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Roger Scruton: Judging Music

GRIPh Lecture 2013
Roger Scruton
Roger Scruton

Music has been a vital part of Western civilisation from ancient times, with a role to play in religion, courtship and domestic life that has profoundly affected the nature of our societies. The growth of listening, as a distinct posture with distinct rewards, encouraged the emergence of music from the church and the private home into the concert hall, and around the concert hall has grown a repertoire that many consider to be one of the greatest artistic achievements of humanity.

Increasingly, however, other music has arisen in competition with the classical tradition - music that is not always to be listened to, rather than danced to or heard in the background - and music lovers are constantly confronted with the question how we might judge between the sounds by which we are now surrounded. Are there principles of musical criticism, and if so, do they apply to all forms of music or merely to some? Is there any way that we can compare hip-hop with Indie music, or string quartets with Heavy Metal, and come up with a judgement that discriminates between them? And anyway, why does it matter? Similar questions have occupied serious minds since Plato, and I shall attempt to say some trenchant things that will interest a modern audience.


Roger Scruton (graduated Cambridge University '65) specialises in aesthetics. He has written over 30 books, including The Aesthetics of Music (1997), A Political Philosophy: Arguments for Conservatism (2006).

Scruton was a lecturer and professor of aesthetics at Birkbeck College, London, from 1971 to 1992. Since 1992 he has held part-time positions at Boston University, the American Enterprise Institute in Washington, D.C., and the University of St Andrews, Scotland.

Outside of his career as a philosopher and writer, Scruton was involved in the establishment of underground universities and academic networks in Soviet-controlled Central Europe during the Cold War and he has received a number of awards for his efforts in this area.


The discussion will be moderated by René Boomkens.

Time & place

Wed 3 April 2013
20.00, Aula of the Academy Building

The Griph-lecture is the annual lecture of the Groningen Research Institute of Philosophy. This lecture is organized by the Faculty of Philosophy of the University of Groningen, in cooperation with Studium Generale Groningen.

This lecture at Studium Generale Groningen´s website

Roger Scruton's website

Last modified:01 June 2017 3.39 p.m.