Love and Politics: Persistent Human Desires as a Foundation for Liberation 9780367897666, 9781032012186, 9781003020974

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Love and Politics: Persistent Human Desires as a Foundation for Liberation
 9780367897666, 9781032012186, 9781003020974

Table of contents :
Half Title
Series Page
Title Page
Copyright Page
Table of
Notes on the Text
List of Abbreviations
Moral Flexibility
Grosse Pointe Blank
Thank You For Smoking
Oppression and Birth
Critical Theory
Birth Outcomes in the U.S.
Children of the Future
A Return to MacIntyre
Overview of Argument
SECTION I: Alienation and Revolutionary Aristotelianism
1. Marx’s Theory of Alienation
Our Marx and Theirs
Private Property
Social Nature of Human Beings
Historical Development of Desires
The Need for Other Human Beings
2. Macintyre’s Interpretation of Alienation
Macintyre’s Early Marxism
Marxism: An Interpretation
“Notes From the Moral Wilderness”
Emotivism as Alienation
Our MacIntyre and Theirs
Understanding Emotivism
Emotivism and the Culture of Manipulation
Linguistic Expression over Love
Alienation as the Key to Modernity
3. Revolutionary Aristotelianism
Human Action and Ends
The Nature of Practices
Internal Goods and Cooking
Types of Internal Goods
Practices as an Answer to Alienation
Narrative Unity of Life and Traditions
Narrative Unity of Life and Intentions
Narratives as Quests
My Narrative and Yours
Narratives as an Answer to Alienation
Traditions as Resistance to Alienation
4. Human Nature, Reason, and Love
Moral Rules and Community
The Place of Moral Rules
Practices and Freedom
On the Absence of Human Nature
Problems with Aristotle’s Hylomorphic Metaphysical Biology
Lutz’s Account of Teleology
Blackledge on Lutz’s Human Nature
MacIntyre’s Contribution to Marxism
Reason and Love
Historical Reason
MacIntyre on Love
5. Fishing, Social Reproduction, and Nature
MacIntyre’s Discussion
Patriarchy and Life
Social Reproduction Theory
Mies’s Reading of Marx and Engels on Social Reproduction
Women’s Object Relations
The Rise of Exploitation
The New Patriarchy
Ethnicity and Race
The Sexual Interrogation of Nature
6. Birth and Obstetric Practice in the United States
The Production of Reproduction
Birth is a Big Business
The Baby is Not a Product
Technocratic Approach of Birth
Birth as Pathology
Tenets of the Technocratic Approach
SECTION III: Eros and Human Nature
7. Toward a Metaphysical Biology
Plato’s Symposium
Diotima’s Speech
Alienation from Nature in Plato’s Dualism
Aristotle’s Hylomorphism
Metaphysics of Substances
Alienation from Nature in Aristotle’s Hylomorphism (Un-reconstructed)
Correcting Aristotle’s Mistakes
Eros, Energeia, Dunamis
Plato’s Eros as Creative Principle of Nature
From Eros to Energeia
Energeia as Eros
8. Erotic Nature
Racial, Religious, and Renaissance Concepts of Nature
The Problem of Nature, Gender, and Race
Concepts of Nature in Judaism and Christianity
Renaissance Alternatives in Concepts of Nature
The Rival Impact of Concepts of Nature on the Practice of Midwifery
Lakhˇóta Ontology and Ethics: “We Are All Related”
9. Eros and the Varieties of Love
Eros Inheres in Human Beings
Eros as Internal Acting
Audre Lorde: Eros as Power
Love’s Nature
Love as Acting
Varieties of Love
Love as Spiritual
SECTION IV: Epilogue
10. Erotic Practices; Erotic Communities
Practices Redefined
New Definitions
Advantages to My Definition
Midwifery as an Erotic Practice
Communities of Common Goods
A MacIntyrean Foundation for Common Goods
Eros and Common Goods
Erotic Communities
Young’s Critique of Community
Communities in Act
Nature and Communities
Institutions and Political Authority

Citation preview

Love and Politics

In Love and Politics Jeffery L. Nicholas argues that Eros is the final rejection of an alienated life, in which humans are prevented from developing their human powers; Eros, in contrast, is an overflowing of acting into new realities and new beauties, a world in which human beings extend their powers and senses. Nicholas uniquely interprets Alasdair MacIntyre’s Revolutionary Aristotelianism as a response to alienation defined as the divorce of fact from value. However, this account cannot address alienation in the form of the oppression of women or people of color. Importantly, it fails to acknowledge the domination of nature that blackens the heart of alienated life. Alienation must be seen as a separation of the human from nature. Nicholas turns to Aristotle, first, to uncover the way his philosophy embodies a divorce of human from nature, then to reconstruct the essential elements of Aristotle’s metaphysics to defend a philosophical anthropology based on Eros. Love and Politics: Persistent Human Desires as a Foundation for Liberation presents a critical theory that synthesizes MacIntyre’s Revolutionary Aristotelianism, Frankfurt School Critical Theory, and Social Reproduction Theory. It will be of great interest to political theorists and philosophers. Jeffery L. Nicholas is an associate professor at Providence College and director of the Center for Contemporary Aristotelian Studies in Ethics and Politics at Providence College. He is author of Reason, Tradition, and the Good: MacIntyre’s Tradition Constituted Reason and Frankfurt School Critical Theory. He holds an appointment as a foreign research associate with the Center for Aristotelian Studies and Critical Theory at Mykolas Romeris University in Vilnius, Lithuania.

Routledge Innovations in Political Theory Rethinking Positive and Negative Liberty Maria Dimova-Cookson The Problem of Value Pluralism Isaiah Berlin and Beyond George Crowder On Biopolitics An Inquiry into Nature and Language Marco Piasentier Democracy, the Courts, and the Liberal State A Comparative Analysis of American and German Constitutionalism David Miles Legislative Deliberative Democracy Debating Acts Restricting Freedom of Speech during War Avichai Levit The Legitimacy of Modern Democracy A Study on the Political Thought of Max Weber, Carl Schmitt and Hans Kelsen Pedro T. Magalhães Eric Voegelin’s Political Readings From the Ancient Greeks to Modern Times Edited by Bernat Torres & Josep Monserrat Liberal Progressivism Politics and Class in the Age of Neoliberalism and Climate Change Gordon Hak Love and Politics Persistent Human Desires as a Foundation for Liberation Jeffery L. Nicholas For more information about this series, please visit https://www.routledge. com/Routledge-Innovations-in-Political-Theory/book-series/IPT.

Love and Politics Persistent Human Desires as a Foundation for Liberation

Jeffery L. Nicholas

First published 2021 by Routledge 52 Vanderbilt Avenue, New York, NY 10017 and by Routledge 2 Park Square, Milton Park, Abingdon, Oxon OX14 4RN Routledge is an imprint of the Taylor & Francis Group, an informa business © 2021 Taylor & Francis The right of Jeffery L. Nicholas to be identified as author of this work has been asserted by him in accordance with sections 77 and 78 of the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988. All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reprinted or reproduced or utilised in any form or by any electronic, mechanical, or other means, now known or hereafter invented, including photocopying and recording, or in any information storage or retrieval system, without permission in writing from the publishers. Trademark notice: Product or corporate names may be trademarks or registered trademarks, and are used only for identification and explanation without intent to infringe. Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data A catalog record for this title has been requested ISBN: 978-0-367-89766-6 (hbk) ISBN: 978-1-032-01218-6 (pbk) ISBN: 978-1-003-02097-4 (ebk) Typeset in Times New Roman by Taylor & Francis Books

For the practical revolutionaries; The people at Íŋyaŋwakag˘ api Otpi (Sacred Stone Camp); The water protectors, Mní Wicˇ óni; Black Lives Matter; The Catholic Worker Houses; Midwives and doulas May your soul force shine throughout the universe


Acknowledgements Preface Notes on the Text List of Abbreviations Introduction

xii xiv xvi xviii 1

Moral Flexibility 1 Grosse Pointe Blank 1 Thank You For Smoking 2 Authoritarianism 4 Oppression and Birth 6 Critical Theory 6 Birth Outcomes in the U.S. 7 Children of the Future 8 A Return to MacIntyre 9 Overview of Argument 11 SECTION I

Alienation and Revolutionary Aristotelianism 1 Marx’s Theory of Alienation Introduction 19 Alienation 20 Our Marx and Theirs 20 Saleability 21 Private Property 27 Labor 28 Social Nature of Human Beings 30

18 19

viii Contents Historical Development of Desires 30 Transcendence 32 The Need for Other Human Beings 35 Conclusion 38 2 Macintyre’s Interpretation of Alienation


Introduction 40 Macintyre’s Early Marxism 40 Marxism: An Interpretation 40 “Notes From the Moral Wilderness” 44 Emotivism as Alienation 49 Our MacIntyre and Theirs 49 Understanding Emotivism 50 Emotivism and the Culture of Manipulation 52 Linguistic Expression over Love 55 Alienation as the Key to Modernity 58 Conclusion 59 3 Revolutionary Aristotelianism Introduction 64 Practices 65 Human Action and Ends 65 The Nature of Practices 66 Internal Goods and Cooking 68 Types of Internal Goods 69 Institutions 71 Practices as an Answer to Alienation 73 Narrative Unity of Life and Traditions 76 Narrative Unity of Life and Intentions 76 Narratives as Quests 77 My Narrative and Yours 78 Narratives as an Answer to Alienation 79 Tradition 80 Traditions as Resistance to Alienation 82 Conclusion 83





Lacunae 4 Human Nature, Reason, and Love

86 87

Introduction 87 Moral Rules and Community 89 The Place of Moral Rules 89 Practices and Freedom 91 On the Absence of Human Nature 93 Problems with Aristotle’s Hylomorphic Metaphysical Biology 93 Lutz’s Account of Teleology 94 Blackledge on Lutz’s Human Nature 95 MacIntyre’s Contribution to Marxism 97 Reason and Love 98 Historical Reason 99 MacIntyre on Love 99 Conclusion 102 5 Fishing, Social Reproduction, and Nature


Introduction 105 Fishing 106 MacIntyre’s Discussion 106 Patriarchy and Life 108 Social Reproduction Theory 111 Mies’s Reading of Marx and Engels on Social Reproduction 112 Women’s Object Relations 115 The Rise of Exploitation 117 The New Patriarchy 120 Ethnicity and Race 122 The Sexual Interrogation of Nature 123 Conclusion 126 6 Birth and Obstetric Practice in the United States Introduction 130 The Production of Reproduction 131 Birth is a Big Business 131 The Baby is Not a Product 135 Technocratic Approach of Birth 138


x Contents Birth as Pathology 138 Tenets of the Technocratic Approach 140 Patriarchy 143 Conclusion 145 SECTION III

Eros and Human Nature 7 Toward a Metaphysical Biology

150 151

Introduction 151 Plato’s Symposium 152 Diotima’s Speech 152 Alienation from Nature in Plato’s Dualism 155 Aristotle’s Hylomorphism 157 Metaphysics of Substances 157 Change 159 Alienation from Nature in Aristotle’s Hylomorphism (Un-reconstructed) 161 Correcting Aristotle’s Mistakes 164 Eros, Energeia, Dunamis 166 Plato’s Eros as Creative Principle of Nature 166 From Eros to Energeia 168 Energeia as Eros 170 Conclusion 173 8 Erotic Nature


Introduction 178 Racial, Religious, and Renaissance Concepts of Nature 179 The Problem of Nature, Gender, and Race 179 Concepts of Nature in Judaism and Christianity 182 Renaissance Alternatives in Concepts of Nature 185 The Rival Impact of Concepts of Nature on the Practice of Midwifery 187 Lakhˇ óta Ontology and Ethics: “We Are All Related” 191 Conclusion 195 9 Eros and the Varieties of Love Introduction 199 Eros Inheres in Human Beings 199




Eros as Internal Acting 199 Audre Lorde: Eros as Power 202 Love’s Nature 206 Love as Acting 206 Varieties of Love 209 Love as Spiritual 215 SECTION IV



10 Erotic Practices; Erotic Communities


Introduction 219 Practices Redefined 219 New Definitions 219 Advantages to My Definition 221 Midwifery as an Erotic Practice 222 Communities of Common Goods 226 A MacIntyrean Foundation for Common Goods 226 Eros and Common Goods 228 Erotic Communities 231 Young’s Critique of Community 231 Communities in Act 233 Nature and Communities 236 Institutions and Political Authority 239 Conclusion Index

245 252


I want to begin by thanking my wife, Janet, who has supported me throughout my career without whom I might not have accomplished anything. To her and my three children I owe much of what I've learned about love. I also want to thank Saint Nicholas of Myra to whom I prayed many times for help in writing this book. John Able was there to talk to me when I had doubts about the project. I owe a great debt to Matthew Murray, who read almost every chapter of this book (some of them twice) and gave significant feedback, making this book much better than it would have been otherwise. He is a more knowledgeable and more giving person than I could ever be. He also provided support when I doubted the project. Many thanks to others who offered feedback on various sections and chapters: Ron Beadle, Jeffrey Johnson, Colin King, Kelvin Knight, Michael Lazarus, Christopher Lutz, Mike O'Neill, Peter Seipel, and Gerald Twaddell. My most significant helpers in this endeavor were Amy Almeida and Alex Baker, who worked with me on various stages of this project. As administrative assistant for my department, Amy has provided invaluable assistance to my teaching and research over the years. Prior versions of different arguments were presented to members of the International Society for MacIntyrean Enquiry, the International Herbert Marcuse Society, and the Radical Philosophy Association; my sincerest appreciation to those who attended and engaged with my work. Thanks to Eleni Leontsini for providing me a space to write in Greece. Thanks to all the baristas and coffee shops, many of them local, that have provided a space and tea for this work, especially Naomi, Ava, Kelly, Bri. An especial thanks to Brooklyn Coffee and Tea House in Providence for providing a safe space for people. I want to thank the numerous people in staffing at Providence College who supported this work in various ways: librarians, janitors, reviewers of research applications, and the Dean’s office for providing a variety of financial support for research.

Acknowledgements xiii I offer thanks to the four anonymous reviewers who provided positive feedback and encouraged Routledge to publish this book. Of course, great thanks to Natalja Mortensen and Charlie Baker at Routledge. I offer a special thank you to Professor Alasdair MacIntyre, who has encouraged me, many times more than I deserved, to continue to write philosophy, even though he often points out how he disagrees with my conclusions.


Eros, Love, and Politics How do love and politics go together? Somewhere, over 600 immigrant children are wondering that question. In the United States, over 70 million people voted for an administration that separated children from their parents because they were different. Another 80 million voted for an administration that promised to return things back to normal, a neo-liberal program of austerity cuts to basic social networks. Two percent of the voting public opted for something else. Thirty percent of eligible voters did not bother to vote at all. Love has nothing to do with that kind of politics, the politics of a liberal nation-state that supports the accumulation of surplus value at the cost of people’s lives. Politics that accepts the status quo is a rejection of love. Love has nothing to do with a political system that allows a cop to kneel on the back of a Black man’s neck, killing him, or a media system that depicts these violent images as though they were normal, to be expected, or something to sell. Love has nothing to do with a judge refusing to punish a white college man for raping an unconscious woman because it might ruin the man’s life. Love has nothing to do with a birthing system that treats birth as a source of profit by cutting into women’s unwilling bodies. Love has nothing to do with an extra-judicial military force acting as hired guns for an oil corporation that sprays cold water on peaceful protestors in sub-zero temperatures. Actually, love appears there, in the indigenous face of the water protectors sacrificing their bodies for the earth and their people, for a better way of life. It appears on the faces of peaceful protestors marching through the streets to protest yet another state execution of a Black body. Love appears in the woman defiant enough of public and technological expectations to deliver her baby at home and nurses the baby when she is first hungry. Love appears in the broken hearts of mothers and fathers and children torn asunder by state policies because of their pigmentation and the language they speak, all sacrificed at the altar of capital. Love appears in nature, where the Lakhˇ óta cry for a vision.

Preface xv According to Che Guevara (2005), “the true revolutionary is guided by a great feeling of love. It is impossible to think of a genuine revolutionary lacking this quality.” Like him, I believe that many people will find this statement ridiculous and, therefore, will find this book ridiculous. Yet, love must move the revolutionary in two ways. First, as I argue throughout the second half, love, Eros, moves everything; it is the foundation of movement, of change. Indeed, that movement is always for some more love. Second, love is necessary for genuine revolution because that requires us to be in community together creating community. Community is itself an act of love. Indeed, a primary criticism of Revolutionary Aristotelianism is that it makes little room for love as an active force for change. If we are going to change the world, we will have to do so by reconnecting to the power of love, to the power of Eros. A degraded human being is one unable to develop their most human powers and senses—the child locked away, the man never taught to love, the woman who must be wary of where she walks at night, the Black man who cannot wear a hoodie, or the native woman not even counted when she goes missing. A flourishing human being is one who lives in a community where each joins together to discover their desires and cultivate specifically human powers and senses by transforming themselves and nature, creating new realities, new ideas, new ways of living. The goal of a politics of liberation is to reconnect persistent human desire to the way we live our everyday lives so that we can flourish. That happens in community through a participatory democracy in which we join together to interpret our desires and construct our goods so that we cultivate and expand our characteristically human powers and senses, so that we flourish. Such a community and a politics is erotic—it recognizes Eros as flowing through being and appearing in homo sapiens as the ability to make our own history.

References Guevara, Che (2005) “Socialism and the Man in Cuba,” rchive/guevara/1965/03/man-socialism.htm. Last Accessed November 25, 2020.

Notes on the Text

Pronouns Originally, I used the pronoun “per” as a gender-neutral all-encompassing pronoun, but reviewers found the use so discomfiting that they insisted I not use it. I have chosen to use “her” for the most part as a gender-neutral pronoun; yet, I am wary of reading somewhere that men should not use the pronoun “her” in this way without some reason. I use “her” for the most part for several reasons. First, much of my argument focuses on the conflicts between the practice of obstetrics and midwifery. As I am promoting midwifery in this book, “her” seemed like the obvious choice. The reader will notice, then, that I tend to refer to obstetricians as “him,” and I use the pronoun “him” in many places when referring to people in roles that society identifies with the male sex. In doing so, I am not approving of this binary division. Rather, the use of these pronouns in this way highlights how society does divide labor along sexual lines and how this sexual division of labor carries with it a variety of privileges that are unequally distributed by society. The use of the binary pronouns in these different power positions and the argument that women and midwives have been subjected to sexual oppression, for me, goes some way to pointing out the wrongness of this unequal power distribution. Of course, I should add that not every man in a powerful role, whether that is an obstetrician or property owner or capitalist, is sexist or misogynist. Rather, the social roles themselves are constructed in ways that are systematically sexist, racist, and classist. I also use the pronoun “her” in honor of all the strong women in my life, including my mother, Daisy. This woman stood a few inches shy of five feet, but had more energy and worked harder than any person I have ever met. Despite her hard work and energy, and intelligence, Daisy was only ever paid minimum wage, even by the Church which preaches a family wage, the right to unions, and dignity for all people. Daisy was denied opportunities for growth that should be the inheritance of any person. I often wonder what she could have accomplished had she not been denied opportunities.

Notes on the Text xvii This book is about a future where people experience the freedom to develop their characteristically human powers and senses, where people recognize Eros in their lives.

Words Part of my argument is that we human beings are alienated from nature, that this alienation is the root of all the others. To highlight this point, I typically use “homo sapiens” when one would normally expect the use of “human” or “human beings,” and I use those latter terms more rarely and in places where we might expect the use of “homo sapiens” instead. If we are going to survive the climate crisis and reconnect with nature, which is the only path for a human future, then we have to remember that we are part of nature. The term “homo sapiens” will help keep this point in mind. For that reason, I also do not italicize the term as it normally would be. Most of the time, I write from a “we” perspective. My use of the term “we” is not the royal use, which I abhor. A conclusion of this book is that we, in community, discover our desires and construct our common goods together. “We” is literally about you, the reader (I hope more than one) and I doing something together. Obviously, I wrote the book you are reading, and when I write about choices in writing this book, I do use the term “I.” When I write, instead, about things that we have done in the book, then I hope it is read as an invitation of sharing that we do together. This book is a call for participatory democracy.

List of Abbreviations

General Abbreviations RA SRT

Revolutionary Aristotelianism Social Reproduction Theory

Works by Alasdair MacIntyre About Art AV DRA ECM



hooks, bell (2000) All About Love: New Visions. New York: Harper Perennial. Fromm, Erich (2006) The Art of Loving, fiftieth anniversary edition. New York: Harper Perennial. (2007) After Virtue, third edition. Notre Dame, IN: University of Notre Dame Press. (1999) Dependent Rational Animals. Chicago, IL: Open Court. (2017) Ethics in the Conflicts of Modernity: An Essay on Desire, Practical Reasoning, and Narrative. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. (1953) Marxism: An Interpretation. London: SCM Press. (2009) “Notes from the Moral Wilderness,” in Paul Blackledge and Neil Davidson (eds.), Alasdair MacIntyre’s Engagement with Marxism: Selected Writings 1953–1974. London: Haymarket Books. MacIntyre, A. (1998). “Politics, Philosophy, and the Common Good,” in Kelvin Knight (ed.), The MacIntyre Reader. Notre Dame, IN: University of Notre Dame Press, pp. 235–252.

Abbreviations for Other References 1844

Marx, Karl (1988) Economic and Philosophic Manuscripts of 1844 and [with Friedrich Engels] The Communist

List of Abbreviations






Manifesto, trans. Martin Milligan. New York: Prometheus Books. Davis-Floyd, Robbie (2003) Birth as An American Rite of Passage, second edition. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press. Merchant, Carolyn (1983) The Death of Nature: Women, Ecology, and the Scientific Revolution. New York: HarperOne. Mészáros, I. (2006) Marx’s Theory of Alienation. Delhi: Aakar Books. Mies, Maria (2014) Patriarchy and Accumulation on a World Scale: Women in the International Division of Labor. London: Zed Books. Lutz, Christopher (2012) Reading Alasdair MacIntyre’s After Virtue. London: Continuum. Lutz, Christopher (2004) Tradition in the Ethics of Alasdair MacIntyre. New York: Lexington Books.


Under neoliberal capitalism, under any class system, we cannot love ourselves or others, because we have to make a buck. We are degraded, subjected, forsaken, and contemptable. In this introduction I will consider one of the features of capitalism, moral flexibility, as it appears in two movies. Second, I turn to the role of critical theory for understanding capitalism, and to birth in the U.S. as a concrete example of how capitalism oppresses even where we least expect it. Third, I explain why Alasdair MacIntyre’s philosophy is necessary for addressing these issues. I then provide an overview of the argument of the book.

Moral Flexibility Grosse Pointe Blank You may have heard this term before in the news, or if you happen to watch movies. I know of at least two movies that use it: Grosse Pointe Blank, starring John Cusack, and Thank You For Smoking, starring Aaron Eckhart. Grosse Pointe Blank, released in 1997, follows Martin Blank, played by Cusack, as he considers his career as an assassin while attending his 10year high school reunion. Blank left high school to enroll in the army. There, he tested for having a “moral flexibility.” Blank does not explain what this term means but explains that it was enough for the Central Intelligence Agency to recruit him as an assassin, after which he became a professional freelance killer. Challenged over his career-choice by his long-lost but reignited love interest, Blank rationalizes while recognizing that he is rationalizing. His decision is complicated, because, at first, one kills for an ideology, such as stopping aggression or freedom. Really, however, those are all bullshit. You do it because you were trained and encouraged to kill, and you do it because you like it. He goes further. He denies being a psychopath because, where psychopaths hurt people for no reason, he has a reason—he gets paid for it.

2 Introduction Thank You For Smoking Released in 2007, Thank You For Smoking, based on a satirical novel, stars Aaron Eckhart as Nik Naylor, a tobacco spokesman. His job is to spin the news and any negative information on smoking and promote cigarettes. The smoking industry is only the backdrop for the larger story, which concerns moral flexibility. People see Nik as a hero. He goes from working for the tobacco industry—an obvious evil since everyone knows cigarettes kill—to becoming his own consultant because some things are more valuable than money, like his son, Joey. Seeing the main character reject the bad cigarette industry because he loves his son more than money convinces viewers that Nik is a good guy. The point of Thank You For Smoking, however, is that good guys do not exist, not in business or government. Rather, everyone manipulates everyone else until they get what they want: money. Moral language, moral values, are just one more sales pitch. Like Blank in Grosse Pointe Blank, Thank You For Smoking wants the viewer to understand that moral codes are bullshit, or at least that we treat them like bullshit in our everyday working lives. (Presumably the book author and film director believe that this view is tragic, but that might be reading too much from my own point of view.) Almost every character in the movie is a manipulator. Most of us might see manipulating others as wrong and do not want to be manipulated, but that view is limited. The manipulator is also manipulated, as Nik’s story arc demonstrates. These two movies show that we today are the victims of manipulation because of capitalism and, further, that we can never live flourishing, human lives as long as we worship money. Three scenes prove this point. Nik tries to explain his life to Joey by arguing over the best flavor of ice cream. Joey says chocolate is the best flavor, while Nik says vanilla is. Nik points out, though, that this argument is one you can never win. So, he changes the argument; gets Joey to admit that he wants chocolate all the time and never any other flavor. Nik replies that he wants more than that; he wants freedom and choice, and that is what liberty is about. Joey recognizes that Nik has changed the subject. They are supposed to be arguing about ice cream, not liberty. Nik has done nothing to convince him. Nik’s reply is rather simple: he is not trying to convince Joey. He is trying to win over everyone else, new customers, new people he can manipulate. The second scene involves a conversation with his love interest, Heather Holloway. Heather is a news reporter writing an expose on Nik. He seduces her, or thinks he does. She asks him why he does what he does, and he admits, in the end, he does it for the money. He admits this answer is likened to what the Nazi officers argued at Nuremberg, only flavored with his yuppie lifestyle for money rather than country. The excuse made



by Nazis who, for example, simply controlled the rail lines that transported Jewish prisoners, as well as soldiers and goods from one place to another, was that they were simply doing their job. The difference between Nik and people like him and the Nazi’s is telling: under a totalitarian regime, one points to those in authority; under a capitalist regime, one points to the money. In her analysis of the Nuremberg trials, Hannah Arendt refers to this excuse and the actions committed under them as the banality of evil. This phrase highlights that much of the evil in the world results from everyday choices and actions that we fall into somehow. One person decides at what times different trains can run on the tracks; another person speaks for the interests of big tobacco. Both know that their actions support killing human beings. The trains take Jews to internment camps where they will be worked to death, experimented on, or simply executed; defending big tobacco hides the harmful effects of tobacco smoking and its links to cancer. Yet, in both cases, neither person is doing the actual killing. Nik, in fact, smokes. In Thank You For Smoking, Heather learns from Nik. Of course, Nik reveals things that he should not during their sexual escapades. Heather publishes these tidbits, and Nik confronts her on it. He presumed that anything he revealed while they were copulating was off the record and privileged. Why did she betray him? Heather replies that they could have talked anywhere he wanted, but he wanted to talk between the sheets, and so they did. She published the story for the money. Reversing roles, Heather manipulates the paradigmatic manipulator, revealing that the manipulator is easily manipulated. Joey is pivotal for understanding how moral flexibility leads to suffering despite the intermittent joys. Scene three centers on Joey participating in a debate which he wins. The question is, what is the best kind of government, a question which Nik, echoing Blank from Grosse Pointe Blank, says is a bullshit question. He tells Joey that he can argue whatever he wants. In the end, Joey wins the debate by arguing that America has the best government because of love. Following in Nik’s footsteps, he has changed the terms of the debate. He was not worried about convincing his opponent; he focused, instead on getting his audience, on winning over his consumers. The point here is not just that “those who live by the sword, die by the sword.” If we agree, or simply do not resist, living in a world where people manipulate each other, then we make ourselves objects of manipulation. The lesson Heather teaches is that we make ourselves victims and prevent ourselves from flourishing in consigning ourselves to this kind of life. The larger argument, and the reason Joey’s speech is so pivotal, is because moral flexibility makes love impossible. Joey’s claim is salient for my reading of the problems that plague moral flexibility. If we pay attention to what Joey is saying, we can see why Nik

4 Introduction is never going to have a good relationship with Joey, and why Joey is never going to have a good relationship with his mother, father, future spouse, and future kids. By equating love with capitalism, or vice versa, Joey has stated the ultimate form of alienation: individuals have meaning only insofar as they are sources of profit. Love has, and will have, no role in his life, either with his mom or Nik. Consider Joey convincing his mother to let him go to California with Nik. He challenges his mother on why she will not let him travel to California. When she replies that it is not appropriate, he turns her claim into an emotional statement. She will not let him go, not because it is not appropriate, but because she does not want Joey to hang around with her ex-husband, the guy she no longer loves. Mom’s moral view is only an emotion, another commodity. Just as Joey manipulates his mom into letting him take a trip, some day he will manipulate his dad into something his dad does not want. In a world where everyone is manipulating everyone else, we have no room for any sense of love except for a dollar value. The idea that somethings are more valuable than money becomes just another piece of bullshit. Nik still defends industries that can harm people, and he does so, not for Joey, but for the money. Authoritarianism Grosse Pointe Blank and Thank You For Smoking depict our world. Moral flexibility is a term used in psychology to label how individuals divorce themselves from their values. Unfortunately, people do not see the danger of moral flexibility. The New York Times, for instance, reports on moral flexibility as a coping mechanism for executioners (Carey 2006). Burl Cain is a religious man who believes that God is the only one who can determine when a person dies. Yet, he is the chief executioner at a federal penitentiary where he orders when a lethal injection starts. His reason: “it’s the law of the land.” In Blank’s case, he explains how the CIA trained him, referring to the state. In Nik’s case, he explains that everyone has the right to a fair trial, also referring to the law of the land. These parallels are interesting because they call to mind the Nuremberg Trials mentioned above. In their defenses, both Blank and Nik first reference the role of the state before talking about the money: both are paid for what they do. U.S. executioners are also paid, but that fact does not play a role in the way that Cain tells his story. What is important, for him, and I would submit for both Blank and Nik, is the extant laws of the country in which they reside. Like Eichmann in Nazi Germany, they were doing nothing illegal; in fact, Cain was following orders from the state. Stanley Milgram was curious about the role of authority and obedience in Nazi Germany. He wondered whether everyday people could be



convinced to follow orders even if doing so would hurt someone. He set up an experiment in which the test subjects were convinced that they were shocking someone who suffered from heart disease, increasing shock levels up to 450 volts. At around 150 volts, the student, who was an actor, would complain of the shocks and say he did not want to participate anymore. In some experiments, the test subject was in the same room with the person they were shocking (that they did not know was an actor), and in other situations separated. In some, the test subject was part of a group of people who had to agree to shock the other person. In some, the test subject had to physically place the person’s hand on the shock plate. While results varied in the differing conditions, in the primary example, 50% of test subjects were willing to shock another person who had, not only complained about being shocked and yelled that he was in pain, but had gone silent and would not respond. In short, a significant number of people given certain common circumstances are willing to shock someone so much as to hurt them when directed to do so by an authority figure. Those who resisted the orders and stopped the “experiment” and those who followed the orders differed in a significant way. The resisters were able to articulate clear moral values in saying why they would not continue to hurt someone. “I refuse to hurt someone.” “Continue when he don’t want to? I refuse. He knows what he can stand.” The ones who continue with the experiment, not only could not articulate moral values to resist, but relinquished their responsibility for the procedures over to another person. “Who’s going to take responsibility for this?” The willingness to transfer responsibility combined with the lack of a set of moral values unites Nik and Martin with the Milgram experiment and with the Nuremberg defense. In each case, the agent denies his or her agency and gives it over to someone else who has authority. Authority becomes the moral standard, and individuals engage in acts they might find abhorrent in others, acts that lead to suffering and, often, death. We can draw three conclusions. First, by embracing moral flexibility, we allow ourselves to be manipulated to do things we might normally find repulsive, whether that involves shipping human beings to extermination camps, killing for money, speaking for toxic companies, or taking part in a state-sanctioned execution. Second, this very moral flexibility is how we cope with committing acts we think are wrong. By believing that morals are bullshit, or at the least, that they do not apply all the time, people relieve the guilt they might feel for what they do. Third, when we are able to recognize the other as a person with whom we live in community, we are able to resist authoritarian commands to harm the other. The conclusions we can draw from reading moral flexibility through these movies show a need to address the human willingness to follow orders and to fail to recognize the pain in others and how those two aspects of human life relate to an inability to love. Such an inability is tied to social relations of giving birth, especially in the U.S. obstetric context.

6 Introduction

Oppression and Birth Critical Theory This book is a work in critical theory. By critical social theory, I mean a critical investigation into alienation in the social world aimed at discovering possibilities for freedom. The social world arises from human action. Our inability to change that world results from our failure to realize that truth; our ability to change the world is apparent whenever we realize that our actions (re-)create society at every moment. That insight means, as well, that our economic actions, as social actions, are within our control, just as any bureaucracy or any social structure and institution in existence. They were created by human beings; human beings— you and I working together consciously—can change them. Herein lies the secret of recognizing that base determines superstructure: base is always within our control. However, critical theory only functions for its true aim when “forming a dynamic unity with the oppressed class” (Horkheimer 2002, 215). The concern for liberation arises from the needs of the oppressed because they are the ones who feel their oppression most keenly. The middle class and the wealthy are also oppressed, but they do not feel their oppression; they can only be made aware of it through listening to others. In contrast, “because of its situation in modern society the proletariat experiences the connection between work which puts ever more powerful instruments into men’s hands in their struggle with nature, and the continuous renewal of an outmoded social organization” (Horkheimer 2002, 213). Thus, critical social theory is always grounded in praxis—engagement with the oppressed. Further, critical theory “always derives its goals only from present tendencies of the social process” (Marcuse 2009, 106). Every social situation, because it involves homo sapiens recreating their oppression, always contains the seeds for its destruction, for a revolution in which the oppress recognize their oppression and seek freedom instead. The historically given commodity economy on which modern history rests contains in itself the internal and external tensions of the modern era; it generates these tensions over and over again in an increasingly heightened form; and after a period of progress, development of human powers, and emancipation for the individual, after an enormous extension of human control over nature, it finally hinders further development and drives humanity into a new barbarism. (Horkheimer 2002, 227) The oppress feel in their bodies, as well as their minds, the inhibitions of the social world that prevent the development of their human powers.



Thus, critical theory especially concerns itself with the ideals in the social reality of the oppressed. Critical theory requires both negation and imagination: a negation of the world as it is and an imagination of what the world could be. Both appear in the careful analysis of current social relations. This book orients itself in the oppression that women and midwives experience themselves everyday as a representation of social oppression more broadly. This experience reports the social world as it is—the state of health care of women and children during birth in the U.S.—and the imaginative possibilities for a better world—the ideas present in midwifery practice. In analyzing the world as it is, we will uncover the causal nexus of class, gender, and race as they contribute to the exploitation of women’s bodies in service of the accumulation of surplus value. It will also reveal that this causal nexus has roots in an original alienation from nature. To overcome this alienation, the experience of midwives points in the direction of love, which I conceptualize as Eros. Birth Outcomes in the U.S. Children, women, and families are suffering in the U.S. Despite assertions from obstetricians that their interventions in and increasing control of birth are meant to improve safety, mortality rates are high in the U.S. In particular, children suffer a higher infant mortality rate than almost any other industrialized country even while the U.S. spends more on health care than any country. Moreover, perinatal mortality fell “due largely to social factors, such as better housing, better nutrition, and family planning” (Wagner 2006, 130). In addition, while maternal mortality rates dropped in the 1950s and 1960s, they are now on the rise. The drop resulted, not from “high-tech obstetric interventions,” but from “basic medical advances, such as … antibiotics and … safe blood transfusions” (ibid., 68). As high-tech interventions have increased recently, so have the rate of maternal deaths and “conditions such as autism, attention deficit disorders, and learning abilities” (ibid., 68). In 1969, infant mortality sat at 20.7 deaths per one thousand births in the U.S., compared to 18.6 in the United Kingdom, 13.2 in the Netherlands, and 11.7 in Sweden (Haire 1973, 172). According to the Central Intelligence Agency, the infant mortality rate for the United States was 5.8 in 2017, compared to 4.3 in the United Kingdom, 3.6 in the Netherlands, and 2.6 in Sweden. “While infant mortality rates have declined across the OECD since 1960, including in America, the U.S. has failed to keep pace with its high-income peers, according to a report published in the journal Health Affairs” (Johnson 2018). While the infant mortality rate is decreasing, the maternal mortality rate in the U.S. is another issue. In fact, while maternal mortality rates decline elsewhere, it rises in the U.S. which has the highest rate of

8 Introduction maternal mortality for any developed country (Montagne 2017; Delbanco et al., 2019). In comparison between 1990 and 2015, the U.S. maternal mortality increased from 16.9 to 26.4, while that in the UK decreased from 10.9 to 9.2, and better, in France from 16.9 to 7.8, in Russia from 56.1 to 18.7, and in Iran from 56.6 to 20.8 (GBD 2015, 1784–1793). “In fact, women in the United States are more afraid of birth than ever before and with good cause” (Arms 1996, 5). Race affects these statistics. While children of non-Hispanic white women suffer an infant mortality rate of 4.9 per 1,000, children of nonHispanic Black women suffer a rate of 11.4, and children of American Indian/Alaska Natives a rate of 9.4 (CDC 2006). The infant mortality rate of non-Hispanic White women in the U.S. alone is still higher than that in most industrialized countries. Similarly, a recent report shows that from 2011–2015, the pregnancy related mortality of non-Hispanic Black women was 3.3 times that of non-Hispanic white women, and that the mortality rate for American Indian/Alaska Native women was 2.5 times that of non-Hispanic white women (Petersen et al. 2019). Non-Hispanic white women die from pregnancy related causes at 13 per 100,000. This number is still larger than that of the UK and France. Non-Hispanic Black women suffer pregnancy related mortality at 42.8 per 100,000 and American Indian/Alaska Native at 32.5 per 100,000. Evidence suggests that the difference may be due to increased levels of cortisone in nonHispanic Black and American Indian/Alaska Native women because racial disparities and treatment lead to increased stress levels compared to non-Hispanic white women (see Unnatural Causes, episode 2, “When the Bough Breaks”). Children of the Future The treatment of women and children during birth have profound effects on our social world. Michel Odent, a French obstetrician, reports that research shows a connection between an impaired capacity to love and “risk factors in the period surrounding birth” (Odent 2002, 15). For example, youth violent criminality correlated with complications during birth “together with early separation from or rejection by the mother” (ibid., 15). Suicide risk correlated with resuscitation at birth (ibid., 16). Autism correlated, not with vaccination, but birth trauma such as forceps delivery and induction of labor (ibid., 17). The way society treats the child and the mother–child birthing relationship can shape the possibilities for health and social life of the new social member. The damage we do to babies results in an emotional emptiness, according to Wilhelm Reich, an early twentieth-century psychotherapist. He believed that human beings harbored an internal emotional desolation which led them to “unhesitatingly destroy life.” This harm was tied to our failure “to realize that [human beings] are parts of nature and therefore



must cooperate with it and obey its laws.” According to Reich, “the ‘Children of the future … will have to clean up the mess of this twentieth century’ … civilization will start when the well-being of newborn babies will prevail over any other consideration” (Odent 2002, 40). That Reich does not mention the treatment of women during pregnancy and labor is unfortunate. Yet, his insight concerning our treatment of each other and our being parts of nature is key to building a new community and developing a new sensibility. Critical theory enters the picture when it challenges the presumptions of birth science as neutral. Science, as I shall argue in Chapters 5 and 6, rests on metaphysical presuppositions that nature is mechanical and dualistic. It also resists the idea that love is important for scientific practice, like that of obstetrics. In contrast, Jonathan Lear contends that Freud’s insights derived from psychoanalysis show, not only that love is a real force in the world, but that we must reject science as neutral. “The very presence of love in the world demands a response from man” (Lear 1998, 219). The presence of love in the world entails that the self develops as a reflection of that experience of love. In a world dominated by mechanism and dualism, that reflection is deformed. The connections between love, birth, and moral flexibility should be coming into focus. We suffer in our abilities to love in this world. This suffering results from, is an expression of, our alienation. Under capitalist social structures, we alienate our work and our loves in order to make money. In the U.S., that culminates in the transformation of birth into a big business, the near elimination of midwives for the dominance of obstetricians, and the transmogrification of reproductive labor into productive labor. This approach affects our ability to love in a vicious cycle. Moral flexibility intensifies these changes by making it easier to ignore evidence that certain procedures are medically counter-indicated because moral rules are just bullshit. We shall uncover these connections more clearly and map a path forward by critically engaging the work of Alasdair MacIntyre.

A Return to MacIntyre Alasdair MacIntyre (1929–) is one of the foremost philosophers today; his career began in 1953 with the publication of Marxism: An Interpretation. At 90, he still gives talks on a variety of topics. Despite, or perhaps because of, his initial commitment to Marxism, MacIntyre is not the first name that comes to mind to the academic left. His feud with Herbert Marcuse, a leading figure of the left in the 1960s and 1970s, is one reason why MacIntyre is ignored. The success of his seminal book After Virtue is another reason, its triumph eclipsing the equally important work MacIntyre wrote on Marx. His conversion to Roman Catholicism and association with the University of Notre Dame may be another reason for his

10 Introduction seeming absence from leftist academic circles. I have explored some of these reasons before (Nicholas 2012, 2014, 2020), which raises the question, why MacIntyre now? With all due respect to Professor MacIntyre, I had not intended to write a book so engaged with his work. I had not intended, in fact, to write a book which many will view as singularly critical of MacIntyre’s work. Such a reading will be unfair, as well. While I do criticize his Revolutionary Aristotelianism, I also defend its contributions for a politics of liberation. Thus, why MacIntyre? Or what contributions? MacIntyre’s work, in my opinion, accomplishes three tasks for us. First, MacIntyre offers a unique interpretation, even extension, of the Marxist concept of alienation. Like Max Horkheimer and Theodor Adorno who extended the concept of alienation to include a calculative rationality at the heart of human action, MacIntyre broadens the concept to encompass the divorce of historical human desire from value. In extending the concept, he is able better to diagnose the modern problem of emotivism as a failure to connect desire and value. Second, MacIntyre provides a keen analysis of what troubles modern society, emotivism/expressivism, and its relation to modern society as a culture of manipulation. MacIntyre’s AV is able to explain both why the Nik Naylors and Martin Blanks exist and are seen as heroes and why they are tragedies, not subjects of a hero’s journey. The problem within late neoliberal nation-state capitalism is not mere individualism, relativism, or the failure of democratic norms and institutions; the problem is the inability to recognize that moral values are rooted in our historically interpreted persistent human desires. Third, MacIntyre offers a solution to the problem of alienation that reconnects historical desire with value. That is, he offers an account of free, non-alienated labor in his concepts of practices and the common goods of community. Practices, teleologically oriented activities aimed at achieving certain goods, are the cornerstone of MacIntyre’s Revolutionary Aristotelianism. They explain why individuals come to sell their labor—alienate themselves—and identify the nature of the evil of that alienation—the abandonment of internal for external goods and the failure to develop species-being powers. The common goods of community, in turn, appear when the members of the community come together to rank order their practices and goods constructing some of the premises for their practical reasoning in directing their lives. These concepts are ones which progressives and their allies must pay attention to if we are to build a free society. While I have suggested that conclusion elsewhere, I develop this argument in this book. In asking, “why MacIntyre?” I raise another question as well. MacIntyre contends that, when we defend our choices, we must explain why we did not make another choice. The main theorist to turn to in understanding the form of alienation in modern society and to theorize a path forward is

Introduction 11 Herbert Marcuse, someone much more recognized for his radical thought. So, why not Marcuse? Marcuse wrote an influential book, Eros and Civilization, on the Freudian concept of eros which proves relevant to the content of this book, and his An Essay on Liberation offers ideas that help explain Marx’s call to expand human powers. The concepts of eros and a new sensability have proven fruitful for many theorists to work with in addressing oppression and the possibility of a better world. However, delving into Freudian psychoanalysis would have carried a significant burden and one that would have been negative. Freud’s idea of a death principle has no support and is one Freud himself questioned. The discussion of Freud, while important, would have distracted from the overall thrust of Love and Politics. In my opinion, that discussion, along with Marcuse’s interpretation, later developments in Freudian psychoanalysis, and consideration of Jonathan Lear’s Love and Its Place in Nature comprises a different, separate book than this one. In the end, what Marcuse has to offer regarding eros, in my opinion, is covered in this text through my reading of Plato and Audre Lorde. Why not write the book on Marcuse’s understanding of eros and a new sensibility? MacIntyre’s concept of practice is more fruitful for understanding and promoting revolutionary activity. The concept of practice links non-alienated, free labor to the expansion of human powers in a concrete way that Marcuse’s philosophy, as far as I have read it, does not. (I should note here, a long time ago, I had read more Marcuse than MacIntyre and appreciated Marcuse more than MacIntyre. It has taken long years of study and reflection to come to the conclusions all too quickly announced here regarding the relative strengths and weaknesses of MacIntyre and Marcuse. I have not stopped thinking that Marcuse’s work is revolutionary and necessary; in this book, I have given priority to MacIntyre.) MacIntyre’s work and Marcuse’s work have similar deficiencies, especially regarding the absence of a concept of historical human nature. I hope this book goes some way to starting a greater dialogue between the two camps in discovering a synthesis that can support a politics of liberation.

Overview of Argument The argument proceeds in three parts with a culminating epilogue and concluding section. In Part I, I demonstrate that MacIntyre’s Revolutionary Aristotelianism is a response to alienation that emerges from his previous engagement with Marx. MacIntyre’s understanding of alienation and, therefore, his conceptualization of practices stems from his reading of Marx’s 1844 Manuscripts. Chapter 1 explores this text. Marx defines alienation and articulates a conception of free labor. Alienation, under capitalism, is saleability—everything, including our

12 Introduction labor power, is for sale because we must pay the mortgage. In selling our labor power, we alienate ourselves from what we create, from our work, from other works, and from nature. The salient points of Marx’s theory of alienation are two-fold for us. First, in selling their labor power, human beings, including capitalists, objectify their social relations so that everything is under the sway of an inhuman power. Human agents deny their own ability to shape their world by letting capitalist social relations dictate their actions; but just insofar as they participate in these social relations, human agents show that they can change them. Second, Marx envisions a world in which human agents work to satisfy human needs they create in transforming nature. In this work, human beings cultivate and develop new powers and new senses. In short, human beings transform themselves into something new, something more human. Chapter 2 takes up this discussion in MacIntyre’s work. In the first part of this chapter, I trace out MacIntyre’s understanding of alienation as a religious concept and his argument that human beings can overcome alienation when they come to realize their desire for community in which they co-discover what they want. A central claim in this discussion is that Marxism and liberatory politics needs a conception of historical human nature. The second part of the chapter shows that MacIntyre later transforms the concept of alienation. He extends the concept so that it means, not just saleability, but the divorce of historical fact from value. This divorce is the core of the emotivist and expressivist philosophies that MacIntyre’s Revolutionary Aristotelianism opposes. Where Stalinism and classical liberalism see values as independent of desire, the emotivist/ expressivist see moral statements as mere expressions of emotion or attitude. MacIntyre characterizes the emotivist culture of modernity as manipulative. Emotivism and alienation name the same phenomenon and lead to a culture in which the Nik Naylors and Martin Blanks are able to justify their actions because it makes them money. Chapter 3 completes the arc of this argument by showing that the concepts of Revolutionary Aristotelianism reunite historical fact and value. That is, they represent forms of Marx’s free labor. Practices are activities through which agents unite fact and value by transforming their desires in actions that expand their human powers. Internal goods are essential to this unity. I discuss cooking in detail as an example of a MacIntyrean practice. The narrative unity of life unites fact and value by linking the transformation of the individual’s desires to a quest for the good lived through the various practices in which she engages. Traditions, in turn, comprise the locus of arguments over the nature of desire, practice, and the moral good. Through practices, the narrative quest, and tradition, agents identify their species-being powers and seek to cultivate and expand them. Such agency is impossible, or at least quite limited, under conditions of paying the mortgage.

Introduction 13 Part II uncovers three lacunae in Revolutionary Aristotelianism. Chapter 4 opens up the first lacuna which is the absence of a theory of historical human nature by engaging with the work of Christopher Lutz and Paul Blackledge and looking more closely at MacIntyre’s various discussions of love. On the one hand, Blackledge convincingly argues that MacIntyre’s principal contribution to Marxist theory was the promise of a conception of historical human nature to ground liberatory politics. On the other, Lutz argues that MacIntyre was right to abandon Aristotle’s metaphysical biology as a ground for teleology; he insists that MacIntyre follows Aristotle and Thomas Aquinas in understanding that God directly creates each intellectual soul, and thus, telos comes from God. I argue that Lutz’s argument proves unsatisfactory. We need a conception of historical human nature—of how human desires, powers, and senses change through history—which an intellectualist-creationist account cannot satisfy. Further, I contend that MacIntyre did not pursue an account of historical human nature because he dichotomizes love and argues that reason is the defining characteristic of human beings because it structures all other activities, including love. Chapter 5 opens a second lacuna in MacIntyre’s work, continuing to push against the lack of a conception of historical human nature to show that the concepts of RA are not equipped to handle the causal nexus of racism, sexism, and genderism as they interlink with classism. MacIntyre’s discussion of fishing provides fodder for this discussion because it ignores this causal nexus. I examine this causal nexus through the lens of Social Reproduction Theory (SRT), focusing specifically on the work of Maria Mies, Sylvia Federici, and Carolyn Merchant. SRT is a feminist approach to Marxist theory that examines the sublimation of reproductive work into productive work so that it remains either un- or less examined as a source of oppression and freedom. While SRT is not a homogenous theory and other theorists question the work of Mies and Federici, I contend that their work opens up for us the relationship between oppression and the alienation from nature, and Merchant’s work helps orient us to how that alienation shapes science. SRT illuminates how conceptions of human desire and human nature change in ways that undermine our abilities to develop species-being powers and senses. In addition, SRT reveals the third lacuna of Revolutionary Aristotelianism. At the root of class alienation lies an alienation from nature. We must begin to repair that alienation if we are to engage in practices through which we cultivate human powers and senses. Chapter 6 provides an account of U.S. obstetrics to show how these points come together in a practice that, while financially successful, has poorer health outcomes for women and children. U.S. obstetrics functions according to a metaphysical mechanism and dualism that defines birth as a pathology and the laboring mother as a machine that the obstetrician must control to produce a commodity. Despite being a practice with

14 Introduction internal goods, obstetrics undermines free activity by transmogrifying reproductive labor into productive labor aimed at the accumulation of surplus value. In Part III, I begin rebuilding the concepts of Revolutionary Aristotelianism for a politics of liberation by developing an initial account of historical human nature. Chapter seven provides a foundation for a metaphysical biology through developing what I believe is an original interpretation of the relationship between the Eros in Plato’s dualistic metaphysics and Energeia in Aristotle’s hylomorphic metaphysics. I contend that Energeia plays the same role in Aristotle’s metaphysics that Eros does in Plato’s except that Aristotle expands that role. Eros is the principle of motion for Plato, and through Eros one comes to know the FORM BEAUTY/FORM GOOD. Energeia is a term Aristotle coined to name the internal-acting of living substances. Aristotle is concerned, not just with change, but activity itself. All living bodies—plants and animals (including human animals)—are Erotic, spontaneous, creative, generating activity that aims at generating new beings and new realities. Our erotic nature means that a fundamental telos of human activity is the cultivation and expansion of human powers and senses—just as Marx and later MacIntyre saw. Chapter 8 develops this notion of Eros in relation to nature by exploring alternative accounts of nature to that dominant in Europe and the U.S. I begin with a discussion of the relationship between conceptions of nature and race to highlight the social construction of both concepts. I then turn to alternative conceptions found in the Jewish and Christian scriptures. Yhwh can be understood as giving to human beings, not a power of domination, but a duty to care for nature. Likewise, Renaissance philosophies and science understand nature as living, though human beings are at its center and can manipulate nature. Closer to the understanding of erotic nature is the vision of wholistic midwifery, on the one hand, and the Lakhˇ óta understanding of nature as Wakhˇ áŋ. The European approach to nature has sunk underneath the hubris of its own capitalistic rationality. We must turn, instead, to a tradition like that of the Lakhˇ óta that sees nature as Uŋcˇ í Makhá, a mother being. Eros flows through Uŋcˇ í Makhá as beings reproduce, develop, and expand, creating new realities. The promise of the title of this book, Love and Politics, is explored in Chapter 9. I explore Eros as a power within the human being that is active and that provides resources from which she can know herself. In particularly, following Audre Lorde, I see Eros as recognizing that fullness of being that comes in expanding our human powers, exercising them to their fullest. Eros gives rise to love in its various forms. Love is, not just another power shaped by reason, but a characteristic power of human beings that shapes other powers. Drawing on the work of Erich Fromm and bell hooks, I understand love as an activity of giving, an overflowing of acting (Energeia) into new acting (Energeia). Self-love is the

Introduction 15 overflowing acting that requires, not simply taking care of, but developing one’s species-being powers and developing new senses. It is the opposite of selfishness which is a closing off from the outside and the inside. Parental love is, not an emotion, but the active caring for the other as a child, educating her in the cultivation and development of her species-being powers. Friendship and agape love are two sides of the same coin. One is the love of the particular, and the other of the universal, both a giving to the other so that she develops and grows. In the end, love connects us to the mystery of the universe. I end with a first statement of the politics of liberation and a brief conclusion that addresses some possible criticisms. Chapter 10 begins by redefining practices incorporating into it an understanding of historical human nature and the place of Eros in human life. At the front and center of my definition is the Marxist idea of the expansion of human powers and senses through historical engagement with nature. I address the advantages of my definition over that of MacIntyre’s by examining the reproductive practice of midwifery. I then move into a discussion of the community of common goods. Rejecting the notion of public goods and the Catholic understanding of the common good, I explore MacIntyre’s analysis of the common goods of a community. These common goods consist in the rank ordering of practices and goods which members of the community use in their practical reasoning to pursue their flourishing—the development of their species-being powers and senses. I take issue with MacIntyre, holding that the rank ordering of goods requires first the communal interpretation of persistent human desires. The project of a conception of historical human nature is the project of a flourishing community of common goods. This understanding of common goods leads to an engagement with Iris Marion Young on the notion of community. Young rejects the idea of community because it diminishes diversity. I argue, in contrast, that her analysis reifies community. I offer instead an understanding of community-in-act as a continuous engagement with diversity in the discovery of human desire. Such a community requires a participatory democracy in which Uŋcˇ í Makhá is considered a full member of the community. My concluding remarks consider the relationship between practice and theory. I also note several ways in which my interpretation disagrees with that of the conservative followers of MacIntyre’s philosophy. In the end, this book is an attempt to spell out philosophically a consistent left politics that I discovered in Starhawk’s imaginative utopian community depicted in her The Fifth Sacred Thing. Practices and Eros comprise the keys to making the world a better place. Progressives, Marxists, and critical theorists must consider once more MacIntyre’s account of practice as an articulation of Marx’s notion of free labor. I hope the arguments and ideas herein prove useful for those today working to make the world a better place, and those in the future who, if humanity survives, will inherit

16 Introduction a world wrecked by capitalist greed. Eros calls us each to cultivate and develop our species-being powers through love and reason, to become something new, to become truly human.

References Arms, S. (1996) Immaculate Deception II: Myth, Magic, and Birth. Berkeley, CA: Celestial Arts. Carey, Benedict (2006) “Coping Mechanism for Executioners: Moral Flexibility,” New York Times, xecutioners-moral-flexibility.html. Last accessed 26 November 2020. CDC (2006) “Infant Mortality,” nthealth/infantmortality.htm. Last accessed 9 March 2020. Delbanco, Suzanne, et al. (2019) “Mortality Rate Demands Action from Employers,” Harvard Business Review, June 28, ternal-mortality-rate-demands-action-from-employers. Last accessed 5 November 2019. GBD (2015) “Global, Regional, and National Levels of Maternal Mortality, 1990–2015: A Systematic Analysis for the Global Burden of Disease Study 2015,” Lancet, 388: 1775–1812. Haire, Doris B. (1973). “The Cultural Warping of Childbirth,” Journal of Tropical Pediatrics and Environmental Health, 19, 171–191. Horkheimer, Max (2002) Critical Theory: Selected Essays, trans. Matthew J. O’Connell. New York: Continuum Press. Johnson, David (2018) “American Babies Are Less Likely to Survive Their First Year Than Babies in Other Rich Countries,” Time, January, 5090112/infant-mortality-rate-usa. Last accessed 5 November 2019. Lear, Jonathan (1998) Love and Its Place in Nature: A Philosophical Interpretation of Freudian Psychoanalysis. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press. Marcuse, Herbert (2009) Negations: Essays in Critical Theory. London: Mayfly Books. Marcuse, Herbert (2015) Eros and Civilization: A Philosophical Inquiry into Freud. Boston, MA: Beacon Press. Marx, Karl (2010) Collected Works, Volume 3: Contributions to the Critique of Hegel’s Philosophy of Law, Introduction. London: Lawrence & Wishart. Montagne, Renee (2017) “U.S. Has the Worst Rate of Maternal Deaths in the Developed World,” Last accessed 5 November 2019. Mulhall, Stephen (1998) “Alienation and Self-Realization,” Angelaki, 3(1): 89–101. Nicholas, Jeffery (2012) Reason, Tradition, and the Good: Alasdair MacIntyre’s Reason of Tradition and Frankfurt School Critical Theory. South Bend, IN: University of Notre Dame Press. Nicholas, Jeffery (2014) “Toward a Radical Integral Humanism: MacIntyre’s Continuing Marxism,” Studia Philosophica Wratislaviensia, supplementary English edition online. Nicholas, Jeffery (2020) “Alasdair MacIntyre and Frankfurt School Critical Theory,” in Ron Beadle and Geoff Moore (eds.), Learning from MacIntyre (pp. 163–182). London: Wipf & Stock.

Introduction 17 Odent, Michel (2001) The Scientification of Love, revised edition. London: Free Association Books. Petersen, Emily, et al. (2019) “Vital Signs: Pregnancy-Relted Deaths, United States 20111–2015, and Strategies for Prevention, 13 States, 2013–2017,” www. Last accessed 9 March 2020. Starhawk (1993) The Fifth Sacred Thing. New York: Bantam. Wagner, Marsden (2006) Born in the USA: How a Broken Maternity System Must Be Fixed to Put Woman and Children First. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press.

Section I

Alienation and Revolutionary Aristotelianism


Marx’s Theory of Alienation

Introduction The introduction set out to accomplish two goals: introduce the concepts of moral flexibility and the problem of alienation. Moral flexibility is the ability to switch between moral principles to justify one’s current selfinterested actions. Moral rules are bullshit, just another means to “pay the mortgage.” To foreshadow the discussion of birth, moral flexibility appears when, for instance, obstetricians refuse to provide information to expectant parents about alternative means of birth that might fulfill our human desires better. The obstetrician might view a challenge to his decision on ethical grounds selectively or switch between moral principles he expects to be applied to him—honesty—with one applied to others— listen to the experts. Alienation meant that individuals have meaning only insofar as they are a source of profit. This chapter and the next expands on that concept; alienation is offering up everything and anything for sale; the next chapter defines alienation as the divorce of desire from moral values. In its most insidious form, alienation is a purportedly value-free proceduralism that takes over direction of our lives; yet, those procedures mask values through coercive forces. In birth, alienation appears in hospital procedures that require a fetal-heart monitor which has no medical value, but which creates profits for the hospital and legal protection for hospital and obstetrician. The exact relation between moral flexibility and alienation will become clearer as we delve deeper. For Karl Marx, alienation names a form of human activity that does not arise out of human need and human desire. Under capitalist social structures, human agents divorce their activity from human need and produce immediately for money. Turning their labor into commodities, they disavow truly human powers. In the end, this saleability is a denial of one’s agency. If we are to transcend our alienation, we would emancipate our human senses, transform our human powers, and establish societies of communal activity. The key insight here is that Marx imagines a world in which human beings freely develop their powers (what later we shall call flourishing) through transforming nature.

20 Alienation We begin by exploring the concept of saleability. Reading the early political economists, Marx understands that capitalism rests on our willingness to sell our labor, which, in the end, means we sell ourselves. This understanding of saleability means, third, that private property is the control of the means of production. It is the means through which everyday laborers are enslaved. Marx, in contrast, understands labor to be fundamental to fully developing ourselves as human beings. Labor is social activity through which we satisfy human needs. The most important of those needs is for community. Once we learn to direct our labor toward satisfying our needs, we will emancipate our senses and our human powers, transcending the alienated existence of life under capitalism.

Alienation Our Marx and Theirs The Marx I present here is not the one familiar from the popular press or to the center and right of the political spectrum. It may not even be familiar to those on the left in the U.S., despite the popularity of “socialism” among younger people today and the surgency of people like Bernie Sanders and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. Even those in the UK, like the Labour Party, and in continental Europe, like the social democrats, have tendencies to reduce Marx to a caricature of economic theory with a deterministic bent. The Marx I present is different from that popular idea because I take it that Marx’s central concern after 1844 is that of alienation. I am not alone in this idea. Early on, MacIntyre read Marx this way, for example in Marxism: An Interpretation and Marxism and Christianity. Other notable theorists include Erich Fromm (2013 [1961]), István Mészáros (MTOA [1970]), and Bertell Ollman (1976 [1971]). While MacIntyre and Fromm concentrate their work on an interpretation of Marx’s 1844 Economic and Philosophic Manuscripts (also known as The Paris Manuscripts), Mészáros and Ollman use this work to understand Marx’s corpus after 1844, including Capital, as addressing alienation. The notion of alienation was hidden from many interpreters of Marx for a long time, especially in the English-speaking world because his 1844 Manuscripts remained unpublished until 1959. Yet, as Mészáros (MTOA, 18) argues, the key concept of alienation first appears here in Marx’s understanding of labor as alienated, a concept he derives from the classical economic theory of Ricardo and Smith. While remaining partially hidden in Marx’s Capital, this concept lies at the center of that work. Those who interpret Marx without this concept, from Josef Stalin and Chairman Mao to Karl Popper, misunderstand and misrepresent Marx’s economic ideas. Needless to say, the nuance that alienation adds to Marx’s socialism remains hidden from the popular press, and the reading public remains, unfortunately, uninformed about Marx’s true theory.

Marx’s Theory of Alienation


Our analysis will not ignore the economic aspects of Marx’s theory. While in contemporary times, economics seems to occupy a space as large as divinity occupied in medieval times, that largesse is only a sign of the tumor of alienation in modernity. Chapter 5 puts economics in its proper place through understanding the advances made to Marx by Frankfurt School critical theory and Social Reproduction Theory; alienation captures a variety of aspects of birth, for instance, in the U.S. that are nonreducible to economic elements. Economics proves important because it figures largely in how we reproduce our social life, but the focus must be on, not the production, but the reproduction of human life. Saleability Marx writes, “you must make everything that is yours saleable; that is, useful” (1844, Kindle location [hereafter “kl”] 1800). Mészáros makes this notion the core of the idea of labor as alienated activity. Alienation is therefore characterized by the universal extension of “saleability” (i.e. the transformation of everything into commodity); by the conversion of human beings into “things” so that they could appear as commodities … (in other words: the “reification” of human relations); and by the fragmentation of the social body into “isolated individuals” (vereinzelte Einzelnen) who pursued their own limited, particularistic aims “in servitude to egoistic need,” making a virtue out of their selfishness in their cult of privacy. (MTOA, 35) In capitalism, individuals sell their labor power to procure the means by which the individual acquires her subsistence—food, clothing, and housing. Chris Harman defines labor power as “the capacity to work” which the capitalist buys (Harman 2009, 396). That is, we pay the mortgage by turning our productive activity into a commodity which we sell. Marx began with the presumptions of political economy—or economic theory—at the time. That is, he began with the presumptions that political economists such as John Locke, Adam Smith, or David Ricardo used to defend capitalism. This beginning focused his attention on the labor theory of value. Say one finds a piece of wood on the beach and turns it into a chair which sells for $100. The value of the chair—$100— comes from somewhere. Where? According to Locke and those who followed him, the value derives from the individual’s labor. Locke must deal with two questions here. First, how does one appropriate the object from nature one wishes to use—the wood on the beach or a plot of land to till and sow? Second, how does one explain the increased value of what results from taking the object from nature? The answer to both questions is the same.

