Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Hauerwas, Stanley. "The Virtues of Alasdair MacIntyre." FIRST THINGS (October 2007).

Born in Scotland in 1929, MacIntyre began teaching at Manchester University in 1951. He came to the United States in 1969 to teach at Brandeis University, and he has held in the years since a large number of academic appointments, including stints at Boston University, Wellesley, Vanderbilt, Yale, Duke, and Notre Dame. His books began with Marxism: An Interpretation in 1953 and have continued in a steady flow, including The Unconscious: A Conceptual Analysis in 1958, A Short History of Ethics in 1966, Herbert Marcuse: An Exposition and a Polemic in 1970, After Virtue in 1981, Whose Justice? Which Rationality? in 1988, Three Rival Versions of Moral Enquiry in 1990, and Edith Stein in 2005. After Virtue remains MacIntyre’s most widely discussed book, and a third edition has just been published in celebration of its twenty-fifth anniversary. We are also fortunate to have two recent volumes of his selected articles published by Cambridge University Press: The Tasks of Philosophy and Ethics and Politics. These essays are crucial for any assessment of MacIntyre’s position: Arguments and observations he makes in his books were often first developed in articles, and defended later in other articles, not widely available. The constructive character of MacIntyre’s work is apparent in his understanding of the philosophical task. A philosopher, he insists, should try to express the concepts embedded in the practices of our lives in order to help us live morally worthy lives. The professionalization of philosophy into a technical field—what might be called the academic captivity of philosophy—reflects (and serves to legitimate) the compartmentalization of the advanced capitalistic social orders that produce our culture of experts, those strange creatures of authority in modernity. General dismissals of MacIntyre too often rest on a fundamental failure to understand the interconnected character of his work. His criticisms of modernity are often thought to reflect a nostalgic and unjustified preference for the Middle Ages. MacIntyre sometimes cannot resist wickedly confirming his critics’ prejudices about his work, but those who refuse to take MacIntyre seriously because they think him antimodern fail to understand the fundamental philosophical arguments that shape his position. A focus on his accounts of action and practical reason reveals that his fundamental perspective has been remarkably consistent. . . . Read the whole article here: http://www.firstthings.com/article.php3?id_article=6041.

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