, and Renaissance man, having been a professor of philosophy for a number of years as well, and now pursuing his many intellectual endeavors from his country estate in rural England. It all sounds quite pleasant to me …..

This recently published (Ju
The political climate in the US – and elsewhere – is not making sense to me. I read Roger Scruton's Conservatism to try to shed some light on what is happening.

I believe that what conservatives avow makes sense to them – just as what liberals believe makes sense to them. How conservatives and liberals make sense of the world depends on at least two factors: (a) their values, and (b) what kinds of information they look at. (Liberals and conservatives can look at reports of the same event and beli
Jun 29, 2018 rated it it was amazing
If you're looking for a concise and well-written summary of conservatism as a political philosophy, then this is a good place to start. Russell Kirk's "The Conservative Mind" is probably still the best book for a more detailed history of conservatism. But if you're looking for a simple introduction that reads quickly, then this is the book.
Graeme Roberts
Nov 02, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This small, beautifully written book filled so many gaps in my knowledge. Pure joy!
With Conservatism: An Introduction to the Great Tradition, Roger Scruton has written a useful introduction to not only the basic tenets of conservatism, but also to how it as redefined itself over time in response to political and social challenges.

This volume is eminently readable, owing partly to its condensed size. Unfortunately, the size of the book is also one of its drawbacks. Scruton covers roughly 400 years in 150 pages, summarizing the conservative movements in England, continental Euro
Laurel Hicks
Jan 16, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I began reading this on the day he died. It is a good, concise review of the conservative instinct in Western civilization —very well done. I thought he gave short shrift to Russell Kirk, though.
Jeremy Canipe
Feb 10, 2020 rated it really liked it
Nice, succinct introduction to conservative thought from its emergence in Europe in the wake of the French Revolution though the present in the United States and Europe, with an accent on English conservatism. Even so, for the wholly uninitiated, there will be much to follow up on in the brief list of books for further reading. I might suggest finding a few points of personal interest, and then looking into those individual writers in their own words.
Neil Spark
Dec 15, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Many politicians who call themselves Conservative aren’t. Destructive actions such as legislating to reduce the powers of a Democrat governor, as Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker is doing; creating gerrymanders, as Republicans have in the United States; or denying a US President the right to nominate a judge for the Supreme Court, as the then Republican dominated Senate did in 2016.
Extreme right wingers calling themselves conservative is a misnomer. They’re radical.

Well-known British conservativ
Apr 30, 2019 rated it liked it
This isn't the type of thing I usually read, but this book as it was recommended to me by someone in light of a discussion about what really constituted "conservatism." I have long asserted that I'm anything but a political animal (polis-creature, in the literal translation), but after reading it, I'm starting to question that belief. It certainly wasn't what I was initially expecting: happily, rather than focusing on tired talking points, it serves as a treatise on what I would call "philosophi ...more
Jan 22, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I feel slightly embarrassed that I should even admit that I am actually reading, let alone appreciating, a book entitled Conservatism! I have always regarded it as the term used for a party that is supported by those lucrative and sometimes shady "capitalists" who have nothing but selfish interests at heart.
But my exploration into the late Roger Scruton's works have pleasantly inspired me. This book is an easy and quick read with many interesting references to follow up - philosophers, politici
Nov 18, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: politics
This is an excellent review of the philosophical underpinnings of conservative thinking. He explains that conservatives at base realize that “good things are more easily destroyed than created,” and are therefore naturally wary that ideology-driven innovations may have far-reaching harmful unintended effects. He takes a historical tour through the ideas of Locke, Rousseau, Montesquieu, Kant, Hegel, Adam Smith, and Edmund Burke, and through more recent thinkers such as Hayek, Friedman, and Kirk. ...more
Timothy Lawrence
Jun 15, 2020 rated it liked it
A lucid and invaluably concise summation of Scruton's thought on conservatism (the subject he's best known for, though this is the first I've read of his works on it), and a helpful salve to some of my unease about describing myself as conservative, freeing the term from some of the uglier baggage with which it's often freighted. It was also rather satisfying to see almost every major author I taught this year referenced before the first chapter was through.
Joel Zartman
Nov 21, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Worthwhile survey of conservatism in Europe and the USA. Explains the various persons and their important books and locates the shifting concerns that arise in each age. It gives perspective and provokes thought.
Austin Hoffman
Mar 11, 2020 rated it really liked it
Good historical overview of conservative philosophies. I did not find the quote which led me to pick up the book in the first place.
Eduardo Paez
May 27, 2019 rated it it was amazing
The best book on conservatism, after Burke’s Reflections on the Revolution in France, I have ever read and in regards to scope, defining conservatism, and in tracing the roots, history, and evolution of conservatism, this is probably the best book you will find on any bookshelf anywhere. The contribution of key figures such as Smith, Burke, Hegel, Jefferson, de Tocqueville, Ruskin, Strauss, T.S. Eliot, Kirk, Buckley, and many more to conservatism are explained succinctly as well as their philoso ...more
Iva Khavtasi
May 02, 2020 rated it really liked it
This very modest-sized volume & its author, truly a Renaissance Man will help U to acclimate into the mismatched world about cultural & political conservatism with the help of superb knowledge and aesthetic writing. Can recommend this book to anyone no matter the political spectrum & charlatanry ...more
Apr 23, 2019 rated it it was amazing
The author of this book is an English philosopher, and a conservative. In American English, the term 'conservative' has lost a lot of its original meaning. Today, conservatism in the US means FOX News, AM talk radio, and a lot of bad websites. That wasn't always the case. Conservatism, as a political world view, has always been associated with the teachings of Aristotle, John Locke, and Adam Smith (among others). Now? Tucker Carlson, Tomi Lahren, and Rush Limbaugh. Oh: and Sean Hannity.