22 Alienation For Locke, we need to justify both the appropriation of a part of nature which originally belonged to everyone (because God gave it to all in common) and the right to property so one could do with one’s property as one wished: It being by him removed from the common state nature hath placed it in, it hath by this labor something annexed to it, that excludes the common right of other men: for this labor being the unquestionable property of the laborer, no man but he can have a right to what that is once joined to, at least where there is enough, and as good, left in common for others. (Locke, Second Treatise, §26) In nature, the object has null value. The land is not worthless, but only has value when someone does something with it. For instance, Locke contends that an acre of English soil properly tilled and sowed would produce more than 100 acres of untended soil in America. The value comes, not from the soil itself, but the labor put into the soil. Any value that people produce, then, comes originally from labor. This fact gives the individual the right to take that resulting property and do with it as she wishes. Marx points out that Locke’s problems are fictional ones. The nonsense about the necessity of proving the concept of value arises from complete ignorance … Every child knows that a country which ceased to work … would die … that the mass of products corresponding to different needs require different and qualitatively determined measures of the total labor of society. (Letters to Kugelman, cited in Pilling 1980) In other words, Locke’s argument was circular, beginning with the concept—private property—which he then argued was a consequence of a system of private property (see, for instance, Gronow 2016; Pilling 1980). Locke never bothered to consider whether instead the product produced belonged either to nature, one of its original sources, or to the community. Yet, in appropriating nature one takes something from others—if only the possibility of picking the same apple. Thus, Locke created a proviso to justify his theory of appropriation: one must leave enough and as good behind for others to do the same thing. Locke imagines the world to be infinite in resources, an illusion we can neither justify nor accept any longer in a world suffering climate disaster. Built into Locke’s justification, still accepted by philosophers and economists today (see, for instance, Nozick 2013), is a rampant individualism that pits individual against individual and against nature in a competition that comes near to Hobbes’s war of all against all or the Social Darwinists’ “nature red in tooth and claw,” controlled only by capital.

Marx’s Theory of Alienation


Notably, Locke’s questions arose at a particular time in history and would have made little sense before the seventeenth century. Before capitalism came to dominate economic relations, human beings procured their means of subsistence primarily through agriculture. This form of economic activity provided the basis for a particular way of organizing society in feudal times from that of ancient times with slave labor or early modern times with chattel slavery. (Chattel slavery in the American colonies and the U.S., as well as other places after 1492, was a form of capitalism.) First, money played little role in the lives of most individuals in feudal times. Currency, negligible before the thirteenth century, takes on new meaning when new processes for mining and smelting metals appears, which led to an increase in coinage. Second, under feudalism, the lord could not evict the serf from the land and, in fact, had some obligation—whether religious or civic—to make sure that the serf had food to eat. Third and relatedly, while the lord of the manor could exact a large share of the produce of the land for protecting the serf from invading armies, he could not take so much as to leave the serf starving. The ability of the serf to farm his plot of land to procure subsistence items for self and family might have kept people poor but always provided basic necessities. Capitalism, in contrast, rests on a previously unseen distinction between people as capitalists—or owners—and wage laborers. We need to understand the origin of these two classes because capitalism could not have arisen as the dominant economic system without them. Under capitalism, someone had to own the means of production, and someone had to be willing to sell her labor to work the means of production owned by someone else. The “means of production” refers to those tools—which can include land for farming or herding animals—by which human beings procure the objects which satisfy their needs. Before the fifteenth century, most people had some access to the means of production, even if only a plot of land. Under capitalism, however, only a few own the means of subsistence, which included more and more factories and machines, while most only have access to the means of subsistence by selling their labor. The capitalist, as owner of the means of existence, takes a portion of the value produced from the labor for his profit. Structurally, this arrangement may not look much different from a feudal relationship. Under the feudal system, the lord of the manor owns the land which the serf farms. Part of the produce goes to the lord of the manor for protection and for the right to farm the land. Under capitalism, the capitalist replaces the lord, the factory, the land, and the laborer, the serf. Yet, a number of structural differences appear which lead to different experiences of alienation. The fact that almost all of the means of production rests in the hands of the capitalist and almost all of the workers lack access to land that they can farm to provide food, not money, for themselves gives the capitalist power he did not have in the feudal system. While the lord of the

24 Alienation manor could not terminate the agreement with the serf, the capitalist can terminate the laborer and evict a person from her house. In that situation, paying the mortgage through selling one’s labor becomes a dominating priority. Where the lord of the manor has an obligation to provide food to the serf if the serf has no food, the capitalist has no such obligation and can charge the wage laborer the highest price the market will bear without caring whether the wage laborer can pay that price. Moreover, in capitalist societies, the capitalist can take as much of the value produced for himself while leaving the laborer unable to properly feed, house, or clothe herself. For example, workers at Wal-Mart, including managers, rely on public assistance in the form of, for example, food stamps, to support themselves. Notably, because one works, one sees one’s self as different from those who do not work and bemoan policies that seek to extend welfare benefits to the poor because the capitalist class has successfully indoctrinated the citizenry to believe that those who need benefits are lazy and choose not to work. Marx takes this simple fact—that people can work and still suffer deprivation—to understand the contradictions in capitalism and the possible path for transcending those contradictions. In feudal times, then, one did not typically sell one’s labor and, even if one did, one did not sell so much as to see all of one’s activities as alien or distinct. In contemporary capitalism, one must sell almost all of one’s labor in order to survive. Alienation in medieval times appears as the distinction between the lord and serf. In capitalism, alienation appears as saleability—one’s time and labor are not one’s own. The labor theory of value justifies the structural differences that arose from social upheavals that concentrated ownership of the means of production in the hands of the few while ensuring that the majority of people no longer had access to a plot of land by which they could grow their own food. The belief that one could leave enough and as good for others who could, ostensibly, purchase their own plot of land justified the concentration of wealth in a few hands. Further, because Locke’s labor theory of value rested on a belief in radical individuals who formed contracts to structure their rights and duties, relations between human beings all appear to be socially contracted if not relations of economic exchange. Thus, the importance of “paying the mortgage” is a historical result of particular circumstances that appeared only under capitalism as it came to prominence in the modern era. “The worker’s needs are but the one need—to maintain him while he is working insofar as may be necessary to prevent the race of laborers from dying out” (1844, kl 1285). However, the labor theory of value also gives rise to the contradictions Marx diagnosed, primarily, that the poor grow poorer the more they work. This contradiction arises from saleability. The laborer must sell her labor power in order to pay the mortgage. Adam Smith, not Marx, was the first to recognize in this fact that the capitalist has the power in the

Marx’s Theory of Alienation


relationship between laborer and capitalist (Wealth of Nations, ch. 6). The capitalist can choose from any number of laborers to do the work, and he can subsist on his capital for much longer than the laborer can exist without selling her labor. The real contradiction arises, however, in the act of selling one’s labor. This act transforms one’s work into a commodity. The commodity form—that anything can be bought and sold—becomes the dominant form of all things. In Grosse Pointe Blank and Thank You For Smoking, integrity becomes just another commodity which the anti-heroes sell to pay the mortgage. In so doing, they alienate themselves. Not only their labor and integrity, though, but their relations to others become commodities. Nik uses his relationship with his son to sell the idea that people should be free to smoke cigarettes if they want without warning labels on cigarette packages. For Marx, then, [Alienation] is manifested not only in the fact that my means of life … my desire is the inaccessible possession of another, but also in the fact that everything is in itself something different from itself— that my activity is something else and that, finally (and this applies also to the capitalist), all is under the sway of inhuman power. (1844, kl 1880) In the movies I discussed in the introduction, none of the characters own their actions. A person’s actions, consciously or unconsciously, belong to someone else. Nik needs to pay the mortgage; he both denies his own capacity to shape his future while also giving that capacity to someone else—whoever will pay him. Both Nik and Martin admit that the government is eventually responsible for their actions. Their desires—the desire to smoke or to promote smoking, the desire to kill—is the possession of someone else. In fact, Nik makes his living by taking control of other people’s desires. Thus, one plot point of Thank You For Smoking is Nik’s attempt to use Hollywood icons to promote cigarette smoking; through seeing famous stars smoke on television, the cigarette industry hopes to make others want to smoke. Here manipulation and alienation go hand in hand. Yet, in the end, even the capitalist will say that his choices are determined by the market. One must cut workers in order to keep profits up. (Chris Harman’s Zombie Capitalism explains Marx’s idea that the profit margin helps predict crises in capitalism.) Two obvious retorts appear in popular culture. First, many will object that I am saying that people do not have to work; one can be lazy and get by with government handouts. This objection is the opposite of what I am saying. Marx insists that everyone desires to, deserves to, and must work. Labor is how we develop our most human selves. Alienation occurs because our work is not our own. When it is not our own, then we do not

26 Alienation want to “work” because we are working, not for ourselves or our communities, but for someone else. Nik is paying the mortgage by doing what someone else wants him to do. The objector will press on: “do you expect government to make jobs?” To ask this question presumes capitalism as a foundation. It presumes that some people have control over jobs, which presumes private property. That is, asking, “do you expect government to make jobs” presumes that the means of production are concentrated in the hands of a few owners. Under a socialist community, however, the community controls the means of production, not to horde it for profit, but for the members of the community to develop their best selves. In this analysis, we begin to glimpse Marx’s supremely positive idea of human nature and his key difference from Aristotle. For Aristotle, production is something necessary to maintain human life; yet, the intensity and time-sink of producing things prevents human beings (men) from participating in politics. Thus, Aristotle looks down upon artisans, craftpersons, and other laborers for they do not have the opportunity—for Aristotle, happiness is a great matter of luck—to be fully human in exercising their reason. For Marx, however, labor is the essence of human potentiality, of creativity, and of social life. The communist society is one in which the human being spends only necessary time in producing those things needed to maintain social existence, and the remainder of her time in free creative acts—like art, philosophy, and politics. Yet, through productive labor (we will discuss reproductive labor in Chapters 5 and 6) the human being perfects herself and others in the community. Thus, when human beings alienate themselves from their labor—from what they have produced—they dehumanize themselves. This dehumanization produces private property. Another objection will provide a more nuanced defense of capitalism. The capitalist, they will say, takes risk by investing in a venture. If the venture fails, the capitalist will lose. Thus, if it succeeds, he should be compensated for the risk. Or, the capitalist makes the initial investment in equipment and other resources that the laborer works with; therefore, the capitalist deserves a return on investment. First, we should note that risk is advanced on the presumption of the private ownership of the means of production. If, instead, the community owns the means of production, then any risk is taken, not by an individual or set of individuals, but by the community. Risk and reward are democratically shared. Further, this objection ignores the fundamental issue of alienation that both the worker and the capitalist suffer. In making an object specifically for selling, both reduce their own activity to the status of things. The worker reduces her labor to the status of a thing distinct from herself. The capitalist suffers more here, though, for the capitalist has no labor to offer. The capitalist can only offer the deadweight of all the previously accumulated labor, much of which was accumulated by others before the capitalist even existed. Like the vampire, the capitalist comes to existence

Marx’s Theory of Alienation


through inhuman means as an inhuman creature capable only of living off the blood and sweat of others. Of course, the capitalist will object to such a picture. Yet, the vampire can never see itself in the mirror. Private Property This discussion leads to Marx’s claim that “the theory of the communists may be summed up in a single sentence: Abolition of private property” (Communist Manifesto: 1844, kl 3402). Yet, this abolition does not entail “the abolition of property generally.” Rather, “private property” names the bourgeois (or capitalist) class ownership of the means of production— the factories, tools, and land by which human beings produce the goods necessary to maintain and enhance life. Personal property names, in contrast, an individual’s clothes, house, fishing pole, or laptop computer. “Private property,” then, has a specific, technical meaning in Marx and Marxist economic discourse. That this concept is not fully explained and understood when theorists discuss Marx comprises, not only a great error, but manipulation. In fact, Engels complains against Dühring that he has misunderstood Marx on this point. In the liberated society, “social ownership extends to the land and the other means of production, and individual ownership to the products, that is, the articles of consumption” (Engels 2010 [1947], 81). Engels cites Capital (vol. 1, ch. 33). There, Marx distinguishes between the social product, which belongs to the community, and the part of that which is “consumed by the members as means of subsistence.” On Marx’s analysis, then, we can understand every aspect of capitalism through the lens of private property understood as the logical result of alienated labor. The wage, for instance, is private property for it derives from the worker selling her labor. The value the wage represents derived from labor—either the laborer’s own labor or some previous labor. Capital itself—whether money, stocks and bonds, property, the means of production—is accumulated labor for these things either represent or are value. Thus, all of these things—wages and capital, private property—are accumulated alienated labor. This key idea is what distinguishes Marx’s thought from every other political economist: that waged labor is an anomaly that must be explained, which shows that private property derives from alienated labor. Thus, when Marx writes that we must rid ourselves of private property, he means something specific. He is not authorizing theft. Rather, he is arguing for the end of exploitation. A system of private property exploits the wage-laborer. It takes from the wage laborer his or her labor power in return for a wage less than the value the labor-power produces, reserving the surplus value for the capitalist himself.

28 Alienation Moreover, ridding ourselves of private property entails that people have the opportunity to reclaim their actions as their own and direct their own history. Marx, once more, is not calling for the end of property. Individuals will still own their clothes or their computers or whatever they might want to own that does not equal a means of production through which others are employed (enslaved!) because they have no access to the means of production. The best contemporary model might be that of the worker-owned cooperative or a traditional kibbutz (before privatization). Marx’s critique of capital is, then, a “critique of the capitalistic reification of the social relations of production” (MTOA, 96). As we saw in the introduction, when “paying the mortgage” becomes the motivation for one’s action, then all social relations become in some way a means for paying the mortgage. The social nature of the human being is nullified. Human beings are no longer “ends in themselves,” as Kant would have it, but commodities. Labor For Marx, the most human power is labor for it most distinguishes homo sapiens from other animals and from nature (MTOA, 157): The entire so-called history of the world is nothing but the begetting of man through human labor, nothing but the coming-to-be of nature for man, he has the visible, irrefutable proof of his birth through himself, of his process of coming-to-be. Since the real existence of man and nature has become practical, sensuous and perceptible— since man has become for man as the being of nature, and nature for man as the being of man. (1844, kl 1703) Again, Marx returns us to history. History is a begetting. We become human through history; or better, we realize ever more what it means to be human and how to act human, and we uncover human relations heretofore unseen through history. Yet, what is this transformative power of history? It is human labor. This human labor Marx conceives as a coming to be of nature for human beings. Always for Marx, capitalist social production is both an advance on human activity and at the same time a stage that human beings must overcome. It encompasses a possibility of human realization—of the realization of the activities of homo sapiens—and the greatest alienation of human beings from their labor, from themselves, from society, and from nature. Under capitalism, labor loses its natural and social determinateness (1844, kl 1305). With socialism, we return human activity to its natural and social determinateness. Our activity is the activity of human needs and human sociality.

Marx’s Theory of Alienation


Consider, for instance, Locke’s view of labor. The individual needs to fulfill some need—to eat or find shelter. The individual finds a plot of land, tills it, plants it, harvests the food from it, and consumes the food. The land and the food from it are now his. Nature is sitting empty, and in producing something from it, the individual satisfies basic animal needs that, for Locke, justify his acquisition of the land. The Lockean proviso assures us that the individual can take as much as the individual wants as long as the individual leaves enough and as good for others and does not waste things. Yet, why should we accept Locke’s conclusion that this land is now that of the person who worked it? The land, on Locke’s presumption, belonged to all as a gift from God. It is intended for people to be able to satisfy needs, whether those needs might be for food or for a place of quietude. Why does the use of the land not constitute theft, however? This question arises in the courts as an example of adverse possession. If you leave an Elvis album laying around, and a friend picks it up and plays it, and you never ask for the record or listen to it, after 20 years, the court might recognize the record, not as your property, but as the property of your (former?) friend. Many of us might find this conclusion odd, however. Generosity does not entail a right in this circumstance. Perhaps the album was an heirloom from your mother passed away; perhaps the plot of land was something you bought young to give to your spouse or children upon your death so that they had some means of securing their own existence. The fact that something sits idle does not make that thing available for others to possess. We can make a similar argument regarding land given to all by God. In fact, we could make our objection to the possession of the land, or the Elvis album, stronger. In listening to Elvis, the friend had many hours of enjoyment. He has already benefitted from the album; why does he now own it? Should he not, instead, be required to pay you for the joy he received from using your album? Similarly, the land provides sustenance for the one farming it, and the farming activity itself makes the farmer a better person—stronger, for instance, or more in tuned with nature. Should not the person who farmed it owe to the original owner—in Locke’s case, the community to whom God gave it—some recompenses for its use? This argument need not be surprising. Thomas Aquinas makes a similar argument regarding property. Thomas separates the justice in use of property from the justice in use of the goods resulting from the property. A person who has enough to spare owes it to the those who have not to share at no cost to them. Locke’s argument runs counter to Thomas’s conclusion (a fact many right-wing Catholic thinkers fail to recognize!). We have reasons to question Locke’s argument about the right to property. However, his insight concerning the way money changes the right to property is important. For Locke, before money, one can only own so much as one can use without waste. Only when money comes on the scene can the individual procure more than one could consume at a

30 Alienation time for one’s basic needs. Yet, because the individual can invest the money or save the money, this accumulation does not count as waste or as taking away the possibility of leaving enough and as good for others. As a commodity, private property exists as abstracted from human need. Its value is money. Private property can exist without satisfying human need. In fact, while capitalist production has created more wealth and human beings have access to things they never had before, a great portion of humanity lives in poverty—in need. Again, this need encompasses not just animal needs for food and sex, but human needs for the development of human capacities. In contrast to Locke who views nature as an empty thing for human purposes, for Marx, nature comes to be for the human being and for humanity through labor. It takes on purpose to satisfy human needs that are not merely the needs of the animalistic individual. The person creates something that is her own and reflects herself. Yes, the house one builds must satisfy a need for shelter; yet, it does so socially and historically as a reflection of the person’s relationship to the social whole. It satisfies the needs of the individual in satisfying the needs of the community, for the individual’s needs are sensible only in relation to the social whole. For Marx, history is an irrefutable proof of the birth of the individual person. The existence of the person and of the society under socialism, as opposed to capitalism, is practical, is sensuous, is perceptible. Through labor, the individual develops truly human powers. This understanding of labor contrasts sharply with that of Locke and Smith. Smith, for instance, justifies capitalist production on the basis of the division of labor. An individual can produce more and better needles for instance if that is all the individual does, than the individual can produce a coat. Thus, the division of labor requires individuals doing atomistic tasks not even related to each other. The resulting coat is a product of multiple people but of none. One develops, not real human powers, but carpal tunnel syndrome for Smith. The task for the Marxist is to meld the advantages that might come from capitalist production to decrease time spent doing menial tasks so that all have more time for truly human tasks. That is, human labor is, not something to be sold, but activity through which one develops one’s self. It must be, then, not only practical, but also sensuous and perceptible.

Social Nature of Human Beings Historical Development of Desires To speak of private property, of labor and capital, and wages, is in some sense to speak of the individual. Limiting ourselves to this perspective is a mistake, a mistake ingrained in capitalism. Smith writes that the butcher and the baker do not provide us with meat and bread from the goodness of their hearts but because they wish to make a profit. We are led to

Marx’s Theory of Alienation


believe that human beings are inherently acquisitive and competitive. Indeed, when I speak to my students of all levels about capitalism and Marxism, the inevitable response is that human beings are either too greedy or too competitive to live in a communist state. One of Marx’s key points, however, is that human beings as competitive or greedy is a product of capitalism itself. The concept of private property rests on an individualism that people came to believe with the rise and development of capitalist economic relations. When one begins to distance one’s self from one’s work so as to sell it, then one also distances one’s self both from others, especially those in the community in which one lives, and from nature. In contrast, for Marx, human beings are social animals. This idea has two key aspects. First, human beings produce “the conditions necessary for [their] existence in an inherently social way” (MTOA, 173). How do we satisfy our basic needs for food and clothing, etc.? Barring some extreme accident, we do so in society along lines that society generates. Take, for instance, the grocery store. This artifact is such a part of our everyday lives, that it is difficult to remember how new it is. Yet, grocery stores are artifacts of the last few hundred years. Picking out a chicken for dinner in the frozen food section is a relatively new phenomenon. Massive super-grocers or stores like Costco did not exist when I was a youth. They came about through changes in the way that people procure the things they need to survive. These changes had to be social. One person could not sustain a Costco even for a day. The move from going to the butcher to going to the butcher at the grocery store to purchasing a pre-packaged chicken for dinner took people acting in ways that coordinated with each other and built up over time. Second and more importantly, human beings are social animals because our desires and potentialities are historically developed. Marx writes, “the nature which comes to be in human history—the genesis of human nature which comes to be in human history—the genesis of human society—is man’s real nature” (1844, kl 1653). History is essential for Marxist—or should we say honest—analysis. Traditional philosophy abstracts human beings from their history. Locke, and others in the social contract tradition, abstract the human being from her surroundings and place her in some time and place that never existed. Real human beings live in sensuous time; her existence is mediated through interaction with nature and each other as changing nature, self, and society. Let’s examine these ideas through two popular characters from literature: Tarzan and Robinson Crusoe. Tarzan is the quintessential British Lord. Despite being lost in the jungle and raised by gorillas, he is able to understand and adjust to British social life. He can reassume his standing as a British noble. The lesson is clear, even without its racist undertones: the individual can master himself and his surroundings without help from

32 Alienation others. Robinson Crusoe, before he finds Man Friday, survives alone on an island after a shipwreck. He needs no one else to maintain his life. He is an individual capable of caring for himself. American culture is replete with such examples: the frontiersman willingly alone against the elements and the savage natives; the cowboy willingly alone against nature and city standing before the evil thief; the rogue cop who needs no one but himself to fight against injustice that the system cannot punish. Of course, that all of these individuals are male is not incidental. How strange must it have been for Tarzan to return to London, or even to a city in the Congo, and to work through the social rules for acquiring food. He could not simply pick an apple from someone’s tree without serious repercussions. He could not simply growl or stand to make himself appear larger in order to win an argument. He had to learn (but how?) different social actions to acquire what he needed. Moreover, he had to develop British tastes, for example, for tea or for the way British people dressed. What skills must Robinson Crusoe have had to manage to live by himself on an island, before Man Friday came along? Someone would have had to teach him to hunt, fish, or gather fruits and nuts. In 1719, most men would have had some knowledge of these skills because they did not have grocery stores. Of course, the conceit of individualism lies in the fact that the author need not bother to explain the strangeness of this new social way of being because the reader presumes it without question. Transcendence In the 1844 Manuscripts, Marx asks two questions: one about the contradictions in human reality—why is the world getting richer and yet people getting poorer—and one about how to overcome or transcend these contradictions (MTOA, 16–17). Capital must be read as an attempt to understand transcendence over the contradictions in our lives. For Mészáros moreover, transcendence must be the key question because capitalism is “shaken to its foundations” (ibid., 21). While for Mészáros that shakiness lay in the economic collapse, for us, it is grounded in how climate change confronts human existence with the limits of acquisition and competition which are key ideologies of capitalism. The transcendence of private property is therefore the complete emancipation of all human senses and attributes … because these senses and attributes have become, subjectively and objectively, human. The eye has become a human eye, just as its object has become a social, human object … The senses … relate themselves to the thing for the sake of the thing, but the thing itself is an objective human relation to itself and to man, and vice versa. (1844, kl 1600)

Marx’s Theory of Alienation


Ridding ourselves of private property, so that people do not have to pay the mortgage, is the key to transcendence. “The positive transcendence of private property at the appropriation of human life is, therefore, the positive transcendence of all estrangement—that is to say, the return of man … to his human, i.e., social mode of existence” (1844, kl 1542). For Marx, in the creation of an object that fulfills human need—need, of course, determined socio-historically—is a relation. All objects are relations, of course; products produced through capital production, however, embody abstract relations because they have lost their sensuousness. This sensuousness is lost because the objects are produced, not to satisfy a need, but for the exchange of money. The commodity embodies the social relation, reducing it, seemingly, to just another commodity. We recognized this reduction in the discussion of Nik Naylor and his son, Joey. As animals, homo sapiens have senses: we see, touch, smell, hear, and taste. Under capitalism, these senses are occupied with having. What shall I have for dinner? What kind of television will I buy? Capitalist having is anti-social. Of course, we might invite people over for dinner, but they have what we provide. Dinner amounts to an exchange, at best, and at worst, an opportunity to show others that you are better than them. It is an opportunity to display one’s success. This having results from the nature of private property. The worker abstracts herself in the product made. Something is taken from one. The senses become dulled in this process. Just as the child becomes bored with her Christmas present and plays with the paper wrapping instead, we become bored with our new iPhone until the next one comes out or until we find some other amusement. This boredom, these dulled senses, result from the reduction of human life to possessing. Producing objects for human need, however, reawakens human senses. The object is not just a commodity representing commodity relations. Rather, outside of capitalist production, the object represents real human needs and thus real human relations. Sensuousness returns to the object and to human relations. As human beings respond to human needs, their senses will open and become for us and for and with others human. “Human senses, therefore, are of an immense variety and richness. They are innumerable” (MTOA, 202). This emancipation need not mystify us. We are familiar with the fact that children have different tastes when they are younger and can grow into new tastes as they mature. I did not like Thai food when I first tried it, but I have grown to love it. Nor need the fact that Marx sees this transformation as an emancipation surprise us. In The Journey of Crazy Horse about the Lakhˇ óta leader Thˇ ašúŋke Witkó (Crazy Horse), Joseph Marshall discusses the diminished senses, which included different tastes in foods, of those who lived on reservations versus those who lived the traditional Lakhˇ óta way of life. Their tastes were different, for those who

34 Alienation lived on the reservation no longer lived a life for themselves or for the community. The food she ate comprised, not food she produced, but food the government provided. To be more perspicuous: I am not making a class claim. I am not saying that the tastes—or rather, senses—of those who are oppressed must be liberated. Rather, the senses of all people in all classes will be liberated, for under capitalism, all of our senses belong to the life of commodities. One of Marx’s great insights is that even the capitalist suffers a diminished life under capitalism. Yes, the capitalist has it easier than the worker. The capitalist can purchase, not only more, but healthier food, can maintain a healthier lifestyle, can afford vacations, and can even weather economic downturns that will reduce the worker to a depressed thing. Yet, even the capitalist grows bored with his iPhone and longs for the next one, or the next acquisition. Moreover, because capital is accumulated private property—a result of the commodification of the human person and his or her labor—the capitalist lives, vampire-like (Marx’s imagery; see David McNally’s Monsters of the Market, and then re-read Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein) an inhuman existence in which he or she finds it more difficult to develop real meaningful relationships because of the suspicion that money, or a certain lifestyle, are the real objects of love. The development of the senses is not a class issue, but a human one. “The forming of the five senses is a labor of humanized nature … a labor of the entire history of the world” (1844, kl 1627). Thus, we turn to an oft-quoted text from the 1844 Manuscripts: Therefore, man (the worker) no longer feels himself to be freely active in any but his animal functions—eating, drinking, procreating … and in his human functions he no longer feels himself to be anything but an animal. What is animal becomes human and what is human becomes animal. Certainly drinking, eating, procreating, etc., are also genuinely human functions. But in the abstraction which separates them from the sphere of all other human activity and turns them into sole and ultimate ends, they are animal. (1844, kl 1104) For Marx, homo sapiens have distinctive human powers. Under capitalism, these powers become truncated. Eating, drinking, and procreating become abstracted from the rest of human life. For Nik Naylor and Heather Holloway, for instance, their fucking is compartmentalized from the rest of their lives. Thus, Heather can treat her sexuality as a merely animal component that does not come with a commitment to the other and to the privacy of things said. (Notably, Nik would not hesitate to use something against Heather if it were exposed during copulation. While the movie might be sexist in this relationship, we need not be.) Sex becomes an end in itself, just as does eating and drinking. Here, the issue

Marx’s Theory of Alienation


is not just about tastes or sensations, though the emancipation of the senses cannot be separated from the emancipation of human powers. Rather, the issue is, what activities are truly human? Certainly, nonhominid animals eat and drink, and homo sapiens must fulfill their bodily needs. (This point makes one wonder what heaven will be like since the Gospels tell us that we will have a bodily resurrection!) For Marx, these activities become human when they are connected to the rest of our lives and our other activities. The Need for Other Human Beings “Poverty is the passive bond which causes the human being to experience the need of the greatest wealth—the other human being” (1844, kl 1679). The term “poverty” can be understood two ways here. First, the easy understanding is the lack of material goods. Poverty as a lack of goods can show the need for each other. Each must reach out to each so that basic needs are satisfied. Yet, more basically, “poverty” means the lack of an internal life, a life aimed at satisfying real human needs through labor. While only the great majority of humanity suffers the first kind of poverty, all of humanity suffers the second kind of poverty. We are poor in our social relations for these relations have been devested of their social meaning. As well-off as Nik Naylor or Martin Blank might be, they lack connections to others in which they satisfy human need. Two points arise from this poverty: first, that we must avoid what today we call “civil society.” Civil society is an abstraction of the individual for it only recognizes the claims (usually rights-claims) of individuals out of context. The right to life is abstracted from the need of the un-employed to have a job or from the hungry to have food. Civil society in modern thought is always a society of individuals trying to coordinate their actions by coordinating their selfish, competitive behavior. Moral philosophy attempts to reconcile this seemingly obvious and natural selfishness and competitiveness with the reality that homo sapiens have always lived in society. In contrast to Platonic or Aristotelian moral thought in which happiness and social living go hand-in hand, modern moral thought imagines an antagonism between the two. One cannot be happy—satisfy one’s desires—and be moral—treat others as human beings. Or, at least when philosophers try to square this circle given their basic assumptions about human nature, they sacrifice one to the other by proposing ideas that do not reconcile easily with everyday life. Modern moral theories, such as utilitarianism or deontology, are procedural means for justifying the advantage of some at the disadvantage of others.1 To take two classic examples: utilitarianism entails that I must sacrifice my favorite kind of ice cream so that more people are happy; deontology requires I tell the Nazis the truth when they ask where Anne Frank is hiding so that their

36 Alienation will is not harmed, regardless of what they will do to her. These problems occur only when we abstract human beings from their socio-historical existence. Abstractly speaking, a human individual has desires and interests which may conflict with society. To ask how the person should act abstracted from that society is like asking how the fish breathes when we extract it from water. Civil society rests on such abstractions and, as such, can never satisfy real human need. Marx, in contrast, writes, “when communist workmen associate with one another … as a result of this association, they acquire a new need— the need for society—and what appears as a means becomes an end” (1844, kl 1860). Working people come together to find ways to organize their activities of resistance to owners and the state. People believe they are seeking means to an end: the end of oppression and domination by the capitalist. They seek a better life where they can feed their families, have health care, and time for rest, if not also more say in their working lives. Yet, in coming together, Marx insists, working people discover that their association is in fact the end they seek. In trying to understand this passage, we must remember that Marx was writing in 1844 when laissez-faire capitalism still ruled, children and women enjoyed greater employment than men because they were paid less, and social safety nets did not exist. Marx and Friedrich Engels were not just propogandists or philosophers. They joined with workers to engage in armed struggle with the state and capitalism. Their experience of association is much different than our own historical experience of unions, like that of the Teamsters.2 Where Marx saw people making a community of supporters who had to decide for themselves how to resist the state and capital, we think of unions as burdened with bureaucracy and cronyism that rivals, if it does not equal, that of the mafia. In the U.S. in the twenty-first century, private unions are almost non-existent while public unions, such as that for government workers, are weakened. Capital and the state have not lost the importance of this divide. They pit the common, non-unionized worker against the unions of teachers and government bureaucrats making no distinction between the functions of the two—one serving the needs and interests of children and working families, the other serving the needs of the state and its control of the individual. Understanding these different experiences, we might be able to understand and accept while questioning Marx’s insight here. We need not think of unions as traditionally conceived in the U.S. and Europe or across the world. In fact, we would do well to rid ourselves of the idea of political parties that try to wrest control of state functions from other political parties. These unions and political parties are part of the nationstate and at the service of capital. They seek control of private property. Thus, they exist only because alienated labor exists and they want more of the private property, capital, that results from alienated labor.

Marx’s Theory of Alienation


True, working people come together also because of alienated labor. Yet, their unity does not depend on the continued existence of alienated labor. For the traditionally understood union and political party, the means is separate from the end. The end is capital, or its twin, power. For working people who seek an end to alienated labor, their end is community itself. Why? Because they seek, not more capital, but more freedom. As Mészáros interprets Marx, “freedom is thus the realization of man’s own purpose: self-fulfillment in the self-determined and externally unhindered exercise of human powers” (MTOA 186). “Self-determined” entails that human need determines human labor. On this understanding of freedom, Kant’s categorical imperative appears as an excuse for capital. It articulates the commodity form, demanding that alienated labor produce goods which are divorced from need so as to satisfy the demands of capital. In contrast, socially discovered human need mediates the union of nature and human: nature becomes the arena within which each person discovers her powers to meet human need. Labor is, thus, self-realizing because “power and purpose, and means and ends appear in a natural (human) unity” (MTOA, 186). On Marx’s understanding of freedom, when working people organize themselves, not for power or for profit, but for freedom, they discover that their organizing is itself the end. In organizing themselves, people discover their needs socially and at the same time discover their powers to satisfy these needs. The primary need, to reiterate Marx, is social existence, the need for each other. They then discover a different kind of society. Have human beings discovered such a society? Obviously, the Soviet Union and China are the exact opposite of what Marx envisioned. In these states, power was the end, and power was its own means. The needs of the community did not arise. Other peoples may have found their need in community for brief moments. We can think, not only of the early Christian church (and perhaps non-Christian churches with which this author is sadly unfamiliar), as well as, for instance, the Iroquois nation or the Lakhˇ óta, as well as the early days of the Cuban revolution when Castro worked side by side with Che Guevara, or the Kibbutz already mentioned. The examples in the first part of this sentence—churches and Native Americans, of course, either did not experience or were utterly destroyed by primitive accumulation. Nor did they experience private property as a realization of their objective relation to nature. Thus, they do not represent, but pre-figure or prophesy the communist state. The examples in the second half of the sentence—Cuba and the Kibbutz—are responses to primitive accumulation. More needs to be done to understand why the Cuban revolution became authoritarian—some of the answer to which lies in its particular circumstance as beleaguered by the U.S. and befriended by the statecapitalism of the Soviet Union, some of which concerns other issues. The kibbutzim, of course, as Jewish communities, were always subject to the

38 Alienation religious influence of Judaism, both its good and bad sides, and to the pressures of sustaining practices in a world built on private property. The fact that human beings strive for, and sometimes realize, communist forms of society testify that this form of community is a longing of human spirit. That it has not been realized fully should not discourage us. Rather, it should challenge us to understand what has failed in the past and to find solutions to these challenges. In short, communist society should inspire us to reach new levels of being human, of social living. This striving involves a practical hope akin to religious hope.

Conclusion We see, then, for Marx, that alienation names a form of human activity. It represents activity that does not respond to or arise out of human need and human desire. Under capital social production, human beings divorce all of their activity from human need and produce immediately for money, to “pay the mortgage.” People turn themselves and their labor into commodities, denying their own truly human powers. Alienation is saleability, but saleability is the denial of one’s own capacity to direct one’s future. In divorcing need from activity, human beings have alienated themselves from each other and from nature. Transcending this alienation leads to an emancipation of human senses, a realization and transformation of human powers, and the development of societies of communal activity. In the next chapter, we will explore Alasdair MacIntyre’s changing interpretation of alienation. While one of MacIntyre’s early essays uses the concept of alienation, other essays do not and, instead, prefigure his expanding the concept to mean the divorce of fact and value. That is, our persistent human desires are divorced from our values, and we, in turn, are alienated from directing our own destinies according to those desires and values.

Notes 1 I want to thank Matthew C. Murray for insight on this point. 2 The International Brotherhood of Teamsters is a labor union popularly associated with organized crime in the U.S.

References Abbreviations 1844: Marx, Karl (1988) Economic and Philosophic Manuscripts of 1844 and The Communist Manifesto [the latter co-authored by Friedrich Engels], trans. Martin Milligan. New York: Prometheus Books.

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MTOA: Mészáros, I. (2006) Marx’s Theory of Alienation. Delhi: Aakar Books.

Other References Engels, Friedrich (2010 [1947]) “Herr Eugen Dühring’s Revolution in Science,” trans. Emile Burns, duhring.pdf. Last Accessed 20 November 2020. Fromm, Erich (2013) Marx’s Concept of Man: Including “Economic and Philosophical Manuscripts.” New York: Bloomsbury Academic. Gronow, Jukka (2016) “John Locke, Adam Smith and Karl Marx’s Critique of Private Property,” In Jukka Gronow, On the Formation of Marxism: Karl Kautsky’s Theory of Capitalism, the Marxism of the Second International and Karl Marx’s Critique of Political Economy (pp. 225–251). Boston, MA: Brill, Last accessed 9 February 2020. Harman, Chris (2009) Zombie Capitalism: Global Capitalism and the Relevance of Marx. Chicago, IL: Haymarket Books. Marshall, Joseph M. III (2004) The Journey of Crazy Horse: A Lakota History. New York: Viking Books. McNally, David (2012) Monsters of the Market: Zombies, Vampires, and Global Capitalism. Chicago, IL: Haymarket Books. Mulhall, Stephen (1998) “Alienation and Self-Realization,” Angelaki, 3(1): 89–101. Nozick, Robert (2013) Anarchy, State, and Utopia. New York: Basic Books. Ollman, B. (1976) Alienation: Marx’s Conception of Man in a Capitalist Society (Vol. 9). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Pilling, Geoff (1980) “Marx’s Capital – Philosophy and Political Economy,” www. Last accessed 9 February 2020. Shelly, Mary (2012) Frankenstein, 2nd edition. New York: W. W. Norton & Co. Smith, Adam (1981) An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations. Indianapolis, IN: Liberty Classics.


Macintyre’s Interpretation of Alienation

Introduction In this chapter, we come to understand MacIntyre’s continuing Marxism by understanding the way that he expands on Marx’s concept of alienation, something not seen in other discussions of MacIntyre’s Marxism. MacIntyre, in his first book and early essays, extends this Marxist notion to include the modern divorce between fact and value. His early essays reveal how a philosophical anthropology was necessary to his early project, a philosophical anthropology which he seems to have abandoned along with Marxism and Christianity in 1968. MacIntyre’s mature work drops use of the term “alienation” and considers emotivism (or expressivism, depending on which book you read). Emotivism characterizes modern society because it rests on an underlying alienation of fact and value. This discussion clarifies the relationship between the concepts of moral flexibility, alienation, and emotivism; they focus attention on different aspects of the divorce between persistent human desire and value. We begin with an analysis of Marxism: An Interpretation (MAI). This book is centrally concerned with the concept of alienation and identifies Marxism as a Christian heresy. We then consider his most important essay from before After Virtue (AV), “Notes from the Moral Wilderness” (NOTES). In this essay, MacIntyre identifies the key themes that drive his future project, tying alienation to the divorce of fact and value, showing the need for understanding the “we want” of politics, and insisting on a philosophical anthropology to contrast with modern liberalism. Finally, we discuss emotivism in AV, understanding this concept in light of his early work as the new understanding of alienation. Against the emotivists, MacIntyre insists that reason, not love, is the most characteristic of human powers.

Macintyre’s Early Marxism Marxism: An Interpretation For those who know little to nothing of MacIntyre’s work, this section will prove fruitful for understanding what comes after. While for Marxists

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this section will be a reminder of the contributions MacIntyre once made to Marxist theory, for Thomists, this section will undermine their attempts to interpret MacIntyre as a conservative thinker. The central issue throughout remains alienation. Examining this notion in MacIntyre’s earliest work will pave the way for understanding how his most recent work—Revolutionary Aristotelianism—answers the problem of alienation and, more importantly, how the notion of common good, especially in the formulation that Thomas Aquinas gave it, is essentially communist and democratic, even if Thomas did not understand it as such. MacIntyre began as a Marxist and Christian attempting to unite the two in a coherent theory, from the publication of MAI in 1953 to its republication as Marxism and Christianity in 1968, when he abandoned both Marxism and Christianity. MacIntyre understood Marxism as “of first-class theological significance as a secularism formed by the gospel which is committed to the problem of power and justice and therefore to themes of redemption and renewal” (MAI, 18). In MAI, MacIntyre traces the concept of alienation from its religious roots to Hegel’s appropriation of it, through Feuerbach, and finally to Marx. It is surprising that neither Mészáros nor Ollman cite this text which was written nearly two decades before their own work, given its focus on the concept of alienation and the questions they pursue. In fact, Ollman’s historical analysis would have benefitted from engagement with MacIntyre’s book, even if just to recognize that more work than MacIntyre completed at the time needed to be done. While Mészáros and Ollman provide deeper readings of Marx’s lost text, MacIntyre broached many of the same topics they do, but from a religious perspective. That neither engaged MacIntyre’s attempt to reconcile Marxism and theology is truly a lost opportunity, for it would be interesting to see how Marxists engaged with an, at-the-time, committed Christian interpretation of the same text from Marx. Regardless, the concern we have is: How does MacIntyre interpret alienation in Marx in this early work? MacIntyre notes that Hegel adopts the language of alienation from St. Paul. Paul says that human beings are alienated in their thinking. The gospel message is that Jesus overcomes this alienation with his death. Hegel, then, by appropriating the Pauline concept, creates a new language by which to speak of fallen human beings. Insofar as Marx adopts this language to speak of material alienation, of alienated labor, he is adopting Christian theological language. That fact testifies to Marx’s formulation of his theory as a form of Christian heresy. MacIntyre begins by telling us that alienation describes human beings in their fallen state. They are divided against themselves and their fellow human beings. Part of this divided nature is objectification. Objectification for Hegel occurs when human beings fail to recognize the products of

42 Alienation their thoughts as their own. For Hegel, this alienation “results in the loss of freedom” (MAI, 25). What divides the individual from the community such that conflict arises? Hegel’s answer looks to human consciousness, especially in his Master-Slave dialectic. In brief, Hegel analyzes the consciousness of the master and slave. The slave’s consciousness recognizes herself as in service to the master. Yet, all slaves recognize their equal servitude which gives rise to a consciousness of equality—the equality of slavery. At the same time, the master must recognize himself as dependent on the slave for he cannot be a master without a slave. From this recognition of unfreedom arises a recognition of freedom and equality. At least human thought about their relationships change. Hegel traces out the effect of these changes in consciousness through history to arrive at true freedom in the Prussian state of 1820. For Hegel, reconciliation appears first and primarily in thought, and only later in reality. Conflict, one might argue, drives history. The followers of Hegel, both left and right, understand this conflict as one between ideas, continuing Hegel’s idealism. For them, MacIntyre notes, the battle for freedom is a battle fought between theories. While we can dismiss the conservative approach of the right Hegelians for present purposes, Ludwig Feuerbach represents the most important thinker of the Left Hegelians. Feuerbach argued that thought must interact with being in order to have an object for its activity. Moreover, thought is never a private activity, but “a part of man’s intercourse with his fellow men” (MAI, 34). Feuerbach’s materialism is stated in the following passage: “If because of hunger, of misery, you have no foodstuff in your body, you likewise have no stuff for morality in your head” (ibid.). Yet, this materialism is limited; the real work is in the realm of thought. MacIntyre follows Marx in understanding the limitations of Feuerbach’s materialism. “Feuerbach, not satisfied with abstract thinking, wants contemplation; but he does not conceive sensuousness as practical humansensuous activity” (Marx 1845, #5). Like Hegel, Feuerbach accepts the religious idea that “God is love,” but believes that religion has taken the wrong form. He remains Hegelian in this belief. “He regards the theoretical attitude as the only genuine human attitude, while practice is conceived and fixed only in its ditty-jaundiced manifestation” (Marx 1845, #1). In contrast to the pseudo-materialism of Feuerbach, Marx provides a true material of practice. “What has to be done is to realise the ideal in the world, not simply of thought, but of material reality” (MAI, 39). According to MacIntyre, Marx inherits from Feuerbach the religious idea that the human person’s reality is revealed in community, but recognizes the concrete contradiction of this personality in the Prussian state that Hegel praised. Human beings ought to be free and equal, but in civil society the human being is born into inequality of “birth, occupation, and property” (MAI, 46). MacIntyre recounts the ideas of alienated labor we

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already met. “To acquire a true philosophy is, of course, part of the transformation of oneself: this truth itself is only to be acquired in practice” (MAI, 61). What makes Marx’s theory materialist is his focus on concrete human action, or sensuousness. I want to focus on what MacIntyre adds to this account viz., the theological echoes in Marx’s ideas. Marx’s condemnation of capitalist society echoes the judgement Jesus made of rich and poor. Further, Marx sees that all human persons must be “saved,” not just the individual person. MacIntyre emphasizes, then, in a way that Mészáros and Ollman echo, that “Marx’s doctrine here is a moral doctrine. His view of labor derives not at root from economic theory but from moral insight. He moves between the poles of man fallen, man redeemed” (MAI, 58; see also Blackledge 2012). MacIntyre contends, then, that Marx condemned civil society because it united human persons via nationalism or via the idea of family—what we saw in Hitler’s Nazi philosophy, what we see in the religious-cumRepublican right, what we see in Trump’s America First, what we see in Brexit and the fear-mongering which drove that election, and what we see in hard-right politicians across the world today. In its place, Marx “declared that what united men was their loss of a true humanity under the conditions of private property” (MAI, 75). Instead, he proclaimed that “the fundamental bond between man and man is the task of becoming human and of making a truly humane society through the way of suffering and of proletarianization” (MAI, 75). MacIntyre argues, however, that Marx and Marxism have failed to remain true to the vision of man redeemed. He wishes to present a different path forward. This new path begins by recognizing the logical confusions that beset metaphysics and ethics: “in metaphysics we distort language to serve our emotional needs … we disguise as factual assertion what is actually emotive and exclamatory” (MAI, 110). MacIntyre here gives a first statement of the problem that he identifies as the central one of modernity in his mature work. “The emotive theory suggests that it is all a question of feelings and that no rational pattern can be discerned in such an argument” (MAI, 114). In contrast, MacIntyre argues that facts are important in moral argument. Or to put it another way, moral arguments require, not just emotional statements, but facts. The reason that they do is because theory must ask questions from a practical motive. “World-views” have practical consequences. MacIntyre summarizes: Paul could put it quite bluntly: ‘If Christ be not risen from the dead, then is our faith vain.’ Similarly, the Marxist can say: ‘If the free society does not arise from revolution, then Marxism is vain.’ Both Christianity and Marxism assert patterns in history by pointing to vindicating events. (MAI, 118)

44 Alienation For MacIntyre, these practical implications are radical. “The task is to create a form of community which will exemplify the pattern of the gospel and which will be enabled to renew continually its repentance for its conformity to the patterns of human sin” (MAI, 121). He further provides some signs for the road ahead. This community must “be solved in the practice of Christian living, rather than in theory.” It must be a politics of compassion instantiated in a community of poverty and prayer. “Notes From the Moral Wilderness” Stalinism and Classical Liberalism MacIntyre picks up the discussion of fact and value in the most important of his early essays, “Notes from the Moral Wilderness.” This essay appeared in 1958–1959 in The New Reasoner, the flagship journal of the New Left in Britain. The New Left arose as a response to the revelations about Stalin’s oppressive regime in Khrushchev’s Secret Speech. While political asylum seekers released some information about life in the Soviet Union, Khrushchev’s speech opened up a wider lens on the abuses within the Soviet Union in a way that members of communist parties outside the Soviet Bloc could not deny. The New Left, while breaking free of Soviet Marxism-cum-Stalinism, remained committed to the proletariat revolution, a revolution led by the workers, not by a party. While the New Left later suffered a split between those who were committed to revolution from the action of workers and those who had lost faith in the proletariat to revolt against the easy life provided by post-war, Keynesian capitalism, that split does not matter for our purposes (see Nicholas 2017). Rather, MacIntyre’s essay shows an engagement with concrete historical reality that characterizes his work. Surprisingly, MacIntyre does not use the term “alienation” in this essay. Yet, to the Marxist, the concept dominates the structure and argument of the essay. MacIntyre has taken the insights that he developed in MAI and broadened them. The theme is still alienation, but the diagnoses go beyond Marx’s economic theory to a theory of the nature of desire and morality. The key issue for us is MacIntyre’s discussion of the fact-value divorce, of the nature of Marx’s theory, and of the importance of human nature. MacIntyre uses these concepts to diagnose the ills of both Stalinism and liberal morality. The reader, then and perhaps more now, must find this analysis strange. How are Stalinism and classical liberalism similar? Asked from the perspective of a liberal, and especially the liberal critic of Stalinism, this question arises from a surprise that someone would denigrate liberalism as a philosophy as negative as Stalinism. Yet, this surprise can only appear if we ignore Marx’s influence on MacIntyre and the critique of classical liberalism discussed in Chapter 1 regarding private property. Classical liberalism, in its many versions from Locke and Mill

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to Habermas, Rawls, Nozick, and Dworkin, is a morality of private property and individualism. The classical liberal, then, divorces history— or fact—from morality. Morality, for the liberal, is something outside of human society. Many liberal theorists imagine some original existence before human society—a state of nature or an original position—by which they try to discover the moral principles which will guide human action. John Rawls and Ronald Dworkin attempt to avoid this judgement. They would insist that they are articulating concepts that provide a parameter within which individuals pursue their goods in conditions similar to everyone else. Yet, their arguments fail for the same reasons; both articulate moral principles divorced from, and identified before, concrete human desire. They abstract from history to arrive at their principles, but human beings act in history. Always, the classical liberal presents a conflict between individual human beings as essentially acquisitive, self-interested proprietors and proposes a set of moral rules which constrain the acquisitive nature of the individual so that he might live in society. Society is not something essential to human life under classical liberalism. It is necessary for preservation or the acquisition of property. This view itself, however, arises in history, a particular history under capitalist forms of production. Refusing to acknowledge this historical reality blinds classical liberalism from addressing human needs as they appear in history. Let me emphasize the atomism of classical liberalism. While many in the U.S., especially conservative politicians, proclaim their love for community, their idea of community is different from that of Aristotle, Marx, and MacIntyre. It is different because they begin with a presumption of a wholly constituted individual anterior to society. This position unites left and right classical liberals—Democrats and Republicans in the U.S., Labour and Tories in the U.K. The individual is idealized as a complete subject who agrees to enter into social arrangements with others to better (typically) his life. The difference within this basic assumption between left and right classical liberals is two-fold: first, modern conservativism, especially influenced by evangelicalism (and here, I include Catholics who believe the U.S. flag should fly inside the church), identifies the individual as a head-of-household man, and modern liberals see men and women as equal individuals. A more polite way of stating this broad-stroke difference is that conservatives believe that family is private, not political. Second, of course, economically, conservatives and liberals differ on the proper balance between freedom of the market and freedom in society. Both of these differences appear, however, as elements within the broadly agreed philosophy that individual subjectivity is whole outside the state. Thus, actions of the state have no effect on the individual’s subjectivity. He is who he is regardless of whether the state provides education for him or follows him around because of his skin pigmentation.

46 Alienation For MacIntyre, as for Marx, this atomistic starting point condemns the project of classical liberalism. Human beings realize their naturally human capacities in community. If we begin by conceiving human beings as individuals apart from society, then we conceive of an abstraction which has no relation to real persons in their historical concreteness. To so separate history from morality is to misunderstand the nature of moral rules. In the language of Marx, it is a form of alienation. Homo sapiens are persons who can only discover their individuality, their goals, and their capacities in relation with others. For MacIntyre, Marx erred when he focused solely on economics and did not explore alienation as it appears in all of modern human society. That alienation appears primarily as the divorce between fact and value. Thus, this question—what do the liberal and the Stalinist have in common—asked from the perspective of the Stalinist is more shocking than when it is asked from the perspective of the liberal. The Stalinist emerges from the tradition of Marx who developed a materialist conception of alienation. The Stalinist, not the liberal, should be best at avoiding alienation. Yet, history shows that Stalin and Stalinism (as well as many other deviant Marxisms) have failed to avoid alienation. Why? Because, MacIntyre answers, the Stalinist, like the liberal, divorces history from value. The Stalinist does so as a negative image to the liberal. Where the liberal breaks history and morality apart at the beginning to ask questions about morality, the Stalinist separates them at the end of history. Moral principles do not matter because we know the outcome of history. An unfortunate feature of Marxism after Marx is the belief that Marx thought he was scientifically predicting the future of political society. Marx’s prediction of the forthcoming communist society was sometimes worded as scientifically determined based on his materialist methodology. In MAI, MacIntyre seems to accept that Marx switched from the humanism of the 1844 Manuscripts to the determinism found in Capital. However, in Marxism and Christianity, MacIntyre steps back from this interpretation. He argues instead that Marx himself conflated the issue in his writings. It was later Marxists, such as Lenin and Stalin, and liberals, such as Karl Popper, who misread Marx as making a scientific prediction. In contrast, MacIntyre of 1968 believes that Marx was proposing a hope for the communist society to come about. Like all hope, it requires human action, and Marx hoped at the time that the proletariat would unite and overthrow the capitalist system. Part of the split in the New Left that I mentioned hinged on this issue. Will the proletariat or will some other group bring about the communist society? MacIntyre throughout the 1960s held to the hope that it was the proletariat. In fact, he attacked leftists, like Herbert Marcuse, who seemed to place their hopes in other groups, such as third-world revolutionaries, Black radicals, and student protestors (Nicholas 2017). While MacIntyre could not accept this turn, he does appear in 1968 to abandon, without

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saying so in so many words, the proletariat as the source of revolution. This loss of hope appears 21 years later in AV, wherein MacIntyre claims that Marxism has failed as a political theory and that the path forward lies, not in political revolutions that grasp power from the hands of the capitalist state, but in developing communities of common goods. This pronouncement, however, can only be understood against the background of his early Marxism and, particularly, his analysis of classical liberalism and Stalinism. The problem is the divorce of fact from value—what philosophers have variously called the is–ought problem or the fact–value distinction, or what MacIntyre has named autonomous morality (not to be confused with moral autonomy). Whatever we call it, the divorce of fact and value is MacIntyre’s understanding of alienation. Extending the Concept of Alienation In NOTES, then, MacIntyre extends Marx’s notion of alienation (see McMylor 1993, 14), just as Max Horkheimer and Theodor Adorno before had. They differ, however, in how they extend the notion. Horkheimer and Adorno (2002), writing during the Second World War, are trying to understand, not just why the revolution never occurred, but how Enlightenment gave way to fascism. Between Marx and them was both Max Weber and György Lukács. Weber’s analysis of modern society centered on the notion of reification as calculation. In modernity, reason becomes pure calculative rationality. This rationality has no room for value. For Lukács, rationality is the means for controlling others. Subject becomes an object for manipulation. Horkheimer and Adorno extend Lukács’s analysis to understand, not just the rise of capitalism, but the whole history of increasing rationalization in European-American culture. This rationalization involves a split between reason and nature. At the center of their discussion and more prominently in Horkheimer’s Eclipse of Reason is a discussion of the distortion of desire. Desire becomes something to manipulate and thereby a means to control others. Weber proves important for MacIntyre as well (Breen 2012). However, MacIntyre contends that alienation arises, not from calculative rationality, but from the divorce of desire from value. In history, desire and morality slowly separate. In a world in which human beings find it difficult to satisfy desire—because of factors of nature or society—they objectify moral rules (NOTES, 91). That is, they see the moral rules as legitimated, not from within their nature, but from without, imposed on them by society or god or whatever replaces god when belief fades away. The other side of this history is what happens to desire. “Men try to want what the ruling ethos says that they want” (NOTES, 92). To want what someone else says I should want is to alienate my desires from me. Both Horkheimer and Adorno, on the one hand, and MacIntyre, on the other, extend the notion of alienation beyond a description of the

48 Alienation economic realm. For Horkheimer and Adorno, alienation is increasing rationalization at the expense of a reason capable of evaluating desire. Human beings are alienated primarily from nature. For MacIntyre, alienation arises from two aspects: the difficulty in fulfilling desires because of natural and social hurdles and the attempt to conform one’s desires to those of the ruling class. Both, further, focus on distortion in desire and manipulation. I have argued (Nicholas 2012) that MacIntyre provides an answer to the problem of calculative reason that Horkheimer and Adorno were never able to articulate. In Chapter 5, I will give more nuance to this argument by suggesting that Horkheimer and Adorno’s insight into the domination of nature as a feature of European-American culture is logically prior to the divorce of fact from value. In this chapter, we must finish examining MacIntyre’s claims from his Marxist phase with his claims as a Revolutionary Aristotelian. Human Nature and Community For MacIntyre, human action and practices are intelligible—we can understand why people do the things they do—only when we can show how the action is related to “characteristically human desires, needs, and the like” (NOTES, 89). Subject and object appear here. The subject, the human person, acts for an object, the end of a desire, the satisfaction of a need. This position is classically Marx. In the communist society, we will act, not for money, but for those things that satisfy human need. We work to create things in which desire and value appear together, where subject and object find unity. For MacIntyre, desire and value come together again in the discovery of a common humanity. One meets the anarchic individualist desires which a competitive society breeds in us, by a rediscovery of the deeper desire to share what is common in humanity, to be divided neither from them nor from oneself … in this discovery moral rules reappear as having point. For their content can now be seen as … helping release desire. (NOTES, 95) How does community solve these issues? “The peculiar contribution of the Marxist critic here is the understanding that the ‘I’ can only be put back into ‘I want’ if the ‘we’ is put back into ‘we want’” (NOTES, 93). How do we reconcile the I and the We? As always, we begin with action. Yet, to transform action into a change in consciousness, MacIntyre insists, “the crucial concept for Marxists is their conception of human nature, which has to be at the center of any discussion of moral theory … in terms of this concept alone that morality and desire can come together once more” (NOTES, 93).

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For Hegel and Marx, history is human persons “discovering and making a common shared humanity” (NOTES, 94). I want to emphasize these two verbs, discovering and making. MacIntyre is following Marx here: human beings make their own history, even if not in circumstances of their own choosing. Part of what they are making and discovering is a common, shared humanity. Marx sees the “emergence of human nature … in terms of the history of class struggle. Each age reveals a development of human potentiality” (NOTES, 94). For the Marxist MacIntyre, then, “capitalism provides a form of life in which men rediscover desire in a number of ways. They discover above all that what they want most is what they want in common with others… that certain ways of sharing human life are indeed what they most desire” (NOTES, 95). We shall return to this idea of sharing certain ways of life in our discussion of practices, traditions, and common goods. In MAI, MacIntyre attempts a synthesis of Marxism and Christianity by understanding the concept of alienation from its religious roots, through its appropriation by Hegel, to its use by Marx in the 1844 Economic and Philosophic Manuscripts. As we have seen, the central concern is a separation between subject and object, especially the lack of any meaning of moral rules to human life. The task is to develop actual practices and real communal bonds. In NOTES, without using the language of alienation, MacIntyre spells out the divorce of fact—persistent human desire—from value as the source of suffering and misery. Alienation is just this divorce. The solution, as in Marxism, is a community in which we discover common humanity. Those familiar with MacIntyre’s corpus can guess that I shall connect this discovery of common humanity to the concepts of Revolutionary Aristotelianism. Yet, to fill out the argument, we need to examine how MacIntyre’s object of concern in the 1950s and 1960s—alienation—is in fact the same object of concern in Revolutionary Aristotelianism—emotivism.

Emotivism as Alienation Our MacIntyre and Theirs To those unfamiliar with MacIntyre, the beginning of this section might seem odd. I shall begin with a discussion of MacIntyre’s mature diagnoses of modernity, which is emotivism. We already have met emotivism, however, in our discussion of alienation. Why, then, have people separated this discussion in MacIntyre’s later work from that in his earlier work? Several reasons present themselves. First, and most obviously, MacIntyre’s work covers sixty years, and his Marxist essays were published thirteen years before his seminal After Virtue, published in 1981. Second, MacIntyre stopped using the term “alienation.” This fact might make us pause in the argument: did this change not signal a change in focus? I

50 Alienation shall argue it did not; rather, emotivism is simply a new name for alienation. Why MacIntyre stopped using the Marxist term remains unclear to me. Third and relatedly, most do not see that MacIntyre extended Marx’s notion of alienation. Perhaps MacIntyre does not recognize this fact, though I refrain from imposing psychological states on him. Rather, MacIntyre extends the notion and starts using different language to capture this extended notion. In doing so, he seems to have convinced readers that he abandoned the attempt to address alienation as a problem. While I shall argue in the remainder of this chapter that alienation is MacIntyre’s key concern even when he uses different terminology, in the next chapter I shall demonstrate that MacIntyre’s Revolutionary Aristotelianism is in fact a response to the problem of alienation, a problem requiring a materialist response. Fourth, many Marxists understood AV to be an attack on Marxism, and so they were blinded to the continuing analysis of alienation in this work. Perhaps, as suggested by Matthew Murray in private conversation, Marxism has a conservative and a progressive bent, a fundamentalist and a conceptual distinction. MacIntyre’s early work, especially NOTES, can be viewed as an attack on the conservative approach. AV appears as an attack on Marxism to them because of the stinging criticism of bureaucracy which they associated with critiques of the Soviet Union. This form of critique is nothing new for MacIntyre and is part of a larger rift in the left in the 1960s and on. One hope for this book is that it unites progressive elements of the Marxist tradition by providing insight and criticism of one of its key proponents, MacIntyre. My focus is on the conceptual elements that help us understand our present situation and map ways toward liberation. All such maps require a unity among the left which we have not been able to manage well. Many on the left recognize the need for unity, especially after the triumph of Trump, Brexit, and Bolsonaro, among others. Further, we need to renew the possibilities for unity between Marxists, Christians, and other religiously inspired people who recognize God as the God-Is-Love. In building these unities, we must be aware of the problems of previous analysis and focus on the concepts necessary for the work we do. Understanding Emotivism In AV, MacIntyre traces the roots of emotivism through an analysis of moral argument historically grounded in modernity. He continues this historical analysis in Three Rival Versions of Moral Enquiry and the much better and more detailed Whose Justice? Which Rationality?, as well as finally in Ethics in the Conflicts of Modernity. My summary will primarily focus on AV and the articulation of his argument against Bernard Williams in ECM about rationality.

