From Hero to Consumer (After Virtue 8, audio)

This video covers ideas in chapters 10-12 in Alasdair MacIntyre’s After Virtue. In pursuit of an alternative to value neutrality and the fragmented responsibility characterized by modern bureaucracy, Alasdair MacIntyre attempts to reconstruct a history of Western moral development. His aim is to help society re-learn Aristotelian teleology and virtue ethics. But to locate what he’s advocating he goes back to the Homeric Greek heroic ideal, then traces the emergence of a new kind of self (one that is self-conscious and aware of the distinction between self and society) in democratic Athens. Out of this society emerged Aristotle, whose thought came closer to what seems to be MacIntyre’s ideal–one that consciously deals with ethics both at the level of the particular society and at the level of universal claims. MacIntyre distances himself from Aristotle’s “metaphysical biology” and therefore from Aristotle’s claims that there are biologically determined natural roles and different virtues for different people, claiming that Aristotle mistook his society’s particular cultural norms for eternal truths. But can MacIntyre have Aristotle’s teleology and virtue ethics without his biological determinism? That is yet to be seen.

One thought on “From Hero to Consumer (After Virtue 8, audio)

  1. Perhaps MacIntyre could have his cake and eat it to, if we modify the meaning of biological determinism. Caroline Myss, who you probably have more in common with than MacIntyre, asserts that our biography becomes our biology. “Emotional energy contributes to the formation of cell tissue, and forms an energy language which carries literal and symbolic information. In this way, your biography–that is, the experiences that make up your life–becomes your biology.” Because some people preserve certain myths about their family legacy, might it possible for the offspring to deify such beliefs and in turn have a higher probability of maintaining certain roles?


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