Alasdair MacIntyre Quotes

A quotes list created by Lee Sonogan

Guest Post: Alasdair MacIntyre on Why We Study Math — Euro Home Ed

A Scottish philosopher from the 19th century who had a lot to say about history and theology! Political, ethically and meta credible like, he is still alive at the age of 91. Some of his honourable ideas include a revival of virtue ethics (For good or worse in the modern times), the rationality of predecessors in culture or traditions to the whole nature of the internal and external. Even a fan of Fredrick Neichze but still highly critical.

  • “At the foundation of moral thinking lie beliefs in statements the truth of which no further reason can be given.” ― Alasdair C. MacIntyre, After Virtue: A Study in Moral Theory
  • “we are never more (and sometimes less) than the co-authors of our own narratives.” ― Alasdair MacIntyre,
  • “It is through hearing stories about wicked stepmothers, lost children, good but misguided kings, wolves that suckle twin boys, youngest sons who receive no inheritance but must make their own way in the world, and eldest sons who waste their inheritance on riotous living and go into exile to live with the swine, that children learn or mislearn both what a child and what a parent is, what the cast of characters may be in the drama into which they have been born and what the ways of the world are.” ― Alasdair MacIntyre, After Virtue: A Study in Moral Theory
  • “The true genre of the life is neither hagiography nor saga, but tragedy.” ― Alasdair MacIntyre, After Virtue: A Study in Moral Theory, Third Edition
  • “To have understood the polymorphous character of pleasure and happiness is of course to have rendered those concepts useless for utilitarian purposes; if the prospect of his or her own future pleasure or happiness cannot for reasons which I have suggested provide criteria for solving the problems of action in the case of each individual, it follows that the notion of the greatest happiness of the greatest number is a notion without any clear content at all. It is indeed a pseudo-concept available for a variety of ideological uses, but no more than that.” ― Alasdair C. MacIntyre, After Virtue: A Study in Moral Theory
  • “Whenever those immersed in the bureaucratic culture of the age try to think their way through to the moral foundations of what they are and what they do, they will discover suppressed Nietzschean premises. And consequently it is possible to predict with confidence that in the apparently quite unlikely contexts of bureaucratically managed modern societies there will periodically emerge social movements informed by just that kind of prophetic irrationalism of which Nietzsche’s thought is the ancestor. Indeed just because and insofar as contemporary Marxism is Weberian in substance we can expect prophetic irrationalisms of the left as well as of the Right.” ― Alasdair MacIntyre, After Virtue: A Study in Moral Theory
  • “Moral judgments are linguistic survivals from the practices of classical theism which have lost the context provided by these practices.” ― Alasdair C. MacIntyre
  • “The attempted professionalization of serious and systematic thinking has had a disastrous effect upon our culture” ― Alasdair MacIntyre, Whose Justice? Which Rationality?
  • “Modern systematic politics, whether liberal, conservative, radical or socialist, simply has to be rejected from a standpoint that owes genuine allegiance to the tradition of the virtues; for modern politics itself expresses in its institutional forms a systematic rejection of that tradition.” ― Alasdair MacIntyre, After Virtue: A Study in Moral Theory, Third Edition
  • e “The introduction of the word ‘intuition’ by a moral philosopher is always a signal that something has gone badly wrong with an argument.” ― Alasdair MacIntyre, After Virtue: A Study in Moral Theory
  • “There is no way to understand the character of the taboo rules, except as a survival from some previous more elaborate cultural background. We know also and as a consequence that any theory which makes the taboo rules … intelligible just as they are without any reference to their history is necessarily a false theory… why should we think about [the theories of] analytic moral philosophers such as Moore, Ross, Prichard, Stevenson, Hare and the rest in any different way? … Why should we think about our modern use of good, right and obligatory in any different way from that in which we think about late eighteenth-century Polynesian uses of taboo?” ― Alasdair C. MacIntyre, After Virtue: A Study in Moral Theory
  • “To cry out that the emperor had no clothes on was at least to pick on one man only to the amusement of everyone else; to declare that almost everyone is dressed in rags is much less likely to be popular.” ― Alasdair MacIntyre, After Virtue: A Study in Moral Theory, Third Edition
  • “History is neither a prison nor a museum, nor is it a set of materials for self-congratulation.” ― Alasdair MacIntyre, A Short History Of Ethics: A History Of Moral Philosophy From The Homeric Age To The Twentieth Century
  • “What this brings out is that modern politics cannot be a matter of genuine moral consensus. And it is not. Modern politics is civil war carried on by other means,” ― Alasdair MacIntyre, After Virtue: A Study in Moral Theory, Third Edition
  • “Contemporary moral argument is rationally interminable, because all moral, indeed all evaluative, argument is and always must be rationally interminable. Contemporary moral disagreements of a certain kind cannot be resolved, because no moral disagreements of that kind in any age, past, present or future, can be resolved.” ― Alasdair MacIntyre, After Virtue: A Study in Moral Theory, Third Edition
  • “Deprive the taboo rules of their original context, and they at once are apt to appear as a set of arbitrary prohibitions, as indeed they characteristically do appear when the initial context is lost, when those background beliefs in the light of which the taboo rules had originally been understood have not only been abandoned but forgotten. – Alasdair MacIntyre
  • In such a situation the rules have been deprived of any status that can secure their authority, and, if they do not acquire some new status quickly, both their interpretation and their justification become debatable. When the resources of a culture are too meagre to carry through the task of reinterpretation, the task of justification becomes impossible. Hence perhaps the relatively easy, although to some contemporary observers astonishing, victory of Kamehameha II over the taboos (and the creation thereby of a vacuum in which the banalities of the New England Protestant missionaries were received all too quickly).” ― Alasdair MacIntyre
  • “the present is intelligible only as a commentary upon and response to the past in which the past, if necessary and if possible, is corrected and transcended,” ― Alasdair MacIntyre

Revealing the need for certain kinds of virtuous dispositions if we are ever to flourish into independent reasoners is another point he makes which is consistent. I want to get a book of his to see how deep his insight really goes. Even finding issues with utilitarianism, all of these sentences still reflection a fair and objective balance to get excited about.

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