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The problem these books address is: why is modern morality plagued with shrill disagreement when philosophers have searched for and defended principles of rationality that are neutral between conceptions of the good? If we accept, as most modern philosophers do, that individuals simply disagree on the nature of the good, our task is to provide a principle of morality which is neutral between these different conceptions— between the Lutheran and the Roman Catholic and the atheist, not to mention the Muslim, Buddhist, and Hindu, while certainly avoiding any discussion of the good in traditions of the Native Americans or African peoples, or aboriginals of Australia, etc. A variety of philosophers have proposed a number of such principles from Hume’s and Smith’s philosophy of the sentiments, to Kant’s categorical imperative, to Mill’s greatest happiness principles. Yet, despite the existence of these principles, society cannot agree on the goodness or badness of life and death situations like abortion, euthanasia, and the death penalty, nor on questions about prostitution, affirmative action, and vegetarianism. MacIntyre claims that these modern moral theories have given way to emotivism and expressivism in everyday life. While MacIntyre makes some distinction between emotivism and expressivism, preferring the latter term in his latest book, I shall simply use the term emotivism throughout. The central cause for concern is that moral utterances are mere expressions of feeling or preferences. “Emotivism is the doctrine that all evaluative judgements and more specifically all moral judgments are nothing but expressions of preference, expressions of attitude or feeling, insofar as they are moral or evaluative in character” (AV, 11–12). Under emotivism, expressions of moral approval or disapproval— withholding information from your patient because you wish to protect her—are merely expressions of emotion, of attitude, or of preference. One may not be willing to withhold information from one’s spouse and certainly would be offended if others withheld medical information from one’s self. One could press a doctor on this issue. Why is it morally right for you to withhold information from your patient? “Because I am protecting the patient.” Why is it right for you to protect the patient rather than let the patient make a choice about her own medical procedures? “Because I know more about the risks.” Can just anyone who knows more about the risks withhold information? “No, but I’m a doctor, and I’ve taken an oath to protect the patient.” Here, the reference to an oath becomes an end-line defense. We might press further about the authority of the oath; in the end, however, the oath remains unquestioned as an attitude of the doctor questioned, for, surely, the doctor will not refuse payment for his services. We have seen this situation play out in many cases. Challenge someone on abortion, and eventually the conversation ends with, “that’s how I feel” or “that’s what I believe.” One-issue-voter pro-life Catholics are particularly skilled emotivists. Ask why they vote for someone who

52 Alienation supports the death penalty or refuses to spend money to help single mothers, they hide behind distinctions which popes, such as John Paul II, have rejected. The failure of such pro-life Catholics to march in solidarity with Black Lives Matter protestors in response to the death of George Floyd in 2020 speaks to the emotivist character of their position, as does their refusal to wear face masks during the pandemic. Similarly, engage in a conversation about homosexuality in the Bible, and eventually someone will claim that their belief in the Bible about homosexuality is different than what it says about evolution or eating pork. Often, people will end up saying something like, “it’s all relative,” which is just a restatement of Martin Blank’s claim that “it’s all bullshit.” Emotivism, then, is just a different side of the same coin as moral flexibility. The primary difference is that “moral flexibility” names a psychological theory, and “emotivism” and “expressivism” name philosophical theories about the meanings of sentences. As discussed in the introduction, in Thank You for Smoking, Joey wants to go to California with his dad, and his mother objects, stating that she does not think it is appropriate. Joey responds that if she objects to him spending time with the man she no longer loves, he will accept her decision. In making this claim, he reduces her moral judgement—it is not appropriate for you to go on a business trip with your father—to an emotional statement—you are still angry with my father. If moral flexibility names the ability or willingness to switch out one’s moral principles to get one’s way, emotivism is the root cause of this willingness as it declares that all moral principles are simply emotions anyway. Thus, our prison guard is able to compartmentalize his religious beliefs from his work—what we labeled moral flexibility as a psychological trait—because in modernity people often think of moral rules as mere expressions of emotion/attitude/preference. Emotivism and the Culture of Manipulation For MacIntyre, as for any coherent Marxist, theory must direct us back to its concrete historical circumstances. The society that accepts emotivism is one which “entails the obliteration of any genuine distinction between manipulative and non-manipulative behavior” (AV, 23). In the introduction, I demonstrated this link between moral flexibility and manipulation. MacIntyre makes the link theoretically clear. The distinction between manipulative and non-manipulative behavior is the distinction between treating someone as a means to your own ends and treating someone such that they can make choices regarding their ends. Treating someone as though they can make choices requires offering them reasons for why they should act as you wish they would. Yet, emotivism denies this possibility. “Emotivists use moral terms to manipulate the opinions of others” (RAV, 76). If moral judgements are merely expressions of emotions or express some attitude or preference, then one cannot use moral

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judgements to appeal to someone’s reason. We have already looked at some brief forms of arguments here, but let’s extend one. Someone, let’s say a family physician, is trying to convince an obstetrician in her medical building that he should share information about home birth and midwifery-led birth with his patients. How might the family physician make the case? She might argue that the principle of autonomy—that people have a right to make their own best decisions about medical care—dictates that the obstetrician provide the information. Yet, if we believe that all moral principles—including that of autonomy—are mere expressions of attitudes or preferences, what has she offered to the obstetrician—only her own attitude or preference. Her attitude or preference can affect the obstetrician only on some nonrational level: he admires her work; he wants to impress her because she’s attractive; he knows she sits on the hospital ethics board, etc. None of these can appeal to someone’s reason to evaluate goods, desires, and reasons. They can only provide a route from point A to point B. That is, under emotivism, the family physician can only manipulate, but not reasonably convince, the obstetrician to provide information to his patients. Unfortunately, medical ethics, as practiced today, seems susceptible to this form of manipulation. Consider the typical bioethics textbook. Lewis Vaughn’s Bioethics: Principles, Issues, and Cases (third edition; Vaughn 2017) lists five principles: autonomy, nonmaleficence, beneficence, utility, and justice. At the end of subsequent chapters, the text provides cases which students are then to adjudicate. Questions asked include ones like, “What moral principle would support your argument?” (ibid., 91) Another well-known and used bioethics textbook is Beauchamp and Childress’s Principles of Biomedical Ethics (eighth edition; Beauchamp and Childress 2019) which includes a chapter each for autonomy, nonmaleficence, beneficence, and justice. Rachel Haliburton laments the fact that a silent consensus has arisen around “principlism” in bioethics, a position developed by Beauchamp and Childress. “Principlism is the idea that issues in bioethics can be analyzed, and even resolved, when we make use of ethical principles that allows us to articulate and balance competing moral intuitions and commitments” (Haliburton 2013, 36). Yet, it is flawed. Principles ultimately have been derived from moral theories each with their own conception of the self, and these conceptions cannot be reconciled in practice. Medical ethics (bio-ethics, bio-medical ethics) embodies an emotivism which eviscerates moral reasoning of any critical power: “The mainstreaming of bioethics, then, has resulted in its domestication: it is at home in the institutions it would once have viewed with skepticism, and a central part of the practices it would once have criticized” (Haliburton 2013, 2). Such a declawed bioethics cannot withstand the manipulative behavior of doctors, even if that behavior is largely unintentional. Doctors, as we shall see in Chapter 6, must pay the mortgage.

54 Alienation In contrast, non-manipulative argument must appeal to something outside the individual’s emotions/attitudes/preferences. That is, non-manipulative behavior must offer up to the other reasons that justify the person’s actions which the other can evaluate. Such evaluation cannot be simply more appeals to emotions/attitudes/preferences. Such appeals are personal and end in unresolvable conflict. We must reject Nik’s explanation to Joey about arguing over ethics. Arguing over ethics is not the same as arguing over the best flavor of ice cream. That is an argument one cannot win, because one can give, not reasons, but only one’s preference here. In contrast, we must contend that in any given situation, some ways of acting are right and some are wrong. Reason requires that we evaluate the ends we aim at and the means we use to achieve that end. Are these good for me, them, or us to pursue? Are these good ways to pursue the end? Reason appeals to that which is independent of my personal emotions, attitudes, and preferences. A real discussion about homebirth or midwife-led birth (in the U.S.) would have to evaluate the reasons and goods and even ideas behind the different perspectives here. For example, the family physician might ask after the obstetrician’s moral ideals and goals. Do they both agree in patient autonomy? Why? What do they each mean by the term? Do they both agree that pregnancy is a natural occurrence or a pathology? Why? In this discussion, they would offer reasons that cannot be reduced to mere preference or cannot be subsumed under some rational calculation regarding the other. Certainly, we are not always aware of all the factors that play a role in our evaluation of different moral principles or actions. The question, however, is whether we believe that all such principles are mere expressions of attitudes or if we believe that homo sapiens are capable of making decisions based on reasoning about the good of human life. The conflicts that arise in these kinds of situations involve conflicts over goods, often, and conflicts in our desires, always. We always desire that our children are healthy. The goods involved in deciding whether to birth at home include goods of safety, but also, as we shall see in Chapter 6, goods of family peace, of psychological health, etc. In ECM, MacIntyre contends that, in deciding between these goods, the person may come to recognize a split in herself between desires she has and desires she thinks she ought to have. According to MacIntyre, this split in the person’s desires is the end for emotivism and a beginning for the Aristotelian. It represents an end for emotivism, for all emotivism can do is explain that we have these splits in our desires and maybe that we develop our desires in relation to our social context. Aristotle makes this point in his ethics. Where emotivism cannot provide a psychology of morality, Aristotelianism, properly reformulated, can. To do so it needs a philosophical anthropology. To understand that our desires are not split, we need to understand how they arise and fit into human life, a philosophical anthropology that explains what human desire is.

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Linguistic Expression over Love MacIntyre develops his arguments against emotivism and expressivism in ECM by arguing against Harry Frankfurt and Bernard Williams that, reason, not love, is definitive of human life. Frankfurt’s expressivism sees all moral claims as an expression of biologically developed loves over which reason has no say; Williams sees our loves as the heart of the authentic self. In contrast, MacIntyre argues that the most salient evolutionary moment in human history is when we develop capacities for reason that have no evolutionary advantage. Rather, reason changes the nature of all our capacities, like those of love. Like the Aristotelian, Frankfurt believes that final ends determine our preferences, but he believes that reason can play no role in determining final ends. Yet, this position, Frankfurt believes, does not doom him to believe that any emotion is sane. He rejects, for instance, David Hume’s belief that one can prefer scratching one’s own finger even if it destroyed the world. Reason requires constraints on our preferences and will. These constraints emerge from what we love or care about; what we love or care about seems to result from evolution. Our desire to live and our readiness to invoke this desire as generating reasons for performing actions that contribute to that end are not themselves based on reasons. They are based on love. They derive from and express the fact that, presumably as an outcome of natural selection, we love life. That is, we love living. (Frankfurt 2006, 37) On Frankfurt’s view, then, moral constraints result from our love of something—living, for instance—and this love results from evolution. Thus, moral constraints are themselves mere preferences, attitudes, emotions. MacIntyre suggests that a reflective moral agent might, not only accept, but live happily Frankfurt’s expressivist account at first. In the movie Thank You for Smoking, while Heather Holloway ends in the emptiness of expressivism, Nik Naylor seems to triumph. Nik faces a choice: does he continue to work for the tobacco industry, or does he do something else? He chooses to distance himself from the tobacco industry, rationalizing that “some things are just more important than paying the mortgage.” Frankfurt’s analysis could predict this end. Evolution has suited us to love some things. Nik loves his son, so he chooses to do something for his son. “That a certain action would serve the good of the beloved [is] an especially compelling reason for performing that action” (Frankfurt 2006, 25). While not discussing Thank You for Smoking, MacIntyre presses his argument against Frankfurt in ways that recall a central plot point in the movie. What happens, MacIntyre asks, when an agent faces a dilemma, bringing her values into question? Thank You for Smoking is an artistic

56 Alienation reflection on this question, as Nik, Joey, and Heather all face questions about their values. As emotivists, they are left with only the resources that Frankfurt can provide for adjudicating their moral positions: none. Insofar as they are mere expressions of preference and attitude, “moral goods” have no power but that of preference, attitude, or emotion to lead the way in resolving a dilemma. Thus, Nik can teach Joey that he lives according to a “moral flexibility” in which his goal is to try to convince “them”—the potential customers he might convince—to smoke. On Frankfurt’s account, these goods belong to what we love, and reason cannot determine what we love. “Love is not a conclusion. It is not an outcome of reasoning, or a consequence of reasons. It creates reasons” (Frankfurt 2006, 25). Unable to find a method for resolving moral dilemmas in Frankfurt, a moral agent less committed to moral flexibility might turn to Bernard Williams. Williams differs from the expressivist. Where Frankfurt could make no judgment of Nik’s final choice or even recognize it as problematic, Williams would argue that Nik lacks authenticity. In contrast to the expressivist claims that our moral beliefs merely express emotions, Williams contends that moral beliefs are expressed through emotion. Reason has some role to play in this expression, and what one cares about should be taken, not as static as with Frankfurt, but as dynamic. Williams defends, not moral beliefs, but the authentic self. One must discover one’s deepest impulses realizing in these impulses that “there is a discovery to be made here … and … that one trusts what is so discovered” (ECM, 154, quoting Williams). This discovery requires trust in our own identity and is “radically personal” (ECM, 157, quoting Williams). For Williams, one cannot rely on others to determine who one is; self-discovery is for the individual alone, otherwise she cannot achieve authenticity. The advantage Williams enjoys over the expressivist is the concept of and claim to authenticity. Where Frankfurt can only say that moral positions are mere expressions of emotions but cannot defend a choice between two conflicting emotions or goods, Williams can argue that the agent should seek in herself her most authentic self. The choice between two goods is that which expresses her authenticity. Reason, deliberation, begins only from the authentic self. Without knowledge of the authentic self, deliberation cannot begin and the agent will lead a life poor in quality. “My reasons are particularly mine” (ECM, 155). The problem MacIntyre points out is that, on Williams’s view, the ability to know the authentic self and to express it to anyone is a deeply personal activity. MacIntyre insists, in contrast, that we often deceive ourselves and in ways that others can both recognize and help us to sort out. Where for Williams, our choice between goods and knowledge of our authentic self is something that can only be accomplished alone, for MacIntyre, such knowledge and choices are accomplished with others.

Macintyre’s Interpretation of Alienation


Nik might make a fitting example again. Nik chooses, as we saw, to quit the tobacco industry and become a consultant. While many see this choice as “good” and exhibiting a change in Nik, I argued that it is not a change. Nik is doing the same thing he has always done, spinning the truth to pay the mortgage. He works as a consultant for companies seeking to avoid regulations, just as he worked for the tobacco companies seeking to avoid regulation. The challenge MacIntyre would make here is that Nik does not have a reliable set of friends to whom he will listen to figure out why his choices go wrong so often. His ex-wife seems to have some clue, but he does not listen to his ex-wife. Nik listens to Joey who reflects back to Nik only what Nik has said about himself. The dispute between MacIntyre and Williams is two-fold. First, they disagree over whether one can know one’s self without the assistance of others. Second, they disagree over the importance of practical reasoning and love. Even if love were more important than practical reasoning, Williams would still have to answer how we can know ourselves without the assistance of others who, presumably, love us and might have a better idea of our strengths, weaknesses, and desires. MacIntyre’s arguments about knowing one’s self are linked to his arguments about the value of practical reasoning, however, and those arguments are more central for us. “To characterize humans as rational animals is to take an arbitrary and unfounded view of what is distinctive about human beings … Quite as distinctive, so [Williams] argues, is their capacity for falling helplessly in love” (ECM, 224). Williams would admit that human beings have rational capacities distinctive among animals. Yet, he would also insist on and raise above those rational capacities the capacity for love. To this position, MacIntyre responds that it depends on who or what one loves because sometimes it can be or end in bad things. MacIntyre views love as one among many human abilities. Human beings are capable of activities, such as love, thinking about the Pythagorean theorem, or eating pie. MacIntyre contends that none of these confer an evolutionary advantage. The key moment in distinctively human development occurs when someone first makes use of their linguistic powers to pose the question, ‘What is the good of doing this or that, of making this or that happen or allowing this or that to happen?’ and is understood as inviting from others or from himself some statement of reasons … which can then be evaluated. (ECM, 225) This moment changed homo sapiens so that human life could be evaluated as intelligible or not, as rational or not. Our most distinctive

58 Alienation capacity is to be able to evaluate reasons for contemplating the Pythagorean theory, eating pie, or falling in love. Our species being requires concepts such as good and reason. Our distinctively human capacities, such as contemplating the Pythagorean theory, eating pie, or loving, are distinctive just because “they can be educated and their exercise criticized” (ECM, 226). MacIntyre’s most mature argument against emotivism and expressivism rests then on a claim about human nature. As we shall see in later chapters, this claim has limits. Alienation as the Key to Modernity My argument entails that “alienation” must be at the heart of these discussions if MacIntyre’s ideas about practices and institutions, narratives, tradition, and common goods are answers for the problem of alienation. Yet, the term appears only twice in AV and six times in ECM. In AV, one of the uses is a quote from someone else, and the other is a discussion of how a Marxist might reply to AV. In ECM, the term “alienation” itself does not appear, but MacIntyre does use the term alien or alienated to point out how, for instance, one might alienate one’s self from family or how modern ideas might seem alien to someone. Thus, the Marxist concept itself seems absent from AV and ECM. The resolution to this seeming interpretive problem is simple. We go back to the separation of fact and value (see RAV, 82). In NOTES, MacIntyre understood fact and value as involving four relations: “What is the relation between what I am, what I can be, what I want to be, and what I ought to be?” (NOTES, 100). In AV, these become “untutored human nature, man-as-he-could-be-if-he-realized-his-telos, and the moral precepts which allow him to pass from one state to the other” (54). What I am is now human nature; what I can be and what I want to be are now man realizing his telos; and what I ought to be are the moral precepts that allow one to move from current human nature to what one can and wants to be. It is essential to recognize in these questions the notion of the potentiality of human nature. Marx contended that human beings are striving to exercise ever greater capacities realized through the historical development of human beings in labor. This potentiality is captured by the relationships in these questions MacIntyre asks, not only in NOTES, but also in AV. “Each age reveals a development of human potentiality” (NOTES, 94). I will argue in Chapter 3 that this idea of realizing potentiality is a center piece to MacIntyre’s concepts of practices, the narrative unity of life, and tradition. They find fruition in the common goods of community as the ends of persistent human desires. In NOTES and AV, they help us to understand the divorce between fact and value as an extension of Marx’s concept of alienation. To address the separation of fact and value, MacIntyre provides the examples of a watch and a farmer. Consider a watch: if it is inaccurate or

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irregular in keeping time—factual claims—one is legitimately right to conclude that the watch is bad, or even more, that one ought to have it repaired. Similarly, MacIntyre argues, if a farmer consistently has better yields per acre with less harm to the environment and an effective program for renewing soil, then one can rightly conclude from these facts that the farmer is a good farmer, and more, that other farmers ought to learn from him. For MacIntyre, “watch” and “farmer” are functional terms. We define them in relation to the functions they serve. If they factually fail in their functions, then we can rightly say they are not good; and if they meet every standard for their function, or even succeed in it, then we rightly say they are good. Likewise, MacIntyre argues, actions are functional: they either serve “essential human purposes or functions” or do not (AV, 59). What proves interesting, and damning, here is the idea that facts represent, not persistent human desires as they did in NOTES, but the “facts of human nature” (AV, 56). This change is damning because it substitutes an abstract human nature for the concrete discovery of that human nature through the communal discovery of persistent human desires. Note right away that one element that modern philosophy abandons is human nature (see RAV, 17). We saw that MacIntyre argued that human nature is necessary for realizing the communist community (telos). Just this rejection of human nature characterizes alienation as we saw both in our discussion of Marx and of MacIntyre’s interpretation of Marx. For Marx, alienation happens when the human person divorces an aspect of humanity from himself. For MacIntyre, alienation occurs when the person denies her communal ties. Desires, likewise, suffer a change. No longer do we see a discussion of desires as persistent or characteristic and unchanging (NOTES, 89); rather, the discussion focuses on the human good and goods.

Conclusion To recap, for Marx, alienation occurs when my life is not my own and, moreover, is under the power of some inhuman thing. The worker alienates his or her labor when she treats it as something to be sold for money, for money is more powerful than my labor. Similarly, the capitalist acquires alienated labor as capital for capital is the god at whose throne he worships. MacIntyre holds that Marx was essentially correct in his understanding of alienation viz., that it occurs when the human person denies the freedom to direct his or her life. However, whereas Marx seems to have limited his discussion of alienation to economics, MacIntyre expands this conception to include the moral ought. We explored this expansion of the concept of alienation from MacIntyre’s early writing to his mature work. In MAI, he traces the root of the concept of alienation from St. Paul through Hegel and Feuerbach to

60 Alienation Marx, claiming Marx as a Christian heretic. He first identifies emotivism (without using that term) as a central problem of alienation, as we use language that turns facts into emotions. In NOTES, MacIntyre expands on this understanding. Stalinism and classical liberalism fail because they divorce facts—persistent human desires—from values. This divorce just is alienation. Alienation entails seeing something that arises from us, from our nature, as something external to and holding a power over us. After NOTES, MacIntyre confusingly no longer uses the term “alienation.” Rather, he identifies emotivism/expressivism as the main problem of modernity, an emotivism that preferences a culture of manipulation. Emotivism as he defines it in AV and after is the divorce of fact from value; it is seeing moral rules as alien to what and who we are, and especially alien to our happiness. Tracing this expansion of the idea of alienation to be understood as emotivism allows us to understand MacIntyre’s Revolutionary Aristotelianism as a response to the problem of alienation. The topics of the next chapter—practices, narrative unity of life, and tradition—are the components of a flourishing life in which facts and value come together again so that we can join with others in directing our lives according to our persistent human desires. In short, MacIntyre’s Revolutionary Aristotelianism is a philosophy of freedom. Our task is to explore the resources of Revolutionary Aristotelianism for its strengths and weaknesses in building a better world.

References Works by Alasdair MacIntyre Abbreviations AV: MacIntyre, Alasdair (2007) After Virtue, 3rd edition. Notre Dame, IN: University of Notre Dame Press. ECM: MacIntyre, Alasdair (2017) Ethics in the Conflicts of Modernity: An Essay on Desire, Practical Reasoning, and Narrative. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. MAI: MacIntyre, Alasdair (1953) Marxism: An Interpretation. London: SCM Press. NOTES: MacIntyre, Alasdair (2009) “Notes from the Moral Wilderness,” in Paul Blackledge and Neil Davidson (eds.), Alasdair MacIntyre’s Engagement with Marxism: Selected Writings 1953–1974. London: Haymarket Books.

Other Works by MacIntyre MacIntyre, Alasdair (1968) Marxism and Christianity. Notre Dame, IN: University of Notre Dame Press. MacIntyre, Alasdair (1988) Whose Justice? Which Rationality? Notre Dame, IN: University of Notre Dame Press.

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MacIntyre, Alasdair (1990) Three Rival Versions of Moral Enquiry. Notre Dame, IN: University of Notre Dame Press. MacIntyre, Alasdair (1994) “Interview with Professor Alasdair MacIntyre,” Kinesis, 20: 34–47. MacIntyre, Alasdair (1994) “The Theses on Feuerbach: A Road Not Taken,” in Carol C. Gould and Robert S. Cohen (eds.), Artifacts, Representations, and Social Practice: Essays for Marx Wartofsky. Dordrecht: Kluwer Academic Publishing.

Works on Macintyre by Year Books Smith, Christopher (1991) Hermeneutics and Human Finitude: Towards a Theory of Ethical Understanding. New York: Fordham University Press. McMylor, Peter (1993) Alasdair MacIntyre: Critic of Modernity. London: Routledge. Gessa-Kurotschka, V. (1995) Alasdair MacIntyre: La Vita Buona E I Principi. Naples: Ed. Morano. Matteini, Maria (1995) MacIntyre e la Rifondazione dell’Etica. Rome: Città Nuova. Ballard, Bruce (2000) Understanding MacIntyre. Lanham, MD: University Press of America. Murphy, Mark (2003) Alasdair MacIntyre. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Smith, Scott (2003) Virtue Ethics and Moral Knowledge: Philosophy of Language After MacIntyre. Aldershot: Ashgate. Lutz, Christopher (2004) Tradition in the Ethics of Alasdair MacIntyre. New York: Lexington Books. Perreau-Saussine, Émile (2005) Alasdair MacIntyre, une biographie intellectuelle: Introduction aux critiques contemporaines du libéralisme. Paris: Presses Universitaires de France. D’Andrea, Thomas (2006) Alasdair MacIntyre: Tradition, Rationality, and Virtue. London: Ashgate. Knight, Kelvin (2007) Aristotelian Philosophy: Ethics and Politics from Aristotle to MacIntyre. London: Polity. Borden, Sandra (2009) Journalism as Practice: MacIntyre, Virtue Ethics, and the Press. London: Ashgate. Conroy, Mervyn (2009) An Ethical Approach to Leading Change: An Alternative and Sustainable Application. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan. Wilson, Jonathan (1997) Living Faithfully in a Fragmented World: Lessons for the Church From Alasdair MacIntyre’s After Virtue. Harrisburg, PA: Trinity Press International. (2nd edition titled Living Faithfully in a Fragmented World: From After Virtue to a New Monasticism, Cascade Books, 2010) Sellman, Derek (2011) What Makes a Good Nurse? Why the Virtues are Important to Nurses. London: Jessica Kingsley Publishers. Breen, Keith (2012) Under Weber’s Shadow: Modernity, Subjectivity, and Politics in Arendt, Habermas, and MacIntyre. London: Routledge. Lutz, Christopher (2012) Reading Alasdair MacIntyre’s After Virtue. London: Continuum. Abbreviated: RAV.

62 Alienation Nicholas, Jeffery (2012) Reason, Tradition, and the Good: Alasdair MacIntyre’s Reason of Tradition and Frankfurt School Critical Theory. South Bend, IN: University of Notre Dame Press. Nicholas, Jeffery (2017) “Refusing Polemics: Retrieving Marcuse for MacIntyrean Praxis,” Radical Philosophy Review, 20(1): 185–213. Beabout, Gregory (2013) The Character of the Manager: From Office Executive to Wise Steward. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan. Miller, Colin, and Stanley Hauerwas (2014) The Practice of the Body of Christ: Human Agency in Pauline Theology after MacIntyre. Eugene, OR: Pickwick Publications. Moran, Richard (2015) The Story of My Life. Milwaukee, WI: Marquette University Press. Davenport, John (2015) Narrative Identity, Autonomy, and Morality: From Frankfurt and MacIntyre to Kierkegaard. London: Routledge. Trenery, David (2015) Alasdair MacIntyre, George Lindbeck, and the Nature of Tradition. Eugene, OR: Pickwick Publications. Blakely, Jason (2016) Alasdair MacIntyre, Charles Taylor, and the Demise of Naturalism. South Bend, IN: University of Notre Dame Press. Moore, Geoff (2017) Virtue at Work: Ethics for Individuals, Managers, and Organizations. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Stolz, Steven (2018) Alasdair MacIntyre, Rationality, and Education: Against, Education of our Age. Berlin: Springer.

Collected Volumes Horton, John and Susan Mendus, eds. (1995) After MacIntyre: Critical Perspectives on the Work of Alasdair MacIntyre. Notre Dame, IN: University of Notre Dame Press. Davenport, John J., Anthony Rudd, Alasdair MacIntyre, and Philip L. Quinn (2001) Kierkegaard After MacIntyre: Essays on Freedom, Narrative, and Nature. New York: Open Court. Murphy, Nancey, Brad Kallenberg, and Mark Thiessen Nation (eds.) (2003) Virtues and Practices in the Christian Tradition: Christian Ethics After MacIntyre. Notre Dame, IN: University of Notre Dame Press. Blackledge, Paul, and Kelvin Knight. (2008) Revolutionary Aristotelianism: Ethics, Resistance, and Utopia. Berlin: De Gruyter Press. Blackledge, Paul, and Kelvin Knight. (2011) Virtue and Politics: Alasdair MacIntyre’s Revolutionary Aristotelianism. South Bend, IN: University of Notre Dame Press. Bielskis, Andrius, and Kelvin Knight. (2015) Virtue and Economy: Essays on Morality and Markets. London: Routledge. O’Rourke, Fran. (2016) What Happened In and To Moral Philosophy in the 20th Century? South Bend, IN: University of Notre Dame Press.

Other References Beauchamp, Tom, and James F. Childress (2019) Principles of Biomedical Ethics, 8th edition. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

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Blackledge, Paul (2012) Marxism and Ethics: Freedom, Desire, and Revolution. Albany, NY: SUNY Press. Frankfurt, Harry (2006) Taking Ourselves Seriously: Getting it Right. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press. Haliburton, Rachel (2013) Autonomy and the Situated Self: A Challenge to Bioethics. London: Lexington Books. Horkheimer, Max (2004) Eclipse of Reason. London: Continuum Press. Horkheimer, Max, and Theodor Adorno (2002) Dialectic of Enlightenment: Philosophical Fragments, ed. Gunzelin Schmid Noerr, trans. Edmund Jephcott. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press. Marx, Karl (1845) “Theses on Feuerbach,” works/1845/theses/theses.htm. Last accessed 4 March 2021. Marx, Karl (1988) Economic and Philosophic Manuscripts of 1844 and The Communist Manifesto [the latter co-authored by Friedrich Engels], trans. Martin Milligan. New York: Prometheus Books. Vaughn, Lewis (2017) Bioethics: Principles, Issues, and Cases, 3rd edition. Oxford: Oxford University Press.


Revolutionary Aristotelianism

Introduction Our goal is to provide a theoretical groundwork for a politics of liberation centered on love as an end to alienation and the expansion of human capacities. The opposite of liberation—the opposite of love—is manipulation, the lack of control over one’s destiny, and the diminishment of human capacity. The introduction showed that moral flexibility ensorcells individuals in a cycle of manipulation by making moral rules appear as bullshit. In accepting moral flexibility, we might cope better with tough decisions we must make by separating aspects of our lives into discrete units; however, we undermine possibilities for developing our most human selves, especially our capacity to love. Chapter 1 showed that Marx defines alienation as saleability. The pursuit of profit requires a class division in society in which the majority of people no longer have access to the means of production and must sell their labor to pay the mortgage. Capitalism diminishes human capacities and senses. Chapter 2 examined how MacIntyre extended the notion of alienation to include the divorce of fact—persistent human desire—and value—the moral ought. This divorce leads, on the one hand, to emotivism: the moral theory that all evaluative statements are mere expressions of emotion, attitudes, or preferences. On the other hand, this divorce leads to moral flexibility. Like Marx, MacIntyre contends that our search is for a community in which the “we” can be put back into the “we want” so that we can direct our lives according to our persistent human desires. In generating my argument, I made two unique claims:  

MacIntyre extends Marx’s notion of saleability to name the divorce of fact and value. Moral flexibility and emotivism are two sides of the same coin. I also emphasized two key points from the discussion:

Both Marx and MacIntyre make the development of human capacities the end of non-alienated activity.

Revolutionary Aristotelianism 65 

A politics of liberation requires a philosophy of human nature in order to spell out those human capacities.

This current chapter lays out Revolutionary Aristotelianism, the concepts MacIntyre develops as answers to emotivism/alienation: practices and institutions, narrative unity of life (narratives), and tradition. As activities with internal goods, practices resist against selling our activity, resist the fact-value divorce, require communities, focus on the development of human capacities, and are historically grounded. Narratives resist the compartmentalization that supports saleability, resist the fact-value divorce, and are historically grounded. Traditions, in turn, resist the factvalue divorce by grounding our interpretations of persistent human desires in the historical argument over the good, require historically extended communities, and provide theoretical content to the development of human capacities. I save the discussion for common goods for a later chapter. First, while AV focuses on practices, narrative unity of life, and traditions, MacIntyre uses the term common good only four times. Thus, treating practices, narrative, and tradition in this chapter and common goods in a later chapter honors the unity of these concepts as presented in AV. Second, the philosophical anthropology I develop in Chapter 7 will allow me to re-conceive MacIntyre’s concept of practices as presented here; the same is not true for common goods. Thus, that discussion can be reserved for a later chapter.

Practices Human Action and Ends You walk into the kitchen to find your significant other, Sam, engaged in a number of activities. She is chopping portabella mushrooms, sautéing onions, bell peppers, and garlic in olive oil in a large pot, and has a bottle of Shiraz sitting open. At the same time, she is singing her favorite Elvis songs while listening to them on her phone. What is she doing? More importantly, how are you to judge whether she is right or wrong in what she is doing? The simple answer is that one cannot judge whether another person is being virtuous (acting morally right) until one understands the other’s actions and ends for what they are. Why does Sam have Shiraz sitting uncorked? You have to understand the social context to answer that question—Is she an alcoholic? Does she know it is your favorite wine? Has she lost her job? Are the kids at home? Answering some of these questions might lead directly to a moral judgement. Yes, Sam is an alcoholic, and the open bottle shows she has fallen off the wagon. Answering others might lead to more questions before you make a moral judgement.

66 Alienation Yes, Sam knows Shiraz is your favorite wine, but why does she have it out? Is it your anniversary? Did she do something she knows will upset you? This simple example shows that, without understanding an agent’s goals and intentions, one cannot interpret her actions, and without understanding an agent’s actions, one does not know how to respond to those actions, including whether to respond with a moral judgement or with slipping into something more comfortable to enjoy a romantic evening. Marxists, including MacIntyre, abhor abstraction, because abstracting people from their social and historical circumstances treats them as objects and separates their historical facts from any values they or we might have. As a materialist, then, we focus on concrete human action, or what Marx calls real, sensuous being. We do so when we begin to ask after intention, which is always socially and historically situated. “The study of human action, not moral epistemology, is at the center of MacIntyre’s ethics … Writing as a Marxist … MacIntyre asserts, ‘the concept of human action is central to our enquiry’” (RAV, 92). If in the first half of AV, MacIntyre argues today we must choose between Aristotle and emotivism, in the second half he is concerned with developing a theory of action within the Aristotelian tradition. If modern society has excluded “all reference to intentions, purposes, and reasons for action” (AV, 83; RAV, 67), the question becomes, how do we reintroduce the notion of purpose or ends back into discussion of human action. MacIntyre believes that Aristotle provides the resources necessary to treat moral “oughts” as objectively valuable outside the subjective emotions, attitudes, and preferences of individuals. He wishes to spell out these resources, beginning with the notion of practices. The Nature of Practices MacIntyre’s 69-word definition runs as follows: A practice is any coherent and complex form of socially established cooperative human activity through which goods internal to that form of activity are realized in the course of trying to achieve those standards of excellence which are appropriate to, and partially definitive of, that form of activity, with the result that human powers to achieve excellence, and human conceptions of the ends and goods involved, are systematically extended. (AV, 187) Let’s break this definition down to its essential parts, and then we shall discuss some examples.1 First, practices are comprised of groups of human activity which are coherent and complex as well as socially established. Chopping, stirring, and singing are all human activities, but they lack any kind of coherence

Revolutionary Aristotelianism 67 and complexity together. However, chopping, stirring, heating, and sautéing constitute a set of activities that are coherent and complex—cooking. Singing, what Sam is doing while cooking, might also be a practice, but we imagine Sam’s main objective at the moment you walk into the kitchen is, not to serenade you, but to cook a dinner for you. Second, practices have goods internal to them that result from undertaking the activities in the right way. I shall address these goods in a moment. Third, the way to achieve these goods is by adhering to the standards of excellence that in part define the set of activities. Sam has chopped the vegetables so that they are not too big or too little for a chili, has measured out the spices for the right degree of heat for you, uses the right level of heat to sauté the vegetables so that the onions are translucent, etc. Why are these standards important? Because Sam wants to prepare an excellent chili, and these help guide the cook to that excellent chili. Sam might chop onions and peppers in the same way to make a meatloaf without sautéing them; Sam would not use chili spices if creating a Marinara sauce instead. Fourth, human powers to achieve excellence are systematically extended. What counts as human powers? The most obvious ones here are creativity in the way Sam takes a recipe and makes it Sam’s own (for we consider Sam to be an excellent cook) as well as a developed palate which Sam has trained over the years by tasting other chilis and also playing with the recipe. Virtues, in contrast, are not human powers. Rather, they are characteristics of actions or habits which help one to achieve goods and extend human powers. Sam might practice bravery with the spices, either by trying different spice mixtures or by using intuition, rather than measuring spoons, to measure the spices. I will say more about virtues below. Fifth and finally, human conceptions of the ends and goods of the practice must be systematically—i.e., causally and regularly—extended. Cooking as a practice extends Sam’s conceptions of the ends and goods of cooking causally and regularly. That is, through the activities of cooking Sam has come to extend her ideas about the purpose of cooking; it is not just to put food on the table but to satisfy the tastes of those who eat the meal prepared. Sam might come to understand this end in other ways, for example by reading—say John Grisham’s Playing for Pizza—or watching movies—Babette’s Feast—about food. Yet, these extended Sam’s conceptions of the goods and ends of cooking, not causally and regularly, but accidentally. Breaking down the definition of practices helps us to see the insight MacIntyre offers here. A practice simply comprises activities that we as a society understand to be what it is, with people we recognize as exhibiting excellence in those activities—Ferran Adrià of Spain, for instance.2 How do we know they exhibit excellence? Not only can they do things we can only dream about, but they achieve certain goods that we long for if we

68 Alienation participate in those practices. They give us—that is, fellow practitioners— an understanding of the practice and its goods we did not conceive alone. Internal Goods and Cooking Practices involve the pursuit of internal goods and external goods. The first thing to notice is that both are goods, something that satisfies a human need. The distinguishing feature is that, whereas external goods are things both outside of a practice and over which human beings might compete (see TEAM, 96–97), internal goods are achieved only through practices and are shared. People compete over money or fame, but everyone in a chili cooking contest can appreciate the good chilis submitted to the contest. External goods include things like money, status, pleasure, etc. These goods are external to the practice because we can acquire them through a variety of means, not just through this or that specific practice. I can make money by cooking, but I can also make it by investing or by stealing. Money, thus, is external to a specific practice. In contrast, internal goods are goods one achieves only in this or that practice. I cannot achieve them either, say, by investing in banks or stealing, or through another practice. The fact that the good is internal to the practice means that the practice constitutes the good and vice versa. In our discussion of telos or ends in Chapter 2, we saw that MacIntyre thought the function of a thing helped connect fact and value. Thus, to identify the internal goods of a practice, we must consider its function. Cooking, for instance, is not just about eating food or acquiring calories, which any animal can do. Cooking functions, then, not simply to provide calories, but (1) to make food safe through the application of heat (though not the only way), (2) to enhance the taste of and release the nutrients in food through the application of heat, and (3) to enhance taste through the mixing of different foods and the use of spices. (This list is not meant to be exhaustive.) If these are the functions of the practice of cooking, what are the internal goods? One good is the new-taste-released-by-the-application-ofheat-to-food. Notice the articulation of the good here. Internal goods are always articulated in relation to the activities of the practice (see AV, 188). If one can name the good in a word or three, then it comprises, not an internal, but an external good. Thus, one might be able to simulate the taste of chili, for instance, through chemical applications, creating a chiliflavored corn chip. Yet, this good is not an internal good of cooking because it preferences the application of chemicals that simulate rather than embody a particular taste. The taste comes, not from the food items involved, but from the synthetic chemicals used. (That might be an internal good of chemistry, for instance, but such an argument would require development.)

Revolutionary Aristotelianism 69 A second internal good is making-food-safe-to-eat-by-applying-theright-amount-of-heat. A steak needs to reach a certain temperature to be safe to eat. One standard of excellence is reaching that perfect temperature without over-cooking the steak, making it tough to eat. Engaging in a practice extends our conceptions of the goods of that practice systematically. That is, the more Sam cooks—not just as a matter of quantity, like cooking every day of the month, but of variety, so as to cook different kinds of food—the more she understand the goods she is trying to achieve and make them a greater part of her life. Sam, through years of cooking, extended the notion of a good chili to include a vegetarian one where portabella mushrooms “replace” the meat. Types of Internal Goods Lutz identifies four types of internal goods: abilities, the excellent use of those abilities, and the excellent products produced from their use (TEAM, 96, citing MacIntyre 1990, 61) and “the good of a certain kind of life” (AV, 190; see TEAM, 96). In cooking, we might identify abilities internal to cooking (measuring spices without a measuring spoon), or the excellent use of abilities (knowing the perfect time to remove the meat from the heat), the excellent goods created (a great chili or a superb filet mignon), and a certain kind of life (being a cook, for instance). The observant reader will notice that instead of using MacIntyre’s and Lutz’s phrase of “products produced,” I wrote of the object of the activity. “Products produced” is phrasing which can cause confusion. Some will hold, for instance, that winning a cooking contest is a product of the practice and, therefore, an internal good of the practice. Yet, winning a cooking contest cannot be an internal good of cooking. Most cooks never enter such a contest. Second, cooking for judges does not capture important aspects of the practice of home cooking: cost-effectiveness and nutrition. Third, anyone who has watched cooking contests knows that the cooks must be able to speak about their cooking, both describing the dishes and defending the choices made. While my daughter and I might debate the secret ingredients of some of our recipes, our cooking does not depend on our ability to describe and defend in the same way. Finally, great cooks might compete against each other all realizing the internal goods of cooking and, yet, someone must be declared the winner of the contest. Winning and excellence do not always go hand in hand. MacIntyre, in fact, criticizes ancient Athenian society for conflating winning and excellence (see MacIntyre 1988). In sum, this product, winning, is not systematic to reaching the standards of excellence of a practice and, therefore, cannot be an internal good of the practice. Second, of course, “products produced” sounds quite capitalistic, a language that prioritizes productive labor over reproductive labor. In today’s society, the cook might be paid for her activities. In fact, if people

70 Alienation are not paid for cooking, for instance, they will need to earn money some other way so that they can “pay the mortgage.” Yet, MacIntyre’s idea is that the activities of practice seek goods other than money and other external goods. Better, then, I argue, to maintain the Marxist notion of object of activity. In cooking a chili for family and friends, Sam recognizes Sam’s self in the object, the chili. It satisfies needs—real human needs. Jean Anthelme Brillat-Savarin, an eighteenth-century French writer, would say such human needs include a variety of foods to light the imagination, recollection of tradition, and nurturing children and spouse. One persistent human need would be for community. Food always provides an opportunity of bringing people together. Cooking for Sam in this instance is a form of non-alienated labor. Some might object to this position. What of those activities that must be done regardless of whether a person wants to do them or not. A cook does not typically begin by cooking a chili. She begins by being an assistant to the chef, chopping vegetables, for instance. Or she might start as a short-order cook. These activities are part of the practice of cooking, but they can become monotonous. She takes on these activities, not because she seeks their internal goods, but so she can earn the external goods of money to eat and a step up on the ladder to becoming a sous chef and then the head chef. To make my point clearer, a classical liberal might object that, someone has to clean the bathroom and empty the trash and make a buck to follow the goods they desire. First, I want to emphasize that taking out the trash and cleaning bathrooms are important and meaningful jobs. Without custodial staff, I would have to spend more of my time cleaning my office, which would distract from my writing. Further, one can enjoy much of the work. A book is never perfect, even if it is finished, but a bathroom floor can sparkle and be done. Moreover, money, especially in the capitalist society in which we live, is a good. Other external goods include prestige, sex appeal, and rank. One of Aristotle’s great insights is that the flourishing life requires some external goods. Further, until we bring about the communist society, we must join with others in unions to demand a living wage, health care, and vacation and retirement time. However, making a distinction between internal goods and external goods, and distinctions between practices and non-practice activities, is necessary for a politics of liberation. We want to recognize the value someone might find in a variety of activities that might be necessary for human life even if they are mere stepping stones to some other value. The necessary thing to do is to be able to identify the kinds of activities that people find valuable in themselves so that society can better support people in the pursuit of those activities. These kinds of activities that are valuable in themselves are so because they have internal goods we pursue and, more importantly, they expand our human powers. Following our

Revolutionary Aristotelianism 71 analysis of Marx, they help us to become more human by expanding our senses and capacities. The object of a practice, then, “has to be understood historically” (AV, 189). The importance of the history of the practice calls to mind Marx’s materialistic influence here. Practices cannot be abstract, divorced from history, but must be understood as real, sensuous being. In making chili, Sam participates in a history which presents a variety of options for making the best chili. This history would include a history of different chili spices and their mixtures, its different variations in different regions, and why something like Cincinnati-style chili counts as chili, or the different ways of using chili—for example, topping hot dogs with chili. Institutions We must avoid conflating practices and institutions. Internal goods, as noted, contrast with external goods. Practices need external goods for their existence. If practitioners pursue internal goods only through their activities, through institutional activities they can only pursue external goods. Institutions serve several functions: providing authoritative standards, education, and pursuit and awarding of external goods. Institutions protect the authoritative standards for the practice. What counts as this practice, what are the minimum standards of practice and what are the standards of excellence, what are the standards of reason for the practice? Considering cooking, we can identify a variety of institutions in the U.S. that serve these different functions. For instance, the Culinary Institute of America is an institution for education in cooking. It provides classes and legitimizes practitioners with degrees upon completion of classes. In promoting cooking as a practice, it both maintains standards for its students and degrees and offers scholarships for those most promising would-be practitioners of cooking. It also publishes cookbooks for the general public of amateur chefs and home cooks. In addition, institutions pursue and award external goods. Scholarships comprise one such external award. Johnson and Wales University in Providence, RI, for instance, is one of the top three internationally recognized culinary schools and offers scholarships or financial aid to 90% of its students. Other awards include those for maintaining or reaching standards of excellence. For instance, the Culinary Institute of America offers the Auggie Award. “Named for French Chef Auguste Escoffier in recognition of his unwavering pursuit of excellence, creativity, and professionalism, the Auggie Awards were created by CIA in 2007 to honor members of the foodservice business who exemplify those traits” (La Papillote 2016). Other external goods include resources, such as reputation, pleasure, power, and money. Reputation (or fame) comes from advertising alumni

72 Alienation who have reached the pinnacle of excellence in the practice. Pleasure accompanies excellent cooking as a desired result of the practice, but other pleasures might include pairing wines with food, gathering friends, or hosting events. Johnson and Wales University, like many higher education institutions, offers sports programs for their students, providing particular pleasures. Given its reputation, JWU presumably exercises a certain amount of power in placing its students in jobs at restaurants throughout Rhode Island. Moreover, students graduating from JWU have greater power to open restaurants or secure loans based on the reputation of their alma mater. Such institutions must pursue money, as well, in order to function and to maintain their practice. Financial aid provided by the government would be one source of money, but so would alumni associations, pursuit of endowments, etc. In contemporary capitalist society, professional cooks must pursue money to maintain their lives by either working in a restaurant or owning and operating their own restaurant. In this sense, restaurants themselves are institutions which serve many of the functions of institutions identified above. Let’s return for a moment to the objection raised above about the pursuit of internal versus external goods. Like the person who must work as a short order cook or custodian, institutions must pursue external goods in order to secure the pursuit of their true values, the internal goods of practices. Classical liberals, again, could argue that the issue is really one about the procedures. All the objections to capitalism raised in the first several chapters are objections, the classical liberal might say, to the procedures established. These procedures might be biased or emerge from prejudicial histories. What we need to do is, not end the private ownership of the means of projection, but fix the procedures. “Fixing” procedures so that they do not show bias for well-off, white men or do not show bias against the poor, women, and other minorities is certainly a good action. However, that alone does not promise freedom. Freedom appears when agents come together to direct their lives according to their persistent human desires. Internal goods are things that satisfy those persistent human desires. A well-made vegetarian chili satisfies the persistent human desire for healthy, safe food. Homo sapiens desire two things above all viz., to live in community with others and to develop their humanity through their labor activity. Given these desires, the market is not merely imperfect; the market frustrates these desires. It frustrates them because it makes the objects of our labor and our labor itself something to sell; our work becomes a foreign entity to us which has control over our lives. The short order cook feels her degradation with every hour she spends preparing yet another unhealthy meal and every night she returns home too tired to pursue the true objects of her desire. The market further frustrates these desires by pitting human agent against human agent in a contest to see who can get which job, if any, at what pay. Paying the mortgage becomes dominant in our lives so that we

Revolutionary Aristotelianism 73 cannot help but fall into a game of manipulated manipulator which will not end simply by making the system fair. For these reasons, MacIntyre argues, we need the virtues. The virtues help maintain our commitment to and pursuit of the internal goods when that commitment or pursuit is threatened by the desire or need for external goods. “A virtue is an acquired human quality the possession and exercise of which tends to enable us to achieve those goods which are internal to practices and the lack of which effectively prevents us from achieving any such goods” (AV, 191). A virtue, like phronesis, is a quality we can acquire in our lives. Chefs who are practically wise are able to determine the best cut of meat, the freshness of seafood, and the possibility of salvaging a dish not cooked correctly or leftovers from the day. All businesses and schools (which must function along business models) must be conscious of costs. Virtues will help those responsible for decisionmaking to maintain their standards rather than cut standards in order to save on costs. Lutz writes that “[i]t was Marx’s ‘revolutionary practice’ that opened the way to AV’s definition of virtue in terms of action, practice, and social identity” (RAV, 34). Virtues involve real, sensuous being—concrete actions—and the pursuit of real goods. Courage, temperance, justice, and practical wisdom help Sam to identify and pursue the goods of any practice. Sam’s judgment is good because of these virtues. Thus, MacIntyre’s virtue theory is, not only Marxist, but also Aristotelian. “In Aristotle’s ethics, the excellent or virtuous human agent is the one who judges well about what is good and best to do, and follows through on that judgment; thus, for Aristotle, moral freedom is identical with virtue” (RAV, 54). To be clearer here, especially for my Thomist readers: virtue is not freedom. One does not become free simply by exercising virtue. The short order cook who practices patience, and the custodian who practices temperance might still be shot for being Black while driving home. They simply are not enslaved to their everyday desire. Real freedom means forming a community in which we direct our lives according to our persistent human desires. Practices as an Answer to Alienation Practices comprise a response to the problem of alienation. Alienation appears both when we make saleability the measure of our activities and when we divorce fact—persistent human desire—from value. This alienation results in an alienation from, not only our own activity, but our communities, our human nature, and the concrete historical circumstances of human life. Practices address each of these aspects of alienation. Consider, first, MacIntyre’s discussion of teaching a child to play chess, “one of the most important passages” in AV (RAV, 119). One begins by luring the child to play a game of chess with a piece of candy and

74 Alienation promises an extra piece of candy if the child wins. The child is motivated to play to win. Yet, we hope the child comes to want to play chess, not for the candy, but for those internal goods one can pursue only in playing chess. Even though one still desires candy, one desires these internal goods more than candy. Since one can always acquire the candy in some other fashion, but only the goods of chess through chess, the child plays chess for those internal goods, forgoes cheating, etc. Learning a practice and engaging in it changes one’s desires so that the values—whether these be the standards of excellence of the practice or the virtues—align with the desires—the internal goods of the practice. In short, in practices, one discovers (always with others since practices are social) new desires and must align one’s behavior with the values necessary to satisfy those desires. Fact and value come together. In the pursuit of internal goods, then, practitioners unify subjective consciousness with objective reality. That is, they unite subject and object and, therefore, resist reducing their activity and objects to commodities. In so doing, they also unify fact and value. Sam cooks a chili for Sam’s significant other and friends. Sam is good enough to win chili cooking contests and, perhaps, even to make some money through cooking. Yet, cooking for friends prioritizes the internal goods of cooking a perfect pot of chili over external goods. Sam recognizes in this pot of chili the realization of Sam’s activities and capacities. In coming to that recognition, Sam’s desires change. In cooking the chili, Sam embodies relationships: relationships between herself and nature, between herself and friends, and between her activities and society. Why has Sam made a vegetarian chili rather than a meatbased one? What does this choice say about Sam’s relationship to nature, friends, and society? If Sam had made a meat-based chili, what would that say? In making these decisions, Sam unites fact and value. Persistent human desires for nutritious and tasty food is realized in the values that guide Sam’s cooking, from whether Sam buys organic onions to how spices are chosen. This argument does not mean that Sam cannot sell the chili or open a restaurant. Rather, it means that Sam resists the idea that the only reason to cook is to make money. Aristotle recognized that we need and appreciate external goods. Yet, the good life is lived, not for these, but for the goods of human practice. In our modern world, the difficulty is that one must do something to pay the mortgage. Thus, institutions become the greatest threat to internal goods and the nature of practices in the modern world. When money is secondary the object of the practice is non-alienated. Thus, many people find more satisfaction in their hobbies and dismiss their day-jobs as exactly that, day-jobs. A third way in which practices provide an answer to Marx’s problem of alienation is that they become the center of certain kinds of communities. One meets other cooks, through classes, community groups, or otherwise.

Revolutionary Aristotelianism 75 Cooking for the home can be joyful but also lonely if no one else in the household cooks. In creating communities of practices, we take a step towards ending alienation. Just as for Marx, the proletariat learns that their means—coming together—is their end—community, for MacIntyre, we come together to discover a shared, common humanity. Cooks unite over the different things they cook and argue about the best heat source or spice mixture. In these ways, we end alienation. Fourth, a feature of non-alienated activity is that it realizes unforeseen human potential. MacIntyre defines practices as activities through which we develop human powers: “human powers to achieve excellence, and human conceptions of the ends and goods involved, are systematically extended.” Recall that Adam Smith believed that the division of labor, a defining feature of capitalism, is an advance in human life. Spending one’s time doing one thing is more efficient than doing a number of different things. In contrast, Marx and MacIntyre contend that our activities must have a unity to them in which we extend a variety of human capacities. Non-alienated activity realizes our essential selves. In realizing our essential selves, we develop our particular human capacities: creativity, intelligence, understanding, and loving, for instance. By engaging in a practice, we develop some of these capacities. In cooking, we extend our capacity for creativity and develop our palate. This idea extends from Aristotle, through Marx, to MacIntyre. Practices, as extending human powers entails that human beings create a new life in which labor is, not alienated, but truly human. Finally, practices consist in a history of the practice which defines and advances the internal goods of the practice. What is distinctive in a practice is … the way in which conceptions of the relevant goods and ends … are transformed and enriched by these extensions of human powers and by that regard for its own internal goods … Practices never have a goal or goals fixed for all time … but the goals themselves are transmuted by the history of the activity. (AV, 193–194) MacIntyre’s recognition of the history of the development of the goods of a practice echoes Marx:  

“the entire so-called history of the world is nothing but the begetting of man through human labor” (1844, kl 1703); and “the nature which comes to be in human history—the genesis of human nature which comes to be in human history—the genesis of human society—is man’s real nature” (1844, kl 1653).

76 Alienation History is the media through which human beings come to recognize themselves in their real, sensuous being. In this history, we unite fact and value: the what-I-am-now with the what-I-could-be-if-I-realized-my-telos. This telos is always changing, something we continuously reach for. Practices are concrete activities by which we reach out for what we could be. My argument in this section cannot be reduced to the claim that MacIntyrean practices are ways that human beings resist alienation accidentally. Rather, it is the culmination of an argument that MacIntyre’s central concern has been alienation. The definition of practices is an articulation of non-alienated labor. While I shall both challenge and change this definition (in Chapter 10), it marks a salient contribution to Marxist and progressive theory.

Narrative Unity of Life and Traditions MacIntyre’s restatement of Aristotelian virtue theory requires, not only practices, but also the narrative unity of life and traditions. Each of these comprise responses to Marx’s problem of alienation. MacIntyre made tradition the essential concept of analysis in Three Rival Versions of Moral Inquiry and Whose Justice? Which Rationality? He has since made narrative the focus in Ethics in the Conflicts of Modernity. I will begin with this concept because of its logical priority. Narrative Unity of Life and Intentions We began the discussion of practices with noting the importance of understanding intentions. Intentions help us to understand the intelligibility of actions because they provide the telos of those actions. The function of a watch is obvious—a good functioning watch is one that tells time. The function of human beings can be obvious given their roles—a good farmer is someone who cultivates land to produce edible food and maintain the soil for future organic growth. You walk into the kitchen to find Sam and an open bottle of wine. Sam doesn’t drink wine, and neither do you. You ask, “what are you doing?” Sam says, “I’m making a pot of chili, and I need the wine for flavor and sweetness.” Sam identifies a function to her activities—cooking chili—which explains the odd presence of wine in the house: The importance of the concept of intelligibility is closely related to the fact that the most basic distinction of all … is that between human beings and other beings. Human beings can be held to account for that of which they are the authors. (AV, 209)

Revolutionary Aristotelianism 77 In making one’s actions intelligible, one first offers causal reasons for why one acted the way one did. Sam opened the bottle of wine to cook with. You might press Sam on this point, and Sam can provide a more detailed response. “Wine is better than processed sugar. It also adds more complexity to the chili. For example, I like Shiraz,” Sam says, “because it typically has a chocolate flavor.” In explaining the causes of the actions, second, Sam offers up justificatory reasons as well. Buried in the response that wine is better than processed sugar is an ought about health and diet. When pushed, one may begin to tie together other parts of one’s life. “Human action is intelligible precisely because through our actions, we manifest our views of the world; our actions enact our narratives” (RAV, 124). For MacIntyre, human actions are “enacted narratives” (AV, 211). In a narrative, a person tells herself and others why she has pursued the goals she has and why those goals have changed in their pursuit. In so doing, the individual ties together the different parts of her life. Importantly, the discussion here is about intelligible actions. We can observe people’s actions without understanding them. We have focused, for example, on Sam’s cooking. Yet, Sam is also singing Elvis songs. This action is not part of cooking. You might simply accept it without asking after its intelligibility, or you know Sam well enough to know that Sam loves singing and particularly loves to sing Elvis. The intelligibility is implied here. As we begin to explore the intentions behind Sam’s actions, we start telling narratives, and Sam will explain the actions in terms of a narrative as well. This narrative ties Sam’s intentions together so that the actions are intelligible to self and others. Narratives as Quests For MacIntyre, the more important role of the narrative unity of life comes from how the person relates all of her activities together. I am a philosopher and academic, a father, and a fiction writer. “Why did you study philosophy?” “I read Voltaire in high school and really loved it. Then in college, I was counseled that writers should not major in writing, and philosophy majors excelled on the verbal components of the graduate record examination. I’ve ended up writing and publishing more philosophy because I’m better at it, or I’ve had more practice, or …” In telling my life story, I have to show the changing relationships between my practices and the intentions behind those practices. Thus, I identify, not just the telos or end of this or that practice, but the telos of my life. My values, unless they all come down to “paying the mortgage,” underpin my intentions and goals. Narrative, understood as a quest, helps us to discover the unity in our lives, a unity built around the evolving conception of what my good is. Asking what my good is entails also asking what the good of the human life is. That is, if I seek to find a unity in my life, and thus a unity between

78 Alienation persistent human desire and my ought, I must also understand more generally those persistent human desires and what they say about the goods of human life. Narrative unites society and history with an uncovering of the relation between fact and desire. MacIntyre emphasizes two parts of the quest which prove important and transitional. First, one begins a quest with some notion of what one seeks. The Knights of the Round Table sought a Holy Grail used by Jesus at the Last Supper. Second, through the quest, the goal the agents seek changes because and through their engagement with different hurdles. Each of the knights ended up seeking and finding something different. We come to understand what we seek through the challenges we go through. My Narrative and Yours In telling my story, I must recognize that I am not a sole author but a coauthor. Our personal stories are always a part of the stories of others. “I can only answer the question, ‘what am I to do?’ if I can answer the prior question ‘Of what story or stories do I find myself a part?’” (AV, 216). The stories of others constrain my story—constrain my choices—just as my story constrains theirs. These constraints are necessary for human life. Without some limitation on our choices, we would be immobilized by choice, much as we might be when going to a store and looking for a toothpaste among dozens when our favorite is not available. Further, they provide meaning to our lives. Being married means that my spouse’s choices constrain my own; yet, without this relationship, my life, my actions, and my telos would be much different and have different meaning. Of course, our relationships might be, not just constraining, but demeaning. People who live in abusive relationships often continue to exist in those kinds of relationships. Yet, most often, only through developing other, healthier, relationships can we escape the abusive ones. I say “condition” to avoid any sort of determinism. When I want to go to a restaurant, the menu, my location, my family, and my history condition my meal. Life might condition that choice: Providence, RI has plenty of wonderful Italian, and a few good Thai, but no good Mexican restaurants. Of course, my family and history condition those choices. Yet, even though conditioned, none of my choices are determined. Or to put it more affirmatively, I have choice. Just as it is with a restaurant, so it is with life in many ways. Of course, the condition of our food options is easily accepted, but we can say the same about our whole lives. I was raised by a single mother with a ninth-grade education who worked hard for low wages all of her life. My options for education were conditioned by time and place. In the 1970s in Covington, KY, the Roman Catholic Church still supplemented tuition for children who attended mass. Without that supplement, I would have had a different education, met different people, had different visions

Revolutionary Aristotelianism 79 for my life (I would not have thought of being a priest, for instance). When the school burned down, we were only able to afford a Catholic school for one more year; then, I attended a public school with different possibilities, the main one of which was that I would attend the local public high school, with its emphasis on sports and vocational subjects, like auto mechanics. Only because Covington had a college-prep school and because I was an acolyte at my parish, was my mother able to work out a way for me to attend a different high school, with the conditions it set up for my life. One of those conditions was a tradition in intellectual activities, but also an introduction to philosophy through Voltaire. Perhaps at the public school, I would not have even attended college. I have told this story with its conditions positively: I may have lived a perfectly happy life at the other school, doing something other than teaching philosophy. The point is that my history and society conditioned my choices and possibilities for the future. Narratives as an Answer to Alienation The narrative unity of life resists the compartmentalization that supports saleability and the fact-value divorce. In the introduction we met the prison guard who separates his work life—as the person responsible for state executions—from his religious life—his belief that only God has the right to determine when someone’s life ends. MacIntyre identifies situations like this one as cases of compartmentalization. Compartmentalization names, not just the differentiation of roles (family man, prison guard, religious man), but the fact that “each distinct sphere of social activity comes to have its own role structure governed by its own specific norms in relative independence of other spheres. Within each sphere, those norms dictate which kinds of consideration are to be treated as relevant to decision-making and which are to be excluded” (MacIntyre 1999, 322). MacIntyre is not talking about a doctor, for instance, who must maintain a distinction between her role as a doctor and as a friend. Rather, MacIntyre is addressing the case, for example, of our prison guard. The norms of his religion—that only God can determine who dies when—are excluded from the norms of his job—to lead executions by the state. The narrative unity of life, in contrast, resists compartmentalization. In telling a coherent narrative so that someone can understand my actions, I must either leave large areas of my life blank—my religious life or family life—or I must show how these areas of my life contribute to the wholeness of my life. I must live such that each sphere comes under a unified set of norms. To leave areas of my life blank is to testify against myself that I have not lived the life I wanted to. I have to accept that parts of my life are for sale. (Again, I am not judging the prison guard.) Compartmentalization

80 Alienation is a facet of alienation, and the narrative unity of life responds, not accidentally, but inherently to compartmentalization as alienation. Marx attacked compartmentalization in the 1844 Manuscripts. My political economic ethics and religion have nothing to reproach you with… It stems from the very nature of [alienation] that each sphere applies to me a different and opposite yardstick—ethics one and political economy another; for each is a specific estrangement of man. (1844, kl 1809) In compartmentalizing areas of my life, Marx says, I applied different and even opposite yardsticks. Each area is a particular estrangement of human persons with specific alienated activity. Religion, we know, is a form of alienation for Marx, but so is law especially as law supports the saleability of human activity through its justification of private property. Compartmentalization, not only makes the activity in each sphere something saleable, but divorces fact from value. Compartmentalization alienates the person from herself and her goals. The narrative unity of life overcomes this form of alienation. Recall our beginning point: to understand the connection between fact and value, we examined a watch and farmer as functional concepts. As functional concepts they provide an end (telos) at which the watch or farmer aims: to tell time or to grow food while keeping the soil healthy. Practices highlight this functionality because the activities which constitute an activity are functional toward a particular set of internal goods. Cooking aims to make tasty food that is nutritious and healthy. Likewise, the narrative unity of life brings in a particular end to the person’s life by incorporating functionality into how she sees her actions. The narrative unity of life also unites fact and value and expresses the historical character of non-alienated activity because it contextualizes action in its history. “Action itself has a basically historical character” (AV, 212). That is, the history of action is necessary for overcoming alienation, if one offers up one’s actions for evaluation and judgment by others. MacIntyre, in ECM, is careful to lay out the historical situation of each of the persons whose narrative he writes. He focuses on the situations which constrain a person’s choices, how others impact those choices, and those choices impact others, and how narratives illuminate a search for the good. The person is no longer an abstraction to be sold, but a real human being who expresses him- or herself in his or her activities. Tradition This discussion leads us, finally, to tradition. While my earlier book Reason, Tradition, and the Good (Nicholas 2012) addressed tradition as the locus of reason and a tool for critical theory, our discussion will focus on tradition as a response to the problem of alienation.

Revolutionary Aristotelianism 81 A tradition is a socially and historically embedded argument over fundamental agreements, especially about the good, with insiders and outsiders. The first thing to note, then, is that MacIntyre and I mean something specific by the term “tradition.” Notably, neither of us mean unquestioningly accepting what has been handed down. A tradition is handed down—it is historically and socially embedded—but it is also an argument. What has been handed down is put into question over and over again, with each generation if it is a living tradition. A dead tradition is one that no longer allows questioning. To think of traditions as doctrine and dogmas handed down is to abstract traditions and to alienate ourselves. To carry on a tradition without questioning it is to accept it as an alien power over one’s self. To believe that Jesus is one in being with God the Father because my mother or priest told me so is to hand over my powers of thought to someone else. Faith itself is a human capacity which cannot be separated from who I am without damaging its nature and my own. Such alienation lies behind the Church sex-abuse scandal. On the flip side, if I reject my tradition—Roman Catholicism or Keynesianism or whatever it might be—and say that it no longer affects me, I have misunderstood the nature of belief and human psychology. For a Roman Catholic to call herself atheist is much different than for a Buddhist to do so, just as philosophers who compare Hume’s rejection of the self with the Buddhist doctrine of ana-tman is wrong, for these concepts are buried in tradition.3 We are part of traditions because we carry them on or question them. In the course of tradition, we discover or come to understand better the good and other agreements we might be arguing over—the nature of the universe, the practices we engage in, etc.4 We see in the definition of tradition that these are socially and historically embedded. The reader can already guess my next sentence: historically and socially are Marxist terms here, and what we do historically and socially is discover our persistent human desires and their connection to, or grounding of, our practical ought. On the one hand, we can live tradition as abstract, accepting its fundamental agreements as unquestionable or denying them as distinct from ourselves. These responses are forms of alienation. On the other, we can embrace our traditions, question them, and try to understand our own lives through them. MacIntyre has a habit of discussing intellectual traditions: Aristotelianism and Thomism, Marxism, Humeanism, etc. These examples tend toward abstraction from the everyday, though MacIntyre did explain to me that traditions come in different forms, like the tradition of fly fishing. Our most common examples of traditions are religious ones: Roman Catholicism, Baptist, Islam, Jainism, Buddhism, etc. We might discuss other traditions as well, like the tradition of Thai cooking versus Italian cooking. I want to be careful, here, about distinguishing between

82 Alienation traditions and practices, which are often parts of tradition. I will give two examples of traditions as arguments. Roman Catholicism is a tradition with a view of the good life, which includes the Eucharist as part of that good life. The Eucharist involves eating the body and drinking the blood of Jesus Christ. Who can perform the consecration that, according to Roman Catholicism, changes the bread and wine into body and blood? The original practice allowed many people; but the eleventh century turned this action into one performed only by a male priest. We can look at this history here—as any good Marxist would—and see the political causes to these change as a form of concentrating power into the hands of fewer people. Yet, however we view the change, it still belongs to an argument about the good. This argument still surfaces today, for example, as women fight for the power to be priests, or as others must take over sacramental duties because the number of priests is dwindling. The fact that the institutional church occasionally makes pronouncements on the issues or condemns some, even laicizing priests for ordaining women, does not change the nature of what is going on: an argument, often with practical ramifications, over the good. Another tradition we can discuss is rock’n’roll music. This tradition incorporates a number of practices, including playing guitar, playing piano, singing, etc. When people argue over the Beatles versus the Rolling Stones, some of what they are arguing over are standards of excellence, but some of what they argue over is the best kind of life. The aesthetic choices one uses in determining the best band are parts of larger questions about what is beautiful and worthwhile in life. Similarly, discussions about heavy metal versus alternative versus classic rock’n’roll delve into questions of the good life. Heavy metal is associated with not only chains and leather, but also destroying musical instruments, which says something about the value of music to a society in which paying the mortgage is the dominant theme. Alternative bands that change their music to make it more accommodating to public tastes are judged to be sell-outs who have been co-opted by the system. That is, they wanted to pay the mortgage. If one doubts my claims about discussions of the good life here, consider the way that U2, for example, purposefully make their music political, with songs like “Sunday, Bloody Sunday,” or how a trend developed in the late 1990s for music that addressed the condition of the poor, like Natalie Merchant’s “Carnival” and Phil Collins’s “Another Day in Paradise.” The rationality of these arguments may be more subdued than that of the intellectually heavy Roman Catholicism; yet, each tradition includes standards of reason which help members evaluate the goods of their tradition. Traditions as Resistance to Alienation Traditions resist the fact-value divorce by grounding our interpretations of persistent human desires in the historical argument over the good,

Revolutionary Aristotelianism 83 require historically extended communities, and provide theoretical content to the development of human capacities. In both cases, that of Roman Catholicism and that of rock’n’roll, traditions serve a role in resisting alienation. In arguing over the good, we find the unity of fact and value. Traditions include, not just standards of reason, but also an understanding of the world and the nature of human beings. This understanding of the nature of the world and human beings forms the basis from which we discover fact—persistent human desires. Since these discussions occur along with and as background to arguments about the good, members of living traditions discover their values together uniting fact and value. Second, traditions are historical, lived historically, and change if they are living. They are embodied in real human communities. In participating in traditions, people bring the “I” back into the “I want” specifically by bringing the “we” back into the “we want.” A tradition requires participation in the “we want” specifically as a historical co-discovery of persistent human desire—what is the human good? What are human beings? What are human capacities? Third, traditions provide an answer to Marx’s problem of alienation because human beings, by participating in a tradition, no longer sell their lives, but instead direct their lives. The U.S. government has offered the Lakhˇ óta, for instance, money for its violation of Pahá Sápa (The Black Hills) when they invaded them after the Treaty of Fort Laramie. The Lakhˇ óta have not taken the money because their tradition—in this case, the sacredness of Pahá Sápa—is not for sale. We must recognize, of course, that even if traditions change, they may not change for the better. How we change depends on the decisions we make, and to divorce those decisions from the future they shape is just another form of alienation. Traditions, as loci of arguments about the good, help us to evaluate our actions so that we can use history to help us understand where we are and the possibilities for where we might go.

