Stolz, Steven, Alasdair MacIntyre, Rationality and Education: Against Education of Our Age, (Springer)
Despite Alasdair MacIntyre being known as an academic who has made many notable contributions to a range of areas in philosophy, his thinking on education is not as well-known and/or properly understood by most audiences and readerships that predominantly reside in educational contexts. With this in mind, this book aims to provide a critique of MacIntyre’s thinking about education, and hence commences with a central theme found in MacIntyre’s extensive corpus concerning the fragmentation and disunification of ideas found in our culture and society that stems both from the rejection of metaphysics and what it means to be a human being living within the context of history. According to MacIntyre, part of the problem why this has occurred is due to educational institutions, particularly universities failing to resist the pressure exerted from industry and the state to conform. Unfortunately, this has resulted in a type of intellectual dissensus where the shared conceptions of rational enquiry and the role of reason have been replaced by pluralistic notions of private and personal choices concerning the good, and a disillusionment with reason that is ultimately exhibited as apathy and conformism. In order to overcome this apathy and conformism found in our culture and society, MacIntyre’s educational project is concerned with the cultivation of rationality; however, this is not an easy undertaking because it involves students being confronted with alternative – sometimes rather hostile – rival traditions so they both come to see rival points of view and understand that each tradition, including their own, does not come from a neutral or value-neutral standpoint. To MacIntyre, dialectical encounters between traditions is a crucial starting point of a good education, but for intellectual and academic progress to be made, rational enquiry needs to be grounded in a shared understanding of first principles that aims at truth and rational vindication.