The Genesis of MacIntyre’s Educational Project: A Democratic Culture and Community of Critical Enquiry

  • Steven A. Stolz
Part of the SpringerBriefs in Education book series (BRIEFSEDUCAT)


In order to contextualise MacIntyre’s educational project, a critique of his earlier thinking about rationality and the crucial role it should play in both a person’s life and society in general is really important. Indeed, there is much evidence in his earlier works from the 1950s onwards to gain a sense of what MacIntyre means by human rationality and why its cultivation should be a central aim in education. In a sense, MacIntyre’s educational project is concerned with liberation—particularly self-liberation—through both reason and an understanding of history. This is why MacIntyre argues that the central role of anything worthy to be called an education is committed to the exercise of critical enquiry that emphasises the testing of any claim to knowledge or understanding against some impersonal rational standards. Likewise, it also recognises that all knowledge and understanding is historical and contingent upon a democratic culture of universal consensus. Although a democratic culture of critical enquiry is a necessary prerequisite for social and educational change, MacIntyre reminds us that an education also involves a critical self-awareness of how our desires, wants, and so on, are influenced by the social structures we inhabit. As such, a dominant educational theme found in MacIntyre’s earlier works concerns the cultivation of the resources which individuals can use to remake both society and ourselves for the purposes of a particular kind of community. Consequently, for the purposes of this chapter I will be concerned with the discussion of the following: first, I outline MacIntyre’s thinking on communities dedicated to a shared framework of humanity and practical rationality; second, I discuss the important role of reason and rationality in the liberation of individuals—especially university students—in breaking through the chains of apathy and conformism; and, lastly, I turn my attention to why MacIntyre thinks the cultivation of rationality in and through a democratic culture and community of critical enquiry should be a crucial educational aim in educational systems, particularly in universities.


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Copyright information

© Steven A. Stolz 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.La Trobe UniversityMelbourneAustralia

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