Conclusion Practices are activities through which we pursue specific goods and extend our capacities and conceptions of the goods by adhering to standards of excellence. When we pursue the goods of a practice virtuously, our activities change our desires. This conception of practice forms part of MacIntyre’s answer to Marx’s problem of alienation. Internal goods reunite desire and value by changing practitioners’ desires. In engaging practices, further and most importantly, we come to discover with others our desires and extend our human potentiality. The narrative unity of life names the way that human agents unite the different areas of their lives by explaining their intentions and how these intentions make a consistent whole. Agents offer causal and justificatory

84 Alienation reasons for their actions. Such narratives take the form of quests, through which our pursuit might change how we understand ourselves and our goals. Traditions, as socially and historically extended arguments about the good, provide a background of resources from which we try to answer those questions. Living traditions always allow questioning. Narratives unite fact and value by resisting compartmentalization and providing a historical context to one’s ends. By giving historical context to one’s actions, narrative connects one to the persistent desires of human life. Likewise, traditions unite fact and value because they embody a socially and historically extended argument over the good, over the nature of human beings, and over the possibilities for human life. Lived socially and historically, they unite people with each other in the “We” as a search for persistent human desires. Chapters 1–3 have laid out the problem of alienation and MacIntyre’s response to that problem. In Chapters 4–6 we will discover three lacunae that undermine the capacity for these concepts to unite fact and value, to end alienation. At the center of this discussion rests the question of the need for a conception of historical human nature.

Notes 1 My analysis differs markedly from Lutz (RAV, 157). Lutz seems to be concerned, less with the different elements of a practice per se, and more with the parts of practices that comprise the larger moral theory. 2 I wish to thank Professor Anthony Jensen for discussing cooking with me and recommending Adrià as an example. Aside from being a foremost scholar on Nietzsche, Jensen is an amateur cook trained by his uncle and, more recently, a sommelier. Adrià is responsible for the molecular gastronomy movement. Professor Jensen explained that Adrià closed his El Bulli restaurant to run a philosophy of food institute. 3 I deal with Davidson’s rejection of conceptual schemes in Nicholas (2012, ch. 5). 4 For more discussion of the aspects of tradition, please see Nicholas (2012, ch. 4).

References Works by Alasdair MacIntyre Abbreviations AV: MacIntyre, Alasdair (2007) After Virtue, 3rd edition. Notre Dame, IN: University of Notre Dame Press. ECM: MacIntyre, Alasdair (2017) Ethics in the Conflicts of Modernity: An Essay on Desire, Practical Reasoning, and Narrative. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. NOTES: MacIntyre, Alasdair (2009) “Notes from the Moral Wilderness,” in Paul Blackledge and Neil Davidson (eds.), Alasdair MacIntyre’s Engagement with Marxism: Selected Writings 1953–1974. London: Haymarket Books.

Revolutionary Aristotelianism 85 Other Works by MacIntyre MacIntyre, Alasdair (1988) Whose Justice? Which Rationality? Notre Dame, IN: University of Notre Dame Press. MacIntyre, Alasdair (1990) Three Rival Versions of Moral Enquiry. Notre Dame, IN: University of Notre Dame Press. MacIntyre, Alasdair (1999) “Social Structures and Their Threats to Moral Agency,” Philosophy, 74: 311–329.

Other References Abbreviations 1844: Marx, Karl (1988) Economic and Philosophic Manuscripts of 1844 and The Communist Manifesto [the latter co-authored by Friedrich Engels], trans. Martin Milligan. New York: Prometheus Books. RAV: Lutz, Christopher. 2012. Reading Alasdair MacIntyre’s After Virtue. London: Continuum. TEAM: Lutz, Christopher. 2004. Tradition in the Ethics of Alasdair MacIntyre. New York: Lexington Books.

Other Works La Papillote. (2016) “The 2016 CIA Leadership Awards,” La Papillote, 37(6) (6 May), Retrieved 23 May 2017. Nicholas, Jeffery (2012) Reason, Tradition, and the Good: Alasdair MacIntyre’s Reason of Tradition and Frankfurt School Critical Theory. South Bend, IN: University of Notre Dame Press.

Section II



Human Nature, Reason, and Love

Introduction In Peter McMylor’s Alasdair MacIntyre: Critic of Modernity, the term “alienation” appears 62 times in a discussion of MacIntyre’s Marxism, but only twice in the discussion of MacIntyre’s mature work (McMylor 1993). In Kelvin Knight’s Aristotelian Philosophy, the term appears only 30 times in 225 pages (Knight 2007). Both McMylor and Knight see a revolutionary element—the ability to challenge social power structures— lying in MacIntyre’s discussion of bureaucracy, managerialism, and the problem of manipulation in the modern world. That discussion is, of course, salient for us as we saw in the introduction in discussions of U.S. culture. Where my reading treats manipulation as a result of alienation, McMylor and Knight seem to distinguish between manipulation and alienation. Yes, MacIntyre’s division between practice and institution is revolutionary as a response to modern bureaucratic rationality; but its potential for undermining oppression and domination rests in viewing it as a response to alienation. Niko Noponen also offers a reading of MacIntyre’s Marxism that proves insightful. He ties together the pursuit of external goods to alienation and the inability to pursue common goods. Moreover, Noponen sees that practices are objective activity, that is non-alienated activity, because they involve the pursuit of internal goods. Notably, Noponen ties his discussion of internal goods and non-alienated activity to the pursuit of inclinations formed with the help of virtues. Finally, like McMylor and Knight, Noponen emphasizes the fact that alienation involves being controlled by forces outside one’s self. In contrast to my account, Noponen does not see that MacIntyre expanded the notion of alienation from simple saleability to the divorce of fact and value. The pursuit of external goods is not a form of alienation because it is a form of pleonexia. Rather, pleonexia is a form of alienation because it divorces fact—persistent human desire—from value. My reading of alienation in MacIntyre has several advantages. First, I demonstrated that MacIntyre expanded the concept of alienation from saleability to the divorce of fact from value. This move brings

88 Lacunae MacIntyre in line with Frankfurt School critical theory. Where Horkheimer and Adorno identified alienation as a rationalization of society, MacIntyre understands it as a divorce of fact from value. These two positions are, in my opinion, two sides of the same coin. Where rationalization threatens to reduce all (non-economic) values to that of self-preservation, emotivism reduces all values to meaningless language for the benefit of selfinterest. Both lead to a culture of manipulation and authoritarianism. If emotivism and rationalization are two sides of the same coin, however, that entails that the concepts of practices, narratives, and tradition might hold promise for undermining the domination of nature which Horkheimer and Adorno identify as central to the problem of rationalization. Part III will investigate that possibility. Second, my discussion opens up space for Catholic thinkers to engage more with Frankfurt School critical theory and Marxist traditions which are conceptual rather than conservative. Engaging with MacIntyre’s work and with Frankfurt School critical theory can radicalize Catholic social thought which all too often ignores the problems of capitalism and, more so, the liberal nation state. I mean specifically that dominant Catholic social thought tends to apply the concepts of “justice,” “natural law,” and “common good” to the modern liberal nation-state without realizing that these terms are incommensurable with the structures of the nation-state. Third, MacIntyre has developed a unique Leftist—that is a radical, revolutionary, Marxist—position. As I have discussed in a number of essays (Nicholas 2017, 2020), MacIntyre’s mature work has been ignored by critical theorists and Marxists. Yet, as this work shows, his contributions ought not be ignored. The advantages to expanding the concept of alienation are testified to, not only by the revolutionary nature of the concept of practices, but by its similarities to Horkheimer and Adorno’s similar expansion noted above. More relevant than these advantages to developing a politics of liberation, however, are the ways my interpretation disagrees with that of (my friend) Christopher Lutz, one of the two most recognized experts on MacIntyre’s work. In particular, we disagree on two issues: the role of moral rules in the community and the need for a conception of historical human nature. Lutz interprets MacIntyre as claiming that community is subsidiary to moral rules. He also argues that MacIntyre did not need to develop a conception of historical human nature because, following Aristotle and Thomas Aquinas, MacIntyre adopted a creationist-intellectualist account of human nature and the human telos. Both of these positions, in my opinion, undermine the power of MacIntyre’s arguments for addressing, not just alienation, but emotivism. Following Paul Blackledge, I believe that one of the most significant contributions MacIntyre makes to Marxism is the argument for a conception of historical human nature to support non-alienated, free labor. The chapter precedes in the order of the topics discussed.

Human Nature, Reason, and Love 89

Moral Rules and Community The Place of Moral Rules For clarity, I present the discussion of moral rules and the community in the following way: a quote from Marx on which MacIntyre is commenting, MacIntyre’s comment, and then Lutz’s interpretation. Like a game of telephone, or “Chinese” whispers, the inflection seems to change. When communist workers meet, they have as first aim theory, propaganda, and so on. But they take for their own at the same time and by this token a new need, the need for society, and what seems a means has become an end. (1844, kl 1843) In the 1844 Manuscripts where this passage appears, Marx labels as false an assumption in political economy that the capitalist and laborer are united. The central issue is the unity of community, specifically the true unity discovered through human activity in the communist community as opposed to the false unity under capitalist political economy. Marx understands moral rules as ideologies supporting the false assumption of capitalist social structures. This false unity is a form of alienation. The abolition of private property—the private control of the means of production—will free agents from this false unity. Private property means that someone else is controlling the destiny of the worker: “he might exclaim at last, ‘Here I am at home,’ but where instead he finds himself in … the house of a stranger who daily lies in wait for him and throws him out if he does not pay his rent” (1844 kl 1862). Alienation appears here because “my desire is the inaccessible possession of another” (1844 kl 1892). MacIntyre glosses this discussion: One meets the anarchic individualist desires which a competitive society breeds in us, by a rediscovery of the deeper desire to share what is common in humanity, to be divided neither from them nor from oneself … in this discovery moral rules reappear as having point. For their content can now be seen as important in correcting our short term selfishness, and thus helping release desire. Moral rules and what we fundamentally want no longer stand in sharp contrast. (NOTES, 95) This gloss on Marx appears in a transitional paragraph in NOTES. MacIntyre has just provided an account of Marx’s view of history ending with the question, “How does this conception of human nature close the gap between morality and desire?” Of central importance is human nature. MacIntyre answers that he must provide an account of how

90 Lacunae Marx’s “view of history bears upon morality.” This analysis focuses on capitalism as a moment in history wherein human beings discover certain desires, such as the desire for community. He quotes the sentence from Marx above and moves into his comment regarding moral rules. The end of alienation is the key to this discussion as a desire “to be divided neither from them nor from oneself.” To discover this desire is “to acquire a new moral standpoint.” Lutz comments on this passage: Marx found that there is a great human desire for community [which brings] with it a desire for the morality that could support community, MacIntyre concluded that the desire for and maintenance of human community could provide the necessary link between the social practices of morality and the desires of the human agent. The deepest desires of modern individuals can only be met through membership in a community and this requires adherence to its standards. (TEAM, 39) Lutz’s discussion appears just after a discussion of the failure of modern moral theory. It focuses on the need for a historical perspective to counter the ahistorical nature of Stalinism and classical liberalism. The key point for Lutz is that MacIntyre is seeking a foundation for moral judgement, something found in history. It is, then, a rejection of individualism. Yet, notice the subtle shifts in “translation.” Marx does not mention morality or moral standards; MacIntyre mentions moral standards twice, and Lutz mentions them three times. Moreover, where Marx is focused on alienation, and this alienation still occupies the center of MacIntyre’s analysis, that concept—and here, I mean the concept and not just the term—seems lost in translation. In my opinion, the claim that “this desire for community brought with it a desire for the morality that could support community” is too fast and loose. Marx certainly makes no such claim, and I find it difficult to interpret MacIntyre’s statements—“moral rules reappear as having point,” “correcting our short term selfishness,” and “moral rules and what we fundamentally want no longer stand in sharp contrast”—mean that the desire for community is a desire for moral rules. In fact, MacIntyre’s claim that moral rules correct our shortterm desires must be understood as a comment on Marx’s call for the abolition of private property. A foundation for ethics is certainly key— that foundation is in human nature in this section of NOTES, something missing from Lutz’s interpretation. The rejection of individualism is also key. Yet, individualism for the 1958 MacIntyre is the rejection of the private ownership of the means of production. Moral rules are ideological because they support private property, something not obvious, if present, in Lutz’s commentary. Moral rules have their point, then, not because we

Human Nature, Reason, and Love 91 desire them the way and at the same time that we desire community, but because they are no longer tools of oppression and exploitation. Does this distinction matter? Practices and Freedom The most forgiving reading would perhaps say no. At most, one might say, Lutz missed an opportunity to drive home the way external goods in practices can contribute to individualism and make moral rules seem like ideology, which seems to be one of his concerns (one I share). It would also mark a chance to emphasize the Thomist understanding of property against the classical liberal understanding of property. Where classical liberalism understands property individually prior to society, Thomas understands property socially as releasing to the individual justice in possession but not justice in use. A more charitable reading, however, might suggest some fissures when it comes to practice. Lutz moves directly from this discussion to the claim that history reveals the basis of our standards to lie in practices and narratives. In TEAM (41), for instance, Lutz claims twice that “practices are the sources for standards.” Since, according to Lutz, community is found in practices, practices require adherence to moral standards. In my opinion, this interpretation over-emphasizes the moral rules at the expense of the agents engaging in the practice. First, this interpretation leaves open the possibility of interpreting MacIntyre as a communitarian, something Lutz and other proponents of RA reject, as does MacIntyre himself. Second, it preferences a particular way of reading freedom which is inconsistent with MacIntyre’s oeuvre. Consider, then, the way Lutz describes MacIntyre’s thoughts on freedom. “MacIntyre’s search for freedom is Aristotelian. Freedom is, not merely political, but moral freedom gained through formation in community” (RAV, 25). Formation becomes operative here in contrast to the co-discovery of desire in community. Freedom is, thus, “freedom for excellence, the ability to recognize and pursue what is good and best” (RAV, 85). I find limited discussion of how one identifies what is “good and best” except through pre-established goods in practices. This approach seems to oppose what MacIntyre argues for in his early essays. Thus, we come to Lutz’s interpretation of what Paul Blackledge identifies as the “most substantial” (Blackledge 2005, 710) of MacIntyre’s Marxist essays, “Freedom and Revolution.” Once more, Lutz rejects the idea that MacIntyre understands freedom as “political freedom from coercive government” (RAV 152). Rather, “freedom requires knowledge … that human agents learn from others.” Freedom, on Lutz’s reading of MacIntyre, “is the positive ability, informed by substantive knowledge, to seek and to do what is good and best.” As an Aristotelian, I affirm that doing what is good and best requires knowledge and

92 Lacunae exemplifies freedom. However, as an Aristotelian, I also affirm that doing what is good and best is a political action that can be, and has historically been, limited by state, church, and business through coercion and manipulation. To contrast this notion of freedom as seeking and doing the good with political freedom, to me, is inconsistent with MacIntyre’s essay and with the tradition of Aristotelian philosophy. Ethics is part of politics. Moreover, MacIntyre specifically writes that “to answer the question” of what is freedom properly “would be to write from one point of view of the history of class society” (MacIntyre 1960, 20). To write from class society is to write specifically with revolution in mind. It is to be concerned, essentially, with freedom from coercion. When a new class arises, it brings along “new form[s] of exploitation” frustrating “human possibility.” However, MacIntyre continues, “the rise of the working class to power will not be the sign of a new class society and consequently a new form of exploitation; it will be the sign of an end to class society and an end to exploitation. Human possibility will no longer be frustrated in the ways in which it has been throughout all previous history.” As I have argued (Nicholas 2019), this understanding of freedom is revolutionary and counters the understanding of freedom in the neo-liberal nation-state. To argue that conclusion is to recognize, however, that seeking what is good and best is a political project of the community which in itself constitutes “freedom from coercive government.” The standards of morality, then, are secondary to the pursuit of freedom. The pursuit of freedom in community, not the discovery of moral rules, is the telos of history. My argument puts to question in a way that Lutz’s interpretation cannot, any attempt by conservatives to utilize MacIntyre’s RA for their own purposes. The Black Lives Matter protests provide a salient example. Unarmed and often innocent people of color are killed every day by police officers on the streets of the U.S. (and across the world). If one listens to people of color, what they will often hear are that professional, and sometimes even famous, Black people suffer from the same conditions of oppression as those who are poor. A prominent leader of health in Louisville, Kentucky, for instance, spoke of being followed in the store when he is grocery shopping. We should note that people of color are, first, seeking and doing what is best in organizing peaceful protests against an unjust system. Second, we should be more willing to learn from them. What they most have to teach us is that organizing for political action is to exercise practical wisdom and act on their judgment. Thus, MacIntyre wrote in 2017 regarding these protests: Those of them interviewed on television as to their reasons for acting as they did were highly articulate, made important distinctions between good and bad reasons for various kinds of response, and

Human Nature, Reason, and Love 93 showed themselves to be in varying degrees both responsible and reflective. (ECM, 296) The Black Lives Matter movement is a movement of class-struggle. In short, if moral rules come to have meaning in collective action, the action itself is the actualization of freedom. Not the moral rules, but the formation of community in making desires effective is the end.

On the Absence of Human Nature In 1958, MacIntyre claimed “the crucial concept for Marxists is their concept of human nature” (NOTES, 93). Yet, AV presented RA without a conception of human nature. Where Lutz argues that this absence is not important, Paul Blackledge argues that it is a failure to fulfill a promising contribution to Marxism. This section will examine this debate showing that Lutz’s solution is not tenable and emphasizing the need for a philosophical anthropology that illuminates historical human nature grounded in biological being. Anything short of that would be a divorce of fact from value. Problems with Aristotle’s Hylomorphic Metaphysical Biology We will consider Aristotle’s metaphysics carefully in Chapter 7. Our focus at the moment is understanding both why Lutz believes we must reject Aristotle’s hylomorphic metaphysical biology (shortened to metaphysical biology throughout) and his alternative account of an intellectualistcreationist account (shortened to creationist account). Lutz (TEAM, 133–135) identifies three reasons for the rejection of Aristotle’s metaphysical biology. Aristotle gets into trouble, particularly from the standpoint of contemporary science, when he discusses reproduction. For Aristotle, the soul is the “active” principle and the body is the “passive” principle of any living substance. A wolf ’s soul, for instance, causes the body of a wolf—to be technical, the atoms composing the body—to act in this rather than that way. Without a particular soul in-forming the body, the atoms are passively waiting to be active in this or that way. (That is a bit of a simplification. We never encounter un(in)formed atoms or matter of any kind. It is more accurate to say that the atoms begin to act differently when informed by the wolf soul rather than the lizard soul.) The problem is with Aristotle’s account of the transmission of the soul into a new living body. Aristotle contends that the egg provides the matter (simply in-formed with a vegetative soul), the sperm provides no material, but carries with it the un-embodied soul which will activate the material egg. The first problem with Aristotle’s account, then, is that modern biology has discovered DNA, which Lutz describes as a “material formal

94 Lacunae principle.” DNA provides the form—the organization—of the new body. On the one hand that would seem to justify Aristotle’s account, even though form appears to be material here—the particular chemical makeup of DNA. However, the second problem is that DNA changes, and changes in DNA can be inherited. Contrary to Aristotle, then, species are not immutable. Finally, the male does contribute materially to the new entity. Though much smaller than the ovum, the spermatozoa provides material—including DNA molecules—to the new entity. Modern science, then, seems to excise teleology. Souls do not exist; living beings act in the ways they do because of their DNA. DNA is mutable. Given this position, however, another problem arises: any telos identified from biology is burdened with ideology. Aristotle’s hylomorphism entails that women are less rational than men and, in fact, he claims that men are the perfect form of homo sapiens while women are deficient forms caused, probably, by too much heat in the womb. Rather than carrying the soul, the “hyle” in Aristotle’s theory carries with it prejudice. Lutz, in an email response insists that MacIntyre rejects a metaphysical biology because he cannot justify it rationally. Biology requires interpretation which we need to uncover any telos in the organism. Yet, economic conditions determine the superstructures of society—the institutions and beliefs which condition the interpretation of biology. His position is similar to that of Michel Foucault. Foucault rejected the need of a philosophical anthropology for revolutionary action because any such philosophical anthropology would be burdened by the prejudices found in society. Because we cannot disentangle the superstructure of the institutions, such as those of science (including universities), from the economic base, we cannot disentangle our beliefs about telos from those economic relations that incorporate ideological views. In my opinion, this argument gives away the farm for the emaciated cow. This argument would have us abandon an Aristotelian metaphysical biology in order to preserve a conception of teleology unmoored from human biology. In short, it makes Marxism impossible; or I should say, it makes impossible the conscious creation of a better world in which all develop the possibilities of human nature through creating their own history. In a moment, we will examine Blackledge’s argument for why MacIntyre’s greatest contribution to and failure in relation to Marxism was a promising theory of human nature. Before examining that argument, however, I wish to turn to Lutz’s alternative account of the source of teleology. Lutz’s Account of Teleology Lutz asserts that “Thomas Aquinas may explain human teleology and natural law in Aristotelian terms, but creation—not Aristotle’s biology— is the more crucial presupposition” (TEAM, 136). A footnote clarifies

Human Nature, Reason, and Love 95 that “creation” is a concept from, not religion, but natural theology, or reason. In place of biology, then, this natural theology proposes that “the human telos concerns the intellect, but neither Aristotle nor Thomas claims that the intellect is a product of natural generation” (TEAM, 136). Natural generation cannot produce the rational soul … there is no conflict between MacIntyre’s rejection of Aristotle’s biological theories and his adherence to Aristotelian and Thomistic teleology, because MacIntyre … takes creation as a crucial element of the structure of reality. (TEAM, 138) In short, according to Lutz, the teleology of the human soul can be disentangled from the flaws of Aristotle’s biological theory because the rational soul cannot be a product of natural generation. Thomists, including MacIntyre, accept that creation is the source of the intellectual soul. Teleology, then, comes, not from a metaphysical biology, but from the created soul via God. This account proves intellectualist in two ways. First, the teleology is intellectual. Not only does teleology derive from the rational soul, but it also is a teleology focused on rational activity. Second, one such teleological activity is the search for truth. Truth, on a Thomist account, entails the mind becoming adequate to the object of thought. That is, the judgements of the intellect are true insofar as those judgements reflect the real nature of the thing being judged. Thus, things “cause truth in created intellects” and, further, “are measured by the divine intellect” (TEAM, 122). Because the object is authored by God, it can be “ordered and measured,” that is, known by human beings (TEAM, 124). This teleology “cannot be reduced to physical phenomena” (TEAM, 134). Blackledge on Lutz’s Human Nature In a recent article, Paul Blackledge takes on Lutz’s account. His position shows the paucity of the intellectualist-creationist teleology described above. I will add to it slightly. Blackledge (2020) notes that MacIntyre’s argument against liberalism hinges on the lack of a theory of human nature. Freedom is mediated always by practical engagement with nature to satisfy human need. This practice is historically conditioned. Practical activity serves as the link between universal and specific in human history, giving it an ethical dimension. Marxism, however, could not articulate that historical-ethical universalism because it was trapped, on Blackledge’s reading of MacIntyre, in its own terms. The proletarianization of the worker, does not empower, but “deprives workers of those forms of practice through which they can

96 Lacunae discover conceptions of the good” (ibid., 226). Both liberalism and Marxism end in a moral relativism. Yet, we cannot return to the conception of human nature present in medieval theology. This Thomist account of teleology, Blackledge argues, can no longer provide the link between practical activity and moral values it once did. Capitalism robbed religion of its power of critique. Religion became divorced from the everyday needs of people and, as such, incapable of delegitimating any secular authority. Moreover, it sanctions the reification of private property, either as Calvin does by making it a sign of God’s favor or as Leo XIII does by defending a right to it. A right to property divorces practical activity from human need, and religious critique of the social order ends where its property line begins. The problem, for Blackledge, is two-fold. First, the teleology this intellectualist-creationist metaphysics provides is a reified one. His account needs to be amended here. Blackledge holds that the “key weakness” in this metaphysics is “a static view of ‘timeless truths’” (Blackledge 2020, 232). This view, Blackledge rightly claims, sits uneasily with the “historical character of MacIntyre’s sociology” and his Marxism. The concept of essence is, not only pre-Darwinian, but also pre-Marxist. Marx understands human essence to be dynamic through history. To be fair to Lutz and MacIntyre, both recognize that one problem with an essentialist account is that it conceives “of the human telos as a state of affairs to be achieved” (TEAM, 135). MacIntyre rejects this idea of a state of affairs and proposes the telos is “the agent’s having traversed a course which is part of a larger moral history” (MacIntyre 1977, 39). The language Lutz uses to describe this telos, however, tends toward the static: “a whole life spent seeking understanding,” “a quest for real understanding … truly the good,” and “the perfection of intellect and understanding” (TEAM, 135–136). More than these phrases, which could just be poor articulations of an active telos, Lutz seems to push a static account in his conclusion of the discussion. The ultimate good is found, not only in how the soul relates to something external to it, but in finding completion of the quest in the next life. The quest can be dynamic, but Lutz emphasizes its completeness rather than its process. Completion cannot account for the radical historical reality of human nature. Marx recognized this point in claiming that a communist society would allow people to develop new powers and new senses. To return to Blackledge, Marx’s essentialism involves exceeding and remaking that nature. The second problem with Lutz’s intellectualist-creationist account is that it does not rid the theory of human nature of the problem of ideology. Lutz argues that a telos arising from soul incorporates elements of historical-social bias into the definition of human being. Yet, as Blackledge notes, Lutz’s account cannot protect MacIntyre’s RA from the possibility of evil practices. In addition to the issue of private property Blackledge discusses, we can look at the ideology in Thomas’s own

Human Nature, Reason, and Love 97 theory. “Woman is defective and misbegotten, for the active power in the male seed tends to the production of a perfect likeness according to the masculine power; while the production of woman comes from defect in the active power” (Aquinas undated, 90a1). In this passage, Thomas follows Aristotle in a direct reference to the male seed as carrying the active power. Moreover, Thomas writes “The image of God is found in man and not in woman, for man is the beginning and end of woman” (ibid., 93a4). The simple problem is that Lutz found a tub of dirty bathwater, kept the bathwater and threw out the tub. Yes, Aristotle’s account of reproduction, but not his account of hylomorphic metaphysics, was ideological and scientifically primitive. Yet, Lutz kept the teleological account, called it creationist and intellectualist, thus harboring the ideology, and threw out the metaphysics. My solution in Chapter 7 will be to repair Aristotle’s hylomorphic metaphysical biology. But why? MacIntyre’s Contribution to Marxism Blackledge argues that MacIntyre made a number of contributions to Marxism and the New Left in the 1950s and 1960s. For example, MacIntyre was able to articulate for a New Left struggling with the determinist interpretation of Marx that base does not determine superstructure; rather, in creating the base, persons simultaneously create the superstructure. They build a framework within which superstructure takes shape (Blackledge 2005, 704). According to Blackledge, the cause of MacIntyre’s break with the New Left in the 1960s rested with his judgement that Marx failed to develop an Aristotelian account of workingclass practices. Thus, he contends that MacIntyre’s concept of practice is a continuation of Marx’s initial program set out in 1844 (Blackledge 2008, 216). The most important contribution was MacIntyre’s articulation of a need for a conception of historical human nature. Blackledge argues that MacIntyre’s work shows “the importance of purposive action to satisfy developing, but biologically rooted, needs, wants, and desires through history” (Blackledge 2005, 708). Persons achieve freedom when they overcome conflicts through teleologically oriented action. Freedom for the Marxist MacIntyre rests, not in a problem of individual versus society, but “the problem of what sort of society we want and what sort of individual we want to be” (ibid., 710). The topic of freedom, then, for MacIntyre, “is also the topic of revolution” (MacIntyre 1960, 22). Notably, MacIntyre argues in “Freedom and Revolution” for a political party of sociologists. He believes that history has shown that, while the working class can spontaneously organize for freedom, they fail to realize the potential of their organization. Thus, for MacIntyre, working class organizations and sociologists need each other. The necessity lies with

98 Lacunae building a working class who will build freedom (MacIntyre 1960, 23; see also Blackledge 2005, 710). MacIntyre’s continuing analysis of capitalism rested on his acceptance of Marx’s thought of human nature. MacIntyre held that, even if capitalism distorts human nature, it also opens the possibility for realizing that what human beings most desire is each other. Yet, through the 1960s, MacIntyre saw fragmentation, rather than solidarity, grow among the working class (Blackledge 2005, 714–715). MacIntyre abandoned human nature as a “benchmark from which to adjudicate moral claims” (Blackledge 2005, 715): Nor can I look to human nature as a neutral standard, asking which form of social and moral life will give it the most adequate expression. For each form of life carries with it its own picture of human nature. (MacIntyre 1998, 268) The implications of this rejection are startling: “without a theory of human nature with which to underpin it, [MacIntyre’s] theory of revolution … was left baseless” (Blackledge 2005, 718). Moreover, it undermines the hard work that MacIntyre undertook in the 1950s. The power of MacIntyre’s Marxism in the period of the first New Left was rooted in his argument that any moral claim, if it was to be universalized in the modern world, must be rooted both in a historically conceived theory of human nature, as actualized within the real historical struggles for freedom of the oppressed. (Blackledge 2005, 719)

Reason and Love If MacIntyre did not develop a conception of historical human nature, he did write a philosophy of human nature that focused on the place of reason in human life. As discussed at the end of Chapter 2, MacIntyre’s argument against emotivism rests with the claim that reason is the characteristic human power. It structures all of our other powers and it has no evolutionary advantage. This argument seemingly removes the need to consider or develop a conception of historical human nature, as Blackledge would like it to. In this section, I find fault with MacIntyre’s account of reason. In particular, it relies on a false dichotomy in the nature of love that flows through MacIntyre’s writings. Love is either one power among many, like eating pie, or a quasi-theological virtue of charity. This dichotomy limits his analysis of reason as a human power, a limit we must overcome in succeeding chapters.

Human Nature, Reason, and Love 99 Historical Reason In developing MacIntyre’s argument against Frankfurt and Williams, I showed that MacIntyre relies on a philosophical anthropology in ECM that he did not have in AV. That argument insists that rationality is a human power that shapes all other human possibilities, including the ability to love. This view, stated briefly in ECM, is defended in Dependent Rational Animals (DRA). DRA’s argument is as follows. Human beings are like other animals, vulnerable. Aside from being vulnerable physically, we are also vulnerably intellectually, and we need communities to help us develop as independent rational thinkers. Human rationality rests on powers that we share with non-human animals, what MacIntyre calls pre-linguistic reasoning. Nonhuman animals, he shows, have reasons for their action. Human beings have, in addition to these pre-linguistic reasons, a capacity for language which allows us to evaluate our reasons for actions. We do so in a community of others, the primary task of which is to rank-order our desires. Does this philosophical anthropology satisfy Blackledge’s or my concerns as articulated in this chapter? No, and for two reasons. First, Blackledge argues that MacIntyre’s specific contribution to Marxism is the focus on historical human nature. Human nature is realized in the struggle for existence. In that struggle, human beings transform their desires. DRA does not address this historical struggle. MacIntyre is clear that rationality develops in community; yet, he does not treat reason or community as something developed in history. Presumably he means readers to connect his arguments in DRA with AV. The problem, however, would be that AV denied the need for a philosophical anthropology. The connections between AV and DRA remain unclear without that discussion. ECM goes some way to restoring the connections. MacIntyre recognizes the need for Marx in explaining how historical circumstances undermined human community and changed ideas of human nature and desire. This change is not connected to his arguments against Williams. That is, the singular power of reason which structures all of our other powers—on MacIntyre’s account—seems ahistorical. In fact, MacIntyre suggests as much when he argues that it gives no evolutionary advantage. Second, then, his analysis of reason in ECM contrasts with his understanding of love. Yet, MacIntyre’s account of love is dualistic, leaving him with an undeveloped answer to Williams. MacIntyre on Love In this section, we review what MacIntyre says about love in his published work.

100 Lacunae MacIntyre often presents love as an obstacle to the pursuit of the good. Often, love is presented as one among a list of other emotions, such as hate and fear, or as one of many things of which human beings are capable. Love of family is like other loyalty-exhibiting virtues, such as love of country or marital fidelity (MacIntyre 1984). When discussed more fully, love materializes either as self-love, romantic love, or charity. Self-love appears often in relation to Bishop Butler’s thoughts about it. Self-love is commanded by the Bible, and it poses no opposition to the love of the neighbor or the other; it seems to be a condition of love of the other. Romantic love appears particularly in discussions of Kierkegaard and is recognized as a hindrance to the pursuit of the good. The word “eros” occurs in only three works. MacIntyre contends that the eros of the Symposium, in which Socrates is a hero, leads to the political philosophy of Plato’s Laws, in which Socrates is an outlaw. In the Republic, Socrates speaks against those who love spectacle and all things material and praises, instead, those who love the forms (MacIntyre 2007a). MacIntyre concludes pessimistically: like the person in the Symposium who has only begun to ascend the ladder of love, we cannot see beyond the material world of lines and figures. In contrast to the quite limited discussions of other forms of love, charity occupies a significant place in MacIntyre’s work. In AV, reconciliation appears as one form of charity. The eternal community requires that we love those who sin. When quarrels occurred between people, the earthly community needed a form of reconciliation back to the community, a reconciliation requiring forgiveness, which rests on charity. DRA echoes this understanding of the virtue of charity in relation to the community. In acting from misericordia, one expands the bounds of community to include the stranger so that she is now my neighbor. The love of the stranger is central in MacIntyre’s reflections on Rabbi Jonathan Sacks. Sacks argues that “‘We learn to love humanity by loving specific human beings,’ and to speak of universality is to say that there is no one who is excluded by their nature” (quoted in MacIntyre 2013, 13). We are “to love strangers as strangers, to love them because and not in spite of their being strangers” (ibid., 14). Further, “we encounter God in the face of the stranger” (ibid.). Forgiveness and misericordia arise from the virtue of charity. Yet, MacIntyre cautions that, even though charity is a theological virtue that requires grace, Thomas Aquinas believed it was at work in the secular world (DRA, 124). That we can find discussions of charity and forgiveness in secular authors, suggests that forgiveness, misericordia, or other aspects of charity are part of the catalogue of secular virtues. Moreover, charity as a virtue radically changes the conception of the human good; the human good consists in a community of reconciliation (AV, 174). In these three works, AV, DRA, and “Torah and Moral Philosophy,” MacIntyre’s arguments harken back to Marxism: An Interpretation

Human Nature, Reason, and Love


(MAI). A quote from Pascal opens this book: “human things must be known to be loved; divine things must be loved to be known” (MAI, 9). One might suspect, then, that the book will reflect on love; yet, the term appears only one other time. Feuerbach, MacIntyre contends, believed the Christian religion was a reflection of humanity. The heart of that religion is the idea that God is love. This statement conceals, for Feuerbach, the truth that love is “the source of human community” (MAI, 35). MacIntyre concludes, though, that Feuerbach sees that “man eats and loves as well as thinks … [but] does not see the wholeness of man who does all these things” (MAI, 36). Marx exposes Feuerbach’s failure and presents a whole vision. Let’s pause for a moment: we should ask whether the various forms of charity that support community confer an evolutionary advantage. In asking this question, I am not relying on biological or sociological conceptions of altruism. Altruism is not love, not in the theological sense nor in the sense of Eros. Altruism is a term coined by Auguste Comte as a way to think about a world dominated by capitalism. If Adam Smith is correct that, not the common interest, but the individual interest of the butcher brings meat to the table, then how can societies hold together? We need not explore that question here. Rather, we are considering the types of love that MacIntyre identifies as forms of charity, which are, not opposed to, but require self-love. If, on the one hand, MacIntyre intends to leave these forms of love out of his claim about love, the Pythagorean theorem, and eating pie, then he cannot as easily account for them being among the list of secular virtues. On the other hand, if he insists that they belong to the list of secular virtues, he must explain why such virtues confer no evolutionary advantage. Would that mean that no virtues confer evolutionary advantage? If so, he would have to reconcile that claim to his account of pre-linguistic reasons, their relationship to linguistic reasoning, and the capacities for intellectual virtues such as prudence. I do not know if any of these issues are insurmountable prima facie. The account I am developing, that sees Eros as inherent in nature, would entail that love, as a virtue, is natural and does confer an evolutionary advantage. Rather, I see MacIntyre’s claim, which equates love to eating pie, as problematic on his own account. MacIntyre’s binary picture faces two challenges. First, we need not choose between reason and love as the primary distinctive capacity for human life. We could choose both as dual capacities that, not only define what it means to be human, but define each other and human life. For instance, people born with deformities in their pre-frontal cortex may lack an ability to form genuine relationships; yet, they are perfectly rational. In fact, they may be more rational than people with functional pre-frontal cortexes. Yet, the sociopath and psychopath are generally regarded as less human than the person who is less rational but capable of love. We need

102 Lacunae not choose sides in this false dichotomy. To love without reason can enslave us to our passions, leading to substance addiction, abuse of loved ones, or self- and other-destructive behavior. To reason without love, however, risks transforming ourselves into monsters. If one looks into the night sky and does not experience love, one will never be led to wonder. MacIntyre’s binary cannot account for these issues. Second, MacIntyre’s binary between love as one human activity like eating pie and love as charity seems, not just arbitrary and undertheorized, but unrecognized. To conceive of love as an activity like eating pie, MacIntyre must be thinking of self-love, romantic love, and love of painting. These are examples of emotions which we call love. Their relationship to Christian charity is not discussed. Does MacIntyre see the various forms of charity as just different emotions, or something else? No obvious answer is forthcoming. Yet, he does describe misericordia as supplying “what is needed by our neighbor” (DRA, 125). (Once more, we must ask how such a virtue would not confer evolutionary advantage.) Here, it seems as though love is, not just an emotion, but an action. Part of the problem is that his two most thorough discussions of charity, in the essay on Rabbi Sachs and in DRA, have the aim of subordinating love to reason. The love of neighbor required by the Gospel is so that we might learn from others. The love of neighbor required by our human nature is so that we can develop as independent practical reasoners. These binaries leave MacIntyre trapped at the bottom of the ladder of love. Subordinating love to reason, we cannot begin to recognize the unity of nature. We cannot climb, that is, the first rung on the ladder of love. This inability means that we cannot properly account for practices. We cannot understand, for example, how someone could so love her practice that she sacrifices her life to its internal goods as Marie Curie did. “All my life through, the new sights of Nature made me rejoice like a child.” Nor can we understand the power of Martin Luther King Jr.’s words: “we must not allow our creative protest to degenerate into physical violence. Again and again, we must rise to the majestic heights of meeting physical force with soul force.” The love of practice and the love of other known as soul force are aspects of Eros. We must understand Eros and its place in historical human nature.

Conclusion My analysis opens up a first lacuna in RA. Where MacIntyre once argued for a conception of historical human nature, his mature concepts are articulated without that concept. Lutz believes that MacIntyre’s account does not suffer from this absence. On the one hand, we are right to reject Aristotle’s hylomorphic metaphysical biology. On the other, MacIntyre follows Aristotle and Thomas in believing in a direct creation of the rational soul. Blackledge shows the inadequacy of such an account. Yet, a

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Thomist conception can no longer resist the ideologies of market driven action. The promise for a Marxist theory rests on the conception of historical human nature MacIntyre once defended. This lacuna received more definition by considering MacIntyre’s account of reason and love. Reason is the defining characteristic of human beings because it organizes all of our other powers and because it does not convey evolutionary advantage. Yet, this analysis of reason suffers from a poor analysis of love. For MacIntyre, love falls along a binary, either an emotion that can inhibit reason’s function or as a seemingly secular virtue that affects our understanding of the human good. Because love is either beastly or angelic, it can never function alongside reason as one of the defining species-being powers. Chapters 7–10 will challenge this conclusion. It does so by showing how Eros leads to human powers developed through history. The next chapter will open second and third lacunae in MacIntyre’s work by addressing fishing.

References Works by Alasdair MacIntyre Abbreviations AV: MacIntyre, Alasdair (2007) After Virtue, 3rd edition. Notre Dame, IN: University of Notre Dame Press. DRA: MacIntyre, Alasdair (1999) Dependent Rational Animals. Chicago, IL: Open Court. ECM: MacIntyre, Alasdair (2017) Ethics in the Conflicts of Modernity: An Essay on Desire, Practical Reasoning, and Narrative. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. MAI: MacIntyre, Alasdair (1953) Marxism: An Interpretation. London: SCM Press. NOTES: MacIntyre, Alasdair (2009) “Notes from the Moral Wilderness,” in Paul Blackledge and Neil Davidson (eds.), Alasdair MacIntyre’s Engagement with Marxism: Selected Writings 1953–1974. London: Haymarket Books.

Other Works by MacIntyre MacIntyre, Alasdair (1960) “Freedom and Revolution,” Labour Review, 5(1): 19–24. MacIntyre, Alasdair (1977) “Can Medicine Dispense with a Theological Perspective on Human Nature?” in D. Callahan and H. T. Engelhardt (eds.), The Roots of Ethics, The Hastings Center Series in Ethics. Boston, MA: Springer. MacIntyre, Alasdair (1984) Is Patriotism a Virtue? E. H. Lindley Lecture [pamphlet]. Lawrence, KS: University of Kansas. MacIntyre, Alasdair (1998) A Short History of Ethics: A History of Moral Philosophy from the Homeric Age to the Twentieth Century, 3rd edition. Notre Dame, IN: University of Notre Dame Press.

104 Lacunae MacIntyre, Alasdair (2001) “Once More on Kierkegaard,” in John Davenport and Anthony Rudd (eds.), Kierkegaard After MacIntyre (pp. 339–355). Chicago, IL: Open Court. MacIntyre, Alasdair (2007a) “Yet Another Way to Read the Republic?” Proceedings of the Boston Area Colloquium in Ancient Philosophy, 23: 205–223. MacIntyre, Alasdair (2013) “Torah and Moral Philosophy,” in Michael J. Harris, Daniel Rynhold, and Tamra Wright (eds.), Radical Responsibility: Celebrating the Thought of Chief Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks (pp. 3–16). New Milford, CT: Maggid Books.

Other References Abbreviations 1844: Marx, Karl (1988) Economic and Philosophic Manuscripts of 1844 and The Communist Manifesto [the latter co-authored by Friedrich Engels], trans. Martin Milligan. New York: Prometheus Books. RAV: Lutz, Christopher (2012) Reading Alasdair MacIntyre’s After Virtue. London: Continuum. TEAM: Lutz, Christopher (2004) Tradition in the Ethics of Alasdair MacIntyre. New York: Lexington Books.

Other Works Aquinas, Thomas (undated) Summa Theologica, Last accessed 25 November 2020. Blackledge, Paul (2005) “Freedom, Desire, and Revolution: Alasdair MacIntyre’s Early Marxist Ethics,” History of Political Thought, XXVI(4): 696–720. Blackledge, Paul (2008) “Alasdair MacIntyre’s Contribution to Marxism: A Road Not Taken,” Analyse and Kritik, 30: 215–227. Blackledge, Paul (2020) “Alasdair MacIntyre’s Aristotelianism: A Marxist Critique,” in Andrius Bielskis, Eleni Leontsini, and Kelvin Knight (eds), Virtue Ethics and Contemporary Aristotelianism: Modernity, Conflict, and Politics (pp. 222–236). London: Bloomsbury Academic. Knight, Kelvin (2007) Aristotelian Philosophy: Ethics and Politics from Aristotle to MacIntyre. London: Polity. Knight, Kelvin (2008) “Revolutionary Aristotelianism,” in Paul Blackledge and Kelvin Knight (eds.), Revolutionary Aristotelianism: Ethics, Resistance, and Utopia. Berlin: De Gruyter Press. McMylor, Peter (1993) Alasdair MacIntyre: Critic of Modernity. London: Routledge. Nicholas, Jeffery (2017) “Refusing Polemics: Retrieving Marcuse for MacIntyrean Praxis,” Radical Philosophy Review, 20(1): 185–213. Nicholas, Jeffery (2019) “Who Stands for Uŋcˇ í Makhá: The Liberal Nation-State, Racism, Freedom, and Nature,” in Christopher J. Orret al. (eds.), Liberty and the Ecological Crisis: Freedom on a Finite Planet. New York: Routledge. Nicholas, Jeffery (2020) “Alasdair MacIntyre and Frankfurt School Critical Theory,” in Ron Beadle and Geoff Moore (eds.), Learning from MacIntyre (pp. 163–182). London: Wipf & Stock.


Fishing, Social Reproduction, and Nature

Introduction Fishing, for MacIntyre, is a practice around which agents have developed ways of life and, through practicing the virtues, sought the common good. This common good unifies work, family, and community into a coherent whole. By investigating MacIntyre’s analysis of fishing, this chapter invites a conversation with Social Reproduction Theory (SRT). This tradition will help us to understand the ways that exploitation and oppression, based on gender and race, form a causal framework for maintaining alienation. It also reveals that alienation from nature is a primordial form of alienation in human life. Importantly, it also uncovers the need for a philosophical anthropology by which we can evaluate our path toward liberation and away from alienation in the practices we undertake. We begin with MacIntyre’s discussions of fishing. Despite being threatened by commercialized fishing, agents were able to discover ways to pursue the interlocking goods of work, family, and community. Yet, in asking questions about the common good—the rank ordering of goods in a community—we need to ask after the social relations between men and women, between reproductive and productive labor, and between human beings and nature. Second, we explore three aspects of Social Reproduction Theory which help us to open up this lacuna in MacIntyre’s analysis. Where Maria Mies shows that exploitation arose causally with gender oppression, Sylvia Federici reveals aspects of the New Patriarchy under capitalist social relations, and Carolyn Merchant exposes the philosophy that modern science shares with capitalism. These discussions reveal, not only how exploitation and oppression are causally linked, but how both depend on an original alienation from nature. While the focus throughout the chapter is on the oppression tied to the sexual division of labor, where possible we will explore the links to racial oppression as well.

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Fishing MacIntyre’s Discussion MacIntyre provides an account of human nature in Dependent Rational Animals (DRA). Published at the same time as “The Recovery of Agency?” (MacIntyre 2000), DRA considers the vulnerability of human beings as an animal species capable of rational thought and language. The vulnerability of human beings requires virtues of dependency, including humility, when we realize we need help, and just generosity, when we realize we must help others in need. The capacity for rational thought and language requires virtues that helps us to become independent practical reasoners, able to work with others in constructing communities of common goods. Such virtues include courage, for taking a stance that disagrees with others, or phronesis, the virtue of practical wisdom, to be able to connect practical hypotheses to action. Independent practical reasoners need a variety of institutions and organizations, such as schools and cooking clubs, through which they pursue their individual and common goods. These communities always struggle within and against the neo-liberal nation-state even if on occasion it provides the assistance necessary to maintain communities. The importance of and the differences in accounts of virtue become clear in MacIntyre’s discussion of practices, including chess, farming, and fishing. These discussions situate the conflict between institutions and practices within a capitalist framework of dispossessed laborers forced to pay the mortgage. They reveal that virtues are necessary for attaining the most valuable goods—the internal goods—of practices and of human life. Life presents us with opportunities to be successful at the expense of flourishing. For MacIntyre, while acting for success requires Humean virtues, acting for internal goods requires Aristotelian virtues: “The practice of the virtues, conceived as Aristotle and Aquinas conceived them, is difficult to reconcile with functioning well in the present economic order” (MacIntyre 2011, 18). Underlying MacIntyre’s distinction between Aristotelian and Humean virtues is a critique of capitalism which comes out more clearly in his discussion of fishing off the coast of New England, informed by Douglas Whynott’s Giant Bluefin (Whynott 1995), and Denmark, based on Thomas Højrup’s The Needs for Common Goods for Coastal Communities (Højrup 2011). In New England and off the coast of Denmark, the market made commercial fishing profitable and laws preferred the kind of commercialization of large-scale fishing at the expense of local fishers and local community. Competitiveness endangered cooperation and caused fishers to ask whether they should remain fishers or take up some other occupation. In Denmark, for instance, fishers faced a challenge to their way of

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life that led many to sell their boats and work for the large fishing corporations or find other occupations. “To work for such a corporation is to be like any other worker for a typical capitalist enterprise, that is, you are serving their ends” (ECM, 178). The only connection between your work and your life as a member of a family, household, or local community is merely a financial one. The rank-ordering of goods, then, becomes impossible when labor is disconnected from the family and local community. For MacIntyre, Marx can still teach us about what happens to human nature under capitalism. Capitalism requires individuals to misunderstand themselves and their social relationships. “Capitalism … is a set of structures that function in and through dissimulation” (ECM, 96). This dishonesty supports the extraction of surplus value which must be produced and reproduced. Recall that the labor theory of value asserts that the value of an object results from the labor put into it. A bluefin tuna has value because a fisher caught it, cleaned it, and presented it for sale. The tuna, now a commodity representing labor, is worth something. If we take the value it garners on the market and subtract from that the cost of the labor (wages) and any tools (harpoon, boat) used to catch it, any remaining value is surplus value. Profit is comprised wholly of surplus value. Yet, for the tuna to become a commodity from which surplus value is extracted, a certain set of circumstances had to come into being through primitive accumulation. Chapter 1 discussed primitive accumulation during the feudal period. Changes in European law in the twentieth century proves just another example of primitive accumulation. The state took the means of subsistence from the people living there and doled it out to those they deemed owners of the means of production, ship owners; anyone who did not own a ship had to work for wages. While selling one’s labor power turns one into a commodity, MacIntyre insists that people do not think of themselves as commodities. Rather they conceive of themselves as private proprietors who can exchange their commodities, such as their labor, as they see fit through contract. They are free individuals each driven by rational self-interest to satisfy their preferences. In Denmark and New England, this process took place for many people and communities. Those who abandoned family fishing for the external goods of the market transformed into “individual preference maximizers and profit maximizers” (ECM, 179). Those who lacked the virtues, according to MacIntyre, ending up mimicking the decisions and actions of others. In contrast, others looked at the competitiveness required of large commercial fishing and asked after their other goods: Where does cooperation fit into my life? Where does fishing fit into my life? Where do fishing and family fit together? The people of Thorupstrand developed a collective fishing company that was, not only successful in commercial

108 Lacunae fishing, but also protected their communities and the fishing life for members of the community. The members of fishing crews in this community found “it difficult not to recognize three related common goods, those of family, crew, and local community, and achieve their own individual ends in and through cooperating to achieve those common goods” (ECM, 179). The virtues make such communities possible. These virtues, in particular, help agents understand themselves as members of communities able to direct their lives according to their persistent human desires. Fishing is dangerous and, as such, requires that fishers rely on each other and on the Coast Guard. They must also learn “to live at close quarters with others without friction that would be damaging to the enterprise” (MacIntyre 2000, 9). Fishing is competitive, and so agents must “resolve issues about the relationship between competitiveness and cooperativeness in the lives of the crew.” MacIntyre believes these types of features are necessary if the agent is to engage in the kind of self-reflection and ask the questions necessary for agency (ibid., 8):    

How do I distinguish between desires for objects I want just because I want them and those desires for objects that are “good in general for human beings”? How do I acquire “the ability to act for the best here and now, in situations in which there isn’t enough time for deliberation”? How do my practices “embody features that belong to the overall unity of [my] life”? What types of social relationships are necessary for achieving the goods of such practices?

These questions arise within Aristotelian theory as a means for developing an “agenda for practical reflection.” In asking these questions, agents must consider how their practice is “crucial to participation in the life of family and household and the life of the local community” (MacIntyre 2000, 9). In short, they must be educated to rank order their goods to determine their actions and the pursuit of their individual good. Patriarchy and Life Fishing practice and fishing communities encourage the kinds of questions necessary for self-reflection that enable members of communities to ask about the relationships between work and community, including family, schooling, and the market. Some people begin to think “systematically” about the nature of flourishing and this thinking “inescapably” might lead to “political and economic action” aimed at achieving the common goods of “family, school, and workplace” (ECM, 321–322). The

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goods of community and family face threats when the goods of work are not adequate. As such, MacIntyre’s analysis seems akin to that of Social Reproduction Theory (SRT) which “insist[s] that capitalism is a socio-economic system, and that wage work/production and nonwage work/social reproduction are fundamentally co-constitutive” (Meehan and Strauss 2015, 21). SRT is concerned with highlighting the “fleshy, messy, and indeterminate stuff of everyday life” (Katz 2001, 711). It looks at the way different activities dialectically unfold “in relation with production.” Yet, MacIntyre’s analysis leaves out two important insights from SRT which any engagement with alienation must consider: patriarchy and domination of life. These issues arise naturally within discussion of fishing from the sources MacIntyre uses; yet, they do not seem to be given adequate attention. By combining the insights of SRT with Revolutionary Aristotelianism (RA), we will better equip ourselves to build a flourishing society. Let’s begin where MacIntyre begins, the distinction between Humean and Aristotelian virtues. Humean virtues arise from a view of human beings as individual self-proprietors and support the extraction of surplus value. Yet, this analysis is limited. Hume, for instance, identifies modesty as a virtue for women; Smith identifies “humanity,” or exquisite sympathy, as the virtue of woman and generosity as the virtue of man. This distinction in virtues for women, however, comprises another form of alienation. Modesty in women, but not in men, means that women are constrained by social views in the expression of their desires. Similarly, denying women the virtue of generosity, because they have not the requisite property, denies women direction over their lives, normalizing a patriarchal order. In Whynott’s account of New England fishing, several times wives bring dinner to their husbands or provide other support for them that is unpaid and without which the husband could not function as well as he does in the capitalist, competitive market of commercial fishing. Højrup’s account, in turn, says a lot about community negotiations between fishers and state, but it fails to articulate what role, if any, women and wives played in these negotiations, who spoke for the educational needs to the society, etc. Do these two accounts attend Humean gender virtues to women that constrain their articulations of desire? The problem is, we do not know. However, it seems fair to say that the accounts given present an unmarked upon sexual division of labor which constitutes a form of alienation. For SRT, the sexism in Hume’s and Smith’s list of virtues is a result of capitalist social relations. Femininity—female passivity, acceptance, and loving helpfulness is created not just individually as each girl is brought up, but much

110 Lacunae more fundamentally as a social construct, a necessary counterpart to the alienation of labor under capitalism … Under capitalism the relationship between the sexes is changed, what structures it now are the alienated relations of production of capitalism. (Bruegel 1978) If, for MacIntyre, capitalist social structures convince people that they are self-interested rational proprietors, SRT insists that capitalism constructs women and people of color, not only as such self-interested rational proprietors, but as less valuable members of society whose labor contributes little to society as labor-time sold on the market. Capitalism values more what it can control, the production of commodities through labor, rather than what it cannot control, reproduction of the worker. Women come to be housewives, and people of color are either slaves to or marginalized from economic life. These views are co-constitutive: women and people of color are defined in relief against the European, propertyowning male, just as property-less proletariats were define in relief against property-owning capitalists. Marx recognizes that wage labor depends on unwaged labor and that when the laborer argues for a wage, the laborer is arguing for a wage that will support the reproductive labor at home. Likewise, MacIntyre notes the interweaving of labor with family and school. Yet, MacIntyre’s discussion of schools seems to fall into this technical analysis, whether he means it to or not. Both seem to treat “the process of reproduction rather technically, as a matter of skill-transmission, or immigration policies, or biological regeneration” (Ferguson 2018). Second, while cognizant of the dangers of fishing, MacIntyre’s analysis leaves unaddressed how fishing as a commercial activity threatens the body and life. Whynott writes admiringly of Bob Sampson, a fisher who sacrifices much to live the life of a fisher. Yet, Bob is not just a fisher; he also works for a local company. His dual jobs mean sleeping only three or four nights a week. Whynott reports how Bob had trouble with his boat and stayed out in freezing water all night to rescue it. He suffered frostbite. Bob’s life exemplifies the kind of Thomistic virtues MacIntyre defends, and his life showcases the vulnerability MacIntyre focuses on in DRA. Yet, to focus on those virtues and that vulnerability misses important insights about exploitation and oppression. In contrast, SRT examines the “myriad ways” in which agents push themselves physically to limits to satisfy capitalist production (Katz 2001, 718). Bob pushes himself to work without sleep and pushes his body to its physical limits. Who benefits? The capitalist who extracts surplus value from Bob’s body and life. The point is not that MacIntyre is unaware of the way surplus value sacrifices the human body, but that in shining a light on the torture of the human body, we come to recognize that capitalism is an attack on life, that capitalist social structures hate the living. It

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illuminates, as well, the failure of practical reason. Had Bob lost a foot, a leg, or more, how would he have continued fishing, continued to support his family? I find it particularly odd that MacIntyre is willing to criticize painters who, “Gauguin-like,” sacrifice every part of their life, even moving away from their family, to critique, but does not equally bring to question people like Bob, who risks abandoning his family via death as a fisher in dangerous situations. When alienation is at the center of analysis, we must follow SRT in asking how production conditions reproductive activities, how such reproductive activities as unwaged labor involve the extraction of surplus value, and how reproduction colonizes reproductive work. If RA is to provide an account of alienation so that we can better understand how practices, narratives, and traditions resist the fact-value distinction, it cannot ignore questions concerning the construction of gender and racial identities nor questions about the construction of reproductive labor. Both RA and SRT share an affinity, on the other hand, for raising, without fulling answering, questions about the human relationship to nature. In MacIntyre’s analysis of human vulnerability, our relationship to non-human animals is central. Likewise, discussion of fishing recognizes the role of over-fishing caused by capitalism. Yet, neither of these insights ask about the intrinsic value of nature as part of the community. Why does MacIntyre not comment on the failure of Thomistic virtues when fishers cooperate in the corporate commercialization of over-fishing by, for instance, taking the excess of a commercial boat’s catch or the use of electricity to stun the fish? To the four questions asked in “The Recovery of Moral Agency?” we could add: “What type of relationship with nature is necessary for achieving the goods of practices?” In seeking to understand the way capital extracts surplus value from the body of the human agent, SRT also raises questions regarding capital’s attack on nature. As we shall see in the next sections, these often take the form more of hints rather than clear analysis. Just such an analysis is what we need, however, to understand how the alienation of human beings is dependent on our alienation from nature.

Social Reproduction Theory MacIntyre’s analysis of fishing sees in the practice of Thomistic virtues a critique of capitalism and the possibility for rank ordering the goods of work, family, and community. Yet, it does not raise questions about the sexual division of labor, another instantiation of alienation. Nor does his analysis address issues of capital’s demands on the body and nature. SRT, like RA, is interested in the connections between the goods of work, family, and community. It provides a foothold for asking the kinds of questions we need to in order to fully address our alienated condition. In order to raise the kinds of questions SRT does, we need to understand what contributions they make to Marx.

