MacIntyre | Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy
Q: I was wondering how you feel all this relates to contemporarypolitics and the Reagan administration. It seems that when you say thatindividualism isn't selfishness, I was wondering how you'd look at thingslike the decline in concern with poverty in America and the social issues.
"Politics" is an essay written by Ralph Waldo Emerson
What does it mean to say that these institutions are religious schools? First, that they possess a dogma, unwritten but understood by all: a set of “correct” opinions and beliefs, or at best, a narrow range within which disagreement is permitted. There is a right way to think and a right way to talk, and also a right set of things to think and talk about. Secularism is taken for granted. Environmentalism is a sacred cause. Issues of identity—principally the holy trinity of race, gender, and sexuality—occupy the center of concern. The presiding presence is Michel Foucault, with his theories of power, discourse, and the social construction of the self, who plays the same role on the left as Marx once did. The fundamental questions that a college education ought to raise—questions of individual and collective virtue, of what it means to be a good person and a good community—are understood to have been settled. The assumption, on elite college campuses, is that we are already in full possession of the moral truth. This is a religious attitude. It is certainly not a scholarly or intellectual attitude.
Of course, traditionally, Protestant piety expected, somewhere in lateadolescence usually, a conversion experience. As we hear so much today aboutbeing born again-which is of course a term deeply embedded in the NewTestament-conversion was often very carefully culturally stereotyped, howeverdeeply felt by the people going through it. But today I think the pressure forautonomy in this sphere even is greater than those older emphases. We werecertainly not surprised, on the basis of our interviews, that a recent Galloppoll found that 80 percent of Americans agreed with the statement that "Anindividual should arrive at his or her own religious beliefs independent of anychurch or synagogue." Apparently we look inside in the depths of ourselvesand come to our own autonomous understanding of these things and then we go tothe church or synagogue of our choice. At least that's the culturalformulation, even though, in fact, of course most of us do get our religiousbeliefs from churches and synagogues.
Self-Reliance - Understanding the Essay - …
Frequently it is at just this moment in the conversation that Americans willstart talking about values. But again, when we press, values turn out to be theincomprehensible, rationally indefensible thing that the individual chooses whenhe or she has thrown off the last vestige of external influence and reached purecontentless freedom. The improvisational self chooses values to express itselfand they are defended on no grounds other than arbitrary choice. At this pointit is clear that the language of values is not a language of value, that is, nota language about moral choice. When people talk about values they are notbeginning a moral conversation. They are ending one! When you say, "Thoseare my values. You have your values", that's the end. There is nothingmore to talk about. There are no criteria other than sheer inner validation thatmight give us the capacity for reasoning together about moral things. This iswhat Alasdair Maclntyre in calls "emotivism."
12. Manifest Destiny | The American Yawp
But when we press the question, "What are the criteria that tell us whathappiness is or that define the wants that when they are satisfied will lead toself-realization?", then the confident tones that we have been hearingbegin to falter. And instead of any clear notion of any content there is simplythe reassertion of "Whatever for you that fulfillment or happiness maybe." It is not surprising that Americans turn to psychology as the placethat is focused on that inner self. As Robert Coles says, psychology in thisinstance means a concentration, persistent if not feverish, upon one'sthoughts, feelings, wishes, worries, bordering on if not embracing solipsism-theself as the only or main form of reality. To the point where, in the book, wespeak of . That is, the self is the only realthing in the world. I am real. All of you are more or less fictitious. I knowwhat I feel but I don't know for sure what you feel.
Is Individualism Good or Bad? | HuffPost
There is a problem with people who conceive of themselves as self-sufficientindividuals in figuring out how they can establish and sustain relationships toothers. Radical American individualism seems to contain two conceptions of humanrelatedness that, again, look perhaps at first incompatible but seem to be heldsimultaneously by many of the people to whom we talked. And here, again, is thecontinuity. We find both of these eloquently expressed in Emerson.