TCS: Tech Central Station - Did Benedict XVI Take a Page Out of MacIntyre's Book?: "It's a win-win situation. Having withdrawn from the world, the new Benedictines, the new Cistercians, the new Pilgrims would no longer put off others with their sanctimonious, judgmental presences. But those who were drawn to their ethos would know where to look. And if history is any guide, where monasticism fled the world, the world would soon follow.
Did Benedict XVI Take a Page Out of MacIntyre's Book?
By Nathan Smith Published 04/22/2005
E-Mail Bookmark Print Save
I have a theory about why Joseph Ratzinger chose the papal name "Benedict:" he took his inspiration from Alasdair MacIntyre's After Virtue.
In After Virtue, written in 1984, MacIntyre argues that the Enlightenment project to establish a rational basis for morality has failed. He advocates a return to an Aristotelian-Catholic tradition, as the only viable alternative to Nietzschean moral nihilism. MacIntyre has since become the leading light of virtue ethics, and one of the most influential Catholic moral philosophers. Here is the final paragraph of After Virtue:
"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. Nonetheless 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 recognizing 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, we ought also 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 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. (After Virtue, p. 263)