112 Lacunae The literature on SRT is vast, the thinkers multiple and disparate in their approaches and theories. They all evolve from feminist engagements with Marx particularly over questions of the relationship between reproductive and productive labor. SRT shows capitalism would have failed had society not defined women as housewives, people of color as nonhumans, and nature as mechanistic. The theorists I discuss here have particular readings that do not go unchallenged; however, they are, on my reading, seminal for the development of SRT. I rely on them for two reasons, first because they are seminal and, second, on the issue with which I am most concerned—the causal-structural link between the alienation of nature and exploitation of class—they prove clearest and most insightful. I will consider, then, the work of Maria Mies, Sylvia Federici, and Carolyn Merchant. Mies’s Reading of Marx and Engels on Social Reproduction In Patriarchy and Accumulation on a World Scale (P&A), Maria Mies contributes to SRT in two ways which are salient for our project. First, she shows that Marx and Engels subordinate reproductive to productive labor and exclude certain forms of reproductive labor from class analysis. Second, she traces out the origin of class exploitation as dependent on the sexual division of labor. Both of these contributions are salient for us because they bring to the fore questions of human nature: where does reproductive labor, and reproduction itself, fit into human liberation, and how does the sexual division of labor distort human nature? Mies’s argument that Marx and Engels subordinate reproductive to productive labor and excise reproduction from class analysis rests on her reading of A Critique of German Ideology (Marx and Engels 2000) and Engels’s Origin of the Family, Private Property, and the State (Engels 1908). In A Critique of German Ideology, Marx and Engels contend that the production of life, or social activity, involves three moments: (1) the production of the means of subsistence, (2) the production of social relationships, and (3) the reproduction of the species. This production, then, “appears as a double relationship,” natural and social. Social just means “the co-operation of several individuals.” For Marx and Engels, the industrial stage “is always combined with a certain mode of co-operation” which “is itself a ‘productive force.’” History, then, is not essentially a study of politics and religion, but of industry and exchange, or the material connections between human beings “determined by their needs and their mode of production.” These relations become human with consciousness and language as the need for “intercourse with other men.” Thus, “consciousness is a social product.” Such consciousness appears first as a herd-consciousness, in which “man is only distinguished from sheep by the fact that with him consciousness takes the place of instinct.” This original consciousness develops, first, increased productivity, needs,

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and population. These increases give birth to the division of labor, “which was originally nothing but the division of labor in the sexual act, then that division of labor which develops spontaneously … by virtue of natural predispositions.” Finally, consciousness can “flatter itself” that it is “other than consciousness of existing practice,” that it is theory. According to Mies, Marx and Engels too quickly slough off reproduction from the social relationships in their analysis. While at the beginning of the paragraph sexual reproduction of the species is part of the production of life, it does not appear later in the paragraph. We might expect it to appear in the discussion of the social relationships—or the cooperation of several individuals. Yet, it is not clear that it does so appear, for Marx and Engels discuss these social relationships only as part of the history of industry and exchange. Rather than reading “exchange” to include sexual reproduction, Mies believes sexual reproduction is adumbrated to the natural, rather than social, relationships. To me, Mies’s analysis on this point seems a bit quick. Her conclusion comes before all the evidence is gathered; just because the term sexual reproduction disappears does not mean that Marx and Engels do not use other terms to capture the same idea. Yet, her continuing analysis of the passage, I think, proves convincing. Mies shows that Marx and Engels demarcate the sexual division of labor from that which truly is a division of labor when they write: “the division of labor in the sexual act … becomes truly such from the moment when a division of material and mental labor appears” (Marx and Engels 2000). Activity before this “true” division of labor is more animal like. Only after property arises is the sexual division of labor subsumed into the family. That is, procreative activity appears “natural,” and thus outside historical class analysis, until it becomes part of class activity in the family. For Mies, this analysis “involuntarily” contributes to a biological determinism from which women suffer. In contrast, she calls for a historical material analysis that examines the interaction between men and women with nature “and how, in this process, they build up their own human or social nature” (P&A, 51). According to Mies, Engels carries over this exorcism of sexual reproduction in Origin of the Family, Private Property, and the State. He holds that historical materialism considers two kinds of production: the production of the means of subsistence and the production of human beings. Both forms of production condition social institutions. Yet, Engels seems to abandon this idea of two kinds of production: The less labor is developed … the more society is seen to be under the domination of sexual ties. However, under this formation based on sexual ties, the productivity of labor is developed more and more … the foundation[s] of class antagonism are formed. These new elements of society strive in the course of time to adapt the old state of society

114 Lacunae to the new conditions, until the impossibility of harmonizing these two at last leads to a complete revolution. The old form of society founded on sexual relations is abolished in the clash with the recently developed social classes. A new society steps into being … the units of the latter are no longer sexual, but local groups; a society in which family relations are entirely subordinated to property relations. (Engels 1908, 4) Mies argues that, in this passage, Engels includes the production of human beings as part of the family. Yet, he excludes family from history. Perhaps a more nuanced reading would contend that Engels fails to read family in its role as contributing to capitalism as a social form. Sexual ties are subsumed under property relations with the rise of social class. Class relations become the only relations for discussing exploitation and possibilities for liberation. This exclusion colors Engels argument throughout Origin. According to Mies, he uses an evolutionary, rather than economic, description of the development of the family throughout history. That is, natural explanations can explain the development of the family until we arrive at the patriarchal family. Then economic explanations come into play. By excluding reproductive activities from history before the patriarchal family, Engels prevents a class analysis of those relations. Much hinges in the reading of A Critique of German Ideology and Origin on interpretation of terms such as “natural,” “patriarchal family,” and “cooperation of several individuals.” Mies reading is not necessarily uncharitable. The problem here is two-fold. Marx and Engels believe that the “emancipation of women … [is] impossible and remain[s] so as long as women are excluded from social production and restricted to domestic labor” (Engels 1908, 168). First, then, it excludes the reproduction of the species from productive labor; it denies, then, that reproductive labor can be a source of surplus value. Second, this position further excludes the reproduction of the species from both emancipation and as a source of emancipation. To be more perspicuous: Marx and Engels discount the conscious control of reproduction. Yet, some feminists argue that just such conscious control is necessary to end class exploitation and gender oppression. The approach one takes to the issue of conscious control in turn influences the reading of Marx, and Mies seems to read Marx and Engels uncharitably in places because she wants to emphasize conscious control of reproduction. I use Mies’s reading of Marx and Engels because it brings out clearly the issue of the relationship between exploitation and oppression, on the one hand, and the domination of nature on the other. This relationship does not disappear in other readings, but that is an argument for a different day. The discussion of birth in the next chapter highlights these problems. Does the fact that women give birth exclude that activity from a class

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analysis? Why is this division of labor not truly such, and what does excluding it from being truly such entail for an analysis of reproductive labor in its primary meaning of the sexual reproduction of the species? Women’s Object Relations The second contribution that Mies makes that is salient for us is tracing out the historical origin of class exploitation with sexual oppression. Where Marx and Engels believe that the division of labor became true only with a division of material and mental labor, Mies argues that consciousness attends pre-property forms of production. The production of new life in pre-patriarchal societies conditions the production of the means of subsistence. Women were the first providers of daily subsistence, either through gathering or farming. Such gathering was, according to Mies, “a collective activity of women” (P&A, 54). Anthropologists show that women were responsible for the regular cultivation of food plants and this cultivation “made the production of a surplus possible for the first time in history” (P&A, 55). Mies asserts that exploitation is, not a biological or psychological, but a historical category. Exploitation emerges with “men’s dominance over women and the dominance of one class over others, or one people over others” (P&A, 16). Capitalist exploitation is just one historical form of exploitation. The capitalist exploits the laborer, waged or not, by extracting surplus value from their labor. The arguments about birth will show that such extraction includes removing surplus value from the body of laboring women, their babies, and nature. All exploitation, such as capitalist exploitation, hinges on the alienation of human beings from each other. Patriarchy is one such form of alienation; the domination of nature is another. Mies traces the origins of the sexual division of labor, and thus of class exploitation, to the distinction between women’s and men’s historic object-relations. An object relation is how one relates to the objects in one’s surroundings and life. How human beings interact with the natural world comprises these object relations. From Mies’s Marxist point of view, this interaction constitutes what it means to be human rather than animal. The object-relations based on gender prove determinative for the kinds of social relations that develop economically. Human agents produce what they need by interacting with nature through their bodies. While denying that maleness and femaleness are biological givens, Mies argues that men and women “act upon nature with a qualitatively different body” (P&A, 52). Historically, men and women interpret and value their organic differences “according to the dominant form of appropriation of” nature for needs satisfaction. “Thus, in matristic societies femaleness was interpreted as the social paradigm of all productivity, as the main active principle in the production of life.”

116 Lacunae Whereas today, being a woman means being a housewife, in an earlier time, being a woman meant being “active, creative, productive” (P&A, 53). Women “experience their whole body as productive” (P&A, 53). Producing children and milk is “truly human, that is, conscious, social activity.” Just as men take the material of nature and shape it with their ideas and hands, women take the material of nature and shape it with their mind, their hands, their wombs, and their breasts. “It is one of the greatest obstacles to women’s liberation … that these activities are still interpreted as purely physiological functions” merely animal-like and “outside the sphere of conscious human influence.” Despite her asserted desire not to promote essential natures, Mies’s account tends toward an essentialism we want to avoid. Different sexes and genders can experience their whole body as productive under the right social conditions, just as they can relate to the whole only through the productive lens of hands and mind under the right social conditions. Mies’s point, I take it, is that liberation requires a recognition that biology can be consciously shaped and that it can have an effect on how concrete historical agents act in the world. In the next chapter we will see that women’s reproductive capacity is often viewed as physiological and outside conscious control, so much that physicians use medicine either to induce sleep in the laboring mother or cut off the pain receptors below the waist. That Marx and Engels exclude this pre-patriarchal, pre-historic production of surplus from their analysis is problematic:     

it ignores a primordial form of social reproduction—women working together to gather and cultivate food; it hides the fact that women’s reproductive work is productive; it denies consciousness to the activity of sexual reproduction; it ignores the potential of reproductive work as a source of emancipation; and it dismisses body and nature as important to an account of liberation.

To highlight the different approaches between a strictly class-analysis and a class-and-gender analysis, consider differences between MacIntyre’s analysis of farming and fishing and Mies’s discussion of early agriculture. We saw in MacIntyre’s analysis that the focus was on competition, on competition brought about by commercial fishing, and on the need to learn to live together despite competition and individual habits. In contrast, Mies begins her discussion of agriculture from the perspective of the body. Women’s reproductive functions, giving birth and nursing, perhaps means that they saw themselves as “necessarily responsible” for meeting the daily needs and for the origin of the division of labor. This bodily approach also entails that caring for nature is integral to their activity: “They co-operate with their bodies and with the earth in order ‘to let grow and to make grow’” (P&A, 55). Even if we understand

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MacIntyre’s living out the cycle of nature as Mies’s co-operating with the earth, her ideas of letting and making grow contrast in emphasis with his idea of farming and fishing as difficult work. Where MacIntyre states that one begins fishing (or chess) for external goods and then comes to learn the internal goods, Mies contends that early women agriculturalists saw it first as a way of sharing with their children. That sharing does not mean that competition is absent from women’s agriculture, but that cooperation is the primordial approach to it. Consider how this approach opens up a fissure in MacIntyre’s discussion of virtue. People farm primarily for food, and in the U.S., migrant farmers are low-paid and desperate to send money back to their families in other countries. Yet, MacIntyre does not consider the challenges such a farmer—or anyone working in commercial agriculture—might face, tempted, for instance, to sneak food from the field back to his or her home. Hunger is an issue of vulnerability, but one missing from MacIntyre’s account of farming and fishing. Questions of justice (challenges to capitalism, cutting corners) trump questions of care (how do I feed my family tonight?). This paradigm appears to be a feature of the literature on RA, especially that section of it which deals with the question of whether management is a practice. More significantly, Mies’s interpretation makes the social relationship with nature constitutive of other social relations. Archeological evidence suggests that some societies organized along matristic lines viewed the earth as creative and active. For Mies, this relationship resulted from the way people—she says women—experienced their bodies as holistically productive. The production of milk, on her readings, makes obvious that the production of goods form the whole body. Again, we can avoid the essentialism that might attend this reading without abandoning the idea of concern viz., ways of relating to the body and to work are co-constitutive with ways of thinking about nature, whether it is creative and active or not. This point is central to my argument. A conception of historical human nature must recognize the creative and active being of nature and, therefore, of bodies. I will explore this creative and active nature through Aristotle’s metaphysics of energeia. Much European-American philosophy, in fact, has bought into a dualism that sees nature as dead. A feminist perspective of women’s reproductive labor that sees it as real work is necessary to free us from this inhibited form of life (i.e., the life of patriarchy, of owning nature, and of denigrating reproductive work). To truly understand why this position is a feminist position, we need to explore Mies’s discussion of men’s object relations to nature and the rise of exploitation. The Rise of Exploitation Early human women created surplus through cooperative social relations in gathering and agriculture. Marx and Engels hold that the existence of a

118 Lacunae surplus is “the crucial material-historical precondition for the development of” exploitation (P&A, 65). Yet, the ethnographic evidence on which Mies bases her arguments shows that surplus does not necessitate exploitative relationships. Two things are necessary for exploitative relationships to arise: weapons and control over reproduction, things that arise from men’s object relations. Two historical facts prove salient here: first, in hunter-gatherer societies, the majority of the food is produced through agriculture and gathering, traditionally performed by women, and a relatively small amount through hunting which has significant risks; second, hunting requires tools of destruction. Such tools can be used against other human beings. Ethnographic evidence, however, shows that raiding is not productive enough to supply the means of subsistence for a group of human beings. Thus, men, insofar as they are hunters, can never become the dominant producers in a society from the use of weapons alone. Rather, they must learn to control sexual reproduction of animals and then apply those lessons to controlling women’s reproductive capacities through force. Mies argues that pastoral nomads, in caring for their animals, became aware of their ability to control and dominate reproduction. They learned, for instance, that it only takes one bull to impregnate a herd of oxen. They create a productive economy by neutering some bulls to allow another to become dominate. In doing so, they established the domination of nature as constitutive of producing a surplus. Further, through the use of force—weapons developed from hunting tools, agriculturalists could also appropriate women. They raided other villages, not only for food, but also for women to sell as slaves. Both types of male production, that of the pastoral nomads and that of the slavers, are violent. Both require the existence of “female production economies … which could be raided” (P&A, 65). Coercion is necessary for the one-sided appropriation of goods which enables class differences to appear. Such exploitation requires trade and suggests that the things traded were, not the surplus over daily subsistence levels, but the goods stolen from the surplus of others. “This concept of exploitation, therefore, always implies a relationship created and held up in the last resort by coercion or violence” (P&A, 66). It becomes the dominant form of exploitation in human history. Moreover, the argument demonstrates that class struggle “is intrinsically interwoven with the establishment of patriarchal control over women, as the main ‘producers of life’ in its two aspects” (P&A, 66). Class struggle arises at the same time that struggle against patriarchy does. Men aimed at appropriating surplus did so by appropriating and controlling women’s reproductive function to produce men and relied on the existence of women’s labor as a source of wealth gained through raiding and theft. Once men learn to control reproduction in animals and to use their weapons to raid others, it is a short step from there to

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enslaving women and controlling the reproductive functions of women, those of their group and the captured slaves. Such an exploitation redefines women, not as producers of food, but (re)producers of children, especially sons. Production takes the form of production for others, secured through violence and the male monopoly of weapons. Class and patriarchy do not comprise dual systems. Class struggle becomes the primary driver of history where it arises (and Mies points to these areas, especially the Judeo-European one driven by war), but it always rests on a control of women’s reproductive labor. The domination of nature is key to understanding class conflict and patriarchy. Where women developed social labor in cultivating the earth, some men developed methods for controlling reproduction in nature, which they later turned to subjecting women’s reproductive functions to their own uses. While Mies shows this control over nature, she does not connect it to her earlier points regarding the distinction between nature and social for Marx and Engels or with the social relationships women develop as cultivators. To ignore these points is to miss the underlying alienation from nature. The issue is not simply the attempt to use nature for human advantage. Rather, the issue is that human beings learn to deform nature in order to control it by, for instance, neutering bulls and reducing women to their fertility. The sexual division of labor, then, is a historical division and should not be reduced or equivocated with a biological division. Mies makes this point by emphasizing the way that we typically think of work with hands and head, meaning male, as distinct from genitalia and womb, meaning the natural world. The work of the hands is productive, and the hands can be viewed as extensions of machines. These distinctions, for Mies, hides the way that society views work with the hands and heads as superior to the work of the rest of the body. Thus, in cultural conceptions of work and nature reside ideas about the dominance of man over nature, man over woman, and production over consumption. In contextualizing these binaries, we are able to move from the question of when the sexual division of labor appeared to the more important question, “why this sexual division of labor became a relationship of dominance and exploitation?” (P&A, 47). This question enables us to think about the categories of production/ reproductive, man/woman, human/nature from the perspective of the oppressed through history. Doing so allows us to see that “labor can only be productive in the sense of producing surplus value as long as it can tap, extract, exploit, and appropriate labor which is spent in the production of life, or subsistence production,” or non-wage work done primarily by women (P&A, 47). Mies contends that “capitalist penetration means both the destruction and the preservation of subsistence economies” (Mies 1980, 11). Subsistence economies are necessary for extending (1) the market, (2) the means of production, and (3) labor power. Without

120 Lacunae subsistence economies outside of capitalist regions, capitalists would have nowhere to sell their goods, no place in which to develop new production, and more limited sources of labor power. Creating surplus values requires productive labor to dominate reproductive labor performed mostly by women. Historically, then, the sexual division of labor comprises relations of domination of man over woman, over nature, and over reproduction because that is a necessity to accrue surplus value. Understanding oppression as constitutive of exploitation entails that the end of exploitation—which entails the end of class—is necessary if distinct from the end of patriarchy. Thus, I agree with Mies that capital accumulation could not function as it does without patriarchal relations and that patriarchy “constitutes the mostly invisible underground of the visible capitalist system” (P&A, 38). I think she misstates the case, however, when she writes “patriarchy is an overall social, cultural, and economic and political system” (P&A, kl 193). Patriarchy is a characteristic of the social structures and institutions that coalesce to comprise the economic-political system of a society. Thus, Mies argues that feminism cannot adopt a two-systems theory, which too easily lends itself to isolating exploitation in the productive sphere from that in the reproductive sphere. Rather, we feminists must “struggle against all capitalist-patriarchal relations” (P&A, 38). The New Patriarchy Mies demonstrates that patriarchy and exploitation historically appeared together. She continues her discussion to explain the new patriarchy under capitalism—women are reduced to the ideal housewife in service to a husband. Sylvia Federici also explores changing conceptions of men’s and women’s nature in the rise of capitalism, situating these changes against the backdrop of primitive accumulation. Mies and Federici each show how primitive accumulation decouples reproductive from productive labor and entails that men and women came to see women as housewives. In short, they bring to the fore that the conception of historical human nature must be viewed through the lens of patriarchal capitalism. Sylvia Federici, in her brilliant study Caliban and the Witch (Federici 2004), provides a historical account of the attack on women during the transition from the feudal period to the capitalist period. Before primitive accumulation, women always had access to the commons, other communal assets, and even the product of their own hands. After the rise of capitalism and the end of the mercantile period, women have no such access to the means of subsistence. Further, they are cut off from prostitution by the state, stripped of the ability to be crafts workers by male craft workers, and defined socially as reproductive machines. The first aspect of the new patriarchy is a renewed control of the reproduction of women. The end of the feudal period saw a sharp

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decrease in population in Europe; yet, capitalism requires workers, more than the capitalist is willing to employ. State responses to population loss that encouraged growth supported an increase in population that made wage-labor possible. Thinkers in all countries identified the strength of a country with the size of its populace. The state rewarded marriage and penalized celibacy; it began to keep records on population; further, it began “supervision of sexuality, procreation, and family life” (Federici 2004, 88). A war against women served as the primary initiative of the state. This war included the witch-hunt and attempts to punish contraception, abortion, and infanticide. Regarding the witch-hunts, Federici’s discussion is well worth reading. The key insight is that these witch-hunts were not a continuation or even an intensification of previous bans against witchcraft, or even religiously driven. Rather, they represented state and church collaboration to control women who often led resistance movements against the enclosures of the commons. Further, accusations of witchcraft resulted primarily from either jealousy, because the accused had some amount of property or was more well-off than the accuser, or from accusations of assisting women in controlling their births. Federici reports that, while infanticide involved penalties during the middle ages, these penalties changed to torture and execution with new natalist policies. During this time period, midwives had to struggle with the introduction of male-midwives because of “authorities’ fears of infanticide” or had to “spy for the state” (Federici 2004, 89). These policies meant that women became slaves to procreation. Decoupling reproductive from productive labor and the drive for more workers led to changes in prostitution laws. Prostitution was always a source of income for women, but primitive accumulation and the enclosure of the commons increased the number of women relying on prostitution to support themselves. States reacted with new laws that criminalized the prostitute but not the man purchasing sex. Rape became a tool of the state. Rape of prostitutes is permitted, and often proletarian women, raped by roaming bands of proletarian men who cannot afford even to marry, are punished. The limitations to women’s ability to work, the lower wages, and the threat of rape comprise a new patriarchal order “reducing women to a double dependence: on employers and on men” (Federici 2004, 97). This new patriarchal order is made possible because women no longer have access to a commons by which they formerly supported themselves. They “became the commons.” A second aspect of the new patriarchy is the devaluation of women’s labor and the “definition of women as non-workers” (Federici 2004, 92). New restrictions excluded women from jobs they traditionally worked, such as midwifery and ale-brewing. Craft-workers campaigned to ban women from their craft work. The practice-institution dichotomy is fruitful here but shows limitations. Excluding women from craftwork was

122 Lacunae an attempt to control external goods: protect craftworkers from competition, protect the wage, and ensure that male craft-workers had women at home to care for the household. Yet, the practice-institution dichotomy cannot account for the changes in conceptions of practices and human nature. The definition of the practice of family changes: different state actions combined to create the housewife and reconstruct “the family as the locus for the production of labor power” (ibid., 95). The concept of work itself changes. “All female work, if done in the home, was defined as ‘housekeeping’” (ibid., 94). Attending these changes are changes in conceptions of human nature: men are workers and women are housewives. The conception of housewife is historical here. Changes in production entailed changes in how men and women view themselves. The housewife, though ideal and not realized except for a brief period between 1890 and 1960, was the “domesticated privatized woman, concerned with ‘love’ and consumption and dependent on a male ‘breadwinner,’ was generalized first in the bourgeois class proper, then among the so-called petty-bourgeoisie, and finally in the working class” (P&A, 102). Ethnicity and Race The devaluation of reproductive labor and the institution of the modern family coincide with colonization and the oppression of people of color. The Americas, for instance, also had a population crisis. European invaders brought a number of communicable diseases that decimated the native population, killing 90%. The institution of chattel slavery was the solution for the American colonies. At first, slave women were “neither wives nor mothers” (P&A, 92). Slave owners calculated the cost of supporting a pregnant slave woman from work as more expensive than purchasing a new slave. Slave women, then, worked the fields just as the men did and received no relief if they became pregnant. At the same time, female slaves were fed less than male slaves, endured more cruel punishments, and were subject to the slave masters’ lust and power. With the end of the slave trade as a source for laborers, slave owners supported new laws and encouraged enslaved women to marry and procreate. Slaves rejected marriage, however, women because it would make them subservient to another man and men because it reduced the number of sexual partners. The treatment of the native population was different, with state and church seeking to export the sexual contract to the Americas. Federici tells the story of this process among the Montagnais-Naskapi, who inhabited Canada in the mid-seventeenth century. These people were a nomadic American Indian nation living by hunting and fishing. A Jesuit missionary joined a French trading post in order to help Christianize the Montagnais-Naskapi. Like many American Indians, the MontagnaisNaskapi lived without the concepts of private property, authority, male

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superiority, or punishment of children. Jesuits sought to teach them proper morals, beginning with the belief that man is the master and women should be subservient to them. Sexual freedom before marriage had to be suppressed. They further convinced the men that women who did not obey them were servants of the devil. Montagnais-Naskapi women ran away, but the Jesuits convinced the men to chase them and even imprison them if they did not become the housewives they should. The ultimate goal was not simply to teach European “morals” to the natives, but to incorporate the natives into the lucrative fur trade. The idea of man the master and women the handmaiden allowed the idea of private property to take hold. This idea took hold because of the insidious mission to cultivate the savage (see discussion in Chapter 8). Colonizing illuminates the causal nexus of class, race, and gender in the support of the accumulation of surplus value. SRT works within Marxism to understand changing conceptions of historical human nature. In doing so, SRT brings to the fore the reproduction of the species and its relation to exploitation and oppression. It shines a light on the new patriarchy that attends capitalist modes of production, a patriarchy that devalues women and people of color. Finally, it also illuminates the way that exploitation relies on a domination of nature. Capitalist social structures do not appear in a vacuum, however. Without the new sciences of smelting and navigation, merchants would not have had the means to pay laborers. Modern science developed alongside capitalist social structures with similar ideas about human nature.

The Sexual Interrogation of Nature I have discussed in previous chapters questions of human nature, human powers, the expansion and development of the senses, and historical human nature. These discussions will continue as we turn our focus to birth, obstetrics, and midwifery. We will also continue our discussions about the relationship between homo sapiens and nature. Examining the rise of modern science will assist in these endeavors, because such an examination exposes certain prejudices that underwrite that science. Modern science shares these prejudices with capitalist social structures. More importantly, they undergird a system of exploitation and oppression in the birthing room which leads to more suffering and death than is warranted. Carolyn Merchant’s study in The Death of Nature (Death) argues that we need to undermine the categories of “nature” and “culture” if we are to liberate “nature and women, Indians and blacks” (Death, 144). The view of nature and women that dominates today came to prominence with the Renaissance. Nature and women were disordered and chaotic. Johannes Kepler declared nature to be, not divine or alive, but a

124 Lacunae clockwork. Niccolò Machiavelli described nature as “unpredictable, violent” declaring that it “must be subdued” (Death, 130). William Shakespeare, in The Tempest, contrasts the violence of nature with civilized land. Renaissance writers believed that nature must be subdued. Europeans defined themselves more and more above nature. In America, this distinction drove the westward expansion of civilizing reason conquering untamed savages and nature. Women, too, were viewed as unruly and in need of being subdued. Sexuality and women are tied to the disorder of nature and associated with witchcraft. For example, women’s supposed lustfulness caused them to make pacts with the devil and to engage in orgies called the “Sabbath.” Even those defending women from the charge of witchcraft did so by demeaning their rationality. This “identification of woman with animality” rested upon a distinction between nature and society which defines European culture. Modern science arose as a means to control and dominate nature, and, in the end, to dominate women. It did so through philosophies of dualism and mechanism. These ideas supported a view of nature and women as passive objects that patriarchal male scientists worked upon. Merchant’s discussion of William Harvey and Francis Bacon illuminate the links between these ideas and the resulting science. If dualism supported the authority and value of the European male, mechanism led to a utilitarian domination of nature and women. Harvey was a physician who discovered the circulation of blood in 1628. He understood the heart as a mechanical pump. Understanding the heart as mechanical relied on a dualism of body and soul as two separate substances. The body was a lifeless machine that required the “soul as an external operator” (Death, 156). A sick heart required, not natural healing, but medical intervention. The problem here is twofold: first, medicine (culture) and nature are viewed as opposed; second, nature is viewed as passive and men (culture) as active. This understanding of passive/active and nature/culture also underwrites Harvey’s view of human reproduction. Aristotle’s work on reproduction influenced the standard view of biological generation that Harvey drew upon. As we saw in the last chapter, Aristotle believed that the male imparts the active principle to any new generated being. The female, in contrast, contributes no active principle, only passive matter. The perfect form was the male form. Harvey’s view differs slightly, holding that the egg and the hen (he studied chickens) were efficient causes. As an efficient cause, the egg, for Harvey, is completely separate from the mother acting according to its own vegetative soul. The hen serves as an efficient cause by laying unfertilized eggs. The male supplied reason and excellence to the egg. Without the semen, the egg would not be able to develop according to the laws of nature. Moreover, the sperm could cause fertilization at a distance, without having to be dirtied by contact with the egg. Thus, even though egg

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and hen are active agents of some sort, the male is the more perfect cause. Harvey’s discussion is replete with dualistic language: “the woman after contact with the spermatic fluid in coitu, seems to receive influence and to become fecundated without the cooperation of any sensible corporeal agent” (quoted in Death, 160). While Harvey does not invoke, in this passage, a soul distinct from body, he does speak of a power able to act non-corporeally. The power of this non-corporeality was such that it could even change “the whole woman in mind and body” (quoted in Death, 160). Harvey’s work on the heart and generation implies a mechanistic worldview that Francis Bacon makes the core of the modern scientific method. This mechanical view becomes clear in his New Atlantis, a utopia in which scientists were patriarchs over society. These patriarchs maintained control over knowledge releasing it only if necessary for the betterment of society. The mechanical method “operated by breaking down a problem into its component parts, isolating it from its environment, and solving each portion independently” (Death, 182). The mechanical view, then, infests the modern scientific method with alienation, so that the scientist knows only one aspect of the problem she is trying to solve. This Baconian view of science, further, distorts the goods of science. Knowledge is, not to be shared, but hoarded. Nature is, not to be understood, but controlled. The domination of nature is clear, as well, in Bacon’s program for improving society. Mechanics involves breaking apart and reassembling “natural bodies.” The natural environment and life itself could be manipulated through this process. The scientist-patriarchs in New Atlantis create different forms of life: snakes, fishes, birds. They experiment by making creatures different sizes or more fecund. They even create new organisms. All of this work is accomplished through “controlling reproduction for the sake of production” (Death, 183). As with Harvey, issues of the passivity of nature and man’s domination of it and a view of women as less than human are at play in Bacon’s work. In fact, Merchant shows that Bacon’s development of the scientific method is modelled on what he observed in the court and its interrogation of witches. Nature, as female, is “to be tortured through mechanical interventions” (Death, 168). Bacon’s goal is to control and manipulate nature, to increase man’s domination of nature to its utmost limits. “Sexual politics helped to structure the nature of the empirical method” (Death, 172). Through scientific investigation, analogous to the inquisitors’ investigation of the witch, knowledge becomes material power. Bacon’s discussion of science is replete with references to sexuality and subduing nature and women.  

“Nature’s womb,” for instance, should be “interrogated” and “bound.” “Nature must be taken by the forelock, being bald behind.”

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“Nature takes orders from man and works under his authority.” “But likewise for the further disclosing of the secrets of nature. Neither ought a man to make scruple of entering and penetrating into these holes and corners, when the inquisition of truth is his whole objective” (quoted in Death, 168).

Merchant suggests that the sexual image here references the “supposed sexual crimes and practices of witches” (Death, 168–169). Merchant and Federici demonstrate that the witch-hunts constituted one aspect of primitive accumulation, the growing violence against women, and the devaluation of reproduction. While witches were frowned upon, for instance by the Roman Catholic Church, before the Renaissance, they were not hunted and executed. Yet, the enclosures and the dissolution of feudal ties to the land brought with it upheaval against which women led resistance. The witch-hunts provided a means for society to control women, suppress resistance to the process of primitive accumulation, and appropriate land and other goods. It meant dominating nature and woman. Merchant is careful in her ascription of capitalist beliefs to Bacon. Bacon sought to understanding the history of trades in order to “discover those secrets of craft workshops that could be applied to the practical needs and interests of middle-class society” (Death, 179). His method mirrors the division of labor in capitalism praised by Adam Smith. Yet, the dualism and mechanism of modern science did not cause the rise of capitalism; rather, these beliefs coincided with and led credence to a capitalist economy. Moreover, the links between mechanical philosophy and the scientific method after Bacon supported capital exploitation. The knowledge of the secrets of nature was aimed at “the total agricultural, commercial, and medical improvement of society” (Death, 187). The new mechanical science, using female imagery of nature, “legitimated the exploitation of natural resources.” (Death, 189). Nature, the human being, and society could be broken down into their atomistic parts to be controlled and fixed. As such, they lost any sense of creative agency and became passive objects for human domination.

Conclusion In Chapter 4, we opened up a lacuna in MacIntyre’s philosophy between his early calls for a conception of historical human nature and the articulation of practices, narratives, and traditions in RA. This chapter opens a second lacuna, a homogeneous view of practice-institution that invites an analysis of class exploitation but not of gender and racial oppressions or, most importantly, how class, gender, and race are causally linked. An account of alienation must help us to understand how different peoples are affected by class exploitation tied to oppression which divides

Fishing, Social Reproduction, and Nature


people along gender, sexual, and racial lines. Further, a philosophy of liberation must understand the causal mechanisms which contribute to the variety of forms of alienation we see in society so that we can understand how practices, narratives, and traditions can help us extricate ourselves from alienated relations. In short, we need the insights of SRT, that “categories of oppression … are coproduced in simultaneity with the production of surplus value” (Bhattacharya 2017, 13). Discussing MacIntyre’s example of fishing demonstrated that he shares with SRT a concern about the interweaving of work, family, and community. Yet, the practice-institution dichotomy makes it easier to ask questions about class exploitation than it does to ask questions about gender relations and treatment of nature. Significantly, both MacIntyre and SRT believe that we still have something to learn from Marx; viz., how human beings come to see themselves in ways that support capitalist social structures. Yet, SRT pushes us to consider changes, not only to the way men see themselves as individual proprietors, but how society comes to define women as housewives. Moreover, it requires viewing nature as a passive field for men to dominate. Mies and Federici give historical content that helps integrate analyzes of class exploitation and gender and racial oppression. Exploitation arose on the condition of a class of female productive laborers from which resources could be extracted. It further involved the domination of nature that led to various historical attempts to control women’s reproduction. Under capitalism, the new patriarchy involves, on the one hand, a view of women as domestic laborers for the benefit of wage-earning men and, on the other, a devaluation of women’s reproductive labor. This new patriarchy is tied to the colonization, brutal treatment of, and oppression of people of color. While chattel slavery no longer exists as it once did, structures of sexual, gender, and racial exploitation continue to support capitalist social structures. Women continue to be paid less than men and shoulder the burden of housework; immigrant people of color are provided sub-legal wages to work in conditions where they sacrifice body parts for the extraction of surplus value; and Indigenous and Black people are randomly subjected to violence by working class police-officers and military in order to protect private property. At the heart of exploitation and oppression lies an alienation from nature that threatens our lives today as we face imminent climate collapse. In the next chapter, we will explore birth in the United States to bring theory into practice. As noted in the introduction, women and infants suffer mortality rates higher than other industrialized countries even though health care is more expensive. While a practice-institution framework contributes to understanding the failures of obstetrics and hospitals toward women and infants, it does not go far enough to reveal the oppression that supports the extraction of surplus value from the physical bodies of women and children.

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References Works by Alasdair MacIntyre Abbreviations DRA: MacIntyre, Alasdair (1999) Dependent Rational Animals. Chicago, IL: Open Court. ECM: MacIntyre, Alasdair (2017) Ethics in the Conflicts of Modernity: An Essay on Desire, Practical Reasoning, and Narrative. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Other Works by MacIntyre MacIntyre, Alasdair (2000) “The Recovery of Moral Agency?” in J. Wilson (ed.), The Best Christian Writing. New York: HarperCollins. MacIntyre, Alasdair (2011) “How Aristotelianism Can Become Revolutionary: Ethics, Resistance, and Utopia,” in Kelvin Knight and Paul Blackledge (eds.), Virtue and Politics: Alasdair MacIntyre’s Revolutionary Aristotelianism, pp. 11–19. Notre Dame, IN: University of Notre Dame Press.

Other References Abbreviations Death: Merchant, Carolyn (1983) The Death of Nature: Women, Ecology, and the Scientific Revolution. New York: HarperOne. P&A: Mies, Maria (2014) Patriarchy and Accumulation on a World Scale: Women in the International Division of Labor. London: Zed Books.

Other Works Bhattacharya, Titha (ed.) (2017) Social Reproduction Theory: Remapping Class, Recentering Oppression. London: Pluto Press. Bruegel, Irene (1978) “What Keeps the Family Going?” International Socialism, 2 (1): 2–15. html. Last accessed 5 March 2021. Engels, Friedrich (1908) Origin of The Family, Private Property, and the State, trans. Ernest Untermann. Chicago, IL: Charles H. Kerr & Co. Federici, Sylvia (2004) Caliban and the Witch: Women, the Body, and Primitive Accumulation. New York: Autonomedia. Ferguson, Susan (2018) “Social Reproduction: What’s the Big Idea,” www.pluto Last accessed 5 March 2021. Højrup, Thomas (2011) The Needs for Common Goods for Coastal Communities. Fjerritslev, Denmark: Centre for Coastal Culture and Boatbuilding. Katz, Cindi (2001) “Vagabond Capitalism and the Necessity of Social Reproduction,” Antipode, 33(4): 709–728.

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Marx, Karl, and Friedrich Engels (2000) A Critique of German Ideology. Moscow: Progress Publishers, The_German_Ideology.pdf. Last accessed 20 November 2020. Meehan, Katie and Strauss, Kandra (2015) Precarious Worlds: Contested Geographies of Social Reproduction. Athens, GA: The University of Georgia Press. Mies, Maria (1980) “Capitalist Development and Subsistence Reproduction; Rural Women in India,” Bulletin of Concerned Asian Scholars, 12(1): 2–14. Whynott, Douglas (1995) Giant Bluefin. New York: North Point Press.


Birth and Obstetric Practice in the United States

Introduction MacIntyre extended Marx’s concept of alienation to include the divorce of fact and value and developed the concepts of Revolutionary Aristotelianism (RA)—practices, narratives, and traditions—to address the problem of this divorce of fact and value. Yet, two lacunae appear in RA. The first is that which appears between MacIntyre’s early argument for a conception of historical human nature to ground moral theory and practice. Without a historical conception of human nature, it seems difficult to unite fact and value or to defend the Marxist idea of the historical development of human nature, including human senses and human powers. The second lacuna is the space within the practice-institution diode that opens up room for critique based on class analysis but appears not to invite critique based on gender or race. This issue is a lacuna for RA because the ability to rank-order common goods and to understand the interweaving of work, family, and community requires understanding how class exploitation forms a causal nexus with patriarchy. Class dynamics change the definitions of practices and the conception of human nature. Without a conception of historical human nature, critique of these changes proves difficult. This chapter examines the practice of obstetrics and the institutions surrounding the practice—hospitals, the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology (ACOG), and the state—to highlight these lacunae. The reproduction of the human species occurs on a production model, and obstetrics adheres to a technocratic approach to birth. These approaches entrench power dynamics in which junior physicians are alienated and long working hours inhibit safety and support. It is technocratic in the sense that technological experts—obstetricians, anesthesiologists, etc.— determine the process of birth. The experts produce a commodity—the baby—for society. The production model and technocratic approach rest on a view of birth as pathological, on a conception of women as machines, on a belief in patriarchy, and on a imperative to dominate

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nature. These foundations point to the third lacuna articulated in the last chapter viz., RA’s ignoring of our alienation from nature. We begin with a discussion of birth as a production process. Birth amounts to a big business in the U.S., controlled by hospitals and obstetricians. Women participate in this production process when they relate to the expected child as a commodity for their own purposes. Cesarean sections (C-sections) produce surplus value from the body of the laboring woman. Social Reproduction Theory (SRT) illuminates the fact that reproductive labor is excluded from the world of commodities even if it occurs under conditions of the accumulation of surplus value. The next section outlines the technocratic approach to birth. Obstetricians define birth, not as natural, but as pathological. The technocratic approach to birth involves a number of tenets, some of which we have seen in previous chapters: the mechanical view of the body, the hierarchical organization of science, and an alignment with the drive for profit. Technological rationality is a feature of this approach. It requires obstetricians to mimic machine processes in standardizing treatment. This technocratic approach instantiates a philosophical anthropology. Three tenets of this anthropology are the mechanistic view of the body, the patriarchal approach to social life, and the insistence that man dominates nature. Examining birth in the U.S. (1) testifies to our previous conclusions, (2) through an in-depth examination of a particular practice, obstetrics, (3) that is reproductive rather than productive, (4) recognizes the causal interweaving of exploitation and oppression, and (5) highlights the harm that occurs to practices based on unquestioned views of human nature. Further, it sets up a contrast to our later discussion of midwifery as a model of erotic reproductive practice. Our discussion throughout follows that of one of the leading medical sociologists who has explored these issues, Robbie Davis-Floyd, with particular attention to her book Birth as an American Rite of Passage (BRP). Her insights will be supported by an insider’s view provided by Marsden Wagner, an obstetrician and director of Women’s and Children’s Health for the World Health Organization before he died in 2014.

The Production of Reproduction Birth is a Big Business Davis-Floyd illuminates the production of birth in U.S. hospitals. The ideal of birth is that of a family gathered around a newborn and a cryingsmiling mother. In contrast, everyday obstetrics resembles an “assemblyline production of goods … in the hospital a woman’s reproductive tract is treated like a birthing machine by skilled technicians working under semi-flexible timetables to meet production and quality-control demands” (BRP, 55). The hospital and obstetrician have economic and other

132 Lacunae incentives to model assembly-line production. The baby is often treated as a product, with the obstetrician taking credit for a healthy baby and placing blame on the mother if the product is not perfect. Thus, Davis-Floyd contends that hospital and obstetric procedures treat the baby as an end product, a new member turned over to society (sometimes literally) and the mother as a “secondary by-product” (BRP, 57). The treatment of infant and mother throughout labor and delivery and until they are released from the hospital solidifies this view of the baby as a product. “The separation is given tangible expression” (BRP, 57). After birth, nurses place babies in a nursery for hours of observation before being returned to the mother. Some hospitals charge a line-item fee for bringing the child to the mother from the nursery. This separation allows society to “symbolically demonstrate ownership of the product.” It, further, entails that “men can ultimately become the producers of that product” (BRP, 58). Such separation of mother and infant constitutes alienation. Davis-Floyd captures the alienation of mother and baby well: What of the woman who is technocratically removed from her birth process? To watch one’s body give birth … without one’s participation is also to internalize information … [it] will reflect the woman’s conscious awareness that not she, but It, gives birth to the Other; she takes the role of Witness to a process clearly demarcated as separate from the boundaries of her Self. Society … holds up the mirror so that she can see how its product is born … society itself stands witness to its self-regeneration. (BRP, 133–134) This image mirrors that of the productive laborer: she invests her energies and creativity into a commodity with which she cannot identify. Her product—and with it, her labor power—is something she must sell on the market for money so that she can purchase goods to maintain her subsistence so that she can do the same thing tomorrow. Here, however, the mother is a machine, and the doctor, representing society, extracts a product from the machine. Janelle Taylor (2000) expands the use of models by which to understand pregnancy and birth. Reproduction follows a productive model in which viewing women as machines and infants as products “diminishes” respect for persons (ibid., 394). Yet, reproduction is molded on consumption and the “fetus is constructed more as a ‘commodity’ at the same time and through the same means that it is also constructed more and more as a person” (ibid., 392). For Taylor, a commodity’s social feature is, not simply its exchange value, but also, and more relevantly, its exchangeability. The mother relates to the fetus primarily as something to exchange while at the same time constructing the fetus as a person.

Birth and Obstetric Practice in the U.S.


Taylor’s ethnographic examination of ultrasound shows that obstetric activities serve a number of functions determined externally to the activity: “to ‘see the baby,’ to ‘bond’ with it emotionally, to learn its sex, to be ‘reassured’ that it is normal, to get a ‘picture’ to take home”—all are examples of how the ultrasound can function outside of a technological check on the production process (Taylor 2000, 397). Rather than workers revolting, then, Taylor likens laboring women to those who abandon control for “the pleasures of reproduction construed as consumption” (ibid.). She considers the ways that women buy for the baby before it is born as well as the way that women change their consumption practices— what they eat and drink, what pills they take (contraceptives versus vitamins), etc. As such, women come to see the ultrasound as one part of the commodity package they purchase for their pregnancy and laboring experience. Moreover, mothers consume the fetus (Taylor 2000, 407ff). Through being objectified for consumption and having an exchange value, the identity of the fetus is constituted. “During an examination, visible physical features or movements of the fetus were translated into terms that served to create for it a personality and a social identity” (ibid., 410). The fetus has the power to release or withhold information that the mother desires to have. I agree with Taylor that the production model and the consumption model of the fetus need not be opposed. They highlight the different ways that modern obstetrics continues to treat the pregnant and laboring mother as a machine and the person inside her as a thing. This attitude results from an instrumentality of the institution, the hospital. Yet, the acceptance of that instrumentality is conditioned by medical-cultural views of mechanism and dualism. The fetus cannot be a commodity without being a product of some process; if the mother treats aspects of her pregnancy as a commodity, that does not negate the fact that the obstetrician sees it as a product he delivers to the world. The ultrasound, then, comprises both a quality control check on the mother-machine producing a baby and a commodification of the baby for consumption by the mother. In both cases, mother and baby are alienated; as machineproduct or consumer-commodity, neither can form a relationship that satisfies persistent human desires. The use of ultrasound is only one more part of the process that transforms reproductive into productive labor. Another take on birth as a big business comes from Marsden Wagner. Wagner attacks the way birth is treated as a form of commodity production in Born in the U.S.A. (Wagner 2006). Obstetric practice fails to put mothers and infants ahead of professional interests, including money, control over birth, and power over women. Midwives are both safer than obstetric care for normal births and are less expensive. Midwives also are paid half what physicians are. This statistic testifies to the way that capital accumulates surplus value from women’s reproductive labor—both the

134 Lacunae laboring mother and the midwife here. Obstetricians intervene in ways that often harm mother and child. They must justify their acquisition of material goods at the expense of maternal and fetal health through the lens of active management of normal births. In contrast, midwives know that intervention should be minimized (Wagner 2006, 105, 108). The irony here is that doctors promise to deliver a particular product which they know they cannot deliver, and the failure of such delivery leads to increase litigation and costs. “With maternity care in the private sector as a big money maker, doctors and hospitals must compete for patients” (Wagner 2006, 161). Obstetricians and hospitals advertise either through public advertisements or by sending advertising material to pregnant women. Such advertisements “come extremely close to promising a perfectly safe birth and a perfect baby.” Based on published medical literature, obstetricians believe that “childbirth has become very safe for both mothers and babies” (Wagner 2006, 162). Parents expect birth to be perfect, and when it is not, “they feel deceived”. Hospitals and obstetricians must make claims about perfect births and perfect babies (products) in a competitive market because the expense for a physician-attended birth is much higher than a midwife-assisted birth. When we begin to add the costs of C-sections, intensive care, and other types of care, the financial line is staggering. In 2013, birth in the U.S. could cost anywhere from $4000 to $45,000 (Rosenthal 2013). In contrast, vaginal delivery cost no more than $4000 in Switzerland, France, and the Netherlands, where mothers pay little of that amount. These costs have also increased: between 2010–2013, insurers paid 49% more for vaginal births and 41% more for Caesarean births compared to previous years. A New York Times article blames the high price on the fact that every item is billed separately during birth—from deliver room fees to removing the placenta (ibid.). The same article contends that these high payments do not result from payments to obstetricians who generally charge a flat rate. Yet, other countries keep costs down through the presence of midwives who provide prenatal exams and deliveries; “obstetricians are regarded as specialists who step in only when there is risk or need” (ibid.). Ignoring these facts, ACOG suggested that they needed to “define standards for scans” (ibid.). The New York Times suggests that “patients may also have to alter their expectations.” An article in The Atlantic reports that the increase is due, not to a rise in costs, but rather increases in insurance deductibles (Khazan 2020). The article does suggest that the high cost is partly responsible for the relatively high infant and maternal mortality rates because women are reluctant to go to the doctor when they do not have the money to pay for care. The prevalence of C-sections in the U.S. ties together the threads of this section. First, C-sections belong to the production model of birth. Wagner notes, for instance, that obstetricians are often far from the hospital when a woman is in labor. Labor can take a long time, and the

Birth and Obstetric Practice in the U.S.


physician cannot afford—financially—to be away from his office not seeing patients. A nurse could call a doctor too soon and be accused of wasting his time; yet, if she calls him too late, the doctor is angry that she made him miss the birth (Wagner 2006, 6). Second, C-sections are expensive. Despite poor women being more likely to need medical intervention, the women most likely to receive them are white middle-class women (ibid., 41). While C-section rates over 10% of all births do not appear necessary to save lives, the U.S. has a C-section rate over 30%. In the U.S., nearly $2.5 billion more was spent than necessary on births in 2004 due simply to this procedure (ibid., 49). These costs do not include other associated expenses such as longer time in intensive care or surgeries for babies in distress. Finally, white middle-class women “are more likely to want the convenience of a scheduled surgery,” and, being privately insured, the cost of the surgery is likely covered. The C-section, then, is a means of producing a product on a schedule, a means of profit, and a consumable procedure. The fact that it is a means of profit when no commodity is involved challenges the lack of discussion of reproductive labor in both of its meanings. The Baby is Not a Product One of the questions we must ask is whether MacIntyre’s practice-institution dichotomy can account for the production model of birth. A MacIntyrean could argue for instance, that a Marxist approach can account for the way obstetricians approach birth. The C-section is necessary only 10% of the time; yet, whether performed as necessary or as an elective surgery, the costs association with C-section delivery constituted “socially necessary labor time in keeping the worker alive … [and] to replace him” (Callinicos 2004, 112). Chris Harman, a socialist and writer, argues that the wage paid the worker includes spending to keep “the workforce fit and able to work” (Harman 2009, 136; see Capital vol. 3, ch. 48). The wage is socially and historically determined (Harman 2009, 137; Katz 2001, 711). Thus, if white middle-class women desire C-sections even when not indicated for, the costs associated with the C-section comprise the socially and historically determined reality of reproducing the laborer. Harman can even explain the C-section as a disciplining activity of the mother and child to mold them to be laborers in a system of exploitation. From capital’s point of view, activities which maintain “existing relations of exploitation” must be tolerated (Harman 2009, 137). Whether Marx’s theory can account for the disciplining activities of capital, such as the C-section, is not an argument to pursue here. Rather, it suggests how RA might approach the use of the production model by obstetrics. The production model results from institutional imperatives that distort the pursuit of the internal goods of the practice of obstetrics. I find such a response inadequate because it places the distortion, not in

136 Lacunae the practice and the definition of human being, but in the pursuit of internal goods. Obstetrics and hospital birth in the U.S. produce the baby as a commodity and the mother as a machine for the production of the commodity. The nature of a commodity is to be sold on the market. A laborer expends valuable labor power to produce some product or part of a product in exchange for wages. Contemporary hospital and obstetric practice transforms the reproductive process so that it creates surplus value. The high-tech birthing system creates value from the woman’s body by poking, prodding, measuring, and cutting into it. It does the same for the baby when it can. The C-section is the ultimate engine of surplus value. The U.S. is not an outlier here. In the U.K., even though birth primarily is midwife-assisted, it occurs in the hospital where, the Caesarean rate has leaped from 19.6% to 27.2% in the span of five years. Production colonizes reproduction. What reproduction produces, however, is not a commodity in the typical sense. Especially the reproduction of the species does not typically entail payment for a product. Children are produced outside of typical market norms, though (male) scientists have sought ways to reproduce without women. SRT insists on this point. Reproductive labor both renews the laborer for work and “produces” new laborers, through reproduction and education. We saw the impact of this fact in Chapter 5: with limited availability of laborers, state and capital instigated initiatives to reward marriage and constrained the possible options women had for work. The concepts of RA cannot account for this transformation of reproductive activity to productive activity because of the very definition of the practice of obstetrics. The separation of infant from mother is part of a high-tech approach to birth that comprises part of the practice of obstetrics. Therefore, one cannot object to the practice on the basis of the pursuit of external goods over internal goods or, better, the separation of fact and value. Further, the pursuit of external goods, including power over women and bodies, cannot be understood merely as the pursuit of external goods over internal goods. Obstetrics consists in using specific approaches, ideally in order to protect a child’s life, or to deliver the perfect child to society. Again, the obstetrician is not someone with bad intentions in this situation. He really believes that birth is a pathology and that he can use technology to fix the machine-mother. Yet, the approach to birth that this intention attends has darker implications that result from the structure of obstetrics as a practice and the hospital as an institution. An obstetrician who stands between a woman’s legs, shaves the pubic hair, and slices the perineum is acting within the context of a field of objects (including technological instruments from gloves and scalpels to anesthesia) and people playing particular roles that dictates his or her actions as a reasonable means to achieve at least one of the internal goods of obstetrics.

Birth and Obstetric Practice in the U.S.


Even if Marx’s concepts can account for the disciplining measures of capital, the resources of RA cannot do so without expanding its analysis of practice-institution to include the underlying conception of human nature: “The conquest of the female body is still a precondition for the accumulation of labor and wealth, as demonstrated by the institutional investment in the development of new reproductive technologies that, more than ever, reduce women to wombs” (Federici 2004, 17). Violence can be as simple as separating child from mother, or as intense as forcing the nurse to administer Pitocin to induce labor which eventually leads to, not only tremendously painful contractions, but unnecessary C-sections. Obstetricians argue that C-sections are, not unnecessary, but safer than vaginal birth and that medicine that reduces pain is a good. My argument, in line with that of medical sociologists and midwives, does not contend that “natural birth” is morally preferable. Medical sociologists and midwives will insist, instead, that the option for midwife-assisted, medically-less-invasive, natural birth is often not available in the U.S. and other industrialized countries; they contend that obstetricians have colonized traditional women’s work as a form of primitive accumulation. My arguments contribute to that point. The (medically unnecessary but profitable) C-section and administration of pain medicine occurs within a cultural tradition that accepts a mechanistic and dualistic philosophy; this philosophy hides an alienation from nature. Birth, as Chapter 9 will discuss, can happen with medicine and machines in ways that are free and respective of nature. These acts of violence constitute extractions of surplus value. In some cases, they arise from the pursuit of certain external goods: the obstetrician needs time away from the hospital to conduct business with more patients or he simply wants to eat dinner at a rational hour. Yet, the field within which he makes choices that allows these actions rest on a presumption of the woman’s body as a machine which he can treat as he wishes. As noted, the maternal mortality rate is on the rise in the U.S. This rise is the ultimate form of violence. At the same time that states wage a war that reduces access to medical treatment, food, work, and childcare, they also restrict women’s access to contraception care and abortion, and they fail to punish sexual assault, often blaming the woman who is the victim of the assault. Given the account of the change in human nature in Chapter 5, we must see these as aspects of a continuing war that empowers capital to control population through controlling women’s reproductive labor. We must be careful to recognize the abstraction in the above paragraph. Women face complex situations; race, class, and gender intertwine here as a causal nexus which prevents women from determining their lives and recognizing their common goods. Wealthy (upper-middle-class and upperclass) women have access to qualified midwives in the U.S. that poorer

138 Lacunae women do not have access to because of the way the country covers health costs. Insurance companies do not cover midwifery care, which means that such care is paid for out of pocket. Wealthy women also have greater access to better medical treatment, food, work, childcare, and contraceptive care. Women can freeze their eggs to be “used” later to become pregnant so they can concentrate on their careers early in life. (Some companies support this activity.) This simple class conflict enables the concentration of wealth in fewer hands. Wealthy families have more control over the timing and number of children to whom their wealth is passed on. Poorer families must make fewer dollars stretch to feed more mouths. The conservative refrain that women should not get pregnant if they cannot afford children runs against the laws that conservative legislatures pass that reduce less affluent people’s access to effective sex-education and contraceptives. Moreover, race plays a salient role. People of color suffer higher incidence of rape than white women. Black women suffer higher incidences of C-sections, despite being less able to pay for them. Black women and Native women experience higher maternal mortality rates. Such disparities cannot be accounted for just through a practiceinstitution dichotomy. Underlying beliefs about human nature and racial prejudices underwrite these features of birth in the U.S. Insofar, then, as the practice-institution dichotomy is illuminating as a means to analyze classconflict and bureaucratic managerialism, it struggles to account for the experience of alienation based on gender or race that arises from transmogrifying reproductive labor into productive labor. It struggles as well to account for similar issues that arise from the technocratic approach to birth.

Technocratic Approach of Birth Birth as Pathology Any practice, such as obstetrics, rests on a shared ontology (see Nicholas 2008). An ontology includes a particular view of the world and the nature of human beings, a set of values that guide practice, and certain standards of reason for carrying out the practice. We can conceive of this ontology as a shared culture in obstetrics. Cultures rely on “cohesiveness and consistency in their cognitive categories” (BRP, 59). Just as the cognitive categories of chess are different from those of Go, so to the cognitive categories of obstetrics are different from those of midwifery. For example, obstetrics approaches labor as a pathology, while midwifery approaches it as a natural process. Cognitive categories take hold through ritual, such as those surrounding hospital birth. Because ritual has this effect, those in power, such as obstetricians in a birthing ward, “have unique control over ritual performances” (BRP, 51). Rituals of medical school and obstetrics, Wagner claims, mean “organized obstetrics has the characteristics of a primitive

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tribe” (Wagner 2006, 15). Medical training involves “hazing techniques such as overwork, rote memorization, and exhaustion” which “ensure that the medical student will not question the basic tenets of the belief system” (BRP, 12). The institution bestows a white coat on the student, with different coats representing different levels of physician training (Wagner 2006, 16). The obstetrician participates in obstetric meetings which serve as an echo room for obstetric dogma. The literature is clear that physicians view birth as a medical crisis in which intervention is a legitimate need (Bryers and van Teijlingen 2010; Cahill 2001; Davis-Floyd 1992; Johanson et al. 2002; Kornelsen 2005; Reiger and Dempsey 2006; Reime et al. 2004; Van Teijlingen 2005; Van Teijlingen et al. 2004; Wagner 2006). “Medicalized birth is all obstetricians know, and fish can’t see the water they swim in” (Wagner 2006, 39). Most obstetricians have never seen a normal birth without medicine. They come to fear what they do not know, expecting everything to look like the medical births they witness. This view is complicit in the attack on midwives in the U.S. and elsewhere: Dr. Joseph B. De Lee, the founder of the Chicago Lying-in Hospital (1895) and a leading figure in the movement to eradicate midwives … urged the medical profession to realize that “parturition viewed with modern eyes, is no longer a normal function, but that it has imposing pathologic dignity.” (Litoff 1978, 67). From its inception, the obstetrical profession was constrained to justify itself as of equal medical value to other branches of medicine in which the inherent pathology of the disease was clearer than is the “pathology” of normal birth (Wertz and Wertz 1989, 145). Further, the history of medicalized birth is one of men-midwives practicing midwifery with tools that (women) midwives were prohibited from using. They used forceps to deliver difficult births; they performed C-sections which always resulted in death in emergency situations; they developed medicines like Twilight Sleep to put the laboring mother to sleep so the baby could be delivered without her assistance. Medicalized birth is technological birth. By the early twentieth century, as the hospital gradually became the preferred site for birth, childbearing was evolving into a medical event. A medical–surgical model of care delivery separated mothers and babies. Care was provided as if the maternity process was a pathological dysfunction rather than biologically healthy and normal (Zwelling 2008, 85). Where surgeons believe “if in doubt, cut it out” (Wagner 2006, 22), obstetricians view birth in terms of “what can go wrong” (ibid., 106). In a medical model, pregnancy and birth are an illness that requires diagnosis and treatment. It is an obstetrician’s job to figure out what’s

140 Lacunae wrong (diagnosis) and do something about it (treatment)—even though, with childbirth, the right thing in most cases is to do nothing … [to] find solutions to normal situations—drugs to stimulate normal labor … It’s a paradigm that doesn’t work. (Wagner 2006, 5) An interesting statistic highlights this distinctive medicalized view of birth. Compared to midwives and laywomen who would choose a C-section at around 5%, “women doctors would choose cesarean section for themselves, without any medical indications” at 46%. Education, in short, indoctrinates the doctor—whether male or female—into a particular belief system: when in doubt, cut it out. The technocratic imperative dominates this model: “if it can be done with technology, it must be done with technology” (BRP, 296). Rather than seeing pregnancy and birth as natural events, obstetrics views birth as a pathology. Tenets of the Technocratic Approach Our fundamental technocratic belief that birth is inherently unsafe, coupled with the equally fundamental belief that technology can make it safe … [links] the philosophical base of obstetrics and the desires of every woman’s heart so strong that the vast majority (98 percent) of American women … will go to the hospital to give birth, “just in case something should go wrong.” (BRP, 177)

Any parent faces a set of fears normal to welcoming a child into their lives. Yet, in the U.S., women have reasons to fear birth even more, where maternal mortality is on the rise. Fears for physical safety mingle with fears over financial security. In the U.S., 40% of births are to unmarried women. What happens if the mother dies in childbirth? Especially in a high-tech society where technology is a core cultural value, technology appears as a lifeboat that might make things safer. “Our medical system reflects that core value system: its successes are founded in science, effected by technology, and carried out through large institutions governed by patriarchal ideologies in a profit-driven economic context” (Davis-Floyd 2001, S6–S7). Davis-Floyd identifies 13 tenets (ibid., S6–S10) of the technocratic model:     

Mind–body separation. Body as machine. Patient as object. Alienation of practitioner from patient. Diagnosis and treatment from the outside in.

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Hierarchical organization. Standardization of care. Authority and responsibility inherent in practitioner not patient. Supervaluation of science and technology. Aggressive intervention with emphasis on short-term results. Death as defeat. Profit-driven system. Intolerance of other modalities.

Let’s consider these tenets in relation to the use of intravenous therapy (IV). While evidence indicates that women would be healthier if allowed to eat and drink during labor, the hospital and obstetricians insist on an IV. For Davis-Floyd, the IV serves not only a mechanical role, but a symbolic role: it is the umbilical cord that makes the woman dependent on the institution. Even more, we are all connected by umbilical cords, “our homes are penetrated by water, sewer, telephone, and electricity lines” which makes it much easier to accept a technologically dominated world (Davis-Floyd 2001, S7). IVs are made acceptable by our everyday lives despite the fact that they are not necessary. In them, we see the tenets Davis-Floyd lists. The laboring woman is hungry and thirsty. The doctor diagnoses lack of nourishment and prescribes a tubal injection. The IV rests on a separation of mind and body. The body is treated like a machine. The woman is separated mind and body—no taste nor smells accompany the IV fluid. The patient is an object; the practitioner has no social relation to the laboring woman. Not the doctor, but the nurse or assistant inserts the needle into the patient’s arm. Diagnosis and treatment are external. Care is hierarchical and standardized—the doctor may prescribe the IV from his office on a different floor or in a different building, and the nurse obeys. All patients are treated the same, and the workers—the nurses and assistants—are just waiting their cue from the manager. Technology—the IV—is given greater value than the patient or her needs. IVs are aggressive, though the least aggressive, forms of intervention—the IV penetrates the mother’s body, yet no medical indicator warrants its use. The doctor cannot let a woman die from lack of treatment even if treatment is not warranted. What is warranted is profit—the cost of the IV and its fluids in this case. Throughout, the obstetrician is intolerant of other approaches to treating the woman. She may be allowed a bit of ice, but no food or water. The use of the IV instantiates the technocratic model and, in doing so, embodies alienation, both as saleability and as divorce of fact from value. Consider first the obstetrician. He must make his practice saleable. He must see as many patients as he can, and the technocratic model allows him to increase the number of patients seen. He does not need to relate to them socially. He may never have met these patients before. They are

142 Lacunae patient-commodity. In this situation, he can never come to realize that what he most wants is a relationship with others where together they determine their common goods. Or, he may come to understand it, but he can never actualize it without giving up the way he has managed his patients—manipulated them (and himself ?) to accept the technocratic model—and afforded his lifestyle. The laboring mother at least realizes the connection she wants with her child and family. Yet, she is thrust into this medical situation—her desires are ignored, as she is given an IV. Her desire to have an obstetrician she trusts is frustrated either because he must see other patients at the same time or she has some unknown obstetrician assigned to her. She is alienated from her body, as the IV feeds her, preventing her from expanding her senses as Marx hoped we would. Her body is, as we have already seen, a commodity, the embodiment of surplus value. It is saleable. This alienated life of obstetrician and laboring mother result from a technocratic model that operates according to a technological rationality. Rationality identifies the most efficient means to an end—administer an IV to prevent dehydration and hunger—or classifies everything according to pre-given categories—the cervix is at 9 cm. Technological rationality models a technological process as determining efficient means and pregiven categories. Rationality rests “in the system of standardized control, production, and consumption” (Marcuse 1998, 49). It both “establishes standards of judgement and fosters attitudes” that subject judgment and action to the operations of the technological machine (ibid., 44). If the obstetrician sees the laboring woman’s body as a machine, he wants to standardize his control over it to have it produce what he needs. We have seen this issue already in relation to dilation of the cervix: “It makes sense that once the production opening reaches the standard, the product should be immediately produced”; production schedules must be obeyed (BRP, 119). The obstetrician judges the cervix the way he judges a machine: if it does not function according to standard protocols, he must interfere to fix it. Technological rationality takes over so that the obstetrician cannot escape from it. This technological rationality is why the obstetrician cannot tolerate other modalities—he does not see them as rational. Consider the need to stimulate contractions to assist in labor. A risk-free method exists that does not involve drugs but is rarely used, “perhaps because it is too natural” (Wagner 2006, 41). Someone—the woman’s partner—can stimulate a laboring woman’s nipples which leads to uterine contractions. Rather than letting a human being touch another in the birthing room, an obstetrician teamed up with a commercial firm to seek Food and Drug Administration approval of a machine to stimulate the nipples. As Wagner concludes, “in machines we trust” (ibid.). This choice exemplifies technological rationality. Where women’s labor is paramount, obstetrics must invest birth with symbolism that emphasizes the baby as product

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achieved through similar productive processes (BRP, 62). Sex must become an anomaly to birth. Sex, as a creative and spontaneous activity, opposes the controlling powers of technology. Bacon wins out. The practice-institution dichotomy runs aground in the face of technological rationality. One cannot argue that the institution, rather than the practitioner, is pursuing external goods. The obstetrician pursues internal goods—the medical protection of laboring mother and child— through medical means according to the rational standards of his practice. Where the chess-playing child cheats to win some candy, the obstetrician administers an IV because that is the standard of excellence in his field to achieve the internal good. One could protest. MacIntyre argues that, in a society where pursuing external goods is “dominant” (AV, 196), the virtues would disappear. The earlier section showed that the pursuit of external goods is dominant. Therefore, the virtues no longer exist in the practice. Or to make it more relevant to the above, the standards of excellence have vanished. This argument does not work for one simple reason viz., MacIntyre has not provided a conception of historical human nature or metaphysical biology to argue that contemporary U.S. obstetrics chases, not an internal good, but a simulacra of one. The 25th edition of Williams Obstetrics states: [Obstetrics] is concerned with human reproduction … the specialty promotes the health and well-being of the pregnant woman and her fetus … entail[ing] appropriate recognition and treatment of complications, supervision of labor and delivery, initial care of the newborn, and management of the puerperiam. (Cunningham et al. 2018, 2) The definition of “appropriate recognition and treatment” is not a function only of the institution, ACOG. It is a function of the definition of birth—as pathology—and of the woman’s body—as machine. A practice which prides itself on the work of Harvey embodies a particular view of human nature which defines the practice. “Its edifice has been built on foundations laid … by wonderful polymaths, such as William Harvey who wrote with great originality about the human organs of generation” (O’Dowd and Philipp 1994, ix).

