On Nietzschean irrationalism in bureaucratic society: from “After Virtue” by Alasdair MacIntyre


Reading Alasdair MacIntyre’s “After Virtue” – about two thirds of the way through. Whatever the virtues of the central arguments, there are an awful lot of thought-provoking quotes some of which I will collect on this blog.

In another way too Nietzsche is the moral philosopher of the present age. For I have already argued that the present age is in its presentation of itself dominantly Weberian, and I have also noticed that Nietzsche’s central thesis was presupposed by Weber’s central categories of thought. Hence Nietzsche’s prophetic irrationalism – irrationalism because Nietzsche’s problems remain unresolved and his solutions defy reason – remains immanent in the Weberian managerial forms of our culture. Whenever those immersed in the bureaucratic culture of the age try to think their way through to the moral foundations of what they are and what they do, they will discover suppressed Nietzschean premises. And consequently it is possible to predict with confidence that in the apparently quite unlikely contexts of bureaucratically managed modern societies there will periodically emerge social movements informed by just that kind of prophetic irrationalism of which Nietzsche’s thought is the ancestor. Indeed just because and insofar contemporary Marxism is Weberian in substance we can expect prophetic irrationalisms of the left as well as of the Right. So it was was with  much student radicalism of the sixties. (p 114, Duckworth Second Edition)


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