Faculty Scholarly Dissemination Grants


The Craft Analogy and Poetic Narrative: Some More Platonic Roots of MacIntyre's Moral Philosophy




College of Liberal Arts and Sciences

Date Range



What Plato scholars call the craft analogy is arguably one of the most central leitmotifs in the Platonic corpus, from beginning to end. The craft analogy stems from Plato's tendency to consider the paradigm of knowledge to be the competence of the craftsman, and to draw attention to many important similarities between the disciplines of the fine arts, the sciences, and moral-political philosophy, on the one hand, and the disciplines exercised by ordinary craftsmen, on the other.This paper reviews MacIntyre s claims in After Virtue that the craft of moral philosophy must recognize (1)that narrative must be employed in order to truthfully characterize human action and (2) that human agents must be conceived as authors and co-authors of their own stories, so that their actions become enactments of conceived/imagined dramatic narratives. Then it outlines a way of reading Plato's Ion in tandem with the critique of poetry in Republic 10 that shows MacIntyre's craft-theoretic approach to moral philosophy, with the emphasis it puts upon the narrative structure of human life, is rooted in a Platonic way of thinking. The result will be, hopefully, a better understanding of the place of MacIntyre's work in the Western canon. Studies of MacIntyre often focus on his debts to Aristotle and to Aquinas for his general account of the tasks of moral and political philosophy and for his particular accounts of virtue, practice, moral life, tradition, and rationality. This paper calls to attention some important Platonic roots of these accounts.

Conference Name

5th International ISME (International Society for MacIntyrean Inquiry) Conference

Conference Location

Providence College; Providence, RI

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