Patriarchy The machine-metaphor is tied to patriarchy. The male body is the better machine because it is “more consistent and predictable, less subject to the vagaries of nature” (BRP, kl 1856). Davis-Floyd links this view to Aristotle who incorporates misogynistic notions into his metaphysics. Those notions were adopted, in part, by Harvey and Bacon. They justify the development of “tools and technologies for the manipulation and

144 Lacunae improvement of the inherently defective and therefore anomalous and dangerous process of birth” (BRP, kl 1840). Patriarchal tools replace traditional women-centered technologies. Various tools can support the woman, from birthing chairs, a chair with a hole in the seat that allows the child to emerge into the waiting hands of a family member or midwife, to a (Colombian) Ribozo, a cloth that a woman might hang from a high place and use to support her during squatting. Obstetricians, in contrast, prefer the lithotomy position. Now we have her normal bodily patterns of relating to the world quite literally turned upside down: her buttocks at the table’s edge, her legs widespread in the air, her vagina totally exposed … patriarchy stands not at the mother’s head nor at her side, but at her bottom, where the baby’s head is beginning to emerge. (BRP, 120) Laying in this position makes it more difficult for the woman-machine to function as it should, yet makes it convenient for the doctor who can stand, rather than kneel at her feet. This reversal is at it should be: the woman is the laborer who must sacrifice her body to the machine, and the obstetrician is the capitalist who extracts the surplus value from the laborer. Patriarchy appears in other forms as well. Obstetricians withhold information from women. An obstetrician stated on a Dateline NBC program that the physician “has to exercise his or her discretion in deciding just how much” to tell the patient (Wagner 2006, 93). The exclusion of women from spheres of knowledge is nothing new and serves as a means for excluding women from a variety of activities, including the activity of birth as male doctors introduced new knowledges, like forceps, into the birthing room (BRP, kl 1436). Consider the epidural block, a procedure that inserts a needle into the spine to deliver a drug which blocks a woman from sensing anything below her waist. Epidurals can be “highly humanistic interventions” that relieve pain for women who either cannot or are unwilling to tolerate it. Moreover, epidural procedures have advanced so that anesthesiologists can regulate dosage in order for the women to feel the birth or “even push her baby out” (BRP, xv). Yet, Davis-Floyd reports that interviews with mothers show that hospital personnel might coerce a patient into an epidural, sometimes for humanistic reasons and sometimes because the hospital personnel are overworked or irritated at the sounds women make during labor or because women who are not anesthetized need more care. In fact, an obstetric anesthesiologist formally discussed “how to prevent information on the risks of epidural block from reaching the public” (Wagner 2006, 55). The reason they wish this information to be kept from the public is because they wanted to avoid scaring the ladies. They would

Birth and Obstetric Practice in the U.S.


rather tell their patients, “Don’t you worry about a thing … All you have to do is trust me” (BRP, 31). Modern science and patriarchy cannot admit anything beyond their power. Men insist on a power over nature, perhaps because of fear or, in the case of birth, jealousy. Obstetrics functions to support the domination of man over nature and woman. “Nature is a bad obstetrician” (Wagner 2006, 13). Thus, a new-born baby must be rated, just like meat in the supermarket. Poor ratings justify the belief that nature is “dangerous untrustworthy, and inferior to cultural” and that women’s bodies are inherently defective (BRP, 135). Birth confronts the U.S. with what Davis-Floyd calls dilemmas. Such dilemmas arise when cognitive categories come into question or are challenged. They comprise problems which seem to escape “satisfactory solutions.” Birth creates a variety of dilemmas which challenge the idea of man’s supremacy over nature because it is a “powerful natural experience” and often perceived to connect to something supernatural. Of these dilemmas, DavisFloyd identifies (1) making a natural process appear to conform to a technocratic model, (2) the appearance of cultural control over a natural process, (3) and removing sexuality from a sexual process (BRP, 59–61). These three dilemmas reveal an antagonism, if not outright hostility to, nature. Language can embody this fear of nature. Before the 1980s, pregnancy was something one kept hidden from public view. Even our language hid pregnancy. Instead of saying someone was pregnant, she was “baking a bun in the oven.” This use of language disguises the fact that, not human beings, but nature controls the reproduction of human beings (BRP, kl 1332). Yet, moving birth out of the home and into the hospital testified that human society now controlled nature and society no longer fears nature or birth (BRP, kl 1345). In fact, in making birth a rite of passage, society takes advantage of the laboring woman’s “extreme openness” so as to imprint her “with its most basic notions about the relationship of the natural to the cultural world” (BRP, kl 1641). Davis-Floyd claims that C-sections comprise “the most extreme manifestation of the cultural attempt to use birth to demonstrate the superiority and control of Male over Female, Technology over Nature” (BRP, 130). The New England Journal of Medicine voiced this belief in a paper in 1985 which argued that obstetricians should require all women to have C-sections and demands consent forms for those who attempt vaginal delivery (Wagner 2006, 42).

Conclusion The event of birth in the U.S. exposes the relationship between the biological reproduction of the species, the maintenance, education, and training of the labor force, and one means for provisioning caring needs (see Bakker 2007, 541). In reproducing the species, obstetric practice

146 Lacunae transmits “knowledge, social values, and cultural practices” and constructs “individual and collective identities” (Luxton & Bezanson 2006, 3). The “American way of birth” commodifies birth blurring the distinction between productive and reproductive labor yet revealing the nature of alienation more fully as relying on the oppression of women and people of color and the domination of nature. As a practice, obstetrics rests on a philosophical anthropology which views women as machines—mechanism—men as ideal forms and authoritative experts—patriarchy—and culture as superior to nature—domination of nature. These positions inhibit the development of human powers and human senses by undermining the experiences toward which homo sapiens can strive. The mechanical view of the body is tied to the rise of modern science. Modern science is a rejection of telos. Telos unites fact and value, empowering homo sapiens to resist alienation. Without it, we are subject to alienation and manipulation. Bacon’s New Atlantis is a brilliant statement of this rejection of religion and “superstitious” philosophy—that is, a philosophy that saw telos in the body. In Bacon’s world, the body can be scientifically investigated, broken into parts, and refitted into new lifeforms. The machine becomes something divorced from the power of the agent: “To numb a woman about to give birth is to intensify the message that her body is a machine by adding to it the message that this machine can function without her” (BRP, 115). Rather than seeing birth as spiritual or connecting to the transcendent, the mechanical view reduces it to machines, tubes, medicine, and fear. A conception of historical human nature must illuminate the problems with the philosophical anthropology of contemporary obstetrics. It can only undermine the image of the body as a machine if it rests on a metaphysical biology. This biology returns telos back to body and nature. Can it do so without ideology or superstition? On one hand, we must reject any view that denies the possibility of metaphysics from the start or that sees science and metaphysics as incompatible. Rather, we must recognize that “these two fundamental philosophical categories are inextricably connected” (Horkheimer 2004, 120). A woman’s experience of birth is pregnant with this connection. On the other hand, every metaphysical claim is subjected to the ultimate test of truth when the traditions and practices it supports enables agents to flourish, which requires, at minimum, survival. The idea of self-preservation … is the very idea that can save [metaphysics]… Applied to concrete reality, this means that only a definition of the objective goals of society that includes the purpose of selfpreservation of the subject, the respect for individual life, deserves to be called objective. (Horkheimer 2004, 124)

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A conception of historical human nature must also undermine patriarchy. A metaphysical biology that includes a telos of homo sapiens can only reject a division of man from man, or man from woman, based on race or gender. The telos is shared by all homo sapiens. Yet, it is realized historically. That means that a philosophical anthropology recognizes the malleability of human needs, instincts, desires, powers, and senses. Finally, a philosophical anthropology stands opposed to the domination of nature. Once more, metaphysical biology proves key. In discovering a telos for homo sapiens, we unite spirit and matter. We can only accomplish this feat by avoiding abstractions, the curse of philosophy and metaphysics in particular. Philosophy “is inevitably driven to abstractions such as nature and spirit, while ever such abstraction implies a misrepresentation of concrete existence that ultimately affects the abstraction itself” (Horkheimer 2004, 121). Again, history ties to metaphysical biology, and how could it not if history is of material things. Concrete existence is the existence of women and men in their everyday world. In this world, they must co-discover their persistent human desires—the telos they share. When concrete existence is the basis of this discovery, the abstractions are purposeful and useful. When divorced from concrete existence, they tend toward aberration. Metaphysical claims, especially claims about human nature and the human telos, can never be “regarded as ultimate and infinite truth” for these are always exposed in their “historical relativity.” Thus, we recognize today the relativity of Aristotle’s “reason” and “spirit,” his view of “soul.” Likewise, we know the problems with Harvey’s and Bacon’s views of science. Yet, these views still haunt obstetric practice. Rejecting telos is not the answer, though, despite the arguments of Lutz and Foucault we discussed in the last chapter. Nor can a creationist teleology assist us in understanding the telos of human nature because, as creationist, it is already exposed as relative to abstract spirit and divorced from concrete nature. “Basic cultural ideas have truth values, and philosophy should measure them against the social background from which they emanate” (Horkheimer 2004, 129). Freedom appears in this moment as nature’s protest against her plight—the domination of nature. It is realized in the co-discovery of human nature.

References Abbreviations AV: MacIntyre, Alasdair (2007) After Virtue, 3rd edition. Notre Dame, IN: University of Notre Dame Press. BRP: Davis-Floyd, Robbie (2003) Birth as an American Rite of Passage, 2nd edition. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press.

148 Lacunae Other References Bakker, Isabella (2007) “Social Reproduction and the Constitution of a Gendered Political Economy,” New Political Economy, 12(4): 541–556. Bryers, Helen Mackenzie, and Edwin van Teijlingen (2010) “Risk, Theory, Social and Medical Models: A Critical Analysis of the Concept of Risk in Maternity Care,” Midwifery, 26: 488–496. Cahill, Heather A. (2001) “Male Appropriation and Medicalization of Childbirth: An Historical Analysis,” Journal of Advanced Nursing, 33(3): 334–342. Callinicos, Alex (2004) The Revolutionary Ideas of Karl Marx. London: Bookmarks. CDC (2006) “Infant Morality,” nthealth/infantmortality.htm. Last accessed 9 March 2020. Cunningham, F. Gary, et al. (2018) Williams Obstetrics, 25th edition. New York: McGraw-Hill. Davis-Floyd, Robbie (1992) “The Technocratic Body and the Organic Body: Cultural Models for Women’s Birth,” Knowledge and Society: The Anthropology of Science and Technology, 9: 59–93. Davis-Floyd, Robbie (2001) “The Technocratic, Humanistic, and Holistic Paradigms of childbirth,” International Journal of Gynecology & Obstetrics, 75 (Supplement 1): S5–S23. Delbanco, Suzanne, et al. (2019) “Mortality Rate Demands Action from Employers,” Harvard Business Review, 28 June, ising-u-s-maternal-mortality-rate-demands-action-from-employers. Last accessed 5 November 2019. De Vries, Raymond, and Trudo Lemmens (2006). “The Social and Cultural Shaping of Medical Evidence: Case Studies from Pharmaceutical Research and Obstetric Science,” Social Science & Medicine, 62(11): 2694–2706. Federici, Sylvia (2004) Caliban and the Witch: Women, the Body, and Primitive Accumulation. New York: Autonomedia. GBD (2015) “Global, Regional, and National Levels of Maternal Mortality, 1990–2015: A Systematic Analysis for the Global Burden of Disease Study 2015,” Lancet, 388: 1775–1812. Haire, Doris B. (1973) “The Cultural Warping of Childbirth,” Journal of Tropical Pediatrics and Environmental Health, 19: 171–191. Harman, Chris (2009) Zombie Capitalism: Global Crisis and the Relevance of Marx. London: Bookmarks. Horkheimer, Max (2004) Eclipse of Reason. London: Continuum Press. Johanson, Richard, Mary Newburn, and Alison Macfarlane (2002) “Has the Medicalisation of Childbirth Gone Too Far?” British Medical Journal, 324 (7342) (April): 892–895. Johnson, David (2018) “American Babies Are Less Likely to Survive Their First Year Than Babies in Other Rich Countries,” Time, January, 5090112/infant-mortality-rate-usa. Last accessed 5 November 2019. Katz, Cindi (2001) “Vagabond Capitalism and the Necessity of Social Reproduction,” Antipode, 33(4): 709–728. Khazan, Olga (2020) “The High Cost of Having a Bay in America,” The Atlantic, 6 January, Last accessed 9 March 2020.

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Kornelsen, Jude (2005) “Essences and Imperatives: An Investigation of Technology in Childbirth,” Social Science & Medicine, 61(7): 1495–1504. Litoff, Judy Barrett (1978) American Midwives: 1860 to the Present. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press. Luxton, Meg, and Kate Bezanson (2006) Social Reproduction: Feminist Political Economy Challenges Neo-Liberalism. Montreal: MQUP. Marcuse, Herbert (1998) “Some Social Implications of Modern Technology,” in D. Kellner (ed.), Herbert Marcuse: Technology, War, and Fascism, Collected Papers of Herbert Marcuse, vol. 1. New York: Routledge. Mathews, Joan J., and Kathleen Zadak (1991) “The Alternative Birth Movement in the United States: History and Current Status,” Women & Health, 17(1): 39–56. Montagne, Renee (2017) “U.S. Has the Worst Rate of Maternal Deaths in the Developed World,” te-of-maternal-deaths-in-the-developed-world. Last accessed 5 November 2019. Nicholas, Jeffery (2008) “Eucharist and Dragon Fighting as Resistance: Against Commodity Fetishism and Scientism,” Philosophy and Management, 7(1): 93–106. O’Dowd, Michael J. and Elliot E. Philipp (1994) The History of Obstetrics and GynaecologyNew York: The Parthenon Publishing Group. Petersen, Emily, et al. (2019) “Vital Signs: Pregnancy-Relted Deaths, United States 2011–2015, and Strategies for Prevention, 13 States, 2013–2017,” www. Last accessed 9 March 2020. Reiger, Kerreen, and Rhea Dempsey (2006) “Performing Birth in a Culture of Fear: An Embodied Crisis of Late Modernity,” Health Sociology Review, 15(4): 364–373. Reime, Birgit, et al. (2004) “Do Maternity Care Provider Groups Have Different Attitudes towards Birth?,” BJOG: An International Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, 111(12): 1388–1393. Rosenthal, Elisabeth (2013) “American Way of Birth, Costliest in the World,” The New York Times, 13 June, y-of-birth-costliest-in-the-world.html Last accessed 2 May 2020. Taylor, Janelle (2000) “An All-Consuming Experience: Obstetrical Ultrasound and the Commodification of Pregnancy,” in Paul E. Brodwin (ed.) Biotechnology and Culture: Bodies, Anxieties, Ethics (pp. 147–170). Indianapolis, IN: Indiana University Press. Van Teijlingen, Edwin (2005) “A Critical Analysis of the Medical Model As Used in the Study of Pregnancy and Childbirth,” Sociological Research Online 10(2). Van Teijlingen, Edwin, et al. (2004) Midwifery and the Medicalization of Childbirth: Comparative Perspectives. New York: Nova Science Publishers. Wagner, Marsden (2006) Born in the U.S.A.: How a Broken Maternity System Must Be Fixed to Put Woman and Children First. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press. Wertz, Richard and Wertz, Dorothy (1989) Lying-In: A History of Childbirth in America. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press. Zwelling, Elaine (2008) “The Emergence of High-Tech Birthing,” Journal of Obstetric, Gynecologic & Neonatal Nursing, 37(1): 85–93.

Section III

Eros and Human Nature


Toward a Metaphysical Biology

Introduction First of all the gods she devised Eros. (Parmenides, Fragments)

Sam and Ash have dinner, chili, buttermilk cornbread, and their favorite wine, a Cabernet Franc. Late in her pregnancy, Sam allows herself a little wine. They argue over politics, philosophy, and art. What is more aesthetically pleasing, Rothko’s #61 (Rust and Blue) or #207 (Red over Dark Blue over Dark Grey), and is abstract painting really art? The child within listens to the voices and will recognize them when it is born. Their discussion lingers on the nature of beauty and love, agreeing on little but finding something they share in each other’s eyes. Leaving the dishes for morning, they make love on the deck, sliding over and penetrating bodily boundaries, immersed in each other. This scene is lush with people and things. We name some of them, Sam, Ash, and the unborn child; others are unnamed, the chili and the Cabernet Franc. These beings are constantly changing. Sam, for instance, burns calories even as she takes them in; her lips move and words float out, while other words flow into her mind through the thrumming in her ears. These words change her. Maybe she didn’t quite appreciate the underlying dark grey of Rothko’s #207. Or maybe she didn’t quite understand how abstract impressionist paintings were. The child within grows at a fierce pace, its cells multiplying quickly. The scene is erotic as well. The conversation between Sam and Ash is passionate. The eroticism of the conversation leads to the lingering gazes that transform them so that the dishes no longer exist in their consciousness, as they progress from table and chair to deck. Boundaries too are fluid. The chili and the wine transform them. Parts of the food become part of them. Sam is more than Sam as she carries a child she will one day give birth to and nurse. The child is a part of her and yet separate. Like the bacteria in Sam’s intestines, the child cannot (yet) live on its own. Yet, it is independent, taking from Sam the

152 Eros and Human Nature nourishment it needs. If Sam were not healthy and well-fed, the child might drain her bones of calcium. Sam, too, changes from the child in her. Research suggests that fetal stem cells cross the placenta to the mother and can lead to new cell growth in the maternal body (Harth 2015). Mysteries abound here. How do so many things exist? How can they change? Or share space? Or love? This chapter delves into metaphysics in order to develop a metaphysical biology opposed to the dualism and mechanism underlying modern science and capitalism. Metaphysics concerns questions about fundamental reality—what exists, how do things change, and what it means to exist. A metaphysical dualism and mechanism reflects class-conflict and sexual and racial oppression. Our metaphysics must oppose them by proposing an alternative to dualism and rejecting mechanism for an erotic view of nature. We begin with Plato’s Symposium. Plato proposes a dualistic metaphysics. This dualism sees the body as changing and unknowable, and the immaterial FORMS as immutable and knowable. It instantiates an alienation from nature and incorporates a sexist view of women. We turn, then, to Aristotle’s alternative metaphysics—hylomorphism. Aristotle unites body and form into the unified substance. Yet, in the development of his thought he sneaks embers of Plato’s dualism into his account. We can correct Aristotle’s metaphysics without changing its ability to explain the unity of nature. Its mistakes rest in inaccuracies about perception and generation and an acceptance of military masculinity. The temptation to call this “hypermasculinity” must be resisted since that would amount to an anachronism which would have us unfairly read Plato and Aristotle. However, the Greek culture of their time did celebrate a particular kind of masculinity that denigrated the female. Cleansed of these, Aristotle’s metaphysics provides a foundation for a politics of liberation. In the third section, we will uncover the place of Eros in the universe. Eros is the god of movement and generation. Aristotle, however, eschews Eros developing his notions of energeia and dunamis. These terms highlight that Aristotle makes a fundamental contribution to metaphysics by focusing on, not change, but activity. Yet, his acceptance of military masculinity continues to plague his account of energeia as self-sufficient thinking.

Plato’s Symposium Diotima’s Speech Plato provides one answer to the questions about existence and change in his Symposium. A symposium was a practice in Greece that involved men gathering together to discuss a variety of topics with food, wine, and music. If the discussion was not erotic to begin with, the men often

Toward a Metaphysical Biology


turned to erotic activities, including homoerotic relationships, during or after. Older Greek men would mentor younger ones, and this mentoring involved sexual activity, though perhaps not what we might imagine (for instance, they would have frowned upon anal sex; Nussbaum 2000). The idea was to mix intellectual and social support with sexual activity. In Plato’s recount of a symposium, the men discourse upon the nature of love. We will examine, on the one hand, Plato’s dualistic metaphysics as it appears here and, on the other, the denaturing of Eros. Socrates is one of nine people at the symposium speaking on love. He goes second to last, which is important for the philosophical points Plato wants to make. Moreover, Socrates recites, not his own account of love, but that of his teacher Diotima. Jowett’s translation describes her as “the prophetess of Mantineia, whose sacred and superhuman character raises her above the ordinary properties of women” (Plato 2008). We shall return to the issue of Socrates speaking through the voice of a woman later. Diotima’s account of love ends with a metaphysical and epistemological statement, revealed in the ladder of love. This ladder represents the way the SOUL climbs from contemplating beauty in individual material things, to contemplating beauty in laws and institutions, to philosophy, and finally ascends to the contemplation of the FORM BEAUTY. Now we turn to the end of Diotima’s speech in which she describes the ladder of love and the ascent of beauty to reveal the basic elements of Plato’s metaphysics before discussing the nature of love. According to Diotima’s teaching, the student of beauty begins as a young man who learns to love one other. Through this singular love, he comes to see that beauty in one is “akin to the beauty in another.” So, he turns to the pursuit of the beauty of form. Thus, he comes to recognize that “the beauty in every form is the same!” On this realization, he abandons his “violent love of the one … deem[ing] it a small thing and becomes a lover of all beautiful FORMS.” As he learns, he comes to believe that the beauty of the mind is more beautiful than the body. He will love, then, even the ones slightly comely. Dedicated to the beauty of the mind, he seeks to improve young men and to see the beauty in institutions and laws. These too he recognizes as sharing a similar beauty, and he eschews his love of personal beauty. Continuing in his progress, he comes to see the sciences as more beautiful than the laws. “Being not like a servant in love with the beauty of one youth or man or institution, himself a slave mean and narrow-minded,” he draws towards and contemplates “the vast sea of beauty [when] he will create many fair and noble thoughts and notions in boundless wisdom” (Plato, Symposium, 210a–e). For Plato’s Diotima, then, love begins in the material world with the love of one which teaches the beauty of all. Yet, this love cannot satisfy, and so the lover moves on, learning to love the ever more abstract. Beauty of body is forsaken for beauty of outward form, and this beauty is

154 Eros and Human Nature forsaken as not as worthy as the beauty of laws and institutions, and they not as worthy as the love of the sciences. The love of individual things is slavish. With each rung climbed on the ladder, the student of beauty comes to find her previous loves narrow. Reaching the top of the ladder, the student discovers beauty. What is it? Beauty is immutable. It neither grows nor lessens, becomes nor perishes. It is not beautiful in one way and ugly in another; it is beautiful in every way. It cannot be reduced to the beauty of a body or part thereof or even in a body of knowledge. That is, it cannot be seen as beauty in something else. Rather, “it exists in itself alone by itself, single in nature forever … All other things are beautiful by sharing in that in such manner that though the rest come to be and perish, that comes to be neither in greater degree nor less and is not at all affected” (Plato, Symposium, 211b). While the student of beauty must begin by loving individual things, at the end of her journey she understands that the best life is in contemplating beauty itself. Plato’s dualism brings together previous metaphysical doctrines. Parmenides, on one hand, believed that only unchanging things existed, and that change was an illusion. Heraclitus, on the other, believed that all that exists is change. Where for Parmenides, any changes in Sam are illusory, for Heraclitus, “Sam” does not name the same being through “her” different changes. Plato synthesizes these approaches. The material is now the locus of change, and the immaterial world the locus of the unchanging. Sam’s body is material, changing, and unknowable. Sam’s SOUL, in contrast, is unchanging and real. The material world is not an illusion— Sam’s body, the chili and wine, the deck, all exist. Their existence, however, is ephemeral, becoming and perishing, growing and shrinking, now white, now grey, now black. In contrast to modern science which studies change in material things and calls it knowledge, Plato believed we could not know, but only have beliefs about the material world. The ladder of beauty recounted above is based on this doctrine. Love of the many material things passes away, but we can use it to ascend to higher, more immaterial things which we can know. In contrast, Plato captures Parmenides’s idea of the unchanging world in his conception of the FORMS. The FORMS are immaterial, immutable, always existing. Where, for instance, grape vines grow, leaf and shed, expand, and then die, the GRAPE VINE FORM is eternal. All grape vines “participate” in the GRAPE VINE FORM to be what they are. Because they are unchanging, we can have knowledge of these FORMS. Further, they are more worthy of our study and contemplation. In the Symposium, the highest FORM is BEAUTY; in Plato’s Republic, the highest FORM is GOOD. On this account, human beings, like Sam and Ash, are SOULS and bodies. Plato writes more about SOULS in the Timaeus, one of his last books. The Timaeus proposes an explanation of the universe and its

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origin. Plato posits a world-SOUL. Like the world SOUL, the human SOUL is composed of a mixture of sameness, difference, and being, Plato’s idea of the elements of which everything is composed. The SOUL seems to be something like the FORMS: immutable (at least in part) and more worthy than the body. George Claghorn (1954) suggests that the SOUL might have represented the FORM as active and immanent. In either case, the SOUL can know the FORMS, where the body cannot. The SOUL is the principle of motion and the center of intelligence and reason; some part of it is immortal. The body might distort the motion of the SOUL and the person become disordered. Those who practice the virtues and eschew the body as much as possible can spend time contemplating the FORMS and, when the person dies, exist with the FORMS. This account makes it tough for Sam. She has an immortal SOUL, but where does her body fit into the picture? When her hands run over Ash’s body, Sam knows her body. As lovers they will more quickly recognize changes in each other’s bodies, the appearance of a lump, perhaps, or the slight wrinkle across the eyebrow. How does Plato’s account help her to understand change, the changes she feels in herself and in the child within? When the baby kicks, it feels real enough. Moreover, it is the love of their discussion that makes her lust for Ash’s body. Wasn’t that the whole point of a Greek symposium, she wonders. Plato’s use of Alcibiades is important here. He enters the dialogue late to demonstrate the problem with ignoring Diotima’s lessons. Historically, Alcibiades sided with the tyrants that ruled Athens after the fall of the democracy. He was known to be a student of Socrates, and this friendship proved to be one of the reasons that a majority voted to execute Socrates. Plato’s portrayal of Alcibiades in the Symposium after Socrates’s speech shows a person who is focused on the beauty of many things and refuses to control his body—he drunkenly comes into the party, disrupting the reflections on love. He stirs up arguments with Socrates and Agamemnon. He reports how he has pursued Socrates, always trying to sleep with Socrates’ body and finding the lectures a distraction from his primary pursuit. Reflecting the opposite of Diotima’s (or Socrates’s/Plato’s) teachings, Alcibiades serves as an abject lesson in ignoring the teachings of Socrates—you betray your people and lose political power, the ultimate goal for the self-sufficient Athenian male. Alienation from Nature in Plato’s Dualism “Distrust,” then, captures Plato’s attitude toward the material world: because it is always changing, it is a source, not of knowledge, but only opinion. Plato seeks certainty; to really know something is to claim certainty in one’s beliefs. As an epistemological and a metaphysical theory, however, Plato’s dualism instantiates an alienation from nature. Nature

156 Eros and Human Nature cannot be known or trusted; it is always changing. Nature and the body threaten the harmony of the soul. In short, for Plato, nature can never be a source of liberation or part of what it means to lead a fully flourishing life. Of course, Plato would have accepted the Athenian practice of naked men engaging in athletics in the gymnasium. Yet, Alcibiades’ lament (“I got no further”; 217c) at Socrates in this regard demonstrates that, for Plato, the wise person had to dominate the erotics of this practice. Lying at the center of Socrates’s philosophical practice is the question of the relationship between desire and persistent human desire, addressed in following chapters. However, we must recognize that Socrates’ account favors intellectual Eros over bodily Eros—on the one hand, displaying an alienation from nature and, on the other, assuming that intellectual activity is something accomplished in spite of the body. Plato, here, adopts the position of Pausanias stated earlier in the dialogue. Pausanias opines that two gods represent love. The younger goddess is the daughter of Zeus and Dione. She is the goddess of common love of which people speak. She lacks discrimination and leads people to commit evil and good. She represents the love of the body alone. In contrast, Aphrodite is the elder goddess. She is the mother-less daughter of Uranus. She has love only for the male, “delighting in what is by nature stronger and possessed of more intelligence” (181c). She instills in her followers the love of exercise and philosophy, which the barbarians reject (182c). This love makes the person more concerned with his own virtue, and laws aim to help discriminate the bad from the virtuous. Plato adopts Pausanias into his own position. On the ladder of love, the highest rungs concern building laws, studying the sciences, and, finally, contemplating the FORM BEAUTY. Pausanias’s presentation of two loves emphasizes the vulgarity or barbaric nature of the love of bodies—of nature itself— and the heavenly nature of the love of intellectual FORM. In this adoption, Plato illuminates a sexism tied to this dualistic philosophy. The virtuous love desires what is male because it is stronger and more intelligent. Moreover, it is a motherless goddess. From Plato’s point of view, Sam and Ash’s love for each other’s bodies is the lowest form of love. Giving birth to a physical child is worth less than working on the laws and institutions that train people’s SOULS. Where Sam saw the discussion of art and philosophy leading to lovemaking, Plato sees the body pulling the SOUL from the real work they should be doing: studying the sciences and contemplating the FORM BEAUTY. Where Plato would insist that the pregnant body is of less worth than the immutable FORMS, Sam would insist that the child nursing at her breast is more real and more worthy. A mother-less goddess can teach us nothing of love or wisdom. In splitting the god of love, Eros, into two, Plato has denatured love and made it a mockery of itself. Read cynically, Pausanias’s motherless Aphrodite signifies a desire men have had since ancient times, which we saw in the origin of domination

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and oppression and in the account of obstetrics in the US: the desire to control reproduction and to deny the value of women who are capable of giving birth. This desire is instantiated in Plato’s dualism which separates giving birth like chafe from the supposed wheat of pure FORM. Aristotle’s metaphysics provides a means for undermining Plato’s dualism even while it incorporates some of its worst elements.

Aristotle’s Hylomorphism Metaphysics of Substances Aristotle studied with Plato for twenty years. That relationship had to involve much discussion back and forth about the strengths and weaknesses of Plato’s philosophical system. The system Aristotle develops in response can solve problems which Plato’s could not. As we shall see, it also adopted a dualism into its solution. Broadly speaking, Aristotle believed that the theory of the FORMS did not accomplish the task it was designed for and that the relationship between the FORMS and individual things remained unclear (see Thilly and Wood 1957, 104). One task the theory of the FORMS was supposed to accomplish was to help philosophers understand the nature of change. In separating the immutable from the mutable and contending that knowledge can only be of the immutable, Plato failed to explain change. According to Aristotle, this result entails that “the whole investigation of nature has been done away with” (Metaphysics, 992b8). In addition to the problem regarding change, Aristotle criticizes Plato for separating the FORM from the individual thing. Socrates, Aristotle notes, “understood things correctly in not separating them” (Metaphysics, 1086b2). The unity of FORM and individual thing is necessary to the unity of the thing. When we say that Sam is Sam, we mean that she is one unitary substance, not a FORM and a body. The necessity lies both in the fact that we cannot explain change—or activity itself—of particular things without unity and, more importantly, our experience is of unitary things. The central concept of Aristotle’s metaphysics is substance. A substance is a particular thing: Sam, Ash, a wolf, the hydrangea bush, and the fetus developing inside Sam. It is “that of which the other things are said, but which is itself not further said of any other thing,” or, more succinctly, “the underlying subject” (1028b30–35). Human, calm, tall, pregnant are all said of Sam. In contrast, nothing is described as Sam. She is the subject of these other descriptors or qualifiers. A substance, then, is a unitary being of which we can say many things: she cooks, she is tall, she is pregnant, she is flourishing. For our discussion, we will focus on natural, living bodies because we need not understand how gold atoms or the computer on which I am typing are substances to discuss a flourishing society.

158 Eros and Human Nature Aristotle’s theory is known as hylomorphic, from the Greek hyle (stuff) and morphe- (shape). All living bodies are hylomorphic substances, both a this and a what. By being some this, a substance can be the subject of qualities such as red-headed, tall, young. By being a what, a substance is a particular kind of thing, such as a homo sapiens. This person, Sam, is a red-headed, tall, human being. Importantly, “it’s being a what is a condition of the possibility of its being a this” (Kosman 2013, kl 694). Whatever exists always exists as a what: a hydrangea bush, a wolf, or a human being, Further, a substance being a what is in turn conditioned on the possibility of its being a this. Whats do not exist unless they are a thiswhat. “They are one as body and soul are one: now understood as a locus of ability, now as the principle of the ability’s active exercise” (Kosman 2013, kl 1979). This claim is important, I believe, for understanding one of Aristotle’s criticisms of Plato, recounted above. Socrates was correct to keep form and matter together, that is, to keep the what and the this together. Pace Plato, no FORM (or form) HUMAN exists without some this-human-being-existing. Because of Plato’s dualism, because of various religious beliefs, and because of mistakes Aristotle himself made, emphasizing the unity of form-matter is necessary. The syllable is not its phonetic elements, BA is not the same as B and A … For when they—for example, the syllable—are dissolved, they no longer exist, whereas the phonetic elements do exist … The syllable, then, is something—not its phonetic elements alone, the sounded [=A] and the unsounded [=B], but also something else. (Aristotle, Metaphysics, 1041b16–22) In Chapter 3, I explained that Sam’s chili is not just a pile of vegetables and spices. It is something more. The vegetables and spices are the this, and the spices are the what. Likewise, Sam is not just a collection of oxygen, hydrogen, and carbon in a certain proportion. If you mix those chemicals together and set them out in the sun, you do not find a human being later. Sam is a this—this particular spatio-temporal matrix—what— acting as a homo sapiens would act. The what (homo sapiens) determines the this (chemicals) to act as it does; and the this determines the what to act-here-now. Aristotle challenges Plato on the issue of the relationship of FORM to material things, particularly how FORM causes the individual thing to be what it is. He rids himself of this problem by focusing on substances— what we actually experience—and trying to understand how they both change and yet stay the same. They are not separate things—a form here and matter there or, as the examples of syllables and chili above show, form and matter that continue as they are after they are no longer a unit. Rather, form is the principle that arranges the matter to be what it is—a

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wolf or Sam—and matter is the principle that instantiates the form herenow. Properly speaking, we are only discussing living substances. In living substances, the term form is replaced by the term “soul.” A soul is “the form of a natural body bearing within it a capacity for life” (Aristotle, De Anima, 412a20).1 Not just any body can be living. Soul is defined in terms of a body with certain capacities. This capacity is the capacity “of the body presently actualized by the soul” (Polansky 2007, 2274). The term “body” in the definition “is the peculiar analytic concept of matter that is not ‘a this’” (ibid., 2294). “Soul” and “body” name, not separately existing things, but aspects of one unified living this-what. Thus, when Sam dies (decays), her soul decays as well. (This conclusion is mine; Aristotle was conflicted on this issue.) The soul has capacities that are distinct in kind from the forms of nonliving substance. At minimum, a living body has capacities for “selfnutrition and growth and decay” (De Anima, 412a14). Anything that eats, grows, and decays is a living being—a this-what whose what-ing includes self-nutritioning, growing, and decaying. While some living bodies have capacities only for basic life functions, some also have capacities for moving and sensing, and another set of living bodies have the capacity for reasoning. Aristotle, thus, identifies three levels of life and soul: the nutritive soul, the animal soul, and the rational soul. Each successive level includes the powers of the lower levels. For instance, a wolf does not have two souls—a nutritive soul and an animal soul, nor does a homo sapiens have three souls, nutritive, animal, and rational. Aristotle defines the human as a rational animal: the rational soul includes the powers of nutrition, growth, decay, movement, sensation, and reason. If the soul is the organizing principle of this body with the capacity for life, it must be one. Further, all living beings—from the lowliest amoeba to the most magnificent Redwood, from the golden finch to the wolf to the homo sapiens—have souls. That is, Aristotle recognizes a qualitative unity between living beings. Change How, then, do substances change? Aristotle criticized Plato for not being able to explain change; thus, Aristotle must offer an explanation. In fact, he must be able to explain two types of change. One type of change, accidental, occurs when the substance remains identical throughout the change, but a feature of the substance changes. Sam becomes pregnant; she gains weight, and then loses it. Ash changes employment. Both Sam and Ash are the same Sam and Ash before these changes as they are after. They are the same soul-body throughout the change, where the “soul”— the kind of thing “the body” is—is still the same kind of “soul,” in this case, the organizing activity of a homo sapiens. Properly speaking,

160 Eros and Human Nature something about the “this” changes. These kinds of changes we would admit do not cause the living body to be a different (kind of) living body. The second type of change is substantial change. The term for this change signifies that what changes is the “soul” of the “body.” Sam is no longer a living, breathing, thinking, and loving homo sapiens, but deceased. Her body decomposes into the molecules and atoms which constituted it. What was once an unfertilized egg (with an ovum soul) is now a zygote (with a human soul). In both of these changes, the underlying substance does not remain identical through the change because the organizing activity—what we analytically term the “soul”— changes. However, the matter stays the same. The chemicals, for instance, are the same chemicals before and after the change. The difference in the chemicals is how they act: at one moment, they act as a homo sapiens because the “soul” arranges them to act that way; the next moment they act as the different kinds of chemicals they are because of the “forms” (not soul) that arrange their individual activity. At one moment the egg and sperm act as egg and sperm; at the next the zygote acts as a zygote. Notice, in this type of change, the chemicals exhibit new types of activity because they now have capacities they did not have before. The acts that define this being to be typical of its kind stop and new acts characteristic of a different kind begin. Aristotle, then, offers a theory of change and sameness, as well as a theory of unity and multiplicity, both of which rest on his hylomorphic theory of substance as a this-what. Every this-what (body-soul) is a unified entity that exhibits activities, some of which are definitive for that kind of this-what, and some of which may be accidental to it. Accidental changes, by which I do not mean unimportant changes, occur when some activities change which are not definitive of the kind of this-what it is. Substantial changes occur when the activities that define the this-what as what it is change so that the underlying “this” is no longer the same kind of “what.” How do souls, in the case of living bodies, change? Again, we never experience “bodies” without “forms” or “souls.” Just as “B” and “A” are analytical letters which help us to understand how the sound “ba” is formed, the “soul” and “body” are analytic concepts that help us to understand that living bodies are unities of activities in a localized spacetime. Souls do not change because they do not exist as substances. Living bodies are capable of change. Oxygen and hydrogen, for instance, do not have the capacity for life by themselves or together. Yet, they have a capacity to join together in a particular ratio of one to two. This new substance, H2O, has different capacities: to put out fire. Oxygen has a capacity to join with two hydrogen atoms—that is one of the activities, typical of the kind of substance it is. H2O does not have the capacity to join with two more hydrogen atoms, though it does have a capacity to cling to other H2O molecules. Every substance has a capacity to transform into other kinds of substances

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determined by its form. Soul is activity, and all (finite) activity has the capacity to stop. Just as Sam could decide to stop acting as a midwife and act, instead, as a carpenter, so the substance Sam could one day stop acting like a homo sapiens does and act, instead, like a collection of chemicals. Alienation from Nature in Aristotle’s Hylomorphism (Un-reconstructed) Plato’s dualistic metaphysics rests on a domination of nature in the distinction between FORM, as immutable, beautiful, and knowable, and matter, as changeable, capable of ugliness, and unknowable. Does Aristotle’s metaphysics of substance fair better? The answer is yes and no. Yes, it provides a framework for understanding how soul-body are one and to remove us from the abstractions of Platonic metaphysics to the concrete. We begin with this particular human body in order to reconnect thinking to the body. Yet, sticking with Aristotle to reconnect body with thinking exposes a fault line in the metaphysics because, in the end, Aristotle incorporates Plato’s dualism into his metaphysics. This fault line appears in the discussion of theoretical knowledge and his discussion of animal generation. I shall argue, however, that Aristotle violates his own principles. If, instead, we remain committed to the metaphysics of (hylomorphic) substances we provide grounds for undermining the alienation from nature. At first glance, Aristotle resolves the issue of how the “soul” and “body” interact by understanding them, not as separate substances, but as principles of one substance. He also provides a way for understanding change. This substance metaphysics seems to contrast with the idea that the body drags the SOUL away from the FORMS. Yet, as we examine Aristotle’s theory of knowing more closely, a problem appears. Like Plato, Aristotle contends that knowledge involves knowledge of the causes which requires knowing the “forms” of substances. In order to explain how we know the “forms,” he draws an analogy between sense perception and understanding. According to Aristotle, sense perception involves receiving some part of the sensible object in order to perceive it. “A sense is what has the power of receiving into itself the sensible form of things without matter” (De Anima, 24b19). Likewise, thinking entails that the mind receives the substantial form. Briefly, “sensible form” refers to any quality of a substance we might perceive with our senses: red, soft, sweet, fragrant, etc. Substantial form, in contrast, refers to the type of thing the substance is, or what we have been calling form/soul: the “what” of the this-what. This analogy is problematic both because of the misunderstanding of sense perception and its conclusion for knowing the forms. Examining this issue clarifies how Aristotle incorporated Plato’s dualism into his substance metaphysics.

162 Eros and Human Nature Therefore, since everything is a possible object of thought, mind in order, as Anaxagoras says, to [control], that is, to know, must be pure from all admixture; for the co-presence of what is alien to its nature is a hindrance and a block: it follows that it can have no nature of its own, other than that of having a certain capacity. Thus, that in the soul which is called thought (by thought I mean that whereby the soul thinks and judges) is, before it thinks, not actually any real thing. For this reason, it cannot reasonably be regarded as blended with the body. (De Anima, 429a18–25)2 Because of his theory of perception, Aristotle believed the mind must receive forms. For something to receive these forms, it must be free of any activity that might block it from receiving the form. When you stare at a bright light for too long and look away, it is difficult to see anything else. At first, because the bright light still lingers, it blocks you from seeing, for instance, the yellow roses on your desk. Likewise, if the thinking part of the soul had some “form” to it, it would be incapable of thinking about other “forms.” Recall that a substantial soul is the organizing activity of a body with the capacity for life. If the mind has a substantial form, it would not be able to receive other substantial forms. It would always be like the eye that has looked at the bright light too long. Since knowledge must be knowledge of the forms, Aristotle concludes, thus, that some part of the soul is unmixed with body. Despite his arguments about the unity of substance, of soul-body, he incorporates Plato’s idea of a bodyless-soul into his metaphysics of the human person. On a second issue, generation, Aristotle has a problem. If soul-body is a unit, then how does generation occur? The new being that emerges from generation is not identical to either parent, though its “soul” is of the same kind of soul—a homo sapiens, for instance. How do we explain the change that leads to a new substance? In essence, Aristotle asks, what is the source of the soul and what the source of the body? Do both parents contribute something material and something immaterial or do they contribute different aspects of the soul-body unity? In the end, Aristotle contends that the female provides the matter, but no soul, of the new living body through the menses. “For the female is, as it were, a mutilated male, and the catamenia are semen, only not pure” (Generation of Animals, 737a28–30). Aristotle not only strips the ova of soul, but, in the process, determines that the female is a mutilated male. In contrast, Aristotle holds that the male contributes no matter to the new living body. The semen dissipates as it moves the soul to the female’s body. Remember, however, that “soul” is the principle of activity of a natural body with the capacity for life. In other words, analytically, the soul is the “principle of the ability’s exercise.” Without a soul, the ovum is passive, and by default, so is the female.

Toward a Metaphysical Biology


The male, then, conveys the soul through the semen (see Aristotle, Generation of Animals, 729a; Metaphysics, 1044a34). The soul of the new living body is not in the semen. Rather, it is conveyed or carried by the semen to the menses. The semen could not be united with the soul of the new being. Because soul is the organizing activity of a body with the capacity for life, if the new soul were part of the semen, the semen itself would be the whole human being (or other animal species). A body cannot have two different souls—the soul of the parent and the soul of the offspring. The semen would have only one soul—the soul of the offspring—and thus, would be that new being. Instead, Aristotle insists that the semen conveys the new soul via the pneuma (spirit) to the menses. Nancy Tuana (1994) believes that Aristotle’s biology completes a gradual process of degradation of the female generative powers during which the female principle, initially envisioned as the primordial creative source, comes first to be seen as secondary to the male principle, and ultimately, in the biology of Aristotle, is viewed as lacking and defective. (Tuana 1994, 189–190) In her work, she finds evidence that pre-agrarian texts represented the source of creative activity and generative powers in the female. The rise of agrarian societies saw a shift in which creative activity and generative powers are now properties of the male. This switch parallels Maria Mies discussion of patriarchy examined in Chapter 5. What Mies would add to Tuana’s account is the role played by war and slavery in the development of Greek society that forced an emphasis on the female principle in favor of male generative powers. Both Aristotle’s theory of knowledge and his theory of fertilization entail an alienation from nature and a sexism. The theory of knowledge denies that the highest type of knowledge—knowledge of causes and the forms—belongs to the material or even the part of the soul mixed with matter. He stands, then, on the highest rung of Diotima’s ladder of love: the SOUL (divorced from body) knows the “forms.” Yet, women cannot attain this highest rung because they do not have the requisite ability for theoretical knowledge. Likewise, the idea that, during generation, the soul is conveyed by the pneuma from only one parent to the offspring, entails an alienation from nature. The soul, again, exists apart from the body and signifies the “active” part of the living body. Women’s bodies are not hot enough (they do not have enough star heat, like men do) to create semen which can convey souls. Their generative contribution is soul-less and passive. Aristotle has incorporated Plato’s dualism into his substance metaphysics and, with it, an alienation from nature and a sexism.

164 Eros and Human Nature Correcting Aristotle’s Mistakes Both Aristotle’s theory of perception and his theory of fertilization are biologically wrong, though for different reasons, but they have a similar result: they articulate conclusions at odds with his hylomorphic theory and an alienation from nature, and result in misogynistic views of women. The fact that they are wrong entails that we reject the conclusion; the fact that those conclusions are at odds with his larger theory entails that we might save the hylomorphic metaphysics and the metaphysical biology. Why is the theory of perception wrong? Aristotle contends that the senses receive the sensible form without matter. That is not true. When Sam sees the red of the chili powder, a light ray is stimulating the cones and rods of her retina and sending a signal through her optical nerve. Something material activates the rods and cones in her eye so that she sees red. Similarly, all the other senses receive matter of some nature. When she smells the chili, parts of the chili have entered her nostrils to stimulate the sense receptors there. If we want to maintain Aristotle’s analogy between sense perception and understanding substantial forms, we must reject the idea that some part of the “soul” is free of the “body.” Instead, we must insist that when we know what things are and their causes, we know as a soul-body unity (i.e., as a substantial living body). How, then, do we come to know the substantial form of different things? That question is tangential to our main objective, but I can offer ideas toward which way such an answer must go. We begin with the simple fact that, as embodied beings, all of our activities are activities of embodied beings. For instance, MacIntyre (1999) reports that, when a cat mistakes a shrew for a mouse and eats the shrew, the cat discovers a distinction between shrew and mouse (shrews taste terrible) and never chases a shrew again. Sense perception can provide some elementary knowledge of substantial form. Second, we must recognize that Aristotle’s notion of a (substantial) form one can know without matter is an abstraction. It presupposes an immutable form for each species of material objects. We encountered this issue in Chapter 4. We must reject Aristotle’s metaphysical biology because we know, post-Darwin, that immutable forms do not exist. The reason that we must reject this metaphysical biology rests on a mistake, however. That mistake is in Aristotle treating (substantial) form as something knowable sans matter and the thinking part of the soul as unmixed from body. In truth, if substances are form-matter units, then form is just as mutable as matter. Why is Aristotle’s theory of fertilization also wrong? Both semen and ova contribute formally and materially to the offspring. Further, we must reject as inconsistent Aristotle’s idea that some pneuma carries “soul” from the male to the ova. Soul cannot exist without a body, just as a body cannot exist without a soul.

Toward a Metaphysical Biology


How then do new souls come about? To ask that question is to ask the wrong question—asked by Aristotle, Thomas Aquinas, and many who followed them. New souls are not generated, just as new bodies are not generated. Rather, living bodies are generated. When one eats an apple, the body breaks down the apple into proteins, fats, and sugars. These elements are then taken up by the body and used to feed or generate new cells. The apple undergoes a substantial change into various chemical substances, and these substances undergo another change to being (part of a) homo sapiens. The proteins, for instance, might become part of a bicep. They now act differently than they did when they were part of the apple or when they were alone. Likewise, gametes undergo substantial changes. Like the bacteria in the human intestines, ovum and sperm are independent of the human body; unlike the bacteria, though, they are human cells whose activity includes fertilization. When the ovum allows one of the spermatozoa to enter it, a change begins that is typical for ovum and sperm. Their genetic material begins to mingle until what were two chains of (typically) 23 chromosomes is now one chain of (typically) 46 chromosomes. Once the two chains have completed their union, the new body—new because it has a genetic structure different from either of the gametes—exhibits new activity typical of a zygote and not typical of ovum or sperm. In particular, the zygote is capable of nutrition and growth. Of course, the DNA is not the “soul.” The soul’s organizing activity organizes the DNA to act the way it does. Living bodies—soul-body units—generate, then, other living bodies—soul-body units. Typically, the offspring is of the same species. However, sometimes the offspring might be the progenitor of a new species due to random changes in genetic material. That is how evolution happens—through the substantial changes involved in generating living bodies. We discovered that Aristotle is able to explain how beings (substances) are units of form and matter. His hylomorphic metaphysics provides a means for rejecting the alienation from nature which is part of Plato’s dualistic metaphysics. Unfortunately, Aristotle violates his own metaphysical theory when he insists that some part of the soul has activity independent of the body and when he insists that the female contributes only material and the male only the form to offspring. This violation instantiates a similar alienation from nature and sexism that we found in Plato’s dualism. Yet, nothing in Aristotle’s metaphysics of substance explains this violation of his principles. If we have knowledge of what things are, that knowledge is what is possible for an embodied substance like ourselves. Knowledge will include bodily activity. Likewise, women and men do not contribute form and matter to offspring. Rather, living bodies have capacities for acting in such a way that they can produce other living bodies. Saving Aristotle’s substance metaphysics entails that we have a foundation for undermining alienation from nature. Homo sapiens, as natural living

166 Eros and Human Nature bodies, are part of the natural world. Every living body has a soul. In that we enjoy a unity with nature.

Eros, Energeia, Dunamis Our task is to uncover a metaphysics that illuminates the unity of nature and living beings, which allows a better understanding of human nature and metaphysical biology for a politics of liberation. Our track through metaphysics might seem far removed from such a politics. Yet, Chapters 4–6 demonstrated that conceptions of human nature underlie our practices and traditions. Class conflict rests on an alienation from nature, and a view of the ideal human as dominating and controlling nature. This domination is co-constitutive with views of women and race that lead to forms of oppression. In modern society, the philosophies of human nature that support domination and oppression are dualism and mechanism. The politics and practices of liberation must, on the one hand, undermine conceptions of human nature that support domination and oppression and, on the other, consciously identify the philosophy of human nature it rests on so as to support, not domination, but freedom. In this section we must provide an alternative to dualism and mechanism. We will discover that humanity and nature are unified and living by recognizing Eros as a principle of activity in nature. Eros is the desire for spontaneous, creative activity, for generation culminating in self-generation. Where Plato refers to Eros, Aristotle replaces it in his ethics with “philia” (Leontsini 2013; Price 2004). The role of Eros as mover is more complicated for Aristotle, however, because he understands activity, rather than movement, as fundamental to being. In making activity (energeia), rather than change, the nature of being, Aristotle incorporates and expands the function of Eros. At the same time, he exorcises the feminine from his concept. We begin with Plato’s Symposium and move into Aristotle’s Metaphysics. Plato’s Eros as Creative Principle of Nature Diotima’s description of the ladder of love shows that “the power of love … run[s] through all nature and all being: at one end descending to animals and plants and attaining to the highest vision of truth at the other” (Plato 2008). Eros is a generative power, but one much different than normally imagined. Early in the Symposium, Phaedrus repeats lines from Hesiod, “First Chaos came, and then broad-bosomed Earth. The everlasting seat of all that is, and Eros” (ibid.); and Parmenides, “First in the train of gods, he fashioned Eros.” Diotima adopts the generative language here but denies that Eros is a god. Rather, he is a mediator between mortals and gods (Plato, Symposium, 202e). Eros is the child of

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Poverty and Aphrodite, of want and fullness. Never in want and never wealthy, he seeks and conveys. For Diotima, human beings seek “birth in beauty, whether of body or soul” (Plato, Symposium, 206c). They desire to procreate something beautiful. Thus, “when the hour of conception arrives, and the teeming nature is full, there is such a flutter and ecstasy about beauty whose approach is the alleviation of the pain of travail” (206d–e) Love is not of beauty only but of “generation and birth in beauty” (206e). Generation enables the mortal to attain some immortality. Yet, different forms of generation are differently valued. Recall here that Aphrodite, the mother of Eros, is herself motherless, representing a denial of the body. Those pregnant in body only desire women and children, hoping that their memories will live on in their children. Yet, those pregnant in soul are more creative and “conceive that which is proper for the soul to conceive or contain … wisdom and virtue in general” (209a). Poets and artists belong among these people, as do those who make the laws of states and families. The highest love lies in philosophy, the contemplation of the FORM BEAUTY. Diotima’s speech defines love as a desire for the everlasting possession of beauty, but it also emphasizes that love is generative. Human beings generate because of love, seeking to generate good, whether that is good children, good art and poetry, or good laws to create good citizens. Even the contemplation of the FORM BEAUTY leads to generative activity: Remember how in that communion only, beholding beauty with the eye of the mind, he will be enabled to bring forth, not images of beauty, but realities (for he has hold not of an image but of reality), and bringing forth and nourishing true virtue to become the friend of God and be immortal. (Plato, Symposium, 212a) Echoing Hesiod and Parmenides, Diotima conceives Eros as the source of generation, of spontaneous creativity. Plato does not abandon this view of Eros in his later work. Josh Hayes (2017) shows that Eros plays a generative role for the Demiurge in Plato’s Timaeus. The Demiurge, as craftsman, is inspired by the eternal paradigm. Just as Eros occupies a space between the binaries of beauty and ugliness, good and evil, knowledge and ignorance, Hayes argues the Demiurge occupies a mediating point between this paradigm and the material cosmos. Moreover, and importantly, Eros “becomes the object of its own affection in order to ensure its self-generation. The Eros of the demiurge gives birth to the cosmos as a designation of its fecundity and inherent generativity” (Hayes 2017, 41). Eros in both the Symposium and the Timaeus loves itself and seeks to generate itself. In the Symposium, it seeks to create those who seek beauty like itself. In the Timaeus, it serves

168 Eros and Human Nature as “formal and efficient cause of the sensible cosmos.” On Hayes’s reading, nature is self-generating, though it generates from the eternal paradigm. Luce Irigaray (1989), in turn, emphasizes the fact of “becoming” in the Symposium. Eros is a mediator between the gods who have and the mortals who have not. As mediator, Eros is always becoming full or empty. Love, then, is always fecund, generating in body and soul. Here we find the “presence of the immortal in the living mortal. All love would be creation, potentially divine … Love is fecund before all procreation. And it has a medium-like, demonic fecundity” (ibid., 37). Irigaray has picked up on the generative language that Plato places in the mouths of his midwives, Socrates and Diotima. This generative language points, according to Irigaray, to this constant giving birth, spontaneous, creative activity. Yet, Diotima (Plato) loses this view of mediation in the second half of her speech, focusing instead on metaphysics, eschewing the body for the FORM. Andrea Nye (1989) faults Irigaray’s reading of the Symposium for its insistence on the body. The reproductive principle concerns, not reproductive organs, but the “impulse of living things to perpetuate themselves” (ibid., 55). Yet, she does not disagree with the underlying idea that Irigaray has hit upon: “[Diotima’s] goods are not pre-existing eternal essences which the lover wishes to acquire or reach. Instead, loving intercourse is creativity: it is the process by which we create new forms” (ibid., 49). This conclusion follows after Nye corrects a common misreading of a passage in the text. Diotima asks Socrates why we love. The usual translation of the answer is that the lover desires to possess good things. Nye reads the Greek to say that we love because we want “the beautiful to come into being for us” (ibid., 48). While Nye rejects Irigaray’s claim about Diotima’s emphasis of the body, both read the text to emphasize Eros as a god of active procreation. All beings loving beauty generate new loves, new beauties. From Eros to Energeia How does Aristotle capture this sense of generative activity while eschewing talk of Eros? Referring to the comments by Hesiod and Parmenides, Aristotle believed both referred to Eros “on the supposition that … some cause among beings move[s] and draw[s] things together” (Metaphysics, 984b33). Eschewing Eros, Aristotle invents two terms to capture the cause of movement: energeia and dunamis.3 In coining these terms, Aristotle developed a philosophy that makes activity (energeia), rather than change, primary to being. We must understand the role played by Eros in Plato in this broader conception of the metaphysics of substance. This reading of Aristotle rejects the tradition that reads Aristotle’s metaphysics as centered on actuality and potency for an interpretation

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that emphasizes process. The interpretive reason for rejecting this tradition is because I adopt George Blair’s seminal work on energeia (though I know not whether he would accept my conclusions about process). To me, Blair’s reading, despite its faults, provides a more coherent reading of Aristotle’s corpus and development than others because it makes Aristotle’s texts consistent and rejects the idea that energeia is susceptible of two translations. The practical reason is more obvious: actuality/potency are static terms which reinforce a false notion of a-historical form; process, in contrast, is open to historical development. We experience reality as process. History is the process of homo sapiens interacting with nature to create new ways of life. Evolution is a process of chemicals forming and reforming to create new life-forms. Generation is a process by which new life comes into being. Love itself is a process by which we become more and more open to the person before us or the activities of our lives. Again, we return to this particular body, to reconnect knowledge with body. We have already met our primary concepts in the discussion of change. Consider, for instance, your bicep. The bicep, or any muscle, can be at rest or active. When you are reading a book, your bicep is at rest; when you are performing a bicep curl, your bicep is active. The bicep has a capacity (dunamis) for lengthening and shortening which allows it to act (energeia) to lift a weight toward the shoulder. When it is lifting that weight, it is active (energeia) in a particular way. Activity that defines the kind of thing it is can be considered internal activity. Aristotle’s term “energeia” names this notion of “internal activity.”4 Living bodies are beings characterized by immanent activity—nutrition, growth, sensation and movement, and reason. Aristotle was interested precisely in saying that you are only really living to the extent that you are performing the acts of life, and you are living (and existing) in the most proper sense of all when you are thinking about the gods. (Blair 1995, 570) This reading of Aristotle means that a bicep is most a bicep when it is lifting some weight. The bicep is still a bicep when it is at rest and only exhibits the capacity for moving weights. It is always active. The cells are regenerating; the tissue may be repairing itself; the cells are taking in oxygen and releasing carbon dioxide. They may be “at rest,” but they are not static. Some activity, however, defines the thing as the kind of thing it is. In the case of biceps, it is defined by the dunamis for and energeia in moving weight. Living bodies, as living, have certain internal capacities and activities definitive of life. Different types of soul identify different activities: nutrition, growth, and decay, sensation and movement, and rational activity.

170 Eros and Human Nature These general types of energeia define the kind of living body something is in general: a plant, an animal, or a rational animal. Of course, different types of plants gain nutrition and grow in different ways, just as different types of animals move in different ways. Typically, bears walk on four legs, but they have a capacity for walking on two; homo sapiens typically walk on two legs but have capacities for walking only on one (with assistance). The general capacity becomes more defined given the type of animal, and thus the type of body. Homo sapiens has a variety of capacities that define them: nutrition (eating chili), growth (a girl becomes a woman), decay (getting ill or dying), sensation (seeing in color, for instance) and movement (walking on two feet, for instance), and rationality (thinking about a recent movie). As Blair suggested, we are most fully human when we are thinking, especially contemplating the gods. This kind of activity is internal to the kind of being we are. By that, Aristotle, according to Blair, means that this acting-in-this-way is constitutive of the kind of being we are—homo sapiens. In particular, contemplating defines homo sapiens in contrast to other non-human animals. Consider how this understanding of energeia illuminates the real unity of the body-soul of a living body. We defined soul as the form of a natural body with the capacity for life. To understand energeia as an internal acting-this-way gives nuance to this definition. The soul is the energeia of a natural body with the capacity for life. The soul, then, becomes the activity of its matter: “Body and soul are one: now understood as a locus of ability, now as the principle of the ability’s active exercise” (Kosman 2013, 1979). A human living body is a body-acting-this-way. The body determines that particular kinds of action are possible, so that the dunamis of a living body cannot be divorced from its material foundation. A human body, for instance, has capacities for certain activities that the body of a gorilla does not have, such as speech. As a living body, the soul is the energeia of that matter—a living body just is an acting body. In this discussion, I have used examples of activity simpliciter and change without distinguishing them. One of Aristotle’s contributions to metaphysics, however, is to make this distinction, which explains, in part, why Eros does not work as a metaphysical principle for him. Energeia as Eros The specific formulation of the parts of the word that compose energeia are such that they stress the active sense. The Greek “εν” means in. The Greek εργεια, Blair believes, derives from a verb form, εργάσ Θαι, based on the Greek word “εργον,” which is “work.” (He denies that it derives from the adjectival form.) It means “to do” or “to act.” This is a deponent verb—meaning that it is an active verb not capable of passive sense. “The active is used to strengthen the notion of intensity of activity” (Blair

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1967, 104). This etymology justifies Blair’s and my understanding of energeia as “inward activity,” and never as “actuality.” More importantly, the reason for coining the word is to capture the fact that some activity does not involve change. Living and thinking are two kinds of activity that do not involve changing. Sam sits back after eating the chili and talks to Ash. Her body is doing a number of things: breathing, digesting, replacing cells. Yet, Sam is not changing. Compared to the fetus she carries which is rapidly developing organs and nerves, Sam is at rest. Thinking, for Aristotle, is the paradigmatic activity that is not change. Sam is thinking about Ash’s argument that Rothko #207 is sublime because, as a later work, it reconceives Rothko’s #61. Sam’s thinking does not comprise a change even though it is activity. In coining this term, Aristotle makes activity prior to change or motion. Motion is a kind of activity (energeia) that is not complete. It has some end toward which it still aims. Kosman explains by contrasting walking with strolling. Walking is not complete until one has walked to where one wants to be, Athens, for instance. A stroll, in contrast, is its own end; one does not undertake the stroll for some other reason. Motion in general, movement or change, is an intermediate between what lacks and what is full. I want to walk to Athens but am not there. I walk to Athens, and then I am there. The walking is an intermediate stage, and it is intermediate because the end of the motion is outside of itself. The walking is, not for itself, but for the sake of something else. An acorn becomes a tree or bricks become a building. The intermediate stage—the acorn being buried, watered, and growing (by nature) and the bricks being moved and put together (by someone)—is change; the end of the activity, or its purpose, lies outside the activity of the change. (Purpose does not imply that the organism has/exhibits intentionality.) The beings that bookend the change (acorn/oak tree; bricks/house) exhibit their own activity—energeia—which defines them. Change cannot happen without the bookends—something that is transformed and something that results from the transformation. This point does not obviate the fact that these activities involve a certain sort of motion. Living beings are living, and in living they are eating, growing, decaying, moving, sensing (see Kosman 2013, 187). Yet, this point, that beings bookend change, demonstrates that motion (change) is conditioned on the possibility of activity (energeia) simpliciter. Without the internal acting of acorns or oak trees, motion between the two would not exist. In the previous section, I stated that Plato synthesized Parmenides (being is unchanging) and Heraclitus (being is flux) with his dualism: while FORMS are immutable, matter is always changing. Aristotle develops substance as soul-body (what-this) to overcome problems with Plato’s dualism. In recognizing that activity is prior to change, he also reconceives the divide between Parmenides and Heraclitus. He accepts the Parmenidian idea that being is immutable, but he defines it as activity

172 Eros and Human Nature (energeia) without change. Change, Heraclitus’s flux, is a kind of, and therefore dependent on, activity. In this distinction, however, Aristotle adopts more strongly the Athenian belief in self-sufficiency. Contemplating, as the best form of energeia, is self-sufficient for the gods and, for men, the closest homo sapiens can come to being self-sufficient and divine. Aristotle, thus, continues the intellectualization of Eros in his concept of energeia. We must examine Aristotle’s discussion of the First Mover to examine both this intellectualization of energeia and the way that energeia is still erotic. Our examination will follow that of Kosman (2013). Aristotle ends his metaphysics with a discussion of divine being, a discussion that seems at odds with his emphasis on the natural world. Kosman reads this closing, however, as presenting an example of substance. Instead of discovering divinity and claiming it as the principle of being, we come to understand the principle of being and see it as divine. Consider the motion of living substances: plants and animals change and move. What is the cause of this change and motion? Regarding living bodies, Aristotle states that their environment puts them in motion. The sun rises, and the flower spreads its leaves to receive energy. The wolf hungers, and then a rabbit runs by and it gives chase. Aristotle believes that some First Mover put all other things in motion. The first mover is an eternal substance and its “very substance is activity” (energeia; Metaphysics, 1071b20; quoted in Kosman 2013, 205). On the one hand, if the eternal substance were not active, motion would not be possible, for we have seen that motion depends on activity simpliciter. On the other hand, if its activity were only the ability to act, then eternal motion would not be possible. Yet, we have already concluded that eternal motion is necessary for motion to be at all. Therefore, the nature of this eternal substance is energeia. Moreover, this eternal substance is alive. And life too certainly belongs to him. For the activity of understanding is life, and he is that activity … The god is a living being who is eternal and best, so that living and a continuous and everlasting eternity belong to the god, since this is the god. (Metaphysics, 1072b23–29) Recall that Aristotle coined the term energeia specifically to identify living as an activity. Kosman takes this point further. At least in the De Caelo, the first mover appears as the soul of the universe. The universe itself, then, is alive, for soul belongs to the living. What is the primary activity of the eternal substance? Contemplating itself—thinking! Thinking, we have seen, is the paradigmatic form of self-sufficient activity: “but changeless and unaffected, enjoying the best and most self-sufficient life” (De Caelo, 279a18; quoted in Kosman 2013, 199).

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For Plato, Eros is the source of motion. It is the desire for the good. Plato imagines the Demiurge creating the universe from the paradigm of GOOD. Eros seeks to generate itself in the unfolding world of change. Human beings, through love, seek the everlasting generation of beauty. Plato’s highest good is intellectualized, yet also generative, erotic. When one approaches truth, one “throb[s] with ferment in every part” (Phaedrus, 251c, quoted in Brown 1988, 605). Intellectual activity still has a human element to it. Energeia performs the same functions as Eros; it is the principle of activity and generation. For Aristotle, the god whose being is energeia moves the heavens and the earth, generating the energeia of all beings. It is living and provides the conditions for life itself. In fact, Aristotle describes the eternal substance as “good and beautiful” (Metaphysics, 1072b11). Moreover, Aristotle asserts that the first mover moves things “insofar as it is loved” (1072b2). Kosman draws the salient conclusion: “what is revealed is the divinity of Energeia” (Kosman 2013, 189). Better, what is revealed is that energeia is Eros. Yet, Aristotle continues the process Plato started by describing the first mover as self-sufficient. It is self-sufficient because its activity is contemplating itself—thinking. Plato subordinates the body to the mind in the search for the FORMS. Aristotle seems to overcome this subversion in his hylomorphic metaphysics. We have seen, however, that at crucial steps, Aristotle embraces Plato’s dualism until it culminates in the total intellectualization of being; generative Eros becomes self-sufficient energeia, activity simpliciter. Where Plato disembodies Eros, Aristotle disembodies the soul, replacing feminine reproductive power with the pneuma of the male seed, and turning thinking into the most self-sufficient activity. He embraces the military masculinity of ancient Greek civilization.

