After Virtue Characters

After Virtue Character List

Alasdair MacIntyre (The Author)

In After Virtue, MacIntyre sets forth his criticism of modernity, blaming the philosophical shift of the Enlightenment for the philosophical degradation that has resulted in a society of moral illiteracy. He doesn't pull any punches in his criticisms, which are well-reasoned, but he also provides a solid framework from which to draw optimism about the future. MacIntyre comes across perhaps as a bit presumptive, but he's certainly an intellectual force to be reckoned with.


Aristotle is one of the most influential thinkers in Western history. Born into ancient Greece, Aristotle wrote many volumes on all kinds of subjects, from ethics to politics to biology, and his Nicomachean Ethics is still one of the most cited books on ethics in today's modern world. MacIntyre argues that the works of Aristotle are the means by which society can be saved from the modern moral illiteracy, providing an alternative to the compelling darkness of Nietzsche, so Aristotle plays a large role in After Virtue.

Friedrich Nietzsche

MacIntyre credits Friedrich Nietzsche, an influential German philosopher, with accurately diagnosing the major problem with modernity: its thin veneer of morality that doesn't seem to be backed by anything. Whereas Nietzsche argues that this means objective truth is nonexistent and the übermensch should create value for himself, MacIntyre responds by saying that Nietzsche's theory is a result of misreading the facts: modernity is only this way because around the time of the Enlightenment, the foundations of philosophy were eroded, leaving only a surface level of morality.

Karl Marx

Surprisingly, MacIntyre's beliefs actually have much in common with the political theory of Karl Marx, the famous social thinker whose ideas are the basis for Marxism and, later, communism. MacIntyre devotes part of After Virtue to an examination and explication of Marx's ideas, along with his own criticisms and amendments.

King Kamehameha II

To illustrate the moral erosion of modernity, MacIntyre uses a parallel: the story of King Kamehameha II, ruler of a Polynesian nation. In order to keep up with the advancements of the modern era, he abolished many of the people's long-standing cultural traditions. Surprisingly, he met with very little resistance; the meanings behind the traditions had long since been lost. MacIntyre uses this example as an allegory for the devolution of the telic morality of Aristotle into the meaningless moral veneer of modernity.

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