The ideas of the fathers in the nineteenth century have been visited on the third and fourth generations living in the second half of the twentieth century. 

The men who conceived the idea that ‘morality is bunk’ did so with a mind well-stocked with moral ideas. But the minds of the third and fourth generations are no longer well-stocked with such ideas: they are well-stocked with ideas conceived in the nineteenth century, namely, that ‘morality is bunk’, that everything that appear to be ‘higher’ is really nothing but something quite mean and vulgar. 

To their originators, these ideas were simply the result of their intellectual processes. In the third and fourth generations, they have become the very tools and instruments through which the world is being experienced and interpreted. 

Those that bring forth new ideas are seldom ruled by them. But their ideas obtain power over men’s lives in the third and fourth generations when they have become a part of that great mass of ideas, including language, which seeps into a person’s mind during his ‘Dark Ages’. 

[E.F. Schumacher] 
Small is Beautiful, p. 73, 82

The past can instruct, but there can be no return and no "restoration."

The triumphant march of liberalism has succeeded in at once drawing down the social and natural resources that liberalism did not create and cannot replenish, but which sustained liberalism even as its advance eroded its own unacknowledged foundations.

Its successes were always blank checks written against a future it trusted it could repair.

[Patrick J. Deneen]
Why Liberalism Failed, p.18, 30

Related posts:

Nested in Tradition

Tradition provides what MacIntyre calls a 'narrative unity' - a unitary framework based on a specific idea of the 'good for man' and the 'communal good.' 

All our actions are based on our religion - if that goes, we go as a people.

[Bernard Second]

There is no place for the state in the bedrooms of the nation.

[Pierre Trudeau]

In the market place, for practical reasons, innumerable qualitative distinctions which are of vital importance for man and society are suppressed; they are not allowed to surface. 

Thus the reign of quantity celebrates its greatest triumphs in 'The Market’. Everything is equated with everything else. To equate things means to give them a price and thus to make them exchangeable. 

To the extent that economic thinking is based on the market, it takes the sacredness out of life, because there can be nothing sacred in something that has a price. Not surprisingly, therefore, if economic thinking pervades the whole of society, even simple non-economic values like beauty, health, or cleanliness can survive only if they prove to be ‘economic'.

[E.F. Schumacher]
Small is Beautiful, p. 37

We know too much about ecology today to have any excuse for the many abuses that are currently going on in the management of the land, in the management of animals, in food storage, food processing, and in heedless urbanisation. 

If we permit them, this is not due to poverty, as if we could not afford to stop them; it is due to the fact that, as a society, we have no firm basis of belief in any meta-economic values, and when there is no such belief the economic calculus takes over. 

This is quite inevitable. How could it be otherwise? Nature, it has been said, abhors a vacuum, and when the available ‘spiritual space' is not filled by some higher motivation, then it will necessarily be filled by something lower - by the small, mean, calculating attitude to life which is rationalised in the economic calculus. 

I have no doubt that a callous attitude to the land and to the animals thereon is connected with, and symptomatic of, a great many other attitudes, such as those producing a fanaticism of rapid change and a fascination with novelties - technical, organisational, chemical, biological, and so forth - which insists on their application long before their long-term consequences are even remotely understood. 

In the simple question of how we treat the land, next to people our most precious resource, our entire way of life is involved, and before our policies with regard to the land will really be changed, there will have to be a great deal of philosophical, not to say religious, change. 

It is not a question of what we can afford but of what we choose to spend our money on. If we could return to a generous recognition of meta-economic values, our landscapes would become healthy and beautiful again and our people would regain the dignity of man, who knows himself as higher than the animal but never forgets that noblesse oblige

[E.F. Schumacher] 
Small is Beautiful, p. 96

In every traditional civilisation, as there has often been occasion to point out, every human activity of whatever kind is always regarded as derived essentially from principles. This is conspicuously true for the sciences, and it is no less true for the arts and the crafts, and there is in addition a close connection between them all […]

By this attachment to principles human activity could be said to be as it were 'transformed', and instead of being limited to what it is in itself, namely, a mere external manifestation (and the profane point of view consists in this and nothing else), it is integrated with the tradition, and constitutes for those who carry it out an effective means of participation in the tradition, and this is as much as to say that it takes on a truly ‘sacred' and 'ritual’ character. 

[René Guénon]
The Reign of Quantity and the Signs of the Times, p. 56

Only the Tao provides a common human law of action which can over-arch rulers and ruled alike. A dogmatic belief in objective value is necessary to the very idea of a rule which is not tyranny or an obedience which is not slavery.

