After Virtue: Reflections


I really enjoyed reading AV, although it took me quite a bit of time to work my way through it. A summation of the book would be this. We live in an era where we cannot rationally come to consensus about moral debate. We do this because we have symbols that relate to moral notions (‘good’, ‘bad’, ‘unjust’) but the moral concepts that give ‘gravity’ to these symbols have been lost. Instead we manipultae their symbolic ghosts, without the weight of true referents.

Mac. traces our modern conundrum to a breakdown in the Enlightenment era. The question that he asks, via Nietzsche, is wether or not moral societies ever existed (Nietzsche thought not). Mac finds the ideal culmination in the Aristotelian model of Athens which reconciles the problem in the Heroc, Sophoclean, and Sophist models. Mac then traces Aristotelianism’s fall from fashion and then exposes its key premises. He then asserts the key principles that must be enacted to encourage an Aristotelian Renaissance.

He lastly says that knowing this will enable to carry the flame of moral discourse through the dark ages looming over us.

Here are some of my favorite notions:

  • Library with incomplete knowledge analogy

  • The failure of The Enlightenment

  • The notion of a practice and acting for quality’s sake

Good book and thanks to Maureen for encouraging me to read it.