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Irreducible Reality, Irreducible Persons

  • Brent Waters (a1)


The Soul of the World is based on the Stanton Lectures delivered by Roger Scruton at the University of Cambridge. Much of the book draws upon and elaborates themes developed previously by the author, but in a tone that is “more conversational than scholarly” (vii). This revisiting of familiar themes, however, does not result in a series of rehashed essays carelessly strung together, nor does its tone convey a lack of intellectual rigor. This is not a philosophy-lite text but a carefully crafted and elegant meditation on the prospect of religious belief in the frequently hostile milieu of late modernity.



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Roger Scruton, The Soul of the World (Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 2014). Page references to Scruton's book appear in the text.



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1 For a similar theological account of a nonreductive dualist characterization of human beings, see Meilaender, Gilbert, Neither Beast nor God: The Dignity of the Human Person (New York: New Atlantis Books, 2009).

2 See Farrow, Douglas, Ascension and Ecclesia: On the Significance of the Doctrine of the Ascension for Ecclesiology and Christian Cosmology (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Eerdmans, 1999) esp. ch. 1.

3 Scruton adds: “I am skeptical of the attempts to expand the concept of justice, so as to include the many claims made on behalf of it by socialists and their fellow travelers. However, I agree with the left-liberal consensus, that we are encumbered by more obligations than those we have explicitly contracted, and free choice is not the only material from which the realm of duties is built” (89); cf. Grant, George Parkin, English-Speaking Justice (Notre Dame, Ind.: University of Notre Dame Press, 1985).

4 See Witte, John Jr., From Sacrament to Contract: Marriage, Religion, and Law in the Western Tradition (Louisville, Ky.: Westminster John Knox, 2012).

5 Cf. O’Donovan's account of “communication” in O’Donovan, Oliver, The Ways of Judgment: The Bampton Lectures, 2003 (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Eerdmans, 2005); and idem, Common Objects of Love: Moral Reflection and the Shaping of Community (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Eerdmans, 2002).

6 See Arendt, Hannah, The Life of the Mind (San Diego, Calif.: Harcourt, 1978) 3637 [italics in original].

7 See Murdoch, Iris, Metaphysics as a Guide to Morals (London: Penguin Books, 1993) 5253.

8 See Gottschall, Jonathan, The Storytelling Animal: How Stories Make Us Human (New York: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2012).

9 For a more detailed account see Scruton's book The Aesthetics of Architecture (Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 2013).

10 For an overview of Arendt's account of forgiving and promising, see Waters, Brent, Christian Moral Theology in the Emerging Technoculture: From Posthuman Back to Human (Farnham, U.K.: Ashgate, 2014) ch. 3.

* Roger Scruton, The Soul of the World (Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 2014). Page references to Scruton's book appear in the text.


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