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Living in an After Virtue Emotivist World — With Jesse Nigro

In this listen-to-learn episode of the Share Life podcast, I'm speaking with Jesse Nigro about Alasdair Macintyre's suggestion in After Virtue, emotivism, the enlightenment's failures, and whether we should choose Aristotle or Nietzsche.

Jesse is the editor-in-chief at the North American Anglican since 2012. He lives in Omaha, Nebraska with his wife and children where he teaches philosophy at a classical high school. Jesse has a BA in philosophy and an MA in theology.

My reason for asking him on the show resulted from reading his four-part essay series on the North American Anglican site titled Secular stories. After reading five of Alasdair Macintyre's books, I wanted someone who knew Macintyre's work well so that we could discuss these ideas and better make sense of them. We explore these concepts and others in this conversation.

Conversation Notes

  1. The Problem: We first sketch out Alasdair Macintyre's suggestion (we are in a post-virtue world), emotivism (as well as Max Weber's influence), what is voluntarism and how it relates, and why our missing telos is a problem.
    • The apocalyptic moral world we now live in and cover stories.
    • Shrillness in unresolvable debates and the way we debate often assumes emotivism is true.
    • Weber's mechanistic way of understanding & the rejection of a teleological way of moral understanding.
    • Does history matter or not?
    • Voluntarism is a belief that laws are arbitrary and that what is demanded of us is obedience.
      • "The passion for authority is a noble one, but Elihu missed out on the face that authority to be worthy arises out of the nature of a superior moral integrity, and not simply from one who happens to be higher up in the scale than ourselves. Elihu comes with the idea that because God has said a thing, therefore it is authoritative: Job wants to know what kind of God it was who said it, is He a being whose character does not contradict the moral basis of life? Authority must be of a moral, not superstitious character... To be without any authority is to be lawless, but to have only an internal authority is as bad as having a blind external authority: the two must meet together somehow... Authority to be lasting must be of the same order as that of Jesus Christ, not the authority of autocracy or coercion, but the authority of worth, to which all that is worthy in a man bows down." - Oswald Chambers, Our Ultimate Refuge
    • What's the problem with losing our telos/vision?
  2. Transitioning: We're in a mess. What is our solution going forward? How do we step outside this paradigm, and into what paradigm should we step? What does it look like to operate our lives and businesses to operate within a teleological order?
    • Glitches in the matrix and what we do about them.
    • The importance of institutions and community in this shift.
    • Evaluating the telos of organizations we've been a part of.
    • Being explicit about the consequences of emotivism.
    • The difference between a Weberian and teleological business - perpetuating an organization for its own existence versus moving towards a telos.
    • How someone with a will to power will take advantage of the emotivist context to pursue their self-interests.
    • Having a transcendentally aligned telos.
    • To what is our loyalty aimed? The danger of mis-anchored loyalty.
  3. Interfacing: Once we've stepped outside of this paradigm, how can someone in the new teleological paradigm have a productive argument with someone who is still operating within the emotivist/secular paradigm?
    • Daniel Kahneman & adversarial collaboration.
    • The importance and power of hospitality.
    • Model the type of context in which we want people and organizations to move.
    • "What the heart loves, the will chooses, and the mind justifies." - Thomas Cranmer
    • The architecture of plausibility.
    • How to approach the debate with others - Art versus science.
  4. A Christian Perspective: What does a more explicit Christian point of view say about the problem, transition, and interfacing?
    • Hope & redemption.
    • Our role and God's role.
    • Right or left, there is not much other-regarding.
    • Masked versus unmasked aggression.
    • Praying versus hating.

Connect With Jesse Nigro

A Quick Note About This Recording

If you're watching on video, you'll notice that Jesse's daughter Isabel is joining us in the conversation. Throughout the recording, you will hear her chiming in from time to time, particularly at the end. We hope you won't mind these mild noises:-)

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Additional Resources

Podcast - Listen To Learn, Alasdair MacIntyre

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