The Functional Anthropologist, Roger Scruton

This is one of those articles that I have been ruminating about for nearly a month. Why? Because while I agree almost completely with it, I wanted to put it in my own words, while preserving the ideas of Roger Scruton. Why would I do that? Because in a very large measure, I agree with him. But every time I’ve tried, it’s come too close, by far, to simple plagiarism, and my name isn’t Joe Biden.

So I finally decided I would simply have to give you a lead on it, and trust you to read the source. It’s long and fairly complex, so you might want to get another cup of coffee, because if nothing else, it will make you think. Enjoy!

[…]Still, Trump’s beginning point is a conservative rejoinder to liberal cosmopolitanism—“a country is a country”—even if everything he deduces from that first principle is either wrong or obsessive. And Sanders is right that the idea of opening the borders to flood our country with guest workers isn’t an American idea, but one that can be traced to the Koch brothers and to libertarianism. It converges uncannily with President Obama’s boast that he is a citizen of the world more than of any place in particular.

Are most Americans either conservatives or liberals? The answer, as Manent tells us, is that they want to be both. They want to be what he calls human individuals or what Scruton calls both relational and unrelational persons. Strictly speaking, the human individual or unrelational person is an oxymoron, the conservative knows.  The contents of human or personal life come from being relational or not experiencing oneself as individual who’s connected to other individuals only through the calculated modes of contract or consent.

It goes on in a similar vein for a while, explaining many of the things that look like contradictions in our philosophy, and it ends up here.

Along these lines, Scruton interprets religion—including the Christian religion—as one way among the many ways we have to experience the belonging of home. From a full Christian view, however, that seems to be a form of Darwinian reductionism. According to St. Augustine, each of us, through sin, is born to trouble. Each of us free and relational persons experiences himself or herself as an alien or pilgrim in every earthly city. From this view, we are so to speak hardwired for alienation, and shouldn’t try too hard to be at home in this world. And from this view, the arrogantly incoherent aim of modern ideologies has been less to enhance our alienation than to make ourselves through political revolution or economic prosperity or technological innovation fully at home.

Scruton acknowledges, after all, that the most vibrant of the modern nations is the United States, the place where citizenship is reconciled to a remarkable success with otherworldly Christianity.  We are, as G. K. Chesterton says, “a home for a homeless.” But we, at our best, don’t try to be at home, our “lifeworld” is constituted, in part, by our awareness that its satisfactions don’t correspond fully to our longings. Scruton seems more conservative than any American, and, from our view, not realistic enough about who we are or what it takes to sustain our liberal life as free and relational beings born to know, love, and die.

via The Functional Anthropologist, Roger Scruton – Online Library of Law & Liberty.

Go ahead, stretch your mind, and enjoy this. It’s liberating to be free of all those conundrums, or so they say. I’m still digesting it as well! 🙂


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7 Responses to The Functional Anthropologist, Roger Scruton

  1. the unit says:

    I probably should have spent more time contemplating my comment for this blog article. But anyway…
    As a rational individual I must admit I’m completely relational. Not so much as say, Bill Clinton who this morning Linda Tripp was reported on Drudge as to having relations with 1000’s of women.
    But relational in regards to caring, not intimate, for family, friends, my fellows (including bloggers, in agreement and those with conflicting ideas), oh and all God’s creatures. If I stomp a roach, I make sure it’s out of misery. I would do no less for a liberal or other communist, being aware of my relational obligations. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • NEO says:

      Yep, that’s pretty much the truth, isn’t it. Like John Donne said, quite a while ago,

      “No man is an island entire of itself; every man
      is a piece of the continent, a part of the main;”

      Liked by 1 person

      • the unit says:

        Yes, and I (we) knew it long before the Federal, National, and Global Lecturer, Finger Waggers told us that.

        Liked by 1 person

        • NEO says:

          Indeed we did!

          Liked by 1 person

  2. the unit says:

    So later I was still ruminating…
    I was thinking about “the truth will set you free.” Would it…say Bill and Hillary? Or even me? Have I told a little white lie or one of omission lately? Well, yes I have. And why? Even being an individual with free will, I’m very much relational as to and with others. I think how will it affect them and also selfishly how will it effect me?
    The fifth amendment ’cause I just human and need it. And even if they got the goods on me, maybe they all be relational and have mercy on me. Be rational not relational. Please don’t vote for Hillary! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • NEO says:

      Indeed 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  3. the unit says:

    I guess it’s safe or not to assume the picture depicts Mr. Roger Crouton, although clicking the pic brings up the name Vaclav Havel. I would have guessed it was Robert Redford, Tom Watson, or David Bowie. Shows how much attention I pay. I always could distinguish a one armed bandit though. And because I could I was rationally and relationally safe. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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