Roger Scruton, the man described by British MEP Daniel Hannan as "the man who, more than any other, has defined what conservatism is," is quoted today in the Wall Street Journal's "Notable & Quotable" section. The quote is from one of the three books he published in2014: The Soul of the World.
Here's the quote:
There is a widespread habit of declaring emergent realities to be “nothing but” the things in which we perceive them. The human person is “nothing but” the human animal; law is “nothing but” relations of social power; sexual love is “nothing but” the urge to procreation; . . . the Mona Lisa is “nothing but” a spread of pigments on a canvas; the Ninth Symphony is “nothing but” a sequence of pitched sounds of varying timbre. And so on. Getting rid of this habit is, to my mind, the true goal of philosophy. And if we get rid of it when dealing with the small things—symphonies, pictures, people—we might get rid of it when dealing with the large things too: notably, when dealing with the world as a whole. And then we might conclude that it is just as absurd to say that the world is nothing but the order of nature, as physics describes it, as to say that the Mona Lisa is nothing but a smear of pigments. Drawing that conclusion is the first step in the search for God.