Alasdair Chalmers MacIntyre – England

Linked with Alasdair MacIntyre and Holistic Marxism, and with The Shock Doctrine.

Alasdair Chalmers MacIntyre (born January 12, 1929 in Glasgow, Scotland) is a philosopher primarily known for his contribution to moral and political philosophy but known also for his work in history of philosophy and theology. He is the O’Brien Senior Research Professor of Philosophy at the University of Notre Dame Indiana) … (full long text). Biography. Philosophical method. Virtue ethics. Politics. Religion.

Alasdair MacIntyre is one of the most controversial philosophers and social theorists of our time. He opposes liberalism and postmodernism with the teleological arguments of an updated Thomistic Aristotelianism. It is this tradition, he claims, which presents the best theory so far about the nature of rationality, morality and politics … (full text).

He says: “”A striking feature of moral and political argument in the modern world is the extent to which it is innovators, radicals, and revolutionaries who revive old doctrines, while their conservative and reactionary opponents are the inventors of new ones” (on quotes/quotationsbook).

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International Society for MacIntyrean Philosophy: Revolutionary Aristotelianism, Thomism, Virtue Theory, Social Theory, and Politics.

When we talk about “Justice” or “reason” we assume that people know what we mean. This is not always true, of course, because we have differing concepts of justice and rationality, which MacIntyre skillfully lays out in this book. This is not so much a sequel to After Virtue as much as it is a Prequel. MacIntyre has a very easy to read style, which is helpful, because the concepts he tackles are very complicated. (LibraryThing).

The MacIntyre Reader, Edited by: KELVIN KNIGHT (London Metropolitan University).

Find him and his publications on wikipedia: selected works,  and secondary literature; on amazon; on LibraryThing; on Google Book-search; on Google Scholar-search.

He says also: “The hypothesis I wish to advance is that … the language of morality is in … grave disorder…. What we possess, if this is true, are the fragments of a conceptual scheme, parts of which now lack those contexts from which their significance derived. We possess indeed simulacra of morality, we continue to use many of the key expressions. But we have—very largely if not entirely—lost our comprehension, both theoretical and practical, of morality”. On Quotes.

… MacIntyre’s assault on the concept of pure reason was based on the notion that pure reason was simply not universal. As many anthropologists and sociologists (and later many feminist thinkers) have pointed out, there was no shared set of intellectual assumptions all men and women in all cultures shared. MacIntyre argued the empirical absence of such shared ideas indicating pure reason was another name for Western reason, not reason itself. It cannot be universalized without coming into conflict with the empirical facts of sociology and anthropology … (full text).

… According to MacIntyre, the main difficulty with the notion that ethics ought to be based on something standing over and above social traditions is it cannot be done. His argument for this sweeping claim was rather simple, but anything but simpleminded. He argued somewhat pragmatically the sign of an adequate philosophy was its ability to resolve practical, moral problems experienced by ordinary people; for example, should the active killing of terminally ill patients who are in states of persistent and unremitting pain be permitted? This was sometimes called active euthanasia. The abortion issue represented another such problem. According to MacIntyre, examples could multiply interminably. The common thread which united these problems was society was unable to answer any of them, and this inability was derived from the Enlightenment assumption—ethical problems can only be solved by pure reason. But since pure reason was silent on all of these questions, our society was at a loss to resolve any of the major dilemmas that it faced. In short, if the mark of adequacy of a philosophy was its ability to resolve practical ethical problems, then the philosophy of contemporary society was a bankruptcy. (full text).

Alasdair MacIntyre believed the history of philosophy was profoundly relevant to contemporary life and thought; and the philosophical systems of such figures as Aristotle and Aquinas could and ought to be used as viewpoints from which contemporary thought itself can be criticized. For MacIntyre, the history of philosophy was not necessarily a history of progress in which our grasp of truth was improving. Rather, he argued earlier traditions within philosophy were, in many respects, far more intellectually adequate than contemporary systems of thought and people ought to in some significant ways return to these earlier systems for first principles. In this respect, he may be referred to as a philosophical conservative. To illustrate his strategy, he conceived the major intellectual defect within contemporary Western civilization as: the absence of a coherent tradition which assisted us in resolving our moral dilemmas. He argued contemporary ethics were characterized by insolvable moral problems, precisely because the philosophical founders of Western civilization attempted to ground philosophy on something pure, solid, unchangeable and certain—namely, the mind. The mind was, for the British, French, and German Enlightenment philosophers, a storehouse of truth, not in the sense of containing sets of facts, but in containing the general principles of method by which the truth could be acquired. The mind was the foundation for growth in knowledge … (full text).