Traditional values are to be 'debunked' and mankind to be cut out into some fresh shape at the will (which must, by hypothesis, be an arbitrary will) of some few lucky people in one lucky generation which has learned how to do it. 

[C.S. Lewis]
‘The Abolition of Man’, Selected Books, p.426

Almost all commentators on Machiavelli say that his principal innovation, and the essence of his method, was to “divorce politics from ethics.”

Thereby he broke sharply with the Aristotelian tradition which had dominated medieval political thought. His method, they grant, freed politics to become more scientific and objective in its study of human behavior; but it was most dangerous because, through it, politics was released from “control” by ethical conceptions of what is right and good.

Machiavelli divorced politics from ethics only in the same sense that every science must divorce itself from ethics. Scientific descriptions and theories must be based upon the facts, the evidence, not upon the supposed demands of some ethical system […]

Machiavelli divorced politics from a certain kind of ethics - namely, from a transcendental, otherworldly, and, it may be added, very rotten ethics. But he did so in order to bring politics and ethics more closely into line, and to locate both of them firmly in the real world of space and time and history, which is the only world about which we can know anything.

Machiavelli is as ethical a political writer as Dante. The difference is that Machiavelli's ethics are much better.

[James Burnham]
The Machiavellians: Defenders of Freedom, p. 35

The same structure has been preserved in all so-called syncopated jazz. These syncopations are like delays that tend to liberate energy or generate an impulse: a technique used in African rites to induce possession of the dancers by certain entities, the Orisha of the Yoruba or the Loa of the Voodoo of Haiti, who took over their personalities and "rode” them.

This ecstatic potential still exists in jazz. But even here there is a process of dissociation, of abstract development of rhythmic forms separated from the whole to which they originally belonged.

Thus, given the desacralization of the environment and the nonexistence of any institutional framework or corresponding ritual tradition, any suitable atmosphere or appropriate attitude, one cannot expect the specific effects of authentic African music with its evocative function; the effect always remains a diffuse and formless possession, primitive and collective in character.

This is very apparent in the latest forms, such as the music of the socalled beat groups. Here the obsessive reiteration of a rhythm prevails (similar to the use of the African tom-tom), causing paroxysmal contortions of the body and inarticulate screams in the performers, while the mass of the listeners joins in, hysterically shrieking and throwing themselves around, creating a collective climate similar to that of the possessions of savage ritual and certain Dervish sects, or the Macumba and the Negro religious revivals.

Here we are no longer concerned with the specific compensation that one can find in syncopated dance music as the popular counterpart and extension of the extremes reached, but not maintained, by modern symphonic music; we are concerned with the semi-ecstatic and hysterical beginnings of a formless, convoluted escapism, empty of content, a beginning and end in itself.

Hence, it is completely inappropriate when some compare it to certain frenetic, collective, ancient rites, because the latter always had a sacred background.

[Julius Evola]
Ride the Tiger, p. 164-5

With drugs we have a situation similar to that of syncopated music. Both were often transpositions onto the profane and “physical” plane of means that were originally used to open one up to the suprasensible in initiation rites or similar experiences.

Just as dances to modern syncopated music derive from ecstatic Negro dance, the various drugs used today and created in laboratories correspond to drugs that were often used for "sacred" ends in primitive populations, according to ancient traditions. This is even true for tobacco; strong extracts of tobacco were used to prepare young Native Americans in their withdrawal from profane life to obtain "signs” and visions.

A similar claim can be made for alcohol, within certain limits; we are aware of the tradition centered on “sacred beverages," as in the use of alcohol in Dionysian and similar rituals. For example, alcoholic beverages were not prohibited in ancient Taoism: on the contrary, they were considered "life essences” inducing an intoxication that, like dance, could lead to a “magical state of grace,” sought by the so-called real men.

In addition, the extracts of coca, mescal, peyote, and other narcotics have been, and often still are, used in the rituals of secret societies of Central and South America.

[Julius Evola]
Ride the Tiger, p.167

Art in a traditional and organic civilization never occupied the central spiritual position that the period of humanist and bourgeois culture accorded to it.

Before the modern era, when art had a true, higher meaning, this was thanks to its preexisting contents, superior and prior to it, neither revealed nor "created” by it as art.

