Beyond the Catacomb

God, Philosophy, Universities
A Selective History of the Catholic Philosophical Tradition
Alasdair MacIntyre
Rowman & Littlefield, $29.95, 200 pp.

There is a prophetic quality to much of the work of Alasdair MacIntyre, a quality present in his new book, God, Philosophy, Universities. MacIntyre traces the intellectual history of the Catholic tradition and describes with urgency the defining questions for work within that tradition. How do we understand the nature of inquiry if we assume a belief in God? Can we reconcile theism with philosophical inquiry? How do universities—and especially Catholic universities—provide the institutional setting for such inquiry?

Here as elsewhere, MacIntyre emphasizes the historical character of philosophy. For him, “Catholic philosophy is best understood historically, as a continuing conversation through centuries, in which we turn and return to dialogue with the most important voices from our past, in order to carry forward the conversation in our own time.”

This judgment is deeply rooted in MacIntyre’s overall philosophical project. Beginning in the 1980s, through the publication of three books—After Virtue, Whose Justice? Which Rationality?, and Three Rival Versions of Moral Enquiry—MacIntyre has offered a framework for moral discourse that tries to reconcile the claims of historicism...

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About the Author

John J. DeGioia is president of Georgetown University.