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Alasdair MacIntyre: “We are waiting for another…St. Benedict.”

25 August 2012

“It is always dangerous to draw too precise parallels between one historical period and another; and among the most misleading of such parallels are those which have been drawn between our own age in Europe and North America and the epoch in which the Roman Empire declined into the Dark Ages. None the less certain parallels there are. A crucial turning point in that earlier history occurred when men and women of good will turned aside from the task of shoring up the Roman imperium and ceased to identify the continuation of civility and moral community with the maintenance of that imperium. What they set themselves to achieve instead—often not recognising fully what they were doing—was the construction of new forms of community within which the moral life could be sustained so that both morality and civility might survive the coming ages of barbarism and darkness. If my account of our moral condition is correct [one characterized by moral incoherence and unsettlable moral disputes in the modern world], we ought to conclude that for some time now we too have reached that turning point. What matters at this stage is the construction of local forms of community within which civility and the intellectual and moral life can be sustained through the new dark ages which are already upon us. And if the tradition of the virtues was able to survive the horrors of the last dark ages, we are not entirely without grounds for hope. This time however the barbarians are not waiting beyond the frontiers; they have already been governing us for quite some time. And it is our lack of consciousness of this that constitutes part of our predicament. We are waiting not for a Godot, but for another—doubtless very different—St. Benedict.”

– Alasdair MacIntyre

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11 Comments leave one →
  1. onetenthblog permalink
    25 August 2012 9:05 am

    Reblogged this on One Tenth Blog.

  2. onetenthblog permalink
    25 August 2012 9:29 am

    “What they set themselves to achieve instead—often not recognising fully what they were doing—was the construction of new forms of community within which the moral life could be sustained so that both morality and civility might survive the coming ages of barbarism and darkness”

    Thanks! Please check my post http://onetenthblog.wordpress.com/2012/08/11/devotion-in-faith-is-just-what-adam-smith-ordered/

    I’m planning to write an article on one of Joseph Addison’s favorite subject– perfecting moderation in society. Your post is much help in linking Christian virtues to our search for moderation today!

    I’ll definitely look out for any articles/ works by Alasdair MacIntyre.

    One thing though, I personally don’t think you have to look back that far (the Roman Empire) to foresee the future; the tell-tale signs of the end of the Mughal Empire seems to me much closer. Do check The Last Mughal by William Dalrymple.

    “What matters at this stage is the construction of local forms of community within which civility and the intellectual and moral life can be sustained through the new dark ages which are already upon us”

    Tricky… Are NIMBIES the answer to invigorate our latent virtues?

  3. 9 December 2012 4:40 pm

    I dont agrre with his statement. Indirectly, it gives smart justification for inaction and escape into “religiousness” where the situationally increasingly recalls “cultivating flowers into the toilet”. “…ceased to identify the continuation of civility and moral contenance with the maintenance of that imperium”. This sort of attitude means: cowerdice and hipocrisy that is covered by moral purposes. Unfortunately, we often find such feeling amongst christians, espesially amongst religious groups. This is not solution!

    • 10 December 2012 1:27 am

      Were you under the influence of something when you wrote this comment? It doesn’t seem to make sense.

      • 11 December 2012 2:21 pm

        It is not my intention to criticise the necessity of new christians communities and new St. Benedict. I just would like to turn yor attentin that this quotation contan one dangerous, ulteriour suggestion to be indifferent, unworldly. The power of St. Benedict is not base on standing back. His strength is base on belife that it is posible to build spirituel life which is bas on contemplation in the sanctuary and activity in real life (social, political, economical). “Ora et labora” means efford to cross the border between “vita activa” and “vita contemplativa”. If we do do that, I have to reprise my brutal metaphor, “We cultivate flowers in the toilet”. I don’t know better words fo this practise than cowerdisse and escape.
        Ps: I am giving one small advise. Before you start to offend someone try to ask question refferingto the issue. It will help you

  4. 11 December 2012 7:33 pm

    Your faulty grammar, poor spelling, and use of non sequiturs make your comments difficult to read.

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