Conclusion Sam attends a Rothko exhibit. She is able to see Rothko’s #61 and #207 up close. She gazes on them, sitting first in front of one and then the other. Light shines through the painting, the bottom layers of paint piercing through the thin upper layers. Her breathing accelerates when she sees something new she had not seen in the books, and then quiets. That evening, she slices vegetables for the ten-thousandth time. Rice simmers in a pot on the stove, the subtle scent of salted butter in the air. She wants to recreate a Rothko painting in her cooking. It would take layers and layers of food. A seven-course meal. She laughs and shakes her head. How can anyone even eat seven courses? And what kind of wine would she serve? Or would it be wines? Each layer of food would have to shine through, no, enhance the next layer. It would be just like her chili, except instead of one taste, it would be seven distinctive tastes that her guests would experience. Her heart beats a little faster as she imagines it.

174 Eros and Human Nature Plato and Aristotle make mistakes and, yet, have something necessary for a politics of liberation when considering the alienation from nature, sexism, and racism. In Plato’s dualism and Aristotle’s acceptance of military masculinity, their philosophies embodied an alienation from nature and justified sexism. Both Plato and Aristotle in their politics denigrate the laboring class. Their elitism shone through. Aristotle denies value to the activity associated with poesis, the production of goods. The generation of children was necessary but left to those who could not reach the heights of philosophy. While neither philosophy was mechanistic, their dualism undermined the possibilities their thought had for freedom. We can remove their deficiencies by examining Aristotle’s definition of the human being. The human being is a rational animal. This rational animal is capable of thinking, and its most worthy activity is theoretical thinking which is unmixed with the body. This definition captures only a little of what defines the energeia of homo sapiens. Made in the image of Eros, human beings are erotic beings. If Eros is a spontaneous creative acting, energeia is the acting of this or that body as this or that body. “Really and truly and fully being x is being x in Energeia” (Beere 2009, 13). This human body acts in this way—seeing in color, thinking linguistically, and talking, but also loving and creating, caring and mending. Each of these acts is a continuous re-generating of life. That we look at the blue sky everyday can blind us to the fact that we are acting as human beings do, and that this acting is continuing life as human beings live. We live to make “the beautiful come into being for us.” Energeia is Eros, but we need not accept Aristotle’s neutering of it. The first step is to reject the belief that thinking is self-sufficient. Our thought is necessarily bodily because we are necessarily living bodies—soul-matter; thising-thating. Human rational thought is impossible without nutrition and more difficult without sensation and presumably impossible without any sensation. Our thinking is also passionate and generative. What drives a person to study the mating instincts of frogs? Some passion for it. What drives someone to study ophthalmology? The desire for the good— to help another see. Second, we grasp on to the insight that nature is erotic. The generative principle drives change and movement throughout the universe. Activity is itself eros. This principle underlies all existence. The universe is filled with becoming. True, some things must pass away in order for others to become. The point, however, is the coming into existence—the proliferation of new kinds of beings. In the seeding of the universe, whether through the Big Bang or the Hand of God, energeia—loving activity— generates quarks, then atoms, then molecules, then life, then thought thinking about itself. This metaphysics explains how activity, being, expands due to Eros as generative activity. Life is a teeming activity desiring ever more activity, embracing spontaneity and rejoicing in its own creative act.

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This insight links Aristotle’s metaphysics and metaphysical biology to our earlier discussion of Marx. We create our own history, Marx insists, through non-alienated labor that changes our senses and our human powers. MacIntyre’s concept of practice also captures this idea because, through them, we develop our human powers. These developments— whether of the senses or of human powers—are historically grounded developments. Substance as soul-body unity is a metaphysical theory that explains the capacity for homo sapiens to appear as a species capable of changing itself. We are able to change the kinds of beings we are through historical action. The telos of our biology, our metaphysical biology, lies in the recognition of our bodily being as erotic. We are the only creatures we know capable of consciously making new things out of love. Thinking itself is an act of love. This truth is what Diotima saw: the first thought is from a woman sitting down to nurse her child and looking into the night sky and wondering, what are we made of ?

Notes 1 Most translations interpret dunamis as “potentiality” or “capable of.” Kosman translates it as “able to have” despite otherwise translating it as “capacity.” I am translating dunamis in the definition of soul as capacity for reasons that will become clear in the later section. In short, a dunamis is a capacity for some way of acting. 2 My thanks to Jonathan Lear for pointing out the problem with the original translation of “κρατεῖ” (control, originally translated as “dominate”) and to Colin King for help with the translation. The idea is that the mind puts everything in order so as to know. 3 My argument focuses on energeia and entelechia. I accept Blair’s (1967, 1995) argument that Aristotle eventually abandoned entelechia because energeia handled all the examples it needed to. This view includes reading Aristotle’s claim that soul is an entelechia is replaced by his later claim that it is an energeia. 4 Blair’s translation is supported by more recent in-depth readings of Aristotle’s Metaphysics. Aryeh Kosman (2013) translates energeia as activity. Jonathan Beere (2009) argues that it should never be translated as actuality. Rather than keeping a translation of activity, he chooses to simply use the term energeia.

References Aristotle (1931) De Anima, trans. J. A. Smith. in The Complete Works of Aristotle, 1. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Aristotle (2015) Generation of Animals, trans. Arthur Platt. New York: Aeterna Press. Aristotle (2016) Metaphysics, trans. C. D. C. Reeve. Indianapolis, IN: Hackett Publishing Co. Aristotle (2018) Metaphysics, trans. John H. McMahon. Mineola, NY: Dover Publications, Inc. Beere, Jonathan (2009) Doing and Being: An Interpretation of Aristotle’s Metaphysics Theta. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

176 Eros and Human Nature Blair, G. A. (1967). “The Meaning of ‘Energeia’ and ‘Entelecheia’ in Aristotle. International Philosophical Quarterly, 7(1): 101–117. Blair, George (1992) Energeia and Entelecheia: ‘Act” in Aristotle. Ottawa: University of Ottawa Press. Blair, George (1995) “Unfortunately, It Is a Bit More Complex: Reflections on Energeia,” Ancient Philosophy, 15: 565–580. Brown, Wendy (1988) “‘Supposing Truth Were a Woman …’: Plato’s Subverstion of Masculine Discourse,” Political Theory, 16(4): 594–616. Claghorn, George S. (1954) Aristotle’s Criticism of Plato’s Timaeus. The Hague: Martinus Nijhoff. Connell, Sophia M. (2016) Aristotle on Female Animals: A Study of the Generation of Animals. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Graham, Daniel (1995) “The Development of Aristotle’s Concept of Actuality: Comments on a Reconstruction by Stephen Menn,” Ancient Philosophy, 15: 551–564. Harth, Richard (2015) “Fetal Cells Influence Mom’s Health During Pregnancy—And Long After,” ing-pregnancy-%E2%80%94-and-long-after. Last accessed 22 November 2020. Hayes, Josh (2017) “The Ambivalence of Eros: Plato’s Natural Beginning(s),” in G. Kuperus and M. Oele (eds.), Ontologies of Nature: Continental Perspectives and Environmental Reorientations (Vol. 92). Cham: Springer. Irigaray, Luce (1989) “A Reading of Plato’s Symposium, Diotima’s Speech,” trans. Eleanor H. Kuykendall, Hypatia, 3(3): 32–44. Kosman, Aryeh (2013) The Activity of Being: An Essay on Aristotle’s Ontology. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press. Kuykendall, Eleanor H. (1989) “Introduction to ‘Sorcerer Love, by Luce Irgiaray,” Hypatia, 3 (3): 28–31. Leontsini, Eleni (2013) “Sex and the City: Plato, Aristotle, and Zeno of Kition on Erôs and Philia,” in Ed Sanders and Chiara Thumiger (eds.), Erôs in Ancient Greece. Oxford: Oxford University Press. MacIntyre, Alasdair (1999) Dependent Rational Animals. Chicago, IL: Open Court. Menn, Stephen (1994) “The Origins of Aristotle’s Concept of Energeia: Energeia and Dynamis,” Ancient Philosophy, 15: 73–114. Midgley, Mary (2002) Beast and Man. London: Routledge. Nussbaum, Martha (2000) Sex and Social Justice. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Nye, Andrea (1989) “Irigaray and Diotima at Plato’s Symposium,” Hypatia 3(3): 45–61. Olshewsky, Thomas (1997) “Energeia and Entelecheia: Their Conception, Development and Relation,” The Society for Ancient Greek Philosophy Newsletter, 277. Plato (1993) The Dialogues of Plato, Volume 2: The Symposium, trans. R. E. Allen, New Haven, CT: Yale University Press. Plato (2008) Symposium, trans. Benjamin Jowett, 1600-h/1600-h.htm. Last accessed 28 February 2021. Polansky, Ronald (2007) Aristotle’s De Anima. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Price, A. W. (2004) Love and Friendship in Plato and Aristotle. Oxford: Clarendon Press.

Toward a Metaphysical Biology


Rich, Adrienne (1994) “Notes toward a Politics of Location” in Adrienne Rich, Blood, Bread, and Poetry: Selected Prose. New York: W. W. Norton & Co. Thilly, Frank and Ledger Wood (1957) A History of Philosophy. New York: Holt. Tuana, Nancy (1994) “Aristotle and the Politics of Reproduction,” in B. A. B. On (ed.), Engendering Origins: Critical Feminist Readings in Plato and Aristotle. New York: SUNY Press.


Erotic Nature

Introduction Our task is to reconceive humanity’s place in nature based on our erotic ontology discussed in the last chapter. We must explore—and only explore—what this metaphysics entails for nature and human nature. I write “only explore” because a full philosophy of nature, while necessary, will lead us too far astray from our goal of a politics of liberation. Yet, because alienation from nature underwrites all other forms of alienation, we must reorient our being toward nature through Eros. We must see nature, not as meaningless and lifeless, but as meaning-filled and dynamic. As well, we can only explore human nature rather than provide the full account it deserves. Because our alienations stem in large part from an alienation from nature, we must reconceive our metaphysical biology. The capacity of our species-being to create our own history arises from our erotic nature; the telos of human flourishing binds human nature and human desire. To reorient our being in nature, first, we begin with a critical discussion of the racialization of nature. We have explored this issue slightly in Chapter 5: nature, gender, and race are social constructions that legitimize exploitation, domination, and oppression. While Chapters 5 and 6 focused on nature as gendered, this chapter will discuss briefly the racialization of nature. This discussion illuminates the false dichotomy central to European philosophies and sciences between nature and culture. Second, we will examine alternative understandings of “nature” within the dominant traditions relevant to our discussion—Judaism, Christianity, and Renaissance philosophy and science. These alternative traditions provide a starting point for thinking of nature as good and active. The challenges these discussions present involve articulating concepts of nature and culture that dialectically interpenetrate each other and provide an understanding of nature that cannot be so easily detached from culture by the dominant traditions. Third, we will examine two resources for articulating a view of nature as erotic. Midwifery, in contrast to U.S. obstetrics, sees birth as natural and identifies aspects of nature that are

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trustworthy and even holy. Just as midwifery provides an alternative to U.S. obstetrics, the Lakhˇ óta tradition challenges European understandings of nature. This tradition captures the Eros of nature; it is a tradition from which we might learn to live, not alienated from, but in harmony with nature. We are children of Uŋcˇ í Makhá and must learn to respect the destiny our brothers and sisters of nature have. These explorations will allow us to identify the features of nature necessary for us to overcome our alienation from nature: seeing nature as active, and, moreover, as a living being, recognizing nature as sacred, and rejecting the dualism of nature-culture. Nature implants in homo sapiens an urge toward culture so that cultures provide the foundation for making our desires most effective, for developing new human powers and new sensabilities.

Racial, Religious, and Renaissance Concepts of Nature The Problem of Nature, Gender, and Race A politics of liberation that wants to understand human person and nature as fundamentally related in order to overcome our alienation from nature must confront the way that European philosophies, theologies, and sciences have gendered and racialized nature to justify oppression. That my development of a philosophy of nature draws on the Lakhˇ óta tradition amplifies the need to address race. As stated in Chapter 5, sex/gender and race are wrapped up in a causal nexus with class that support domination, exploitation, and oppression. To put this point another way, gender and racial oppressions are expressions of class exploitation that work in their own way but cannot be explained fully without class. Rather than contributing to or falling into a view of nature that supports gender and racial oppression, my development of a philosophy of nature in this chapter undermines the dualism characteristic of those oppressions. It must do so in order to reconcile humanity with nature. It does so via the concepts of Eros and energeia. Earlier, we identified a number of points where nature is gendered. Maria Mies (2014) highlighted how male object relations effected a particular way of being in nature that led to appropriation of women, nature, and goods. Merchant (1983) showed that European culture insisted that the female body was deviant. William Harvey adopted much of Aristotle’s view of generation. Though Harvey believed that the female acted as an efficient cause in generation, which Aristotle denied, he agreed with Aristotle that the male “was more excellent as an efficient cause” (Merchant 1983, 158). Robbie Davis-Floyd argues that Galileo studied Aristotle, and Aristotle’s belief about the superiority of the male created a hegemony in medieval thought. The scientific revolution and protestant reformation left this view of male superiority untouched (Davis-Floyd 2003, 50).

180 Eros and Human Nature Nature is less than reason, or culture, and women are less valuable than men because of their limited rationality. The contrast between nature and culture played and continues to play a significant role in “legitimating” oppression based on “race.” Hegel believed Africa and Africans occupied a space beyond the light of Enlightenment, “their inferior nature effectively removing them from the course of history” (Moore et al. 2003, 19). Sociologists who followed him designed ladders of social evolution. On these ladders, while Africans and Native Americans clung to the bottom rungs, “civilized peoples” occupied the highest rungs. Some believed African peoples had a nature that needed to be ruled. These ideas echo those of Aristotle who justified slavery, not on the basis of race, but the lack of sufficient reason in slaves for self-rule. Europeans and U.S. Americans, as well, defined Native Americans as noble savages less than human. Dee Brown, in Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee, recounts many examples of U.S. Americans calling Native Americans savages. General Sheridan of Kansas, for instance, sent soldiers “to destroy the villages of the ‘savage’ Indians” (Brown 2012, 166). Further he saw any Indian “who resisted when fired upon as a ‘savage’” (ibid.). A U.S. agent, Nathan Meeker, Brown reports, was possessed of a missionary fervor and sincerely believed that it was his duty as a member of a superior race to “elevate and enlighten” … to bring them out of savagery through the pastoral stage to the barbaric, and finally to “the enlightened, scientific, and religious stage.” (Brown 2012, 372) The “white man’s burden” to raise the savage from their primitive state to an enlightened one, does not undermine, but proves the nature-culture divide. Nature is still that which can be worked by reason and improved upon. It echoes Locke’s contrast between the poverty of uncultivated America waiting to be ploughed by European man and cultivated Devonshire, a shining example of productive rationality. Rational man creates culture, which is superior to nature, which is uncultured. Not all Europeans believed that the peoples of Africa and Native America could be or should be improved. Charles Darwin, for instance, believed that progress required the destruction of inferiors so that superior races could thrive. “I could not have believed how wide was the difference between savage and civilized man: it is greater than between a wild and domesticated animal, inasmuch as in man there is a greater power of improvement” (Moore et al. 2003, 20, quoting from a letter Darwin wrote). While Darwin was not a proponent of what came to be Social Darwinism in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, and now goes by the name of Evolutionary Psychology, his concept of survival of

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the fittest among humanity plays a significant role in their program. The idea of social engineering through eugenics went hand in hand with concepts of racial improvement. A non-theological, biological natural law sought to build upon the natural order. Race, class, and gender hierarchies were defended as natural. Homosexuality was a degeneration of the natural order. U.S. obstetric beliefs about women’s bodies as unsuited for natural birth mirrors claims about a natural order and its degeneration, as we saw in Aristotle’s and Harvey’s claims about the female body in relation to the ideal, superior male body. These various discussions reify nature and culture as something separate from human beings, external to human nature. Sexual and racial natures are something given, imposed upon one. Agency disappears. Nature “precede[s] history, even as it wipes away the historical traces of its own fashioning” (Moore et al. 2003, 3). Gender and racial features are reducible to nature and opposed to culture. Not surprisingly, reification works alongside a de-historicization, even though racial dialogue imposed a certain historical justification, I think both obligatory and motivational, onto beliefs about race. European sociologists viewed African cultures as primitive, part of an earlier stage of social history. This view suggests that history progresses from one stage of society to a more advanced stage— Hegel’s history of the evolutionary stages of consciousness. Donna Haraway clarifies the Marxist position: “The fundamental position of the human being in the world is the dialectical relation with the surrounding world involved in the satisfaction of needs and thus in the creation of use values” (Haraway 2013, 10). To understand culture as historical is to recognize the living relation of human beings in nature. Hegel’s history rested on static conceptions of various cultures rather than recognizing that each culture advances along its own trajectory. He failed, in short, to recognize the material basis of culture in satisfying its needs, as Marx would say, and that failure meant Hegel reified culture. As reified, culture could not progress along a historical path. In identifying Africans and Native Americans as primitive, Europeans denied them agency over their condition. Yet, human beings do make their own history even if not in circumstances of their choosing. Any de-historicizing legitimates genocidal actions against non-Europeans. The coordinating condition here lies with the fact that, in reifying cultures, European philosophies reified essence. Hegel essentializes cultures, listing what he sees as their defining features, and makes them static and outside the determining control of the people involved. More generally, philosophers and scientists viewed human cultures as exerting a coercive force and thus as imposed from outside. For Darwin and later Social Darwinists to claim that savage man was further from civilized man than wild animal from domesticated, they had to hold in mind a particular essence of what defines civilized man. To call for the eradication of savages was to hold that they could not change or could not be changed.

182 Eros and Human Nature Similarly, to contend that the male homo sapiens is the perfected member of the species and the female the deficient is to reify essence. Insightfully, Moore, Kosek, and Pandian (2003) see nature and racial (and gender) essences as “congealed and hardened by historically specific practices” (9–10). Unequal societal norms are the source of humanity’s supposed race- and gender-based differences, not nature as such. Concepts of Nature in Judaism and Christianity Traditions, as we discovered in Chapter 1, are arguments with insiders and outsiders about the good and other fundamental agreements. Within Catholicism one finds the Augustinian and Thomistic sub-traditions among others; within Islam, the Shi’a and Suni sub-traditions; and within blues music, the Delta blues and the Chicago blues sub-traditions. The fundamental agreements include such things as the human place in the cosmos, the definition of human, body, and soul, the nature of God, and the twelve-bar blues. At times, these arguments may be between sides that hold equal weight, and at other times, one view may become dominant in a tradition. As we have seen, within European-origin traditions of philosophy and economics, the view of nature as mechanistic and dualistic, has become dominant. Here, we will explore the alternative view of nature in (some) religions and in science. The view of the human relation to nature for many in Europe and North America hinges on the creation stories found in the Torah. The Torah relays two genesis stories giving voice to two distinct sub-traditions, the Yahwist and the Priestly narratives. The Yahwist narrative is the story of Yhwh creating a man, then plants, animals, and a woman. One can read this narrative as giving humanity stewardship over the Earth. As J. Baird Callicott (1997) reports, Yhwh assigns to “man” the duty of dressing the Garden of Eden. “Dressing” is a horticultural term; “man” is to care for the Earth. “Man” occupies two unique places here. Because “man” is created before the garden, it seems as though Yhwh creates the garden for “man’s” comfort. Further, when Yhwh gives “man” the power to name the animals, Yhwh bestows a magical power over them. For Callicott, then, the Yahwist tradition presents both a stewardship model and an authoritarian-utilitarian model of man’s role in relation to nature. I think this interpretation is too simple. While the garden is made for “man,” man still has a duty that cannot be defined by simple utilitarian viewpoints. Naming, in my opinion, helps define the non-utilitarian relationship between “man” and the garden. Naming does imbue power, but it also defines a particular kind of care. We name our children, for instance, an act which opposes, I hope, utilitarian views of children. Whether Calicott is closer to the truth than I, the central insight here is that the Yahwist tradition defines, at least to some extent, a caring— non-dominating—relationship between human beings and nature.

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The second creation story is the Priestly narrative. It relays the creation of the universe from light on the first day to homo sapiens on the sixth day. This tradition becomes the dominant interpretation for European approaches to nature because of the use of the language of dominion and subduing. Let us make human beings in our image, after our likeness. Let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, birds of the air, the tame animals, all the wild animals, and all the creatures that crawl on the earth. (Genesis 1:26) “Dominion,” or radah in Hebrew, is a problematic term. Prevailing interpretations read radah as implying, not just a ruling, but a utilitarian domination over nature such that nature has no meaning in itself and is only for human use. This interpretation goes hand-in-hand with the understanding of modern science recounted in Chapter 5. Yet, the Hebrew is not as clear cut. Radah does not necessarily mean domination and control. This passage is part of a narrative in which Yhwh creates some part of the universe and declares it “good.” Further, the immediately succeeding passages relay that Yhwh gives fruit-bearing trees and seed-bearing plants, and animals and birds to human beings. These passages suggest that Yhwh gives the bountiful earth to human beings as a blessing so that they can live. Like the Yahwist tradition, then, we can read the Priestly tradition in two ways: as giving human beings absolute power over the Earth to do with as we will, or as bestowing the role of steward on human beings to care for the Earth so as to support human life. The Christian New Testament offers support for the alternative interpretation of “radah.” Jesus says to his apostles: You know the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and the great ones make their own authority over them felt. But it should not be so among you. Rather, whoever wishes to be great among you shall be your servant, whoever wishes to be first among you shall be your slave. (Matthew 20:25–26) Here, Jesus presents an interpretation of “dominion” that aligns with understanding human beings as caretakers who dress nature. People who follow Christ must serve others. One of the most telling examples of such service occurs when Jesus washes the feet of his apostles and when Mary Magdalene washes Jesus’ feet. Washing the feet is a part of dressing, for dinner for instance. Here, “radah” embraces the belief that God is love: “Whoever is without love does not know God, for God is love” (1 John

184 Eros and Human Nature 4:7). Nor need we look far in the New Testament for how we should understand God’s relation to nature: “Look at the birds in the sky. They do not sow or reap or gather into barns; yet, your heavenly Father feeds them” (Matthew 6:26). Like the Torah, however, the Christian New Testament presents differing interpretations of the relationship to nature. For instance, when a hungry Jesus finds a fig tree without fruit, He curses it, causing it to wither (Matthew 21:18–19). At another point, Jesus casts a demon out of a possessed person, telling the demon to go into a herd of swine nearby. The swine drown themselves (Matthew 8:28–34). In both of these stories, “nature” appears as a utilitarian object meant for the enjoyment or use of human beings. The dialectic of nature found in the Jewish and Christian scriptures runs throughout the religious traditions stemming from them. I shall mention only two more. St. Francis of Assisi is known for many things, including abandoning a life of riches for extreme poverty and meeting the Sultan of his time. St. Francis is also the saint most closely tied to nature. When he found no one who would listen to his preaching, he preached to the animals of the fields and woods. Typically, depictions of St. Francis cast him holding a bird or walking with a wolf. Today, Roman Catholics celebrate the Feast of St. Francis by taking their pets for blessings. More recently, Pope Francis took his name from St. Francis of Assisi. More than any other pope, he has seen the need for addressing climate change. His discussion of climate change is remarkable, not only for its understanding of science and for placing climate in the context of poverty and a rejection of consumer waste, but also for what he writes about non-human animals. Francis envisions a caring relationship between human and non-human. The ultimate purpose of other creatures is not to be found in us. Rather, all creatures are moving forward with us and through us towards a common point of arrival, which is God, in that transcendent fullness where the risen Christ embraces and illumines all things. Human beings, endowed with intelligence and love, and drawn by the fullness of Christ, are called to lead all creatures back to their Creator. (Francis 2015, {83). Pope Francis embraces the Yahwist tradition to understand “dominion” as caring for non-human animals, to such an extent that he sees the role of human beings to include leading non-human life to God. Traditions, as arguments over fundamental agreements, provide opportunities for members to debate the best arguments so far for those agreements. Our current history, however, suggests that our reality might be imposing its own judgment on those agreements. As we face climate collapse, the idea that the human relationship to nature is a utilitarian one

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runs up against the fact that natures disrupts our lives more and more as our species damages it. In a crisis like this one, our epistemological principles can come into question. Of course, some hold to the idea that radah allows human beings to dominate nature and take from it what they need. They can and do interpret climate change as a sign of the end times when Christ will come again. It seems to me that God-Is-Love would not intend us to destroy ourselves and that we are still engaged in the same debate that the ancient Israelites engaged in: is God an angry and vengeful god, or a loving, forgiving god? On these points, I can say nothing more that will be convincing. The point, rather, is to recognize the alternative interpretation within the Hebrew and Christian scriptures that are open to understanding reality through the concept of Eros developed in the last chapter. Renaissance Alternatives in Concepts of Nature In Chapter 5, we discussed Carolyn Merchant’s analysis of the relationship between science, witchcraft, and oppression of women. While feudal society viewed nature and women as wild and uncontrollable at the beginning of the Renaissance, they came to understand nature and women through the lenses of mechanism and dualism. In addition, Merchant recounts the Renaissance view of nature as an organism which the later seventeenth-century mechanistic philosophy displaced. Leading philosophers and scientists of the Renaissance held to a much different understanding of nature than the dominant view in modern and contemporary science. The views Merchant discusses were not unified; yet, they “shared certain presuppositions about nature” (Merchant 1983, 100). The “cosmos was a living unit … interconnected in a tightly organized system.” Earth was at the center of the cosmos, and it was organized hierarchically. The chain of being from the first mover to inanimate elements involved a dynamic procession. This unity was organic and resulted from understanding the universe as being animated. All parts of this world, even the metals, contained energy. The connection between things in nature depended on love. The interconnection entailed interdependence; change in one part of the cosmos led to change in other parts. Mutual suffering and mutual nourishment and growth defined the relationship between all parts of the cosmos. Aristotelian philosophy held sway during the Renaissance; yet NeoPlatonism also proved influential. Certain naturalists understood the Aristotelian chain of being and the neo-Platonic world soul as a single entity, “distinct from matter but coeternal with it” (Merchant 1983, 102). Nature was “the soul of the world, a voluntary and immanent source of change.” For the neo-Platonist the hierarchy of the universe allowed control from one element to the next. Similar to Plato’s Timaeus, the Neo-Platonic view held to a world soul from which power could be used

186 Eros and Human Nature to change lifeless matter. This change depended on the hierarchical connection between all beings. The soul imbued the world with life; matter itself was inactive. They also held to the presence of occult powers. Such powers could “generate their like” (ibid., 108). Vitalism was a third conception of nature at play during the Renaissance, an alternative in some cases and a synthesis in others of the Aristotelian and Neo-Platonic worldviews. “Vitalism designates the unity of matter and spirit as a self-active entity, in which the spiritual kernel is considered the real substance and the material ‘cover’ a mere phenomenon” (Merchant 1983, 117). Vitalism contended that four elements, born from the “first mother of all creatures,” were the fundamental parts of the world. Every entity was composed of the four elements, each working in consensus with the others. Harmony among the four elements entailed strength while discord entailed weakness. Nature, then, was divine and self-active. For some, this activity could be spontaneous and have an “inner-directedness [that] determined its destiny” (ibid., 122). The image of an organic world captures the idea of Eros in the world, articulated in the Renaissance’s modified Aristotelian and neo-Platonic accounts. Salient for our purposes is the idea that if one part of nature flourishes, then all parts of nature rejoice, and if one part suffers, then all nature suffers. This idea echoes the fact we have discussed so often, viz., that the domination of nature leads to the domination of human beings. When Eros intentionally seeks the generation of new beings, then suffering occurs when that generative activity is blocked or unfree. Locke’s vision undergirds 300 years of heavy agriculture; these centuries have revealed that the utilitarian domination of nature for the production of monocultures strips nature of its own power for growth. The generative activity of nature renews itself. The Hebrew genesis story tells us that the role we have is to “dress” or care for the garden. In the end, mechanism appropriated those parts of these theories related to the control of nature by extirpating any animistic belief. For example, according to Merchant, the neo-Platonic belief in the passivity of nature became “assimilated into a mechanical framework” with a goal of controlling nature through technology (Merchant 1983, 109). Just as mechanism excised the spiritual substratum of nature from the neoPlatonic naturalist worldview, it also exorcised the ethical relationship of mutual caring grounded in that worldview. Through the removal of animistic principles, such as the world soul or the chain of being, philosophy and science were able to approach the world as pristine and unencumbered with purpose or meaning. Humanity fell once more from the garden of Eden where naming the universe gave “man” power to tend and care for it. Labor now worked un-named nature. Thus, John Locke could defend private ownership of land and property. This appropriation of land as private property ostensibly led to all the improvements of civilization.

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For I ask whether in the wild woods and uncultivated waste of America, left to nature, without any improvement, tillage, or husbandry, a thousand acres yield the needy and wretched inhabitants as many conveniences of life, as ten acres of equally fertile land do in Devonshire, where they are well cultivated? (Locke, Second Treatise {37) Efficient, boundless, accumulation for property owners was the goal intended. Nature might well be treated carelessly, for short term gains. Without a caring attitude, nature is treated as if it were lifeless, passive, meaningless, and devoid of intrinsic worth. The understanding of nature within the alternative sub-traditions just discussed, face some challenges, though. First and foremost, the JudeoChristian and the Renaissance understandings of nature place it at service to humanity. That is, nature may be valuable, but her value is defined in relation to human needs. This result holds, I think, despite the creation story in the Torah. Yhwh creates each part of the world and calls it “good.” Yet, Yhwh, even on the gentlest readings, makes “man” the center of creation. Similarly, the various alternative sciences and philosophies of the renaissance placed the cosmos at the service of human beings, even if human beings would flourish best when living in harmony with the cosmos. An Aristotelian influence kept some from treating the cosmos as inert; yet, the neo-Platonic school was a viable approach during this period and understood matter as transitory. Second, what the Hebrew and Christian scriptures are close to realizing but miss, and what seems absent from Renaissance philosophies and science, is the centrality of the (re)production of life. When Yhwh calls each part of nature good, Yhwh recognizes its sacredness and its destiny, until all too human writers understand the story as centering on their creation. When Renaissance humanists seek to harness the harmonies in the cosmos to benefit human beings, they fail to recognize that those harmonies aim at one thing: the (re)production of life. On the one hand, they miss Yhwh’s eros; on the other, they miss the Eros running through the cosmos. Spontaneous, generating life is, not merely the central goal of feminist politics and human life, but the defining activity of Eros.

The Rival Impact of Concepts of Nature on the Practice of Midwifery The discussion above points to various problems with conceptions of nature within the dominant traditions stemming from Europe. Nature as gendered and racialized threatens any conception of “nature” as separate or distinct from culture. Alternative conceptions of nature within Judaism, Christianity, and Renaissance philosophies and sciences seem too weak to prevent either appropriation or sidelining by the dominant

188 Eros and Human Nature philosophies. We can identify, however, traditions that, because they are so marginalized, have escaped, so far, the corrupting influences of the dominant ideologies. In the U.S. (and Canada till recently), midwifery has existed as a practice grounded in understandings of nature antithetical to that of U.S. obstetrics. In addition, the Lakhˇ óta articulate a philosophy of nature that undermines our alienation from nature. U.S. obstetric practice instantiates activities grounded in a domination of lifeless, mechanical nature. In contrast, midwifery practice embodies a view of nature as dynamic, organic, meaning-filled, and divine. The midwife approach to childbirth and labor presents a stark contrast to the patriarchal, mechanical, and authoritarian approach of U.S. obstetrics. “Midwife approach” is an oversimplification. One can find three types of midwives in the U.S.: traditional or direct-entry midwives, certified midwives, and nurse midwives. I will paint with broad strokes about beliefs found among certified midwives and nurse-midwives. However, as I cautioned in the discussion of obstetrics, not every midwife believes or acts the same way in her practice. Broadly speaking, however, we can identify a midwifery practice that contrasts with U.S. obstetrics practice. In Chapter 10, I will give a brief account of midwifery as a practice to contrast with the various dominant approaches within Revolutionary Aristotelianism. In this section, the focus is specifically on the understanding of nature among midwives. The midwifery conception of nature views nature as alive, dynamic, and open to harmony with the human person. Consider Martha Ballard, an eighteenth-century midwife who, unusually for the times, left a journal. Ballard believed that “nature offered solutions to its own problems. Remedies for illness can be found in the earth, in the animal world, and in the human body itself.” When Ballard healed someone, “she was confirming the essential order of the universe” (Ulrich 1990, kl 807). Yet, she was not naïve about nature. Ballard would accept the idea that “birth is a natural process, not a medical event” but “would be quick to add, a natural process might still be uncomfortable and frightening, and when mismanaged even a normal birth could be dangerous” (ibid., kl 2621). Peggy Vincent, a twentieth-century California midwife, echoes Ballard. She explains why she became a midwife. During a birth she was at, the obstetrician on duty insisted that a birth is never normal until after the event. Vincent reports that her very being rebelled at the idea that birth was not natural or normal. She insists that midwives understood that “women’s bodies have near perfect knowledge of childbirth … The intrinsic intelligence of women’s bodies can be sabotaged when they’re put into clinical settings, surrounded by strangers, and attached to machines that limit their freedom to move” (Vincent 2003, 58). Most women only need a guide, but the unnatural setting of hospitals encroaches on women’s trust of the experience of birth.

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Dr. Michele Odent’s experience as an obstetrician confirms Vincent’s claims. At a small, rural hospital in France, he began to observe the different approaches various midwives engaged in attending women giving birth. He noticed that younger midwives were more active in coaching their patients, while older, more experienced midwives practiced patience in letting births happen. Obstetricians proved more necessary for the women actively coached versus those with a patient guide. His conclusion confirmed a body of knowledge about birth: that the process “works best in a small, dimmed, quiet, well-protected room where the woman is not intruded upon by strange people and events and feels safe and free enough to abandon herself to the process, to surrender” (Rooks 1997, 129). Odent’s research over the last sixty years has collected an enormous amount of evidence to support midwife-led natural childbirth. For Ballard, Vincent, and Odent, nature is not a machine that doctors must interfere with in order to get it to work properly. None of them believe nature is perfect; however, they recognize that human beings are parts of nature and must cooperate with it. One of the foremost leaders in midwifery and natural childbirth in the U.S. is Ina May Gaskin, who has been attending births on the Farm in Tennessee since 1971. Birth, she writes, “is one of the elemental, continuing processes of nature that women have the chance to experience” (Gaskin 2011, 2). In observing more than 2000 births, Gaskin concludes that laws as constant as any scientific laws influence the process of birth. These laws “cannot be ignored. The midwife or doctor … must be flexible enough to discover the way these laws work and learn how to work within them” (Gaskin 2002, kl 4019). Understanding any law of nature requires loving and respecting it. Gaskin notes that women have given birth for millennia. Natural selection “has worked well when it comes to the birthing process.” This philosophy does not deny the need for medicine and technology. The 2000 Conference on Humanization of Childbirth emphasized the need for “sound scientific evidence, including evidencebased use of technology and drugs” for a humane approach to maternity care (Gaskin 2011, 9). Gaskin’s midwifery philosophy does deny that medicine and technology should be used pre-emptively. The heart of the philosophy of natural birth is “respect for nature that recognizes that nature mostly gets it right in birth … nature’s design of women is not considered flawed” (ibid., 8). Women, Gaskin insists, must learn not to fear their bodies. Birth can be an experience of pain but has a potential for orgasmic pleasure. “Nature provides the goods for such work” (ibid., 54). She quotes another midwife: “Birth is a mysterious process of opening up and letting go and finding out how much the human body and nature are capable of” (ibid., 178–179). According to Gaskin, “every birth is Holy. I think that a midwife must be religious, because the energy she is dealing with is Holy. She needs to know that other people’s energy is sacred” (Gaskin 2002, kl 4020). Birth

190 Eros and Human Nature “is an event important enough to warrant special consideration … disrespect of the power of giving birth creates profound disharmony and ignorance in the world” (Gaskin 2011, 2). In a later work, Gaskin uses Christian language, referring, for instance, to every child being the Christ child. Yet, her understanding of religion, of what is sacred or holy, is more encompassing. Religion for her is about compassion as a way of life. This compassion must define a midwife’s practices and her decision making. Through her practice, the midwife comes to realize that “we are all One” (Gaskin 2002, kl 4020). The concept of energy is important for Gaskin as she discusses birth. She quotes Harold Morowitz: “the flow of energy through a system tends to organize that system” (Gaskin 2002, kl 7008). Gaskin’s idea of energy as holy undermines any determinism of Morowitz’s larger beliefs. Rather, I read her use of this quote as emphasizing that the system—the mother, child, partner, family, loved ones—are a unit and that the flow of energy organizes that unit. Saying “I love you” opens the heart. Couples can transfer energy through loving or fighting. Anything that disrupts the flow of energy—a woman’s feelings for the father of the child, a father’s refusal to return love—can inhibit the flow of energy and delay birth. Gaskin’s beliefs align with those of the holistic model of medicine. Robbie Davis-Floyd (2001) compares the technological model of medicine, discussed in Chapter 6, with the humanistic and holistic models. Some of the twelve tenets of the humanistic model include the belief that the body and mind are interconnected, that the body is an organism, that humanism must balance science and technology, that compassion should drive care. Healing should address mind and body because of their interconnection. As an organism, the body has the powers of growth, healing, learning, and self-transcendence, powers that a machine lacks. Important to understanding the body as an organism, not a machine, is that bodies feel pain and can be comforted by loving touches. Finally, the notion that care should drive healing rejects the cultural dichotomy that insists that competence and care cannot appear together. In contrast to the humanistic model, the holistic model sees the mind– body, not merely as interconnected, but as one. This view recognizes that the brain extends throughout the organism through the central nervous system. “Addressing the psychological states and emotions of the pregnant or laboring woman is … the essential aspect of care” (Davis-Floyd 2001, S16). Moreover, the spirit is part of the whole human; medicine can address the spiritual and metaphysical aspects of the person. Further, in contrast to the technological and humanistic models, the holistic model understands the body as energy. This view opens up the healing process to methods that affect the energy of the body, like Reiki or magnetic field therapy. Some midwives believe, for instance, that “the primary intervention a midwife can make is at the energetic level … to ‘redirect the energies’” (ibid., S17). Healing addresses the whole person in the context of

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her whole life. Yet, holistic healers do not reject technology. Rather, they insist that it can serve individuals. The holistic model views the “body as an organic system … Birth is an ecological process that can only be harmed by dissection and intervention” (Davis-Floyd 1992, 62). They may hold the mind in higher esteem and yet they insist on its integration with the body. Home birthers she interviewed did not distance the body from the self. The body enjoys “organic interconnectedness” that contrasts with the mechanical view of the body. The woman births with her whole being. These beliefs echo those of the organic view of nature found among Renaissance writers. Under the holistic model, neither nature nor body are controllable. This view does not lead to skepticism. Rather, nature can be trusted. Birth is, not pathological, but normal. The body is designed for birth. Birth allows an experience of the body as part of the self. The integration of mind and body supports a laboring woman’s agency during delivery. Thus, some women might see pain as integral to the process of birth. The uterus comprises, not just a mechanical part of the body, but an interactive part of the whole person. In practice, midwives conceive of nature as active—it helps the woman give birth. It is trustworthy, for midwives help women come to trust their bodies. The body itself is a natural system that has successfully reproduced life as long as life has existed. A sacred energy runs through the body and mind and into the world, flowing back to the laboring mother. Midwifery practice has no room for mind-body dualism. Despite Aristotle’s flawed analysis of generation, his hylo-morphism is in tune more with midwifery practice. Midwifery conceptions of nature present our first real understanding of metaphysical biology. The telos (metaphysics) of the body (biology) is embodied in those natural urges that lead to birth. It captures for us the description of women’s object relations that Mies described. Women let grow, and midwives assist women in redirecting their energies so that they might open up and let go. Just as Mies does not deny women’s agency in her discussion of object relations, neither does the discussion of birth as an opening up and letting go deny women agency. Just the opposite. U.S. obstetrics denies women’s agency, tries to suppress, in directing their attention to an inanimate machine from which they can produce some commodity. Midwives, in contrast, help the laboring woman understand her body and the energy flow of which she is a part so that she can deliver safely in the vast majority of circumstances. Agency rests, not in an alienation from, but a harmony with nature.

Lakhˇ óta Ontology and Ethics: “We Are All Related”1 Native peoples across the world have suffered at the hands of colonizers for centuries. European history is rife with examples of men owning men

192 Eros and Human Nature and women, including their mothers and wives. This appropriation of others rests on an appropriation of nature. Colonizers engaged in primitive accumulation that drove people from their traditional lands and sought to exterminate many peoples, such as Native Americans like the Ocˇ héthi Šakówiŋ. The desertification of European-Americans caused the desertification of the great prairie. Intensive cultivation, deforestation, and irrigation does not simply change the landscape, but destroys the life that was there. The U.S. actively killed the buffalo partly to destroy the life the Native Americans of the plains, like the Ocˇ héthi Šakówiŋ, depended on and partly as a process of primitive accumulation and expansion of cattle raising. Racism is part of the causal nexus that supports capitalist exploitation. The genocide against Native Americans also results in part from the particular philosophy of land and nature found in their traditions. It might be, however, that we must learn from the people that Europeans have tried to exterminate if we are to survive as a species. I offer here an attempt to understand Nature through the Lakhˇ óta concept Uŋcˇ í Makhá, Mother Earth or Earth Spirit. In this attempt, I seek not to appropriate the culture and beliefs of the Lakhˇ óta. My task lies, not in serving the wašícˇ u (white man), but in learning from Lakhˇ óta a way of life that might change the heart of people enculturated by European-origin traditions. As far as I can tell, the dominant traditions originating from Europe have run their course; to continue to adhere to these principles in the face of climate change is irrational. If the human species is to survive, we must seek traditions that provide a different understanding of the human relationship to nature. That is, if we are to end our alienation from nature, we must abandon the concept of nature found in European traditions and learn to be not European. Thus, I offer this reading of Uŋcˇ í Makhá with the deepest respect and love for the Lakhˇ óta tradition, the Ocˇ héthi Šakówiŋ, and all Native Americans. The Ocˇ héthi Šakówiŋ, or seven council fires, are a Native American nation. They are called “Sioux,” a somewhat derogatory name from French, by the European invaders. They are comprised of two larger groupings, the Lakhˇ óta and Dakhˇ óta, each of which has internal groupings. Archaeology suggests that the Ocˇ héthi Šakówiŋ originated in the Ohio Valley and may have contributed to the Mound People culture. They eventually migrated to the Great Lakes region and then west to what is today known as North and South Dakota, Montana, Wyoming, and parts of southern Canada. They were a nomadic people who hunted buffalo and, for a while, fought the invading U.S. armies to a standstill. Pahá Sápa (The Heart of All that Is; literally, the Black Hills) is sacred land for the Lakhˇ óta. Though ceded to the Lakhˇ óta by treaty “until the rivers run dry,” the U.S. stole it once white men found gold there. In addition to the theft, the U.S. committed many atrocities against the Lakhˇ óta, including twice at Wounded Knee. Notable Lakhˇ óta include Mahˇ píya Lúta (Red Cloud), Thˇ ašúŋke Witkó (Crazy Horse), Hehˇ áka

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Sápa (Black Elk), Thˇ áhˇ cˇ a Hušté (John Fire Lame Deer), Vine Deloria Jr., Winona LaDuke, and Ladonna Brave Bull Allard. Allard began Íŋyaŋwakag˘ api Otpi (Sacred Stone Camp) to build protests against the Dakota Access Pipeline. Ocˇ héthi Šakówiŋ culture is based on relationships. Aŋpétu Wašté Wiŋ (Beautiful Day Woman; Ella Cara Deloria) held that kinship was the ultimate aim of life. The sacred phrase, Mitákuye Oyás’iŋ, captures this philosophy. It means “we are all related,” or “all our relations.” The idea is that all living beings are related to each other. Honoring those relations defines the Lakhˇ óta way of life, including the buffalo hunt. The Lakhˇ óta view their relationship with the buffalo as a tight interconnection. As LaDuke reports, some believe that the future of the Great Plains “is intertwined with the psychological and spiritual relationship the prairies and the people of the prairies have with buffalo” (LaDuke 1999, 147). For some, the buffalo is life itself and culture. Restoring the buffalo is part and parcel of restoring a way of life. How people treat the buffalo mirrors how they will treat other people. Killing a buffalo requires the Buffalo Kill ceremony. During this ceremony, the individual prays for and speaks to the animal. “Then and only then will the buffalo surrender itself … when you can kill the buffalo” (ibid., 148). The Lakhˇ óta, like many others among Native Americans, could not understand the way that the white people destroyed nature, the seemingly mindless slaughter of the buffalo. For the Lakhˇ óta, the idea of owning land, like owning one’s mother, is crazy. “Many Native people view the historic buffalo slaughter as the time when the buffalo relatives, the older brothers, stood up and took the killing intended for the younger brothers, the Native peoples” (ibid., 154). The destruction of the buffalo was a “spiritual mistake: killing without reverence.” Vine Deloria Jr., a theologian and scholar, writes: In some sense, part of the alienation of human beings from nature is caused by the action of humans against nature and not as a result of some obscure and corrupted relationship that came into being as a result of the human’s inability to relate to the creator. It is doubtful if Western Christians can change their understanding of creation at this point in their existence. Their religion is firmly grounded in their escape from a fallen nature, and it is highly unlikely to suppose at this late date that they can find a reconciliation with nature while maintaining the remainder of their theological understanding of salvation. (Deloria 1992, 89) Deloria’s doubts about the Christian tradition can extend to the traditions of Europe in general. Alienation from nature is the foundational alienation of all forms of human life. European traditions rest on a spiritual mistake, an alienation from nature which contributes to class conflict,

194 Eros and Human Nature and the gender and racial divisions that express that conflict. Europeanorigin traditions do not seem able to save themselves from this alienation. Because of the epistemological crises of these traditions, humanity as a whole faces an existential crisis brought on by an unacknowledged epistemological crisis of European-origin philosophies, theologies, and sciences. A way out lies in learning from a tradition outside of Europe, like that of the Lakhˇ óta. Nature is Wakhˇ áŋ. This concept is similar, but not identical or reducible, to the idea of sacred or holy. To have or be Wakhˇ áŋ is not to have a Christian soul. Rather, it names the duty to act with respect toward yourself and toward others as meaningful beings. Each creature and entity should be treated as a “thou” deserving respect. Each is a relative. That respect extends toward Uŋcˇ í Makhá. We should, then, “let the buffalo be the buffalo” (LaDuke 1999, 159). They have a particular destiny, a particular way of being, that plays a role in the land which they inhabit and in the lives of the people who build a life around them. Letting the buffalo be the buffalo generates the prairie, “the single largest ecosystem in North America” (ibid., 143). They have agency. That agency is tied to their urges, just as our agency is tied to our urges. Birgil Kills Straight provides a useful analysis: Just because we can articulate some of our needs and wishes and seem to have some sort of intelligence and intellect, we think we’re better … If you communicate with a buffalo, you’ll see they’re much more intelligent than a human, just they can’t articulate it as humans. (LaDuke 1999, 139) Deloria, builds on the theology of Thˇ áhˇ cˇ a Hušté (Lame Deer). Decades before Pope Francis wrote Laudato Si, Thˇ áhˇ cˇ a Hušté held that Wakhˇ áŋ Thˇ áŋka “sketched” the “path of life roughly for all” creatures, “but leaves them to find their own way according to their nature, to the urges in each of them” (Deloria 2006, kl 580). According to Deloria, then, homo sapiens are “cocreators with the ultimate powers of the universe because in striving to fulfill our destiny, we make the changes that help spiritual ideas become incarnate in the flesh” (ibid., kl 602). Lakhˇ óta philosophy offers a conception of nature that resists appropriation. We are related to Uŋcˇ í Makhá. She is spontaneous and active. The buffalo have urges by which they find their own destiny. Uŋcˇ í Makhá is Wakhˇ áŋ; we cannot distinguish between human beings and nature for “spiritual” purposes. Reason does not belong to one part of nature and not another. Moreover, nature and culture are, not opposed, but integrated. Because the creatures, forests, rivers, and lakes are “our relations,” we cannot treat them as lifeless things for our mere consumption. Our purpose (metaphysics) rests in the urges (biology) of our being the kinds of creatures we are: let the buffalo be the buffalo, and the human be the

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human. As with midwifery, Lakhˇ óta philosophy “let’s grow.” The Buffalo Kill ceremony speaks of an object relation where heart is as important as hand. Our alienation from nature rests in our object relations—how we treat Uŋcˇ í Makhá.

Conclusion Eros runs through nature. Nature itself is living, a being with its own destiny. The living bodies we encounter—from small ecosystems to plants to the buffalo—have their own path. These are spontaneous, active, generating beings. They are Wakhˇ áŋ. Eros is divine. As Gaskin states, this divinity appears in the energy—energeia—of the system, whether that of mother and child and possibly family, or the system in which the buffalo cultivate the prairie. This energy deserves respect and should be treated with compassion. The psychological, as well as the physical, well-being of people rests in their inter-relationships with and the psychological and physical well-being of the land they inhabit. Eros leads to compassion as a way of life. We know compassion is erotic because it generates life— renewing the life of the prairie or constituting the life of mother and child. Cultures are erotic or dying. Destructive cultures, like that of nationstate liberalism, only win, and then only in the short term, in terms of their own economic thinking. Capitalism has created vast amounts of wealth, at the expense of the poor and the Earth which can no longer support it. It looked like it was winning because its only measuring stick was growth in wealth. Even the idea of escape from poverty is a mirage here. Poverty, as defined in terms of dollars per day, is a function of capitalism, exists only because capitalism measures wealth and can distinguish between the impoverished, the middle-class, and the well-off and then say it is successful when fewer people live in poverty. Yet, such poverty is shifted from one nation to the next, one region to the next. Capitalist culture was not “natural,” “right,” or “just” in some extracultural objective sense. Capitalism was constructed over centuries in conjunction with metaphysical views and political philosophies that legitimated its growth. Of course, these philosophies were the superstructure to the economic base. That base cannot sustain, is not selfsufficient, for the Earth strikes back, likely to take us with it. The lesson of this chapter is that such philosophies could never eliminate alternative views which have and can support a different base. This base is where our actions are in tune with nature as natural beings and through which we develop specifically human powers and senses. This base is one where productive activity is primarily reproductive, is primarily erotic. Eros is generating new being, in the words of Diotima, new realities, or in the words of Deloria, ideas become incarnate. Cultures are one kind of new realities and incarnate ideas. Human life nowhere appears without

196 Eros and Human Nature culture. Culture is our telos (metaphysics) lived in the way we satisfy and generate needs (biology). We interpret the world—generating ideas, new realities—by interacting with the bodies, living and non-living, around us—making our own history. Culture then, is, not separate from nature, but our nature interacting with the beings around us. It is spontaneous and active enough that whole civilizations have been built on our denial of nature. We have rejected every bit of our nature so much so that some cultures posit a bodiless spirit that survives death. If death is a door to another life, it opens onto a bodily life. In denying the body and nature, we have lacked compassion in our relations to nature. We have turned Eros on itself, consuming at rates that are unsustainable for life as we know it. Following Deloria, I do not believe this alienation from nature stems from our inability to relate to a creator. Or rather, I should say, this alienation from nature stems from a fear that our creator does not love us. Yet, our very existence is love, is Eros actively generating life and being. If we are made in God-Is-Love’s image, then we are love. If GodIs-Love does not exist, still Eros runs throughout the universe, for it names the spontaneous, generating, creative acting of all beings. Whatever the case may be, we are all one, linked by the flow of energies. If culture is a telos (metaphysics) of human life, it is so because we have an urge (biology) for culture. Eros acts in different ways according to the type of substance a thing is. Living bodies have urges, instincts, desires. I call them erotic because of the way they function. Perhaps “urge” is too strong a word in the case of a flower, but when the sun shines, the flower moves toward the sun. These urges are part of a living body’s energeia— acting that maintains life. The flower soaks in the sun to continue its being and to create seeds; the frog eats the fly to fuel its own cell generation, including, perhaps, gametes. Because of our urge for culture, homo sapiens bring Eros full circle. Homo sapiens are Eros generating for itself new ways of being by interpreting the erotic urges that define our energeia. How we understand and treat these urges—these persistent human desires—constitutes our freedom or our servitude.

Note 1 The following discussion reiterates views I have presented elsewhere (Nicholas 2012, 2015, 2019). I emphasize that I am not Lakhˇ óta. The oral tradition of my family is that our indigenous background is Cherokee. While I have studied the Lakhˇ óta language, I do not know it. I take solace from the fact the Thomas Aquinas did not read Greek and still understood Aristotle.

References Brown, Dee (2012) Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee: An Indian History of American West. New York: Open Road.

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Callicott, J. Baird (1997) Earth’s Insights: A Survey of Ecological Ethics from the Mediterranean Basin to the Australian Outback. Berkeley, CA.: University of California Press. Davis-Floyd, Robbie (1992) “The Technocratic Body and the Organic Body: Cultural Models for Women’s Birth,” Knowledge and Society: The Anthropology of Science and Technology, 9: 59–93. Davis-Floyd, Robbie (2001) “The Technocratic, Humanistic, and Holistic Paradigms of Childbirth,” International Journal of Gynecology & Obstetrics, 75 (Supplement 1): S5–S23. Davis-Floyd, Robbie (2003) Birth as an American Rite of Passage, 2nd edition. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press. Deloria, Vine, Jr. (1992) God is Red: A Native View of Religion. Golden, CO: Fulcrum Publishing. Deloria, Vine, Jr. (2006) The World We Used to Live In: Remembering the Powers of the Medicine Men. Golden, CO: Fulcrum Publishing. Francis (2015) “Encyclical Letter Laudato Si’ of the Holy Father Francis On Care for Our Common Home,” documents/papa-francesco_20150524_enciclica-laudato-si.html. Gaskin, Ina May (2002) Spiritual Midwifery. Summertown, TN: Book Publishing Company. Gaskin, Ina May (2011) Birth Matters: A Midwife’s Manifesta. New York: Seven Stories Press. Haraway, Donna (2013) Simians, Cyborgs, and Women: The Reinvention of Nature. London: Routledge. Hoffman, Thomas J. “Moving beyond Dualism: A Dialogue with Western European and American Indian Views of Spirituality, Nature and Science,” Social Science Journal, 34(4) (October): 447–461. Holly, Marilyn. “The Persons of Nature versus the Power Pyramid: Locke, Land, and Native Americans,” International Studies in Philosophy, 26(1): 13–31. LaDuke, Winona (1999) All Our Relations: Native Struggles for Land and Life. Chicago, IL: Haymarket Books. Merchant, Carolyn (1983) The Death of Nature: Women, Ecology, and the Scientific Revolution. New York: HarperOne. Mies, Maria (2014) Patriarchy and Accumulation on a World Scale: Women in the International Division of Labor. London: Zed Books. Moore, Donald S., Jake Kosek, and Anand Pandian (eds.) (2003) Race, Nature, and the Politics of Difference. Durham, NC: Duke University Press. Nakhai, B. A. (2007) “Gender and archaeology in Israelite religion,” Religion Compass, 1(5), 512–528. Nicholas, Jeffery (2012) Reason, Tradition, and the Good: MacIntyre’s TraditionConstituted Reason and Frankfurt School Critical Theory. Notre Dame, IN: University of Notre Dame Press. Nicholas, Jeffery (2015) “Mitakuye Oyasin as a Foundation for the Well-Being of Animal Life: Reason, Nature, and Oppression in Horkheimer, MacIntyre, and Midgley,” Pensando—Revista De Filosofia, 6(11): 31–48. Nicholas, Jeffery (2019) “Who Stands for Uŋcˇ í Makhá: The Liberal Nation-State, Racism, Freedom, and Nature,” in Christopher J. Orret al. (eds.), Liberty and the Ecological Crisis: Freedom on a Finite Planet. New York: Routledge.

198 Eros and Human Nature Odent, Michele (2002) The Farmer and the Obstetrician. London: Free Association Books limited. Phelan, Shane (1993) “Intimate Distance: The Dislocation of Nature in Modernity,” in Jane Bennett and William Chaloupka (eds.), In the Nature of Things: Language, Politics, and the Environment. Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota Press. Rooks, Judith Pence (1997) Midwifery and Childbirth in America. Philadelphia, PA: Templeton Press. Tooman, W. A. (2007) “Did God Have a Wife? Archaeology and Folk Religion in Ancient Israel,” Women in Judaism, 5(1): 1. Von Feldt, A. S. (2007) “Does God Have a Wife?” FARMS Review, 19(1): 81–118. Ulrich, Laurel Thatcher (1990) A Midwife’s Tale: The Life of Martha Ballard, Based on her Diary 1785–1812. New York: Vintage Books. Vincent, Peggy (2003) Baby Cather: Chronicles of a Modern Midwife. New York: Scribner.


Eros and the Varieties of Love

Introduction In Chapter 7, we developed an understanding of Eros as spontaneous, creative, generative acting inhering in all beings. This Eros seeks to reproduce new realities; its final end is to reproduce itself in other beings that can reproduce new realities. Chapter 8, then, explored Eros as flowing through nature. Nature is, not dead, mechanical, or meaningless, but living, reproducing being. Not only homo sapiens, but nature and (nonhuman) animal species have their own destinies. Wholistic midwifery understands the energy flowing through nature as sacred. The midwife guides the energies in a room, assisting the laboring mother to trust in nature. The Lakhˇ óta understand that nature is Wakhˇ áŋ, embodied in Uŋcˇ í Makhá. She is spontaneous and active. What matters is our relationship, our integral being-with, nature. Eros appears in nature as human culture, by which we extend our human powers. I turn now to Eros and love in human life. Audre Lorde helps to understand the power of Eros. Eros connects us to the resources in ourselves by which we recognize fulfillment, come to want nothing but that fulfilling activity. Eros, then, helps to recognize when we are developing those species-being powers that define human life. Love is one of those powers. Following Erich Fromm and bell hooks, I understand love to be an activity of giving. This giving appears as Eros in beings overflowing into other beings. I pay particular attention to self-love, paternal love, friendship, and agape. Finally, I reflect briefly on the spiritual nature of love.

Eros Inheres in Human Beings Eros as Internal Acting Eros, when discussed by philosophers today, is seen primarily as sexual desire. Given our discussion in Chapter 7, we are going to distinguish between Eros and sexual love. Eros will be the foundation for understanding the other types of love.

200 Eros and Human Nature Eros names the principle of activity in all beings. Aristotle identifies energeia (activity) as what brings each substance to act as a particular kind of thing. While such activity need not be productive, we shall understand activity as always generative. As internal-acting-as-this-kindof-being, Eros is constantly generating itself as activity, and in substances it generates itself as activity-of-this-kind. Since movement is a form of activity, Eros is also the source of motion. We can think of Eros as a selfperpetuating motion machine, a device that generates energy for its environment without taking in energy from an external source or ever running out of energy. Eros differs from a self-perpetuating motion machine in a number of ways. First, Eros is real whereas a self-perpetuating motion machine is not (or at least, not possible according to our current understanding of physics). What justifies my claim that Eros is real? Is that not like stating that God is real as a way of not-explaining what we do not understand? No, for the simple reason that, even if we have no proof for God’s existence, we do have proof for the existence of a source or origin of activity. We act. Everything around us is constantly acting. Even the rocks in our garden are acting, electrons swirling around in various ways. We could imagine that nothing causes this motion, it is sui generis and defies explanation. That possibility does not undermine the way that we are describing Eros. Eros just names all of the activity in the universe as generative activity, capable of spontaneous, creative acts. We could, following Aristotle, call it energeia, ridding it of the theological implications which Hesiod, Parmenides, and Plato imbued it with. Yet, that would defeat our purpose in a number of ways. Naming this activity keeps us focused on this activity as generative and keeps us connected to life as creative and generative. Eros also differs from a self-perpetuating motion machine by the fact that Eros generates, not only motion, but activity. A living being changes, but it also is active as living without changing. Further, a self-perpetuating motion machine feeds energy into a system, but it does not generate new forms of energy. Eros, in contrast, generates new forms of acting in order to replicate itself. Eros constantly seeks (non-intentionally) to generate beings that are self-generating and that recognizes itself as Eros. The seeds of every form of activity that we know, every form of activity possible in the universe, is contained in the nature of Eros itself: not only the activity of quarks and atoms and molecules, but the activity of life and consciousness. If the soul is energeia, as Aristotle claims, and its acting is thinking, then thinking is an expression of energeia. Thinking is a form of Eros. On my account, Eros evolves, but any substance that it evolves into is an expression of the original Eros. To put it another way, any new acting is just that, acting of some sort. All acting is Eros, erotic, for Eros is acting as spontaneous and generative. Moreover, like any act that seeks to

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replicate itself, Eros seeks to replicate itself. That is, it seeks acting that is spontaneous and generous. This desire is part of what defines Eros: the desire to generate new realities, to see the beautiful come into being. Eros seeks like, another being that can make new realities, that can make the beautiful come into being. Each level of evolution is just a great capacity to make new realities. Non-living substances, such as quarks or superstrings, generate new actings—new substances—by forming into simple units such as electrons, protons, and neutrons. These form new substances by combining as a hydrogen atom or carbon atom. All of these non-living substances are constantly forming and reforming, randomly within the laws of nature. Life appears when the first living body has two capacities—to maintain its own activity through nutrition and growth and to reproduce itself. Generative acting takes new form here. Just as Eros seeks to reproduce acting, so living beings seek to reproduce their own acting. When animals appear, we have living bodies that, do not just soak in energy from the system, but which transform their environment to maintain and reproduce their acting. They eat plants and eventually other animals. From a subjective perspective, eating other life forms seems aggressive, may lead someone to think that life seeks its own death (as did Sigmund Freud and Herbert Marcuse). From the perspective of life, though, from the perspective of Eros as generating activity, taking nutrition by eating other life forms is part of a cycle that creates new acting. It is acting maintaining itself as acting within a system of living beings. That falls under the purview of Uŋcˇ í Makhá. Yet, acting can advance even further, to beings able to create, not just themselves, but new realities. This capacity requires new kinds of acting. Symbolic activity is one such kind. Birds might be the progenitors here. Birdsong is a new reality. Birds do not intentionally make what homo sapiens think of as music; yet, their song is a proto-typical form of music. Different non-human animal species form proto-typical cultures. Wolves and coyotes play and engage in a number of social activities, including group hunting and battles for dominance. MacIntyre is right to claim that homo sapiens have powers that go beyond what we find in non-human nature, chiefly linguistic and rational powers. To repeat what I said before, he is wrong to claim that these are not part of nature. These powers are powers for acting as children of Eros. They comprise powers to generate new actings, new realities, new beauties. As acting, they are closest to the original Eros because they create something original and do so consciously, and often intentionally. Language, for instance, generates new realities—from the Upanishads to Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings. Music generates new realities far beyond what we might find in almost any other animal species, except whales—from the sounds of ancient bone flutes to Beethoven’s Fifth. Reason generates new realities—answers to the question, what is good that lead to cultural

202 Eros and Human Nature forms of acting—from Azande magic, to European science, to Samoan wrestling. As deep rooted as any of these actings, art generates new beauties—from the cave paintings at Maltravieso to Rothko’s #207. Audre Lorde: Eros as Power Audre Lorde’s essay “The Uses of the Erotic: The Erotic as Power” (Lorde 2006) was a paper delivered at a conference on the history of women. The paper was ostensibly a comment on pornography as a repression of the erotic. In her discussion, though, Lorde provides a wonderful interpretation of the erotic as a power within. Her understanding of Eros as creative energy grounds, not only our discussion throughout, but Eros as liberatory power. We can learn from Lorde how Eros works against oppression and underpins a politics of liberation. While Lorde is speaking and writing to and about women, her reflections on the erotic must apply to all human beings, a point with which I think she would agree as she tried to escape binary oppositions. Eros is a “resource within each of us that lies in a deeply female and spiritual plane” (Lorde 2006, 53). Eros is “an assertion of the lifeforce of women; of that creative energy empowered” (ibid., 55). Later in her essay she claims that this energy involved our “most profoundly creative source, but we do that which is female and self-affirming in the face of a racist, patriarchal, and anti-erotic society” (ibid., 59). If Eros is feminine, that does not exclude men from its “use.” While Lorde is addressing an audience of women at a woman’s conference, the larger picture holds regardless. Eros is a resource deep within, on a female and spiritual plane. We must reject the binaries of male/female, active/passive, culture/nature, which would have us see the feminine only within women. Eros runs throughout nature. In alienating ourselves from Eros, we alienate ourselves form nature—the original form of alienation. By realizing the Eros within, we recognize our unity with nature, Uŋcˇ í Makhá. Given how society misunderstands Eros, we must recognize with Lorde that pornography is a denial of the erotic. “Pornography emphasizes sensation without feeling” (Lorde 2006, 54). The pornographer projects physical sensation, reducing the body to pleasure and pain. Adult female film entertainers and other sex workers are paid to convince their audience that they feel, that deep oral, anal, or vaginal penetration signifies deep emotional penetration. Like U.S. obstetric practice, though, it treats the body as machine; press this button, elicit this response. In contrast, we need to seek the sensual that is connected to our deepest feelings. Any system can try to suppress the erotic. The capitalism system does so by equating the good with profit rather than the satisfaction of human need. More broadly, any system that does not make the satisfaction of human need—the reproduction of life—the center of activity, oppresses some for the benefit of others. It “robs our work of its erotic value …

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power … life … fulfillment … reduces work to a travesty of necessities, a duty by which we earn bread or oblivion” (Lorde 2006, 55). In short, such a system is about paying the mortgage. Lorde’s argument about pornography brings together the various parts of our argument: alienation as saleability or emotivism represses erotic power and destroys life. In pornography and the obscene, people look away from each other. In the erotic, people see each other. The other with whom we are engaged is an object of satisfaction rather than a person with whom we connect and share joy. To deny our feelings, to intentionally or habitually turn our attention away from our feelings entails that we “deny a large part of the experience, and to allow ourselves to be reduced to the pornographic, the abused, and the absurd” (Lorde 2006, 59). Only by reconnecting to Eros within can we overcome this oppression. It grounds our treatment of each other. Those who “share the power of each other’s feelings” cannot use each other. An erotic community is one in which the members look at each other. In contrast to MacIntyre’s insistence on reason as organizing our human activity, we must recognize Eros as the midwife of our deepest knowledge. (Lorde says “nurturer or nursemaid,” but midwife seems more apt.) “The erotic is a measure between the beginning of our sense of self and the chaos of our strongest feelings” (Lorde 2006, 54). We cannot have a sense of self until we connect with those strongest feelings, even if at first they are chaotic. Lorde presents a different conception of statements of feeling here. The claim “this feels right to me” is not reducible to emotivism. Emotivism would deny the sense of self at the heart of the claim and would resist the objective approach that follows from it. It is an internal sense of satisfaction to which, once we have experienced it, we know we can aspire. For having experienced the fullness of this depth of feeling and recognizing its power, in honor and selfrespect we can require no less of ourselves. (Lorde 2006, 54) Yes, reason has a role here, but not one to which Eros is subordinate. The individual knows herself through the play of Eros and reason. Again, we must resist the binary in favor of the dialectic. Eros teaches us excellence (Lorde 2006, 54). The agent experiences a fullness of depth in her feeling and recognizes the power of this feeling. It drives her to require no less from herself in the future. When the child first abandons candy for the internal goods of chess, she does so, not because reason has convinced her, but because she has felt that first sense of excellence. The erotic concerns, not what we do, but “how acutely and fully we can feel in the doing … we can then observe which of our various life endeavors brings us closest to that fullness” (ibid., 54–55).