These contents gave meaning to life and could exist, manifest, and act even in the virtual absence of what is called art, in works that sometimes might seem “barbaric” to the aesthete and the humanist who have no sense of the elementary and primordial.

[Julius Evola]
Ride the Tiger, p. 156

If I continued the discussion of modern science and its technical applications, it would be easy to highlight this process of increasing autonomy, a process neither checked nor restrained by any higher limits or guidance: hence one often has the impression that technical-scientific development takes man in hand and faces him with difficult, unexpected situations full of unknowns.

I need not dwell on the specialized fragmentation, the lack of a higher and unifying principle of modern knowledge, as it is quite evident. These are the consequences of one of the dogmas of progressive thought, the unassailable "freedom of science” and of scientific research, which is a simple, euphemistic way to indicate and legitimize the development of one activity dissociated from the whole.

That “freedom” is not unlike the "freedom of culture” celebrated as a victory, with which the active processes of dissolution likewise manifest in an inorganic civilization (as opposed to what Vico recognized as proper to all the “heroic periods” of preceding civilizations).

One of the most typical expressions of the “neutralization” of such a culture is the antithesis between culture and politics: pure art and pure culture are supposed to have nothing to do with politics. In the direction of literary liberalism and humanism, separation has often turned into overt opposition.

[Julius Evola]
Ride the Tiger, p. 151

Since these different supposed conflicts concern different areas of life and thought, they clearly involve different conceptions of what science itself is - different conceptions of why it is excellent and of what it is trying to achieve […] And these various conceptions cannot help having a social meaning.

To take sides for or against various elements in society in these various wars is inevitably to choose a particular notion of that society. To oppose some particular current ideology is to espouse and express a different one - an alternative idea of life as a whole, a distinctive view of what is important in it.

Such opposition cannot just be something internal to science. It is not 'value-free'.

Asking for more science and less of some thing else is itself a social and political move. This move can be quite legitimate but it must not be mistaken for a part of a pure mysteriously objective science which stands outside society.

Past changes should surely make us think carefully about why we are now inclined to think of particular attitudes as demands of science.

[Mary Midgley]
Science and Poetry, p. 66-7

The trouble is that terms such as consciousness and experience belong in a different category to those of physical science, a category which is deliberately kept out of science just because, in terms of our whole thought, it has a more general application.

Words like these become appropriate when we have moved right away from the specialised scientific angle to another wider and more basic one, namely, the angle from which we normally look at the world when we remember clearly - instead of deliberately forgetting - that we, and many others, are sentient beings within it.

Of course this wider point of view is not hostile to science. It is the background framework within which the sciences arise. The scientific point of view is itself an abstraction from it. The scientific angle is the one from which we attend only to certain carefully selected abstractions which are meant to be the same for all observers.

When we move away from that specialised angle to the wider, everyday point of view we are not being ‘subjective' in the sense of being partial. Instead we are being objective - i.e. realistic - about subjectivity, about the hard fact that we are sentient beings, for whom sentience is a central factor in the world and sets most of the problems that we have to deal with.

[Mary Midgley]
Science and Poetry, p.140

One of the main goals of the expansion of commerce is the liberation of embedded individuals from their traditional ties and relationships.

The liberal state serves not only the reactive function of umpire and protector of individual liberty; it also takes on an active role of "liberating" individuals who, in the view of the state, are prevented from making wholly free choices as liberal agents.

At the heart of liberal theory is the supposition that the individual is the basic unit of human existence, the only natural human entity that exists.

Polanyi describes how economic arrangements were separated from particular cultural and religious contexts in which those arrangements were understood to serve moral ends and posits that these contexts limited not only actions but even prevented the understanding that economic actions could be properly undertaken to advance individual interests and priorities.

Economic exchange so ordered, Polanyi argues, placed a priority on the main ends of social, political, and religious life - the sustenance of community order and flourishing of families within that order.

According to Polanyi, the replacement of this economy required a deliberate and often violent reshaping of local economies, most often by elite economic and state actors disrupting and displacing traditional communities and practices.

The “individuation" of people required not only the separation of markets from social and religious contexts but people's acceptance that their labor and its products were nothing more than commodities subject to price mechanisms, a transformative way of considering people and nature alike in newly utilitarian and individualistic terms.

Yet market liberalism required treating both people and natural resources as these “fictitious commodities”—as material for use in industrial processes in order to disassociate markets from morals and "re-train” people to think of themselves as individuals separate from nature and one another.

As Polanyi pithily says of this transformation, “laissez-faire was planned.”

