Scruton on Foucault



For Scruton, The Order of Things “is an artful book, composed with a satanic mendacity, selectively appropriating facts in order to show that culture and knowledge are nothing but the discourses of power” to be condemned as just further forms of oppression. A work not of philosophy but of rhetoric, “its goal is subversion, not truth”, and it perpetrates “the old nominalist sleight of hand that was surely invented by the Father of Lies—that ‘truth’ requires inverted commas, that it changes from epoch to epoch, and is tied to the form of consciousness, the episteme, imposed by the class which profits from its propagation”. This is a core conception of the cultural relativism that is now a taken-for-granted premise of academic discourse, while Foucault’s “vision of European culture as the institutionalized form of oppressive power is taught everywhere as gospel”, as Scruton laments.

Mervyn Bendle, “The Philosophy of Roger Scruton”



  1. I appreciate Foccault as a stick of dynamite, but Scruton is right that there is nothing positive or constructive to come of him. Of course, the conservative (in the traditional Burkean sense) doesn’t provide the Truth either.

    I’d rather live in Merry Olde England than in ’68 Paris. But the Lord of Life is not party to conserving, but renewing.

    The wrong kind of realism is just as satanic as pure nominalism. Calling a falsehood truth because of age and respectability is just as evil as putting “inverted commas” on the word “Truth”.

    I am sympathetic for Scruton though, being the underdog in a post-modern authoritarian academy.

    • I agree. Of course, Scruton is not a typical Burkean, at least insofar as he reads Burke as a creative, modern philosopher. And, as I have probably said elsewhere on this blog, Scruton is an eclectic philosopher, moving effortlessly from the Greeks to the Germans and everything in-between. He simply despises postmodernism, and for good reason.

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