Like reading Heidegger on Nietzsche, you do not read Scruton to understand the topic so much as to understand and appreciate Scruton. Unlike reading Heidegger on anything, reading Scruton is a pleasurable and generally understandable experience.

He is also the sort of conservative that liberals like me love. Certainly, contemporary, burn-it-all-down conservatives of the Trump-Cruz-Rubio-Hawley variety would not appreciate. I would say, without too much to back it up, that his conservatism is uniquely English.

The conceits that drive this book is first that it does not pretend to be primer or history or proper summary of any kind, but rather a book which attempts to delve into the questions and philosophical ideas that he loves. The second is that each chapter ends on a question and the next offers a (sort of) answer.

An old fashioned, sort, chapter three is entitled demon, Descartes’, of course. Following a discussion of truth which I found surprising, because I didn’t find the expected semi-materialist foundationalism overlayed with a sort of nebulous Anglican theism.

But what did I learn about Scruton? His surprising, constant returns to Kant. His completely unsurprising belief in a horde of liberal moral relativists storming the barricades in nigh overwhelming numbers, seeking to banish Shakespeare.

That he probably wished to refute some philosophers as Johnson did Berkeley, but knew it would have been intellectually indefensible, but the desire remained.

That he likes to drop names, some famous (Kant, Spinoza) and some a little less known to the general public (McTaggart).

That despite his constant name dropping of Kant and references to Kant’s morality, when it really comes to the time to succinctly explain morality, he settles on Scottish Enlightenment style sentimentalist theories.

That he criticizes continental philosophy (which he also calls romantic) and praises its less well respected and read (in his mind, and probably in truth; at least, less read) Anglo-American, which is to say, analytic, philosophy, but is, himself, fairly clearly writing in a more ‘romantic’ tradition and very clearly is not a traditional Anglo-American philosopher.

That his ‘philosophy’ of sex is rather sweetly romantic.

That he probably blamed the Enlightenment for many things.

That his religious sympathies seem aligned with how he described Roman religion, which was about, in his description, attention to forms and rituals as social glue, rather than a deep belief. Honestly, you’d have expected him to be a High Anglican (though definitely not Anglo Catholic) on account of his cultural Toryism. I’ll also recommend this article from The Critic.

And, finally, that he is not an interesting philosopher. Like most philosophy professors, he is not even, really, a philosopher, I would say. Just a marvelous cultural critic (with whom I deeply disagree in many key ways) of the sort that one can never be sure will be remembered in another generation.