[Patrick Deneen]
Why Liberalism Failed, p.50-2

Preindustrial forms of culture and social organization used tools no less than technocratic societies, [Neil] Postman writes, but the tools they employed "did not attack (or more precisely, were not intended to attack) the dignity and integrity of the culture into which they were introduced. With some exceptions, tools did not prevent people from believing in their traditions, in their God, in their politics, in their methods of education, or in the legitimacy of their social organization.”

The tools adopted by a Technocracy, by contrast, constantly transform the way of life.

Postman writes, “Everything must give way, in some degree, to their development ... Tools are not integrated into the culture; they attack the culture. They bid to become the culture. As a consequence, tradition, social mores, myth, politics, ritual, and religion have to fight for their lives.”

From technocracy we have entered the age of "technopoly,” in which a culturally flattened world operates under an ideology of progress that leads to "the submission of all forms of cultural life to the sovereignty of technique and technology."

The old-order Amish are often regarded as a society with a phobia towards technology, but this view reflects a preliminary misunderstanding of technology - in particular, an incapacity to recognize that the technology that is adopted by that culture reflects a prior commitment to certain social ends, just as liberal adoption of technology seeks to effect its own distinctive ends.

Some of the decisions of the Amish - like their rejection of zippers - are incomprehensible to many of us, but what is most of interest is the basic criterion they use to decide whether to adopt, and more important how to adopt, technology in their society.

All technological developments are subject to the basic question, "Will this or won't it help support the fabric of our community?"

[Patrick Deneen]
Why Liberalism Failed, p.96, 105-6

We know that innovation does occur among Pintupi, even in the norms. The Dreaming has been constantly revised and elaborated through dreams, strange encounters, and mystical experiences, but innovation took place in the idiom of The Dreaming itself.

Even in revising, Pintupi seem to perpetually search for the precedent outside themselves that accounts for current arrangements, although objectification is understood to exist prior to the event.

What is most important is that acceptance of these norms built a relationship among those who shared the Law: they became "one country, one Dreaming." In this way, the Law objectified a form of association that linked people through space.

[Fred R. Myers]
Pintupi Country, Pintupi Self, p.267

[...] it seems to me a truth about living, that if a society sticks too much to the same and what is known, it fossilizes [...]

[...] an active and working tradition [...] is the only way in which you can innovate. Traditions don’t fossilize things. They are the current in which you can go on to produce new things, which are coherent with what you know from the past. Not just random ideas that have no context.

[Iain McGilchrist]
'EP 154 Iain McGilchrist on The Matter With Things', The Jim Rutt Show, Youtube

The encyclopaedic, the genealogical, and the Thomistic tradition-constituted standpoints confront one another not only as rival moral theories but also as projects for constructing rival moral narratives.

Is there any way that one of these rivals might prevail over the others?

One possible answer was supplied by Dante: that moral narrative prevails [...] which is able to include its rivals within itself, not only to retell their stories as episodes within its own story, but to tell the story of the telling of their stories as such episodes.

[Alasdair MacIntyre]
Three Rival Versions of Moral Enquiry, p.80-81

Descartes broke with tradition, made a clean sweep and undertook to start afresh, finding out everything by himself.

This kind of arrogance became the ‘style’ of European philosophy. 'Every modern philosopher,' as Maritain remarks, 'is a Cartesian in the sense that he looks upon himself as starting off in the absolute, and as having the mission of bringing men a new conception of the world.'

[E. F. Schumacher]
A Guide for the Perplexed, p.18

[…] it is again focused on individual change, not group change. We evolved to make decisions not as individuals but within the constraints of families, clans and tribes.

Much of such learning is implicit in understanding and critically enables diversity in process and action. It is also pragmatic and avoids a lot of the new age language associated with the whole transformation agenda.

[Dave Snowden]
'Stairways to Heaven'

It was a cardinal tenet of Romanticism that “the art of any country is the exponent of its social and political virtues," as Ruskin put it, and that art could not flourish if it isolated itself from the workaday world or served merely to add a veneer of refinement to activities otherwise dominated by the pursuit of wealth.

In France, on the other hand, intellectuals who condemned bourgeois society in the name of art inherited the cosmopolitanism of the Enlightenment. They had little enthusiasm for country life, handicraft production, or the art of the folk.

[Christopher Lasch]
The True and Only Heaven, p.136

In the same work [Brownson] continued to attack the separation of church and state, which rested, he now argued, on a philosophical separation of spirit and matter, mind and body, that ran counter to the doctrine of the Incarnation and to the whole Christian tradition.

