Alisdair Mactintyre — After Virtue

  1. Is there ever a society with genuine moral consensus or where government represents that moral community? Maybe on some specific issues, but across the board? And if there isn’t, then the rest of the statement is rendered pointless; or, it just says that the nature of political obligation is always unclear, which I don’t count as newsworthy.
  2. Is this whole thing really a dressed up expression of fear of ‘a set of institutional arrangements for imposing a bureaucratized unity on society’? In which case I share that fear, but I’m not sure this quotation (admittedly shorn of context) explains it or offers any antidote.
  3. I briefly skimmed the Wikipedia introduction to the book this comes from, After Virtue. It suggests that MacIntyre argues the enlightenment failed when it abandoned the Aristotelian concept of teleology. My briefly-considered interpretation is that MacIntyre is so appalled by the moral relativism a neutral universe necessitates, that he finds himself having to rely on teleology to get away from it. A kind of backwards argument, retreating from a position for personal preference. Given the choice between the two, my personal preference would be a neutral universe every time. Shit happens and I’m kind of ok with that. I’ve been very lucky so far, but I don’t ascribe that to my goodness or to any plan. So we’re on different sides of the fence from the get go.
  4. And even if I allowed myself the daydream of some kind of teleology, some kind of fatalistic direction, some eternal objective quality in ideas like good or bad or divine, I think I would still have the force emanating from within, rather than without. Either as a solipsistic masquerade, or the self as just one self-facilitating media node in the all encompassing info super highway of Oneness.
  5. Finally I didn’t like it because it seemed to be shared (in a way that I am sure was not intended by the author) as some slogan of libertarianism / fear of government, when in fact, as it stands alone, it doesn’t state anything clearly or elegantly at all.

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