Aug 09, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I chose to read this book to help me better understand politics in America. What I got out of it was a history lesson on how the governments of America and various European nations have developed over the past few hundred years and how the modern conservative movements within them developed as a result. It has helped me understand history a little bit better and given me more of a framework to examine the political landscape.

Here are some of the main themes of the book:
-Modern conservative and l
Ben Chidester
Sep 07, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: philosophy
A short overview (both historical and technical) of the conservative philosophy, by one of its most prominent modern exponents. I was drawn to Scruton's writing for his eloquence and conviction. When I found that he had written this book on Conservatism, I was eager to learn his view.

Scruton describes Conservatism, not simply as a political platform, but as a philosophy. Conservatism begins with the importance of civic life, of shared tradition, values, and neighborly love, from which government
Bryan Sebesta
Nov 14, 2019 rated it really liked it
I grew up conservative. When I went to college, being in the humanities, I tended to become much more liberal. As I read more, I came to see the (potential) wisdom of conservatism, while simultaneously seeing that what "conservatism" actually MEANS is variable in nearly every conversation I have with anyone, anywhere. Is conservatism about nationalism? About supply-side economics? Is it about preserving institutions, or culture? Is it always keeping to the status quo? Is it just someone standing ...more
Apr 06, 2020 rated it liked it
I feel that after three graduate degrees I've never read a single conservative book (outside of theology, that is). Most of my graduate education reinforces the dominant liberal/Liberal perspective that has become taken-for-granted in the academy, so this was venturing outside the prescribed lines.

This book is very much an intellectual history, and so serves as it says in the subtitle, as an invitation to the conservative tradition. Scruton just died recently, and so he came up on my radar. I re
Richard de Villiers
May 16, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I've know of Roger Scruton for awhile but I had avoided reading him. It was nothing personal but Scruton is a political philosopher and British. I was certain that he was erudite and brilliant but I was equally confident that his writing would be dense and put me to sleep - I couldn't have been more wrong. This incredibly brief and breezy volume was even more informative than I could have imagined but it was absorbing in a way that I didn't think possible. The roots of conservatism are explored ...more
Joshua Johnson
Jan 28, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Hearing of Sir Roger's passing, I selected this title to read to remember him. I ended up speeding through it. Highly accessible, and written in a clear, concise manner, immediately the reader is struck by the power of Scruton's intellect. He is obviously immensely learned and erudite, and has done very fine work here in succinctly summarizing the key points, arguments, and polemic of various writers and their ideas. This is a valuable work of political philosophy on the right, which I would rec ...more
Sep 23, 2020 rated it liked it
When I was a teenager I couldn't understand conservatism at all. The world was foolish and unjust. Liberals were leading us forward on the right side of history. Who would want to be an enemy of progress? What kind of soft headed nostalgia could lead us towards following the same old traditions and trying to preserve the world as it is?

As I've gotten older I've come to see the error of liberalism as being overly optimistic about the ability to change the world. Human nature isn't so malleable.
Mike Moses
Oct 22, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Scruton aims to show “the underlying coherence of the conservative vision.” He expands the conservative political vision to include religion and tradition, art and music (“the sublime and the beautiful”). Scruton’s vision of conservatism emphasizes custom and community but also the freedom of the individual, communities being a free association of rational beings despite various identities. Conservatism has its roots in classically liberal ideals such as government by the consent of the governed ...more
Ryan Gleue
Mar 17, 2019 rated it liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jul 02, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Listened to on Audible.

Another masterpiece by Scruton that I ended thinking, "Gosh, I need to listen to this again to pick up everything I missed!" This is one of the most accessible of Scruton's works I've read so far, though he always does his homework and "shows his work" for connecting the dots between long-dead thinkers and contemporary writers. Scruton's work challenges us Americans to reconsider our political leanings, and recasts our intellectual tradition along "conservative" and "liber
Jun 21, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Aptly titled

Wow! Who knew I agreed with and thought in terms of conservative thought. I simply had no idea how much simply wrong information I have been programmed with over the years.
As I entitled this review, this great work has an appropriate name. It is an invitation to continue, to transmit the way of life that is inherent to us. So many of us in the English and American tradition are simply not taught at all or are piecemeal taught our great political heritage.
This book is a great first
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Sir Roger Scruton was a writer and philosopher who has published more than forty books in philosophy, aesthetics and politics. He was a fellow of the British Academy and a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature. He taught in both England and America and was a Visiting Professor at Department of Philosophy and Fellow of Blackfriars Hall, Oxford, he was also a Senior Fellow at the Ethics and Publ ...more

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