Three years later, he criticized the idea that clergymen should not "meddle in politics" on the grounds that "all man's duties are intimately connected," that "religion and politics run perpetually into one another," and that "a religion which neglects man's social weal, is defective in the extreme," while a politics set apart from religion degenerated “of necessity into Machiavelism.”

In 1842, he said that it was “wrong, wrong,” to cite medieval history on the dangers of clerical oppression, as if it were improper for secular authorities to submit to spiritual authority. On the contrary, “it was well for man that there was a power above the brutal tyrants called emperors, kings, and barons, who rode roughshod over the humble peasant and artisan.”

[Christopher Lasch]
The True and Only Heaven, p.186

While the notion of a theory as being a “map of the world” is used in Western science, our maps tend to be relatively impoverished in their connotations and hold little in the way of social value.

By contrast, Native maps contain spiritual and social values. They bind people to each other and to their past and they are magical and sacred. The world of Native maps is endless and its connection to Native science is profound. Indeed, one could hazard the speculation that to a great extent the map is the science, while, by contrast, within the West it is said by philosophers that “the map is not the territory.”

[F. David Peat]
Blackfoot Physics, p.273

For most Western mathematicians, the heart of their topic lies in abstraction.

But in seeking to understand sacred mathematics we should never forget the great principle of Indigenous science, that it is based on both traditional knowledge and direct experience, which includes the whole world of dreams, visions, spirits, and powers.

Within sacred mathematics, a number is never abstracted from the animating spirit that gives it life, nor from the concrete situations in which it is used.

The number four is not an abstraction that stands on its own without reference to any process or object in the world of spirit and nature. The number four is the Four Directions and the Four Winds.

Again and again one sees that, from the perspective of Indigenous science, sacred number is not abstract but concrete and experiential: The spirit of each number unfolds into an interlocking multiplicity of different meanings and teachings.

Sacred mathematics is not a branch of knowledge or a particular discipline that can be taught separately from other subjects and disciplines.

[F. David Peat]
Blackfoot Physics, p.161-2

In seeking its objectivity and freedom from subjective values Western science has cut itself free from pursuits such as art, religion, etc. In this way Western thought has become profoundly fragmented.

Scientists also feel that their discoveries are, in a sense, absolute truths that are beyond moral values. They are neither good nor bad and their potential use lies outside the province of science. The result of this fragmentation is a knowledge that is divided into a number of specialized compartments, along with such by-products as an accelerating technology, ecological damage, alienation, high-tech medicine, etc. Science itself has become divided into a number of specialized branches of study.

By contrast, Native science cannot be separated from spirituality, art, ceremony, and the whole social order. Every action is a spiritual act and has its effect on nature and the individual.

[…] For example, in Indigenous science the healing power of a plant should not be studied simply in terms of some molecular component that acts on cells in the human body according to a particular mechanism; rather, the plant becomes enveloped within ceremony and story: The plant possesses a spirit. It may only be collected and used in a certain way.

Within Indigenous science the whole meaning of the plant, and of healing, can only be understood within a wide, multilevel context. Meaning is always context-dependent, rather than absolute and context-free as in Western science.

However, the idea of a context-dependent meaning and interpretation is now being forced on Western science as well by the quantum theory.

[F. David Peat]
Blackfoot Physics, p.262-3

Cosmology is not abstracted as a particular branch of Indigenous science but is fully integrated into the unity of nature and of all living things, the harmony between the world of spirits and the manifest, the special names and roles of plants and animals and the life-path of each individual.

Indigenous cosmology provides a set of values, social integration, and validation for The People. It is a way of life, a relationship to the natural world, a deeper reason for ceremonies and daily practice, a foundation for song, art, and artifact.

[F. David Peat]
Blackfoot Physics, p.268

[...] all those various concepts which inform our moral discourse were originally at home in larger totalities of theory and practice in which they enjoyed a role and function supplied by contexts of which they have now been deprived.

Moreover the concepts we employ have in at least some cases changed their character in the past three hundred years; the evaluative expressions we use have changed their meaning. In the transition from the variety of contexts in which they were originally at home to our own contemporary culture 'virtue' and 'justice' and 'piety' and 'duty' and even 'ought' have become other than they once were.

