Thursday, February 13, 2014
In The Independent Roger Scruton reviews Peter Watson's The Age of Nothing.
Husserl turned the attention of philosophy towards the structure of consciousness. He held that the concrete, contingent and immediate experience has precedence over the abstract generalities of science, since experience is the reality against which theories are tested. This idea was given literary form by Robert Musil and Karl Kraus; it was given philosophical form by Martin Heidegger, who should be credited with the extraordinary achievement of writing worse than Husserl. And the sections on Musil and Heidegger are among Watson’s best.
However, the God-hungry atheism of the mid-twentieth century has a slightly quaint air today. The life-cult of D.H. Lawrence, the socialist progressivism of H.G. Wells, the naïve optimism of John Dewey, the existentialist nihilism of Heidegger and Sartre – all such religion substitutes have lost their appeal, and we find ourselves, perhaps for the first time, with a gloves-off encounter between the evangelical atheists, who tell us that religious belief is both nonsensical and wicked, and the defenders of intelligent design, who look around for the scraps that the Almighty left behind from his long picnic among us.
Roger Scruton is pretty snotty in this review. He stands above things, untouched, beyond 'all that', invoking a fake We throughout, e.g. "they describe experiences that somehow fall short of what we are looking for". Scruton would do better to keep his We to himself (his self). I don't care much what he is looking for.
I only read occasional magazines and newspapers from the UK, so I've had limited exposure to Scruton, but my sense is that he's one of those snob characters found all over British popular culture.
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