HERE , as summarized by Ari Schulman. The theologian-novelist gave a polemical response to to MacIntyre at a recent conference. And Ari not only offers a tight and astute summary of her remarks. If you scroll down, you can also find his summary of AFTER VIRTUE. Here’s one highlight among many:

Distortive Notions of Ourselves and Others

• MacIntyre’s work posits that we are living in the midst of a great disaster. But where is the great disaster? Most people (Robinson herself included) seem to be able to live without much sustained incoherence or anomie.

• Consequent to the notion of disaster, and fueled by MacIntyre’s polemicism, there is a streak of victimhood running through MacIntyre’s work, and especially through the attitudes of his adherents — “we poor moderns” and such. (Robinson especially criticized many of the Marxists whose talks she attended, whose abstract language and sense of victimhood, she said, seem entirely out of touch with the real suffering of hundreds of millions of laborers worldwide today.)

• The polemicism of MacIntyre’s work, combined with its argument about the will to power behind modern moral inquiry, leads us to picture all modern arguments as inherently manipulative. It thus leads us to assume that the arguments of others are insidious, and to avoid engaging in the hard work of trying to understand their arguments or to appreciate them either as rational agents or as human beings. In short, it makes worse the problem of irresolvable moral arguments between people.

I especially like the parts about the rather abstract sense of victimhood, which blinds us to real suffering, and the assumption that modern thinkers aren’t “rational agents” who give arguments that need to be engaged, because they’re characteristically neither wholly true nor wholly false. We Tocquevillians know that things have been getting better and worse, and that these are, in some key ways, the best and worst times to live.

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Articles by Peter Lawler

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