Introduction to "Emile Durkheim: Sociologist and Moralist"

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The philosopher and moralist Alasdair Maclntyre closed his influential work, After Virtue, with a call for ‘another…Saint Benedict’ (1981: 238-45). The idea of calling for a moral exemplar and savior who could change both forms and practice struck him as the only kind of serious intervention the moral thinker can make under present circumstances, What is lacking in modern life, he reasoned, is a genuine tradition of moral reasoning-moral persuasion and reasoning presuppose such a tradition. So the only choice is to create one. But the creation of a tradition is not something that a professor can do in the study. It is an act, as Maclntyre conceived it, of community formation and the development of a common narrative-what St Benedict did when he created the religious communities of post-Roman Europe through the attractive example of his own way of living as a Christian.

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Introduction to "Emile Durkheim: Sociologist and Moralist", in S. P. Turner (Ed.), Emile Durkheim: Sociologist and Moralist, Routledge, p. 1-24