We all too often still treat the moral philosophers of the past as contributors to a single debate with a relatively unvarying subject-matter, treating Plato and Hume and Mill as contemporaries both of ourselves and of each other. This leads to an abstraction of these writers from the cultural and social milieus in which they lived and thought and so the history of their thought acquires a false independence from the rest of the culture.

Kant ceases to be pan of the history of Prussia, Hume is no longer a Scotsman. For from the standpoint of moral philosophy as we conceive it these characteristics have become irrelevances.

[Alasdair MacIntyre]
After Virtue, p.12-13

[...] the categories political, dramatic, philosophical were much more intimately related in the Athenian world than in our own.

Politics and philosophy were shaped by dramatic form, the preoccupations of drama were philosophical and political, philosophy had to make its claims in the arena of the political and the dramatic.

At Athens the audience for each was potentially largely and actually to some degree one and the same; and the audience itself was a collective actor. The producer of drama was a holder of political office; the philosopher risked comic portrayal and political punishment.

The Athenians had not insulated, as we have by a set of institutional devices, the pursuit of political ends from dramatic representation or the asking of philosophical questions from either. Hence we lack, as they did not, any public, generally shared communal mode either for representing political conflict or for putting our politics to the philosophical question.

[Alasdair MacIntyre]
After Virtue, p.161

[...] heroic poetry represents a form of society about whose moral structure two central claims are made.

The first is that that structure embodies a conceptual scheme which has three central interrelated elements: a conception of what is required by the social role which each individual inhabits; a conception of excellences or virtues as those qualities which enable an individual to do what his or her role requires; and a conception of the human condition as fragile and vulnerable to destiny and to death, such that to be virtuous is not to avoid vulnerability and death, but rather to accord them their due.

None of these three elements can be made fully intelligible without reference to the other two; but the relationship between them is not merely conceptual. It is rather that all three elements can find their interrelated places only within a larger unitary framework, deprived of which we could not understand their significance for each other.

This framework is the narrative form of epic or saga, a form embodied in the moral life of individuals and in the collective social structure. Heroic social structure is enacted epic narrative.

The characters in the epic have, as I noticed earlier, no means of viewing the human and natural world except that provided by the conceptions which inform their world-view. But just for that reason they have no doubt that reality is as they represent it to themselves. They present us with a view of the world for which they claim truth. The implicit epistemology of the heroic world is a thoroughgoing realism.

[Alasdair MacIntyre]
After Virtue, p.149-150

Every individual has a given role and status within a well-defined and highly determinate system of roles and statuses. The key structures are those of kinship and of the household. In such a society a man knows who he is by knowing his role in these structures; and in knowing this he knows also what he owes and what is owed to him by the occupant of every other role and status.

But it is not just that there is for each status a prescribed set of duties and privileges. There is also a clear understanding of what actions are required to perform these and what actions fall short of what is required. For what are required are actions. A man in heroic society is what he does.

Hermann Friinkel wrote of Homeric man that 'a man and his actions become identical, and he makes himself completely and adequately comprehended in them; he has no hidden depths . ... In [the epics] factual report of what men do and say, everything that men are, is expressed, because they are no more than what they do and say and suffer' (Friinkel 1975, p. 79). To judge a man therefore is to judge his actions.

[...] any adequate account of the virtues in heroic society would be impossible which divorced them from their context in its social structure, just as no adequate account of the social structure of heroic society would be possible which did not include an account of the heroic virtues.

[...] morality and social structure are in fact one and the same in heroic society. There is only one set of social bonds. Morality as something distinct does not yet exist. Evaluative questions are questions of social fact.

It is for this reason that Homer speaks always of knowledge of what to do and how to judge. Nor are such questions difficult to answer, except in exceptional cases. For the given rules which assign men their place in the social order and with it their identity also prescribe what they owe and what is owed to them and how they are to be treated and regarded if they fail and how they are to treat and regard others if those others fail.

Without such a place in the social order, a man would not only be incapable of receiving recognition and response from others; not only would others not know, but he would not himself know who he was.

It follows that we cannot identify the Homeric virtues until we have first identified the key social roles in Homeric society and the requirements of each of them. The concept of what anyone filling such-and-such a role ought to do is prior to the concept of a virtue; the latter concept has application only via the former.

On Aristotle's account matters are very different. Even though some virtues are available only to certain types of people, nonetheless virtues attach not to men as inhabiting social roles, but to man as such. It is the telos of man as a species which determines what human qualities are virtues.

[Alasdair MacIntyre]
After Virtue, p.142, 144, 214

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