I commandeered this thread for the course on Moral Discourse – I know we’re supposed to examine others moral discourse, but you know I find ourselves implicated in everything we study? Yeah.
I’ve understood Marx as pinpointing work as the fulcrum of the social structure, but I never took him for a class-based relativist. Instead of arguing his own points and critique of the bourgeois, he chose – rhetorically? – to utilize their own internal arguments. I also didn’t know he neglected any serious examination of the morality of the working classes.
I do know he didn’t account for the actual mechanisms of transformation from capitalism to socialism. According to MacIntyre, Marx’s conception of freedom is Hegel’s: “not something which [men] have, as men, but which they are” (211).
MacIntyre is himself an intriguing character. He was describing Hegel’s sense of only a very particular community with particular values being able to be fully moral, a point upon which he seems to agree, if vaguely (so described by Oakes): “Will it be a community holding common ethical positions, or will it admit a wide diversity of views (but having first learned how to converse in a way that brings about real progress)?”
‘Emptying moral discourse of teleological concepts because of the perceived impact of Newton and Darwin has been for MacIntyre the catastrophe of our times. In the Aristotelian tradition, MacIntyre argues, “there is a fundamental contrast between man-as-he- happens-to-be and man-as-he-could-be-if-he-realized-his-essential- nature. . . . The precepts which enjoin the various virtues and prohibit the vices instruct us how to move from potentiality to act, how to realize our true nature, and to reach our true end. To defy them will be to be frustrated and incomplete, to fail to achieve that good of rational happiness which it is peculiarly ours as a species to pursue.”‘
Edward T. Oakes continues:
Kant and Kierkegaard lead to Nietzsche: ‘”Nietzsche or Aristotle?”-for moral philosophy boils down to emotivism or teleology. Nietzsche has performed the inestimable service of exposing contemporary moral presuppositions as the fictions they are: “If there is nothing to morality but expressions of will, my morality can only be what my will creates.”‘
Oakes concludes that MacIntyre brings us closer to an encounter “between emotivists, rationalists, and Aristotelian Thomists”. This is apparently necessary to find a way out of the moral quagmire which is the legacy of the 20th century.