[percy-l] Re: WP and MacIntyre

Chad DePue chad at wonkworld.com
Mon Feb 10 22:30:50 EST 2003


reading your "Theological Reflections on MacIntyre's After Virtue" essay on the site below gave rise to a few questions as to how Percy and Alasdair MacIntyre intersect. I'd like to ask both you and the list if there is a connection between the philosophies of the two writers and if so, how? 

My initial thoughts (and i have not finished After Virtue but have read enough to know where he's headed) are that MacIntyre sees our ethical crisis as precipitated by predominately external events - ie the 'cataclysm' of the last 300 years that has fractured our language and vocabularly such that we are like kids dressed up as doctors attempting to perform 'surgery', throwing around 'adult' words and concepts that have lost their meaning and that we have no chance of understanding. Here he's talking about scientists in a hypothetical culture after some sort of world-war-inducing-cataclysm:

"In such a culture men would use expressions such as "neutrino", and "mass", specific gravity", "atomic mass" in systematic and often interrelated ways which would resemble in lesser or greater degrees the ways in which such expressions had been used in earlier times before scientific knowledge had been largely lost. But many of the beliefs presupposed by the use of these expressions would have been lost and there would appear to be an element of arbitrariness and even of choice in their application which would appear surprising to us."


Yet Percy sees this ethical dilemma as more internal - a loss of existential identity. We are not so much using tools we don't understand as focusing on our great successes in science and technology, which gives us the vague yet hauntingly empty feeling of 'progress' while our souls and our humanity atrophe.

I quoted MacIntye from After Virtue here (taken from your article). I'd love the list to comment on how this fits into Percy's views on language and our ethical and theological crisis. Also, to those who haven't read the first chapter of After Virtue, i'm not doing it justice. 

  ----- Original Message ----- 
  From: Peter Sellick 
  To: percy-l at lists.ibiblio.org 
  Sent: Thursday, February 06, 2003 12:33 PM
  Subject: [percy-l] WP and Fukyama

  This article is only obliquely about WP but I thought it might interest the list members.

  Revd. Dr. Peter Sellick,
  Personal Page: http://users.bigpond.net.au/sellick
  37 Weld St. Nedlands WA 6009.
  08 93868907
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