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Episteme

Abstract

Arendt and MacIntyre, who come from two competing branches of contemporary philosophy, surprisingly both believe that the Enlightenment failed in large part due to the emptiness of the so-called “Rights of Man” and that this failure led the late-20th century to be a “post” era. But their critiques are distinct and beg comparison. The author endeavors to show that Arendt is better able to respond to MacIntyre than he to her, given the political—not philosophical—argument put forth by Arendt. The paper divides into four sections: the two overviews of each’s arguments concerning the Enlightenment, and each of their separate, imagined critiques/replies. Arendt, who supplements her social and political work with more philosophy in books like The Human Condition and On Revolution, can satisfy MacIntyre’s request for more broad philosophical influence. Arendt’s critique is deeper. MacIntyre claims to be a historicist, yet his documented response to Edel’s critique of his approach to history shows us that MacIntyre mistakenly thinks he could improve his account by just adding history to his accounts. What Arendt wants is theorizing informed by social (political, moral) history.

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