Conservative British philosopher Roger Scruton dies after six-month battle with cancer

Prominent conservative philosopher Roger Scruton died Sunday at the age of 75, the Washington Examiner reported.

The British thinker died after a six-month fight with cancer, his family said in a statement posted to his website. He had written over 50 books on topics ranging from aesthetics, morality, and politics to wine and fox hunting.

“It is with great sadness that we announce the death of Sir Roger Scruton, FBA, FRSL,” the family’s statement read.

It went on: “Beloved husband of Sophie, adored father to Sam and Lucy and treasured brother of Elizabeth and Andrea, he died peacefully on Sunday [Jan. 12]. He was born on [Feb. 27,] 1944 and had been fighting cancer for the last 6 months. His family [is] hugely proud of him and of all his achievements.”

The end of an era

Lavish tributes soon poured in for Scruton, who was remembered by admirers as an erudite, passionate, and courageous writer who defended the Western tradition from attacks by the left. According to the BBC, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson called Scruton “the greatest modern conservative thinker — who not only had the guts to say what he thought but said it beautifully.”

Born in 1944, Scruton was educated at Cambridge University before embarking on a career as a philosopher, polemicist, and public intellectual. He attributed his conservative worldview to witnessing the May 1968 riots in France, which he described to The Guardian as an “unruly mob of self-indulgent middle-class hooligans,” the BBC noted.

Throughout decades of writing, Scruton established himself as a prominent public intellectual in Britain and one of the world’s foremost conservative thinkers, with books like How to Be a Conservative; Fools, Frauds and Firebrands: Thinkers of the New Left; and Sexual Desire. According to ABC News, Scruton was preoccupied with beauty and its fading from the modern world, and he cited his 2009 documentary Why Beauty Matters as one of his most popular works.

A dissident thinker

While noted for his love of tradition, Scruton was a provocateur known as much for his criticism of modernity as his support of freethought in communist Eastern Europe. According to the BBC, he smuggled books to dissident intellectuals in Czechoslovakia during the 1980s, for which he was honored by the governments of Hungary, Poland, and the Czech Republic, the latter of which awarded him the Medal of Merit.

A lecturer at the University of London’s Birkbeck College from 1971 to 1992, Scruton later worked as a freelance writer, lecturer, and consultant. The philosopher was fired, then hired again to his position as an adviser on modern architecture for Britain’s government in 2019 over comments that were deemed controversial about China, Islam, and George Soros, according to ABC.

(Scruton responded to the brouhaha by decrying a “witch hunt” against conservatives who candidly express their points of view.)

While his primary academic research was in the field of aesthetics, Scruton was also an essayist, social critic, opera writer, novelist, and a passionate hunter. He was knighted in 2016 for his contributions to philosophy and education.

He was also a founding editor of the conservative magazine Salisbury Review and a contributor to magazines like The New Statesman and The Spectator. He authored a reflection on his life for The Spectator in December in which he wrote that “coming close to death you begin to know what life means, and what it means is gratitude.”

Scruton is survived by his wife, Sophia, and two children, Sam and Lucy.

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