He writes also / excerpt page 3/10: … Towards the end of the tenth book of the Nicomachean Ethics Aristotle argues that arguments by themselves are insufficient to make human beings good. Arguments may encourage and incite those of the young who already have some propensity for virtue – they may have, that is to say, rhetorical power. But with the majority they do not even have this kind of power and indeed it is one of the marks of already achieved goodness to be willing to submit to argument. So practical habituation in the exercise of the virtues has to precede education in moral theory. But it is not just that such habituation is required for those who are to be able to understand and be responsive to argument. It is also that only those who have undergone such habituation will be in a position to theorize well about issues of practice. To be virtuous is to act in accordance with a mean and to judge rightly about the mean is to judge as the phronimos, the practically intelligent human being, would judge. The phronimos has in the act of practical judgment no external criterion to guide her or him. Indeed practical knowledge of what criteria are relevant in this particular situation requires phrone¯sis. The good human being is the standard of right judgment, passion, and action: “In all such matters that which seems so to the good human being is held really to be so” and “virtue and the good human being are the measure in each case.”It is in this light that we must understand what Aristotle says about moral perception at the end of the second book. Judgment concerning the mean is a matter of particular facts and judgment concerning these “rests with perception.”But the perceptions must be the perceptions of a good human being. Perception is not a source of moral judgment, independently of the character of the perceiver and judger … (full 10 pages text Learning from Aristotle and Aquinas).

And he writes / excerpt page 10/10: … Let me cast the point which I am trying to make about Galileo in a way which, at first sight, is perhaps paradoxical. We are apt to suppose that because Galileo was a peculiarly great scientist, therefore he has his own peculiar place in the history of science. I am suggesting instead that it is because of his peculiarly important place in the history of science that he is accounted a peculiarly great scientist. The criterion of a successful theory is that it enables us to understand its predecessors in a newly intelligible way. It, at one and the same time, enables us to understand precisely why its predecessors have to be rejected or modified and also why, without and before its illumination, past theory could have remained credible. It introduces new standards for evaluating the past. It recasts the narrative which constitutes the continuous reconstruction of the scientific tradition. This connection between narrative and tradition has hitherto gone almost unnoticed, perhaps because tradition has usually been taken seriously only by conservative social theorists. Yet those features of tradition which emerge as important when the connection between tradition and narrative is understood are ones which conservative theorists are unlikely to attend to. For what constitutes a tradition is a conflict of interpretations of that tradition, a conflict which itself has a history susceptible of rival interpretations. If I am a Jew, I have to recognize that the tradition of Judaism is partly constituted by a continuous argument over what it means to be a Jew. Suppose I am an American: the tradition is one partly constituted by continuous argument over what it means to be an American and partly by continuous argument over what it means to have rejected tradition. If I am an historian, I must acknowledge that the tradition of historiography is partly, but centrally, constituted by arguments about what history is and ought to be, from Hume and Gibbon to Namier and Edward Thompson. Notice that all three kinds of tradition – religious, political, intellectual – involve epistemological debate as a necessary feature of their conflicts … (full 10 pages text Epistemological crises and dramatic narrative).

links:

Video: The Shock Doctrine by Alfonso Cuarón and Naomi Klein, 6.47 min;

The Shock Doctrine, an information website; and The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism, Naomi Klein’s book;

Communitarianism;

Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy: the website,its Statement of Scholarly Standards, its etidorial staff, its explanation on wikipedia;

online encyclopedias on wikipedia: categories and sub-categories, and a list of all of them;

online encyclopedias on philosophy on wikipedia;

Clan McIntyre Tours of Scotland.

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