Utopianism of the Present: MacIntyre on Education and the Virtue of Hope

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Abstract

In this paper, I explore some of MacIntyre’s ideas concerning utopia, education, and hope. I focus on his suggestion that a utopianism of the present is needed in public life generally and education specifically. My argument involves three steps. I firstly analyse MacIntyre’s lecture on the educated public and in particular his suggestion that teachers are the forlorn hope of Western Culture. I argue that the rather pessimistic tone of this conclusion is only seemingly (and not actually) at odds with what MacIntyre says elsewhere about the potential of education to challenge the worst excesses of advanced capitalism. To help build this argument, I secondly examine what MacIntyre says about the social virtue of hope in Marxism and Christianity. There he documents some significant concerns with Marxist ideology but nonetheless concludes that Marxism is the only project that can re-establish hope as a social virtue. I thirdly document how MacIntyre continues to champion the virtue of hope in his more recent work. However, the hue of this virtue has become both Marxist and Aristotelian. He now holds that a “utopianism of the present” is needed to combat advanced capitalism. While utopians of the future sacrifice away the possibility of learning how to transform the present, utopians of the present refuse to make this sacrifice. I argue that MacIntyre’s later work suggests he has renewed hope that a practice-based education can contribute to a utopianism of the present: a utopianism that can challenge the iniquities and distortions generated by market based economies. I conclude by considering how the learning in such practice-based education might be empirically researched and shared.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-12
Number of pages12
JournalInternational Critical Thought
Early online date22 Aug 2019
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 22 Aug 2019

Keywords

  • MacIntyre
  • utopia
  • education
  • virtue
  • hope

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