204 Eros and Human Nature Flourishing, fullness, involves our exercise of those practices in which we feel that sense of excellence. Here, again, we are not discussing a mere feeling or attitude of the singer who cannot carry a tune but makes up for it with his confidence. Rather, it is an objective assessment of the capacities of our acting being. It directs us to work as “a conscious decision” (ibid., 55). Lorde identifies several functions of Eros. First, “providing the power which comes from sharing deeply any personal pursuit with another” (Lorde 2006, 56). As we noted, MacIntyre insists that homo sapiens collaborate in ways not available to non-human animals because of our powers of language and reason. Yet, love too identifies a variety of ways that we collaborate which are not available to the non-human animal. Non-human animals express a variety of forms of love and loss; the human animal, though, is capable of understanding these loves in and through time and space. A dog might miss its human and rejoice on the human’s return, but it cannot write poetry about its missing human. Homo sapiens can project their futures together, planning life-long relationships. Moreover, homo sapiens are able to engage in practices, narratives, and traditions/cultures that are powerful when pursued in love. If a child engages in a practice, but does not learn to love it, then she will have no power for it. If in writing the narrative of my life, no one takes an interest in my life, then I have little power to write my story. If our tradition is of a mere academic study and not a process of love, the tradition will die when I come face to face with something that will satisfy any basic need. MacIntyre wrongly excludes Eros from his analysis of practice, because finding the internal goods requires some love of them. Agents—whether friends, lovers, family members, or citizens—through sharing a pursuit deeply have a power that evades those who share one superficially. As long as we keep love at the center of practices, they will always empower us to resist the most dehumanizing imperatives of institutions. In fact, insofar as we can ground those institutions on the love we share, they will be resistant to the pressure to pursue external goods at the expense of internal goods. Both practices and institutions, then, can lead to a deeper knowledge of the goods involved and of ourselves. A second function of Eros for Lorde is “the open and fearless underlining of my capacity for joy” (Lorde 2006, 56). Lorde describes how the “body stretches to music and opens into response, hearkening to its deepest rhythms, so every level upon which I sense also opens to the erotically satisfying experience, whether it is dancing, building a bookcase, writing a poem, examining an idea” (ibid., 55). When we do extend our human powers through practice, we enjoy that moment—we take joy in the ability to spread out wings farther than we ever have before. We can speak here of an exhaustive joy—that point where one has pressed one’s self so hard, not for obligation, but for love

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that she is exhausted when she writes that perfect line of poem and collapses in joy. Such joy should be at the heart of our understanding of practice. The cyclist who dopes her blood, for instance, may not be cheating by official rules, but she will not experience the joy that comes from extending her body to its fullest. Lorde rightly sees that when human beings exorcise the erotic from nature, nature becomes flattened and meaningless. That, as we have seen, is the essence of a mechanistic and dualistic approach to the world. This flattening leads to an ascetic world. The proletariat lives in an ascetic world just as does the pornographer. Work and sex are meaningless, one aimed at paying the mortgage, the other aimed at suppressing feelings for excellence and joy by harsh sensuality. Joy, according to Lorde, is feared. Once one knows the joy she can experience from doing something she loves, she “begin[s] to demand from ourselves and from our life-pursuits that they feel in accordance with that joy which we know ourselves capable of” (Lorde 2006, 56). The erotic “becomes a lens through which we scrutinize all aspects of our existence.” It is a “grave responsibility” (ibid.). By denying ourselves the erotic, we deny ourselves one measure of what is most meaningful in our lives. We shirk our responsibility. The erotic becomes one more means through which we resist the pressure to pursue exclusively external goods. It becomes a measure for what counts as a flourishing society. The erotic connects the spiritual and political “those physical, emotional, and psychic expressions of what is deepest and strongest and richest within each of us, being shared: the passions of love in its deepest meanings” (Lorde 2006, 56). We recognize that spiritual energy that flows through the system. In politics, that energy flows in our mutual discovery and construction of our goods, which must be connected to what is deepest within us. That is the essence of the urges, the instincts, of our being, the persistent human desires that we seek to satisfy together. The joy that attends Eros further bridges the differences between us. In our joy, we are able to understand what we do not share. If I cannot understand your desire for baseball and you my desire for science fiction, our politics will never work for us. We will accept a trading of goods each seeking power to get what we want, rather than a mutual discovery and construction of our goods together. Finally, the erotic empowers us to act politically. “The fear that we cannot grow beyond whatever distortions we may find within ourselves keeps us docile and loyal and obedient, externally defined, and leads us to accept many facets of our oppression” (Lorde 2006, 56). Perhaps fear lies at the root of our alienation from nature. The genesis stories can be read as an expression of fear, that God does not love us, that we are unworthy and so we cover our loins with fig leaves—an apt image of closing ourselves off from Eros, from its generative powers, and from nature. The pursuit of profit makes us fear that what we love and find joy in is not

206 Eros and Human Nature worthy—its value is replaced by commodities and the need to pay the mortgage. Power, then, blinds us to our persistent human desires. That is the true strike against institutions; they provide “external directives” that distract, if not supplant, our inner loves. We dance, not for joy, but for profit to pay the mortgage, and if that does not work, we abandon dance for business. Eros pushes back against the institution. We recognize our own needs—come to knowledge of them. This recognition means that we abandon the idea of “being satisfied with suffering and self-negation, and with the numbness which so often seems like their only alternative in our society” (Lorde 2006, 58). The erotic demands more from us than that we settle for what the status quo offers. “Our acts against oppression become integral with self, motivated and empowered from within” We want to experience, not numbness, but deep feeling. We want for others that they too experience the erotic—that they flourish.

Love’s Nature Love as Acting The greatest achievement of Eros is love. Erich Fromm, a twentieth-century psychologist and critical theorist, describes love as “an inner activity, the productive use of one’s powers. Love is an activity” (Art, 118). The similarity to Aristotle’s concept of energeia is telling; here a twentieth-century psychoanalyst and philosopher describes love as acting just as we have seen Plato’s Diotima describe it. This active power, for Fromm, is primarily giving. Yet, giving does not require sacrificing or giving up something. Rather, “giving is the highest expression of potency” (Art, 21). Again, the similarity to Aristotle is insightful, for Eros (energeia) is the acting-of-this-kind of capacity. Giving is not deprivation but “the expression of my aliveness” (Art, 22). Diotima’s speech about Eros also seems to conceive Eros as a giving, as a transaction between the divine and the mortal. In her discussion lies a tension between Eros as intermediary and Eros as a generative activity. This tension disappears when we consider activity as more fundamental than change. Nye’s translation, then, of Eros as generating good things is appropriate to giving as an aliveness. The parents generate children giving life to them, not only without losing life, but increasing their own lives. Of course, I do not deny that women die in childbirth or that children take time and energy to raise and educate. Certainly, some parents are not loving in this manner. The point, however, is that typical life bearing life is a giving of something without a losing. The key to our conception of Eros as the source of activity is that Eros is the “experience of overflowing, spending, alive, hence as joyous” (Art, 21–22). If a creating God-Is-Love existed, like that depicted in the Bible,

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we must see that God-Is-Love as spilling over into creation. This love is creative love (Eros)—a generative, spontaneous act of creating creating itself. We can set aside for our purposes this notion of a creating God-IsLove; but we must latch on to this idea of Eros as an overflowing of activity. This overflowing is definitive of love, as we shall see in each of its manifestation. Only with this notion of Eros as overflowing can we appreciate what Marx and MacIntyre have said about human beings making their own history. Our activity overflows such that we create new ways of life; we become more human. “Love and labor are inseparable” (Art, 25–26). That simple fact means that MacIntyre has missed something vital in his definition of practice when he leaves out love. We will return to this point. Thomas Merton, the poet monk, echoes Fromm. Love is, in fact, an intensification of life, a completeness, a fullness, a wholeness of life. We do not live merely in order to vegetate through our days until we die. We are not just machines that have to be cared for and driven carefully until they run down … Life curves upward to a peak of intensity, a high point of value and meaning, at which all its latent creative possibilities go into action and the person transcends himself or herself in encounter, response, and communion with another. (Merton 1979, 27) Unpacking these points in relation to our metaphysics of Eros would take time and is not necessary here. However, Merton’s comments help us understand Eros/Love as intensification. That intensification means we are not machines. Mechanistic philosophy cannot explain intensification. Eros curves up toward this peak of intensity. As the principle and source of activity in the universe, Eros transcends itself in activity, generating new and more activity—the key difference from the self-perpetuating motion machine. Thus, we see what Diotima means when she tells Socrates that when Eros beholds the GOOD, it generates new realities. As erotic living bodies, we are capable of moving beyond because Eros is foundational to our being. In the creative act, we go beyond ourselves into different expressions of love as giving. The point of such intensity is transformation. bell hooks, feminist and poet, writes that “when we commit to true love, we are committed to being changed, to being acted upon by the beloved in a way that enables us to be more fully self-actualized” (About, 185). Such true love requires reflection, an evaluation and assessment of our actings. Love is not simply about having our needs met (About, 18) or an end to difficulty (About, 229). In committing to change, we may be committing to a variety of difficulties. The transition to that high peak of meaning will be challenging because it requires transformation. Yet, through such transition we flourish, developing those species-being powers, one of which is loving itself.

208 Eros and Human Nature Love, then, does not require the dissolution of the self. “Love is union under the condition of preserving one’s integrity, one’s individuality” (Art, 19). In giving oneself to another, one discovers who one is. In loving another, “I find myself, I discover myself, I discover us both, I discover man” (Art, 29). To discover humanity is to discover our persistent human desires and those powers which define our species-being, as we have seen. This loving relationship, in fact, means that “both partners discover and realize their deepest potentials” (About, 182). In loving others, which requires loving ourselves, we learn with the other what we are capable of—we discover the Eros within, the spontaneous actings. Love is labor, the essence of which is to make something grow. Such labor seeks the reproduction of life, “to let grow.” This fact is why Nik Naylor’s relationship to Joey is so devastating in Thank You for Smoking. Rather than learning about his own potential, Joey learns to manipulate others. Nik cannot form a loving relationship with his ex-wife or with Heather Holloway, partly because he is afraid of his own potential. Therefore, he never discovers it. That is why love is, not only opposite to, but the means for ending domination. Neither Nik or Joey grow in the course of the movie, not in any human way. Regarding Merton and Fromm, bell hooks writes that love, in their works, is seen as “the primary way we end domination and oppression” (About, 76). In a patriarchal society, like our own, people believe love can exist where a group or individual dominates another. Those who dominate form barriers between themselves and others. They alienate themselves from others. Where Nik exploits his sexual relationship with Heather or Joey manipulates his mother, they form barriers around themselves, alienating themselves from loving activities. Patriarchy as a love of manhood stands in the way of love. Aristotle steps away from Eros as generative because he seeks to embrace the ideal of the self-sufficient man, the one who directs his wife and his slave because they lack the reason he has. All systems of domination require dividing the world into superiors and inferiors. Capitalism divides the world into owners and workers and value goes to the owners where workers are costs in the system. All class-based society exhibits such domination, as does patriarchy, racism, genderism. Breaking that false love of manhood entails rejecting it for the love of those around you. Patriarchy is the opposite of love. Where Eros is love of life, patriarchy is love of death. European-American culture prefers “redemption to creation, sin to ecstasy, and individual introspection to cosmic awareness and appreciation” (About, 193, citing Mathew Fox, Original Blessing). hooks echoes Vine Deloria jr. in his critique of Christianity. The Christian is trapped in an alienation from nature. Thus, he prefers redemption to creation—the domination of nature and the expulsion from the Garden of Eden to the care for nature and living as one with nature.

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As we have discovered, alienation from nature underwrites class division, sexism, and racism. These are various means by which people are prevented from developing their human powers and senses. In many cases, they imply that the individual is not human, lacks those specific human powers, such as reason. Yet, hooks insists that greed inhibits our capacity for love. The need to pay the mortgage becomes a justification for this greed. Rather, we must choose to live simply which “enhances our capacity to love” (About, 125). Domination is not possible “where a love ethic prevails” (About, 98). On these accounts, love is an act of overflowing that is giving through which lover and beloved discover themselves, discover their potential, and let it grow. The relationship to Eros is clear. Eros is the overflowing acting at the heart of being. It is the source of spontaneous, creative, generating acting. In overflowing, Eros births new realities and new beauties—new beings with new ways of acting. These reflections reinforce what Lorde writes about Eros. Eros is the source of power within, the knowledge of our capacity to expand and to experience joy. Eros, then must lie at the heart of a politics of liberation. If alienation is the inhibition, even outright denial, of our species-being power for creative acting, then Eros is the rejection of that denial. It is more: Eros is the affirmation of our species-being as animals capable of expanding our powers and our senses. We must reflect such affirmation in our understanding of the varieties of love and practice. Varieties of Love We experience many varieties of love all of which are expressions of Eros understood as an overflowing, spontaneous, creative, generative acting. All such loves imply “certain basic elements … care, responsibility, respect, and knowledge” (Art, 24). We shall examine briefly those loves most important for a politics of liberation for a community of common goods: self-love, parental love, friendship, and agape. Self-Love In our alienated society, self-love is a monumental task. We are taught that such love lies in consuming things; the more things I have, that I buy for myself, the more worthy I am of being loved. Often, society sends mixed messages about self-love. Selfishness is often seen either as bad or as just the essence of human nature. This understanding of self-love as selfishness results from the construct of the individual in modernity under capitalism. It leads to the problem of altruism. Altruism is a problem for modernity because its defining beliefs—about the individual, community, greed—has no room for giving of the self without expecting something in return. Auguste Comte invented the

210 Eros and Human Nature concept of altruism in the nineteenth century. He needed a concept that could explain the need that everyone live in society in ways that support society. Adam Smith before him wrote about the moral sentiments because he believed that a certain set of moral principles were necessary to curb the acquisitive nature of human beings. Of course, this problem of altruism remains a defining problem for evolutionary psychology. Richard Dawkins’s The Selfish Gene deals with the issue of altruism mathematically to suggest that it is a strategy by which selfish genes replicate themselves—that is, act selfishly. Public discussions of altruism suffer from this paradox. Any example of someone giving to another “selflessly” ends with an explanation of how that giving benefitted the giver. In the end, they were acting selfishly by acting “selflessly.” Under such an understanding of the human person, self-love disappears into selfishness. “The selfish person does not love himself too much but too little; in fact he hates himself” (Art, 55). The person feels empty inside. Therefore, he turns everything around so that it points back at him. He tries to direct everything inside to fill the void of himself. He cares not for what he truly is, the potential within. Our society requires people to feel this void inside. It drives consumerism. Self-love is the opposite of selfishness. First, it is a knowledge of the potential one has within as an erotic being, a living body. Second, it is a sense of respect for oneself that wants to see the self grow and develop, not only for the sake of others, but for one’s own sake. Third, it is a responsibility to self and others. The agent recognizes that her actions lead to the development, or not, of her potential. She seeks to direct actions to that development for herself and for others. Finally, it is a care of the self. Self-care means, not buying things for oneself (though that might be necessary at times), but taking time and energy for oneself so that she can know and direct herself to love herself and others. It is the will to say to the world, “Enough! I need time for myself away from all the hubbub and hustle of modern life.” Self-love, then, is erotic. Self-love is not Narcissus getting lost in his own reflection; it is not unbridled self-pleasuring. Masturbation can be part of self-love, but not when it leads to neglect of the self or of one’s relationships with others. Rather, self-love is erotic in the sense that it embraces the potential one finds in oneself as good. Lorde’s reflections on Eros are pertinent here. Self-love requires an awareness of Eros, of the fullness of being of which one is capable in his or her actions. It is a recognition of the possibility inherent in the self to be acting. Only with self-love can one love others. Fromm quotes the mystic Meister Eckhart: “If you love yourself, you love everybody else as you do yourself” (Art, 58). Love is a giving. To give, one must have something to give, not a commodity, but a part of the self. This part is the Eros of the self—the overflowing acting that is part of being. Eros comes full circle in giving to others from the self, for it is Eros to overflow into beings.

Eros and the Varieties of Love


Parental Love I use the term “parental” rather than “maternal” and “paternal” here because I wish to avoid the binaries that define man/woman, good/bad, reason/emotion. True, a woman reproduces society in a way that a man cannot, by giving birth, which is perhaps the greatest act of giving. Her bodily relation is different because of birth and her capacity of nursing. Men might be blind on birth, but the blind can learn to walk and men learn to love their children as mothers do—in caring for the child. We must resist, then, Fromm’s distinction between a mother’s love and a father’s love. “Mother has the function of making him secure in life, father has the function of teaching him, guiding him to cope with [various] problems” (Art, 40). A mother first makes a child feel secure when she keeps the child in her womb and then nurses the child at her breast. The father, however, can also make the child feel secure, by holding the child, bandaging the child’s knee, or placing a blanket over the child who has fallen asleep on the sofa. Likewise, mothers and fathers both teach their children in a variety of ways. Avoiding the false dichotomy of maternal and paternal love is necessary for understanding that mothers and fathers act in a variety of ways to give to the child. Our cultural understanding of love as a feeling can cause some to misunderstand parental love. MacIntyre writes that parents, “especially mothers,” must ensure security for their children, be unconditionally committed to the child, and recognize that the needs of the child, not their relationship with the child, defines the care the child needs (DRA 90). The care the parent provides is an educative care, so that the child learns the virtues and how to reason practically. Parents do owe their children affection. Love, however, does not appear in his discussion of parenting. Sara Ruddick does mention love in relation to parenting, but to deny its need. “To be committed to meeting children’s demand for preservation does not require enthusiasm or even love; it simply means to see vulnerability and to respond to it with care” (Ruddick 1996, 19). She distinguishes “love” here from what she calls preservative love. Preservative love is acting to care for the child, in ways similar to what MacIntyre describes. Ruddick goes beyond MacIntyre in discussing eros. For Ruddick, though, eros is a sexual desire which the mother must welcome. “Mothers witness and are frequently the object of infants’ and children’s erotic desires. They themselves experience and control their own erotic responses to children” (ibid., 212). The mother must be open to the child’s play with masculine and feminine identities. If mothers were open about their acceptance of this play, they could help break through the rigid structures of masculinity and femininity in society. Both MacIntyre and Ruddick recognize the need for the parent to care for the child, which care includes food and clothing, education, and affection. Yet, they reveal their understanding of “love” as emotion or

212 Eros and Human Nature feeling by denying that the parent must love the child. Our understanding, however, is that love is acting for, giving to, the other. Parental love, then, involves, not emotion or affection, but acting, which is what MacIntyre and Ruddick eventually describe as the parental relationship to the child. Fromm expands on parental love, that “goes further than mere preservation. It is the attitude which instills in the child a love for living” (Art, 46). This understanding of parental love connects us to the real meaning of Eros—the desire to live, to grow, to develop. Caring for or “preserving” the child requires that the parent, or parental figure, helps the child grow into this desire to live as an expression of erotic being. The relationship is one of caring for the child as she is. It means being responsible to the child so that the parent helps her develop her powers as she sees them. That does not entail an emotivist approach to the child. Love requires knowledge. Parental love guides the child to a knowledge of herself and into the traditions and practices available to her that help her interpret her persistent human desires. Yet, this educative function must be guided by respect for the child as an individual. Both MacIntyre, when he cautions against responding to the child through the parent’s needs, and Ruddick, when she cautions against trying to control the child, capture this duty that the parent must respect the child for who they are. Fromm sees this respect in the “real achievement of [parental] love … love for the growing child” (Art, 47). A growing child is one who seeks her own sense of self. During this period, the parent must help the child understand Eros as Lorde understands it—a sense of satisfaction and joy of what we are capable of. Friendship Love and Agape Gregory Vlastos notes that the Greek terms philia, usually translated as friendship or brotherly love, and agape, a central Christian concept of self-sacrificial love, are used interchangeably in Greek (Vlastos 1973, 6n13). Vlastos disagrees with Anders Nygren, who failed to recognize this fact in his own reading of agape. For Vlastos, Aristotle provides the right measure of agape: “that to love a person we must wish for that person’s good for that person’s sake, not for ours” (ibid., 6). True friendship, for Aristotle, is a species of “interpersonal love,” where the friend wishes the good for the other. True friendship cannot be one of exchange. Thus, a certain reciprocity and a certain equality of character is necessary between true friends. “Mutual love can only happen when the partners are so equal in virtue that each can wish the other well without suspicion or hope of advantage on either side” (Wagoner 1997, 114). Wishing the good for each other is the heart of this friendship. This wishing involves a “dynamic striving … to achieve excellence” (Wagoner 1997, 115). In friendship, people seek the good of the other and, in so doing, seek their own good. We should not think of this friendship as a

Eros and the Varieties of Love


competition. Rather, it is a mutual recognition of the Eros in each other— the acting to expand human possibility. Thus, true friendships are based on a love of mutual goods. In loving these goods, friends share a desire for what makes them complete. This love is one to “further” the other’s life (Art, 44). Here we recognize the intensification of being that Merton wrote about, that hooks acknowledged. We often think of agape, in contrast, as a religiously oriented love, the love of God-Is-Love for us or the way individuals might embody such love by sacrificing everything for the other. Nygren contends that agape is not “a longing and striving after something man lacks and needs but a response of gratitude for something freely given, namely God’s own agape,” and it “has neither the appetitive nature of Eros nor the responsive character of faith: it is entirely independent of external stimuli” (Nygren 1953, ix). Nygren’s view sums up the commandment of love: You shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the greatest and the first commandment. The second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. (Matthew 22:37–39) Love extends to each and every individual without regard to any distinction. Alan Soble (2011), then, draws a distinction between eros and agape. For erotic love, value exists in the object loved and love arises because of that value. Relying on the Symposium, Soble says that love appears because the object of love is beautiful or good. Agape, in contrast, loves the object first; then, if value comes into the picture at all, the value of the beloved will be recognized. Soble quotes Harry Frankfurt: “rather, what we love necessarily acquires value for us because we love it” (ibid., kl 2536). One issue that lies behind this distinction is the idea that, if love originates because of the value of the object loved, then the love seems meaningless. Soren Kierkegaard, I think, captures the point: agape love implies an “eternal equality in loving … not to make distinctions … not to make the slightest distinction” (1995, 58). Gene Outka reads agape as a love for the neighbor which “is independent and unalterable … the regard is for every person qua human existent, to be distinguished from those special traits, actions, etc., which distinguish particular personalities from each other” (Outka 1972, 9). Fromm agrees. “There is an experience of union with all men, of human solidarity, of human at-onement … based on the experience that we all are one” (Art, 44). Difference is overcome by an awareness that we are all and each human, homo sapiens. Echoing from the past MacIntyre’s discussions of charity, Fromm insists that agape love begins with “love of the helpless one, love of the poor and the stranger” (Art, 45).

214 Eros and Human Nature As Outka and others acknowledge, agape love requires self-sacrifice. The paradigmatic sacrifice is God giving God’s child to us, God becoming human, God dying on a cross. Irving Singer sees this self-sacrifice as what Christianity adds to the concept of love. God teaches others how to love through self-sacrifice. God’s love is an “outpouring of perfection, a transcendental field of force active through all eternity… Christian agape eliminates the carnal crudities of primitive thinking” (Singer 2009, kl: 3544). God has no motive for love, but is love. That is why we human beings must love indiscriminately, without motive for love. A few issues are entangled in the discussions of agape which we need to unravel. First, some contrast erotic love as love of and because of the particular, and agape love as love of the universal in human beings. Soble associates the love of the particular with Plato’s Symposium. This analysis is unfair to Plato. The ascent up the ladder of love begins with particularity. Diotima advises young Socrates to first love one for his beauty. From this love of one, then Socrates will learn to recognize and love beauty in all, and, at the same time, recognize that the love of the physical is the lowest form of love. Slowly, the wise ascend the ladder of love moving from particular to abstract, to more abstract, until he reaches the FORM BEAUTY. A dialectic is at play, as the lover loves first the particular and then the universal in the particular. We might want to learn from this analysis for we homo sapiens are not like God-Is-Love who can love all equally. For those who believe, however, in a God-Is-Love that commands us to love, we can learn to love all first by loving some in their particularity—as family member, as actual neighbor, as neighbor in general, and finally as human. Another issue is the way that agape love can be entangled with modern views of individualism. Kierkegaard seems to make this mistake. He sees no difference between self-love and romantic or erotic love. From the Christian point of view, they are both vices. Agape requires sacrifice of the self for the other, an abandoning of the self. Kierkegaard, however, is writing in the nineteenth century, in the era of individualism, at the same time when Comte invents the word “altruism” to contrast with selfishness and explain how society might be possible for such selfish beings as capitalistic, acquisitive human beings. Kierkegaard is blind to the different conceptions of human nature that animate Plato and others, as well as Christians writing the Bible, on the one hand, and modern thinkers on the other. If agape is anything, it is not a substitute for altruism and cannot be defined in reference to human beings as individualistic beings tout court. To understand agape philosophically, to understand the idea of a sacrificial love, which can be at one time particular and at another time universal, we only need to recognize the nature of Eros as we have defined it. For instance, Nygren (1953) identifies four features of agape: spontaneous and unmotivated, indifferent to value, creative, and initiator of fellowship with God (see Singer 2009, kl: 3550–3591). Others see it as a

Eros and the Varieties of Love


union of all, a recognition that we all are one. These features are features of Eros as we discovered them metaphysically. Eros is spontaneous activity, unmotivated, because it is acting overflowing into acting. It does not care about the value of the beings, for it inheres in all beings. Eros is creative, a generating acting. Insofar as Eros is divine, it mediates between finite and infinite. Recognizing that Eros inheres in all beings is to recognize the union of all.

Love as Spiritual If we add to this analysis the being, God-Is-Love, we recognize an individuality of being to Eros. I have resisted all along suggesting that Eros exists as a being in itself or that Eros is anything less than divine and infinite. This discussion arose, not from a consideration of the Jewish and Christian scriptures, but from the analysis of Eros as it appears in Greek philosophy as Plato and Aristotle interpret it. For us, the salient fact is that living bodies are acting, and this acting is a spontaneous, creative, generating acting that preserves our own being as living bodies (the muscle at rest) and has capacities for new acts (bowling). Eros is an overflowing of acting into new actings. It is, as well, a craving for new actings, new beings. This craving is a synonym for “overflowing.” Eros is self-love and love of other at one and the same time, the doublehelix that organizes all life, all being. As Gaskin insightfully writes, “energy is sacred” (Gaskin 2002, kl: 4020). It requires special consideration. As children, we give beings this special consideration, but as we age, we forget the spiritual. All beings are Wakhˇ áŋ. They deserve respect, a recognition of their own destiny. To be spiritual is to seek the divine in beings—the acting generating acting. To say that we are Wakhˇ áŋ is to recognize the mystery of being. When I speak of the spiritual, I refer to the recognition within everyone that there is a place of mystery in our lives where forces that are beyond human desire or will alter circumstances and/or guide and direct us … Still others say that this force is what it is because it cannot be named … A commitment to spiritual life necessarily means we embrace the eternal principle that love is all, everything, our true destiny. (About, 77) The reproduction of life rests on this recognition of the mystery and the destiny of love in being, of Eros. Through reproducing society, homo sapiens transcend themselves. First, they transcend themselves by creating new living bodies, bodies that are eerily similar and different from us. Second, in reproducing society, we make our own history (even if in conditions not of our choosing) by expanding our needs, powers, and senses. Eros appears in history. Its appearance is mystery, but so is ours, so is

216 Eros and Human Nature being itself. The task before us remains the same, however: to struggle for freedom, to make our desires effective.

References Abbreviations About: hooks, bell (2000) All About Love: New Visions. New York: Harper Perennial. Art: Fromm, Erich (2006) The Art of Loving, 50th anniversary edition. New York: Harper Perennial. DRA: MacIntyre, Alasdair (1999) Dependent Rational Animals. Chicago, IL: Open Court.

Other References Gaskin, Ina May (2002) Spiritual Midwifery. Summertown, TN: Book Publishing Company. Kierkegaard, Soren (1995) Works of Love, ed. and trans. Howard V. Hong and Edna H. Hong. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press. LaDuke, Winona (1999) All Our Relations: Native Struggles for Land and Life. Chicago, IL: Haymarket Books. LaDuke, Winona (2005) Recovering the Sacred: The Power of Naming and Claiming. Chicago, IL: Haymarket Books. Lorde, Audre (2006) “The Uses of the Erotic: The Erotic as Power,” in Audre Lorde, Sister Outsider: Essays and Speeches (pp. 53–59). Berkeley, CA: Crossing Press. MacIntyre, Alasdair (2001) “Once More on Kierkegaard,” in John Davenport and Anthony Rudd (eds.), Kierkegaard After MacIntyre (pp. 339–355). Chicago, IL: Open Court. Macintyre, Alasdair (2007) “Yet Another Way to Read the Republic?” Proceedings of the Boston Area Colloquium in Ancient Philosophy, 23: 205–223. Macintyre, Alasdair (2013) “Torah and Moral Philosophy,” in Michael J. Harris, Daniel Rynhold, and Tamra Wright (eds.), Radical Responsibility: Celebrating the Thought of Chief Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks (pp. 3–16). New Milford, CT: Maggid Books. Merton, Thomas (1979) Love and Living. Edited by Naomi Burton Stone and BrotherPatrickHart. New York: Farrar, Straus, Giroux. Nygren, Anders (1953) Agape and Eros, trans. Philip S. Watson. Philadelphia, PA: The Westminster Press. Outka, Gene (1972) Agape: An Ethical Analysis. New London, CT: Yale University Press. Ruddick, Sara (1996) Maternal Thinking. New York: Beacon Press. Singer, Irving (2009) The Nature of Love I: Plato to Luther. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press. Soble, Alan (2011) The Philosophy of Sex and Love, 2nd edition. St. Paul, MN: Paragon House. Vlastos, Gregory (1973) Platonic StudiesPrinceton, NJ: Princeton University Press. Wagoner, Robert (1997) The Meanings of Love: An Introduction to Philosophy of Love. Westport, CT: Praeger.

Section IV


10 Erotic Practices; Erotic Communities

Introduction A politics of liberation aims at the reproduction of life. We wish to “overturn all circumstances in which man is a degraded, a subjected, a forsaken, a contemptible being” (Marx 2010, 182). Each of these describes the human agent who cannot develop her or his human powers and senses, cannot expand them in new directions, because of alienation. Alienation is rooted in a denial of nature as Eros and a denial of our human nature as erotic. Eros seeks new being—new actings—and we homo sapiens should feel humbled at the capacities we have for generating new beings. Each thing we do that denies life is sacrilege; each thing we do to reproduce life—not just our own—is sacred. A politics of liberation exists only in local communities of common goods. It entails that nature, Uŋcˇ í Makhá, has a voice in the community’s decisions about the common goods. Institutions are necessary and must be designed so that, through them, the members of the community exercise freedom by making their desires effective. Eros makes her mark on each of these aspects of a flourishing community, appearing as various forms of love but always aiming at the reproduction of life.

Practices Redefined New Definitions To act is a manifesting of Eros. Manifesting Eros means exercising the powers and senses of our species-being. Eros has as its telos the reproduction of life. One of the manifestations of love is that the good-enough world always outstrips my ability to develop. Thus, however developed I become, I can continue to appreciate new complexities, new meanings in the world… my current ability to appreciate it means that there is no upper bound to human development set by the world. (Lear 1998, 220)

220 Epilogue We encounter the world as good-enough when we first step into practice; but practice is a “collective … creating [of] an environment” (Marcuse 1969, 31). Eros grounds this development and creation. It must be part of practice, if practice will unite desire and ought; if through practice we discover who we are meant to be. If we are to recognize Eros as divine energy through which we make our own history, then we must redefine practice.1 A practice is the socio-historically established exercise, cultivation, and expansion of human powers through coherent and complex forms of activity in determinate conditions that achieves standards of excellence, partially definitive of that activity, to bring to fruition goods internal to that activity as objects of historically developed rational desire, with the result that conceptions of the good are systematically extended and the collective conditions of reproducing life are shaped. Better, a practice names socio-historically established ways that agents act together in determinate conditions cultivating specifically human powers and senses in the course of trying to achieve standards of excellence partially definitive of their acting together and bringing to fruition goods internal to their acting together which satisfy historically emergent rational desires, and thereby shape the collective conditions of reproducing life and systematically extend their conceptions of the ends of life. The definition of practice is reflective of our understanding of metaphysical biology. Eros is the end of being (telos) embodied in the specific actings (energeia) of species (biology). Yet, for homo sapiens, the end of being is historical and appears in the historical forms of acting to reproduce society. Thus, the definition makes clear that human agents determine the conditions of the practices historically and construct their desires and goods historically. In so doing, human agents shape the conditions of their lives by engaging in practices. Even the conditions of chess are determined historically—the cold war battle between U.S. and U.S.S.R. chess players and the more recent contest between homo sapiens and computer AI chess players. In homo sapiens, Eros appears in practices as generating actings resulting in goods (telos) from the exercise of species-being powers and senses (biology). Our flourishing, then, lies in extending those powers and senses, or as Marx wrote “these senses and attributes have become, subjectively and objectively, human” (1844, kl 1600). Because homo sapiens are cultural beings, our flourishing is identified and constructed culturally. What the specific human powers are, what the persistent desires consist in, what goods satisfy those desire are questions we answer through culture and tradition, through practice. Thus, goods internal to practices are

Erotic Practices; Erotic Communities


objects of rational desires, persistent human desires understood according to particular traditions. In some cases, these traditions will be practicespecific. Further, the culture and tradition defines the powers and senses agents cultivate in a practice. Acting (pretending to be something or someone we are not), for instance, is a human power that non-human animals do not have. Traditions might influence the definitions of these powers. What Athenian Greeks expected from their actors is different from what Japanese expect from Noh actors, which differs still from what Broadway critics expect. Standards of excellence are defined within the practice, but the practice is socially constructed, recognized by its agents as exercising powers defined by their culture, even if those powers are not accepted by the majority of the people. We must remember that cultures are heterogenous; no one identification of human powers will be held by everyone. Finally, eros appears in extending our conception of the good— our notions of flourishing—and celebrating being. Not every practice will lead to this celebration, just as not every practice will produce life. Yet, because every practice embodies in some way rational desire, human powers, and goods, each has the possibility of systematically extending the acknowledgement of life. I do not use the terms “love” or “eros” in this definition. Eros is captured in the term “rational desire” and “actings.” To use “eros” could lead to confusion if the definition is presented apart from the theory developed around it. Likewise, to use the term “love” would be confusing given how many different forms of love we might identify. Different practices, moreover, might cultivate different forms of love. Family will cultivate familial love, while biology will cultivate a love of plant and animal life. It is tempting to include in the definition some reference to new realities and new beauties. Yet, such a reference is not necessary. The fact is that, in cultivating powers and senses and in realizing goods, agents generate new realities and new beauties. Advantages to My Definition This definition has advantages over that of MacIntyre’s definition of practices. First, the greater inclusion of the historical conditions of life through which human beings make their history is more obvious in my definitions. They are not completely absent in MacIntyre’s definition, to be clear, since the reference to socially established activities, on a charitable and correct reading, would include this history. Yet the abstractness and downplaying of history can make us lose sight of the way that homo sapiens shape their history through shaping their human powers, their desires, and the conditions for the reproduction of life. Second, the development of human powers becomes focal rather than being sequestered at the end. As focal, human powers provide a telos at which to aim that helps situate the goods to be achieved. Further, desire is recognized

222 Epilogue and categorized as subject of history. Practices are not about satisfying present desires but the desires that characterize human life. Both of these moves make human nature central to the definition. Transformation of human nature becomes a project for agents. It calls to mind that we make our own history. Importantly, goods are still internal to practices and standards of excellence are definitive of practices. Combined with the focal point of human powers and the reference to historical human desires, this definition makes more perspicuous the challenge to institutional frameworks which try to manage agents. All institutions must be measured by how they contribute to, not efficiency or the exercise of prediction and control, but the development of human powers. The advantage of the second definition is obvious from both a Marxist and a Revolutionary Aristotelian point of view. Emphasis is on agency and action. Practices are not reified constructs but real human agents engaged in sensuous being. Agents engaged in practice “transform themselves and educate themselves through their own self-transformative activity coming to understand their good as the good internal to activity” (MacIntyre 1994, 287). Transformation lies in the expansion of human powers and the historical rational desires. By making the internal good their own, agents “are able to achieve something of universal worth” (MacIntyre 1994, 279) as an object of historical rational desire. Sensuous human activity is more perspicuous here, then in MacIntyre’s definition, because MacIntyre’s definition focuses “only in the form of the object”— the internal goods—whereas my definition focuses on the sensuous activity, the exercise of human powers. Here, “the coincidence of the changing of circumstance and of human activity [is] conceived and rationally understood only as revolutionary practice” (ibid.). Midwifery as an Erotic Practice Midwifery is a practice. Midwives act in socio-historically established ways. In the U.S., homo sapiens have constructed a society that favors high-tech solutions to problems and expect technological invasion of their everyday lives. Midwife acts take on different realities in this context. For instance, while in the Netherlands homebirths account for 30% of births, in the U.S. homebirths count for less than 2% (MacDorman and Declercq 2019). Midwives attend less than 10% of births in the U.S., as well. These facts mean that midwives are “less integrated” into the health care system in the U.S. (Vedam et al. 2018). The lack of integration means poorer maternal and infant outcomes. These facts also entail that midwife activities take different forms. Who they work with, what kind of pregnancy cases they take on, will be limited in comparison to other countries. Such limitations mean that U.S. midwives will have fewer opportunities to exercise and expand various human powers identified with their practice.

Erotic Practices; Erotic Communities


Another aspect of their practice is that they must advocate for their mothers in culturally conditioned institutional frameworks. Such advocacy is present in many industrialized countries where hospitals dominate the health-care industry. Yet, historically, this activity—advocacy—is new and definitive of midwifery under the conditions of capitalist modernism. Midwives would not have advocated for their mothers in conditions of pre-modernity when hospitals did not exist and will not have to advocate for their mothers in future conditions where hospitals comprise, not the center of, but a marginal aspect of health care. “We were our patients’ advocates. We had to assume professional responsibility for their wellbeing, even if it meant challenging the physicians … The American doctor, they taught us, was not keen on our opinions or our ways of delivering babies” (Armstrong and Feldman 2011, kl 560). Midwives cultivate specifically human powers, primarily that of trusting the body and trusting each other. The midwife seeks to “create an environment of trust” in case problems occur. Yet, these powers face severe threats under conditions of modern technology. Women want a hospital birth, want the technology because it feels safe, and want the promise of pain relief that seems a part of hospitals but not of midwifery practice. The wide, often unnoticed, acceptance of mechanism and dualism makes it easy to accept the intervention of modern technology and, thereby, accept a mistrust of the body. Cara Muhlhahn uses the term “trust” or synonyms repeatedly in her memoir (“And the trust between a midwife and her expectant family is given and taken seriously with honor”; Muhlhahn 2009, 133). The midwife addresses, not just the physical problems that concern an obstetrician, but the emotional, psychological, and spiritual problems that confront anyone and can affect a pregnancy. These include stress from money, in-laws, age, sexual abuse, and emotional fear of birth and being a parent. Thus, the relative lengthy time that a midwife spends with a pregnant woman addresses the needs, not just of pregnancy, but of the whole woman and empowers her to have a healthy birth in a “safe and trusting” environment. Helping women to trust their bodies proves a significant aspect of empowering women. If a woman can trust her body, then she is empowered. Muhlhahn explains that her passion arises in part from fighting with unnecessary interventions in medical settings (ibid., 170ff). She wants to help women learn to feel comfortable enough to let their bodies do the work. Midwives must work to let birth happen undisturbed (Rooks 1997, 128 and passim). A closer look at midwifery practice reveals the attitudes and standards of reason that contend against those of technological rationality. Home birthers recognize a birthing force, which hospital birthers may not. She quotes from an interview subject: “You have to have trust and faith in the natural rhythm of birthing and recognize the birthing force” (Kornelsen

224 Epilogue 2005, 1497). Recognition of the birthing force coincides with a belief that the birthing process is natural and healthy and cannot be controlled. Engaging in midwifery, choosing to be a midwife, and choosing to have a midwife deliver one’s baby all entail a particular conception of the good. This conception of the human good means seeing pregnancy and labor as natural as opposed to pathological (Davis-Floyd 1992; Kornelsen 2005). Participants tend to see the deep connections between mind-body that technological intervention in hospitals undermine (Reiger and Dempsey 2006). Human powers are also extended. Women who choose midwives report that they are better able to handle the pain that comes with labor. Birth entails labor, which brings on its own internal crises. The woman doubts she can make it past the next moment. Here, the supporters can help motivate and guide the “doing” of the woman in labor to push through the crisis. In choosing to support and how to support, either through being present for the birth or turning to medical technology, supporters “mediate the cultural message about birth being too difficult to accomplish without medical or pharmacological help” (Reiger and Dempsey 2006, 370). The ability to deal with pain, the fostering of relationships, and the ability to support another through a crisis all comprise human powers. Midwife activity shapes the conditions of reproducing life and systematically extends the conception of the ends of life. Consider, for instance, Penny Armstrong’s reflections on her life as a midwife. I had believed that I was alone, that I created all my weakness and all my failures; I believed that I had created all my successes. I thought I had to be invulnerable, that I would have to survive in the universe on the strength of my personality and my will. I advertised myself and I made myself tough—hoping, I think, that the universe would admit that for the first time in its history, some Penny had come along who could outsmart it. But I was no contestant against death. This baby’s death so disregarded me that I no longer considered myself selfsufficient. That would be absurd. Other forces—forces far too mighty for me to comprehend—held sway. I had been silly. (Armstrong and Feldman 2011, kl 3030) Armstrong had attended a still-birth where the baby had died in the womb, nothing an obstetrician or a mid-wife could prevent. This occurred in an Amish community that she had been midwife to, so the understanding of the death was seen partly through the eyes of the Amish funeral arrangements—a different sort of practice from midwifery—but as well through her eyes as a midwife in practice. Where her path on the road to midwifery had been lit by a refusal to accept a doctor’s belief that a birth was not normal till after the fact, her journey led her to a new

Erotic Practices; Erotic Communities


understanding of the goods of her own life and that of life in general. Self-sufficiency she still clung to as a midwife until this death shook her from her belief. In practicing midwifery, she discovered a new understanding of the human good, the good of community. The conditions of reproducing life include all the things we have discussed: our relationship to nature and to each other, the production of the means of existence, the social structures which we must navigate in order to engage in our practices and produce the means of existence. In practicing midwifery in the U.S., midwives actually create and recreate conditions of existence. Most midwifery care is not supported by health care insurance providers. This lack of support both conditions how midwives act—what patients they take and how much they charge—but also contributes to building a world in which people fight for insurance coverage of midwifery care or in which people view the means of production differently. Yet, the primary condition for midwives is that they cannot use the technology available to obstetricians and medical professionals. The unavailability of technology shapes the condition for reproducing life. When technology is used, it is seen as a part of the social reality of birth rather than as an artifact separate from the labor process (Kornelsen 2005, 1498). It is used in a web of support in which the midwife is viewed, not as a paid professional, but as “part of the authentic social community.” One interviewee reported that birth could not revert back to a pretechnological age. “I think the world we are living in possesses certain hazards, like in our food and in the air and that has an effect on how our bodies function … The thing is context, and [rejecting all technology is] not in context with the modern world.” Home birthers recognize a consciousness of technology without “accepting technology in every facet of their lives” (ibid., 1501). This discussion of midwifery as an erotic practice illuminates elements that my definition, but not MacIntyre’s, captures. U.S. midwives pursue goods determined by their historical situation; even more, though, their desire for trust takes on a particular meaning in a technologically rich culture. The desire to avoid pain also takes on a historically determined meaning. Midwifery further makes obvious the centrality of the development of human powers in practices—powers to trust nature and the body, powers to endure pain for a good. Midwives speak and write about their practices in ways that highlight human nature! MacIntyre defined practices without any reference to human nature, only to determine later that he presumed some kind of human nature. Yet, he never redefined practices, something necessary if we want to understand the full power of RA to undermine alienation and support flourishing. Part of that failure rested with his account of reason and love. Yet, finally, midwifery practice demonstrates that love and Eros are inherent to engagement with the practice, a fact not as obvious with chess or reproductive practices that are characterized as productive practices, such as fishing and farming.

226 Epilogue

Communities of Common Goods A MacIntyrean Foundation for Common Goods We must distinguish the common goods at the heart of a politics of liberation from other understandings of the common good. In particular, we need to understand that public goods are not common goods and that Catholic social thought has mis-defined the common good. Typically, when the notion of common goods is defended in public debate, the issue is that of public goods. These are goods that an individual cannot achieve alone, or typically not alone. Such goods include roads and education, health care and religion. Roads are common in the sense that usually it takes collaborative effort to attain them, for example through taxation. A primary example of a public good that almost everyone on the political spectrum recognizes is military security. The state claims the right to use of force. Yet, non-governmental entities, such as corporations, hire private security forces to protect their property. What such private ownership of a “public good” reveals is that, even in the liberal nation-state, such goods are not common and often at the service, not of the collective or the state, but the wealthy individual or corporation. Public goods are not common goods in the relevant sense. Roads can be enjoyed individually. While the burden for the good is typically shared, the use or benefit of such goods is not, or at least not equally. Arguments over public goods often derail into questions of who will pay for them, so that these are some of the things that one group will trade in order to gain something from another group. During the COVID-19 pandemic, for instance, Democrats and Republicans in the U.S. traded one set of goods, such as a stimulus check, for another, tax breaks for businesses. Such goods are easily corruptible and lead to corruption in power struggles between groups of individuals in the state. In contrast, St. Pope John XXIII provides the accepted definition of the common good in Catholic social teaching. The common good “embraces the sum total of those conditions of social living whereby men are enabled more fully and more readily to achieve their own perfection” (Mater et Magistra, {65). He restates this understanding again as “the sum total of all those conditions of social life which enable individuals, families, and organizations to achieve and complete their effective fulfillment” ({74). Here, John XXIII identifies the common good as a set of goods or conditions of social life. Such conditions include education and a military, but also “employment of the greatest possible number of workers … restrictions of inequalities in the various branches of the economy … proper balance between economic expansion and the development of social services” ({79). These are indeed goods, and their realization would make individual perfection more possible than that of unbridled capitalism.

Erotic Practices; Erotic Communities


The Catholic view of common goods is distinct from that of public goods on two accounts. First, public goods make no reference to perfection as typically asserted. Rather, under a classical liberal understanding, these are goods necessary for the pursuit of any conception of the good. For the Catholic view, however, these should aim at perfection. Education would look much different under the two views, for instance. Under a classical liberal educational system, education aims at preparing individuals to pursue their preferences in a market. Under a Catholic educational system, education aims primarily at organized studies that lead to the realization that God is the common good. A facet of this education prepares individuals to develop virtues by which they can contribute to and participate in an economy, but such participation for the virtuous aims primarily at the common good, not individual preference satisfaction. In the U.S., liberalism has sublimated Catholic educational directives. Second, the common goods John XXIII lists are necessary and cannot be traded back and forth for other types of goods, nor can they be attained by individuals. While a wealthy individual or an owner of a business might aim at less inequality in pay among owners and workers, as did Ben and Jerry’s ice cream, they do not affect the whole society. However, John XXIII’s understanding of common goods is both individualistic, rather than common in the relevant sense, and imposed from above. Employment of most people, for instance, is articulated as something for individuals not for the community. Yet, the fact that most people are employed in a community can have an effect on the nature of the community itself. Second, John XXIII abstracts from communal life to articulate a set of conditions at the national level. These goods are imposed from above rather than articulated and achieved from below. MacIntyre articulates the point about abstraction of the common good in the Catholic intellectual tradition in his discussion of common goods. Individuals “achieve their own good in achieving the common goods that are theirs, for it is in achieving those common goods that they perfect themselves as human beings and so achieve their own individual goods” (MacIntyre 20112). Properly educated persons find that they can only achieve their individual goods by “directing themselves towards the achievement of common goods” (ECM, 174–175). For John XXIII, common goods provide the conditions necessary for individuals to perfect themselves; for MacIntyre, common goods are the means through which individuals perfect themselves. Where for John XXIII, common goods are constituted independently and supplied by the government, for MacIntyre, common goods are constituted in common work, that is, in communal activity aimed at achieving the common goods of that community. Moreover, on MacIntyre’s account, common goods comprise premises for practical reasoning. Once we have identified the goods, we use them in a syllogism to determine the actions which will best achieve those goods. John XXIII’s goods appear to lack this feature. They are conditions for

228 Epilogue achieving perfection and not constitutive of perfection. They do not form the foundation of a syllogism in order to determine action. They do put limits on action, for example, but as rights. In MacIntyre’s view, rights comprise, not the parameters, but the conclusions of arguments (see Nicholas 2015). A distinctive feature of MacIntyre’s concept of common goods is that they consist in a rank ordering of goods. Individuals and communities must rank order their common goods in order to reason. Common goods provide reasons for action, and, as we saw before, on MacIntyre’s account we must be able to explain why we acted for this rather than that good. That means that we must be able to rank order our goods so that we can make these arguments. Since they are common goods, our reasoning must share, in some ways, agreements with others in the community about our common rank ordering of goods. That sharing entails that we appear reasonable to others when engaging in debates with them about the communal rank ordering of goods as well as our own rank ordering of goods. For MacIntyre, politics is a practice in which we rank order goods by rank ordering other practices (PPCG, 241). As members of a community, we participate in a variety of practices. MacIntyre’s discussion of fishing in ECM focuses on fishing, family, education, and community. He praises the people of Thorupstrand for rank ordering these practices so that their fishing supported education, family, and community. In any community, we will have to do likewise. How will our practices of midwifery, vegetable farming, family, and church inter-relate so that each member can pursue her goods in ways that expand her powers and senses? That is, how does our rank ordering of these practices allow us to flourish? Such question must include questions about the pursuit and distribution of resources, such as money, food, and energy so that we do not accidentally starve to death in pursuit of practices like midwifery and church. On this account of common goods, “our primary shared and common good is found in that activity of communal learning through which we together become able to order goods, both in our individual lives and in the political society” (PPCG, 243). Learning becomes central to our common goods and is a political act. We learn how to order goods individually and collectively. Further, such learning is communal. This learning is not something we can do as autodidacts. The reason that learning is communal is that we reason in community. “Practical rationality is a property of individuals-in-their-social-relationships” (PPCG, 242). Learning the nature of my good requires others. Eros and Common Goods MacIntyre’s account has a variety of advantages over that of the notion of the public good or the stated conception of the common good in Catholic circles for a politics of liberation. The primary strength of MacIntyre’s

Erotic Practices; Erotic Communities


account lies in its focus on deliberation. Deliberation is both constitutive of common goods and is necessary for rank-ordering goods. Neither the public good account nor the Catholic approach involves rank ordering goods nor makes deliberation an aspect of the common good. If reason is one of our species-being powers, then its exercise in deliberation is necessary for liberation. Articulating this point clearly is an advantage of MacIntyre’s account. However, MacIntyre errs by suggesting that we can articulate the common goods of the community without a theory of human nature and desires. If common goods are objects necessary for human flourishing— for the exercise of human powers—then, members of a community must first understand what desires they seek to satisfy before they can identify their common goods. We cannot rank order goods until we rank order the persistent human desires we have, until we understand the nature of those desires. The goal of a politics of liberation here is to reconnect persistent human desire with practical reasoning—with determining what we should do in order to exercise and expand human powers and senses. The first task of politics, then, is discovery. “One meets the anarchic individualist desires which a competitive society breeds in us, by a rediscovery of the deeper desire to share what is common in humanity, to be divided neither from them nor from oneself” (MacIntyre 2009, 95). Or better, the discovery of what I want is only possible when we discover what we want. Want, however, is the interpretation of desire. Human nature is the foundation of practical activity because through practical activity we both discover and satisfy desire. Such discovery, however, must be communal discovery. MacIntyre identified the need for the Marxist to give a historical account of human nature, but he abandoned the project of providing such an account. I have shown that, in substituting practices for human nature, MacIntyre has given us the language of common goods. Yet, such goods are abstracted from human nature. A politics of liberation, in contrast, renews MacIntyre’s project by making it a task for the members of a community to develop a historical conception of human nature as they begin to rank order practices and goods. A politics of liberation insists that members in a community are the only ones capable of interpreting persistent human desire in a way that provides a foundation for identifying common goods and engaging in practical reasoning. Consider members of a community attempting to rank order their goods. These goods provide premises for the community and individual to engage in practical reasoning. Such practical reasoning involves questions such as, how will the community support the pursuit of this good and how will an individual decide what to do in her life. One question a community must answer is how they are going to ensure their community survives through population growth. Thus, they will have to determine questions of health care and, primarily, questions about birth. Chapter 6

230 Epilogue showed that the interpretations of these goods—of good health care for pregnant women and good birth—rest on conceptions of the human person which can affect health outcomes for women and children. Certain interpretations of human desire, for example about pain and family, lead to one approach rather than another, the obstetric dominance or the midwife-led approach to birth. Thus, in order to decide whether and what kind of hospital or birthing center or support for home birth a community will have, the members must articulate their understanding of human nature and, thus, interpret their persistent human desires. When members of a community fail to articulate these desires, they risk having their practices determine the nature of those desires for them so that they lose agency in two ways. First, they lose agency because agency entails making our desires effective. Making our desires effective entails knowing what we mean by those desires and recognizing the conflicting interpretations in our communities about those desires. Second, as in the case of obstetric practice in the U.S., members lose agency by having decisions made for them. Obstetricians are more than willing to withhold information and to impose procedures on women. Rank ordering desires and goods does not occur in a vacuum. Members define their community both by a set of desires and set of activities that satisfy those desires. In relaying their history, older generations impart to younger generations an understanding of what human desires are. In doing so, they also open up that understanding of desire to new questions and the possibility of new interpretations of desire. Such questions and possibility arise in history—in the communal reproduction of life; just when that communal reproduction of life faces hurdles are when new questions and new possibilities are most likely to arise. MacIntyre’s account of common goods also errs when he ignores the role of Eros in identifying, articulating, and pursuing those common goods. Consider, for instance, that MacIntyre’s account includes rank ordering practices. Our understanding of practices now includes Eros. Practices involve people coming to love the internal goods and to recognize how those internal goods are objects of Eros, of the desire to create new realities and new beauties. Eros is the mother of the persistent human desires that we must interpret to identify our common goods. These common goods provide a sense of self and a power that arises from our collective endeavors. It pushes us to demand that the common goods we define comprise, not things we settle for, but goods that push us to our fullness. That deeper desire we discover is, not just a desire to share with others, but to love with others what they love.

Erotic Practices; Erotic Communities


Erotic Communities Young’s Critique of Community We began by distinguishing MacIntyre’s account of the common goods of community from the public good of the liberal nation-state and the common good of Catholic social thought. MacIntyre’s common goods of community is superior to those accounts because it recognizes a variety of common goods, the role of those common goods in practical reasoning, and the nature of politics as a co-discovery. However, I have challenged his interpretation on two accounts. First, MacIntyre, by substituting practice for human nature, ignores the role of the interpretation of desire in the rank ordering of common goods. Second, MacIntyre ignores the role of Eros in the discovery of common goods. The argument makes clear that individuals can only pursue their individual good when, in union with others, they are able beforehand to identify and pursue the common goods of their community. A politics of liberation, then, is built around communities, but not just any community. Such communities must be erotic in two senses. They must recognize that human communities are expressions of Eros, the spontaneous, creative, generative acting of homo sapiens. Second, they must understand that communities must be built on a variety of forms of love, which are, as we argued, expressions of Eros. This understanding of community faces a challenge, however. Where MacIntyre argues that such communities must share a number of presuppositions, Iris Marion Young argues that the concept of community as such denies difference. I contend that erotic communities are homogenous only in their commitment to this-community-in-act and heterogenous in other aspects. MacIntyre (PPCG, 246–250) identifies three features of the ideal community. First, the members share a commitment to the precepts of natural law. These precepts include truthfulness, care for others, and keeping promises. They are the conditions that make communities possible, and what we might consider the conditions for equality and free enquiry. Second, such communities must be small-scale and as self-sufficient as possible so that, on the one hand, threats from corporations, the nationstate, or other larger entities do not force members of the community to compromise their pursuit of common goods, and, on the other, members can hold representatives responsible through questioning and deliberation. If members of a community elect people to represent them so as to make more efficient the pursuit of their common goods and the resources necessary for them, then those representatives must be responsible to the members of the community. That entails that members can join with others in evaluating the practical reasoning of the representatives. Third, communities embrace local markets. So-called free-market capitalism imposes conditions on communities that compromise that ability of

232 Epilogue members to pursue goals, including their own goals for productive activity. True free markets, in contrast, allow those who want to participate to do so and ensures that everyone can contribute to the reproduction of society. In contrast to this ideal community, Iris Marion Young contends that communities deny difference and, therefore, cannot be free. I shall focus on just a few of Young’s criticism that I think are most relevant. First, Young locates arguments for community within the individualism/communitarian debate. Liberals posit their arguments on the basis that individuals come into society fully autonomous; communitarians contend that attributes of individuals are “coeval with the society in which he or she lives” (Young 1995, 237). For Young, this debate hinges on a binary we must reject. Individualism/community is just one more binary with male/female, reason/nature, etc. Such binaries give more value to one side—that associated with the male—than the other. Reversing their evaluation does not work because these binaries “arise from and belong to bourgeois culture” (ibid., 239). Second, Young insists that these binaries entail a denial of difference. They seek to bring difference, heterogeneity, into unity. The liberal position finds this unity in the pre-communal self, whole and self-sufficient. The communitarian seeks to fuse the difference by having members of the community identify with a totality. As part of denying difference, Young believes that communities compose a totality in two ways. On the one hand, the concept of community functions by imagining a unity to the community that is ontologically prior to the members of the community. This ontologically prior community imposes unity on the members by realizing a general will. On the other hand, the concept of community externalizes history. The community is not something to be achieved, a project in the making. Rather, the community is self-sufficient and whole as it is. Third, communities which insist on sharing between individuals requires objectifying people. When one speaks, one relates something to the world; this sharing, however, is never complete. Something always remains unsaid. In a community, individuals expect to understand each other completely, to see the world from the other’s perspective. Individuality is lost in the unity of perspective. Of course, such intersubjective sharing is possible, but it is always “fragile” (Young 1995, 242). This ideal, which is never possible to realize, denies difference. It suggests that what cannot be said does not exist or does not matter for the individual’s belonging to the community. Young suggests that this attempt to find identification between members has led to denying difference in political groups. Feminists groups, she holds, have sought such unity so that expressing difference often was seen as a “breach of sisterhood, the destruction of personal relatedness and community” (ibid., 245). Young’s analysis is necessary to consider. History provides plenty of examples where communities suppress difference. A politics of liberation

Erotic Practices; Erotic Communities


must resist such homogenization. Further, her argument that language does not make us completely transparent in our desires, identity, and difference is relevant. In various places in this argument, we have shown that our knowledge is always mediated by language and concepts. As critical realists, we recognize that the world pushes back against our concepts; yet, we have no independent, or immediate, access to that world. Traditions and practices define our world for us in the concepts that we, as members of traditions and practice, identify as ours. Persistent human desires, which are part of our human nature, are part of that world we cannot access independently and require interpretation. Thus, I argued that a community of common goods begins with the interpretation of desire. Young’s contention is that the notion of community as such imposes a denial of difference by suggesting that our desires are transparent to us. We must consider her argument for we wish to avoid the idea that community imposes something on us. Community is, on my argument, a work in progress—something Young seems to think is not possible. Communities in Act MacIntyre provides what we can take as an initial response to Young’s analysis. A polis is at least as different from the political society of a Volk as either is from that of a liberal democracy. A polis is indeed impossible, unless its citizens share at least one language … and unless they also share modes of deliberation … and a large degree of common understanding of practices and institutions. And such a common understanding is generally derived from some particular inherited cultural tradition. But these requirements have to serve the ends of a society in which individuals are always able to put in question through communal deliberation what has hitherto by custom and tradition been taken for granted both about their own good and the good of the community. A polis is always, potentially or actually, a society of rational enquiry, of self-scrutiny. (PPCG, 241) MacIntyre’s analysis of community does insist on sharing certain features. Yet, these features are ones which open, rather than close off, debate between members when the community functions properly. Such functioning provides opportunities for the expansion of human powers and senses, and one of those human powers is deliberation. My discussion of the interpretation of desires share these features but shifts the focus to discussion of desire and, as a consequence, is even more open to debate. The question members of a community must ask is, how do we

234 Epilogue understand these desires that persist throughout our history? In asking this question, they consider the various answers provided in their own history. History is a process of asking and answering these questions, a process which is always open, as MacIntyre suggests. Our account pushes this further by noting that these answers are given in the way that we provide for the means of our subsistence, the ways we reproduce the community. We are always developing and extending our species-being powers and senses. In this sense, I agree, as I suspect MacIntyre would, with Young that “community” is a process. Young is correct to state that individual and community is a false dichotomy created under capitalist social structures. That, however, does not undermine Marx’s or MacIntyre’s claims about the desire for community. What Young’s analysis fails to account for is that homo sapiens evolved as living in communities. We satisfy our needs in community and desire community as one of those needs. From the Marxist point of view, community is one of human beings making their own history. This process cannot succeed with a denial of difference. Young’s analysis rests on a reification of community. Or, I should say, what Young critiques are conceptions of community that are reified, as something either external to the whole self or as something that totalizes the self. A politics of liberation, in contrast, recognizes that community is a dynamic interaction of members seeking their good together. The goal of a politics of liberation is Eros, the development in each person of her species-being powers and senses. This individuality “is impaired when each man decides to shift for himself … The fully developed individual is the consummation of a fully developed society” (Horkheimer 2004, 92). A fully developed society requires difference because fully developed individuals are different. Though members of a community share a variety of beliefs and a rank-ordering of goods, the individuals see these goods and this rank ordering in different ways. Consider a community with a variety of practices. Even if the midwife and the farmer rank-order their goods together, as individuals in practices through which they flourish, they will prioritize their pursuit of these goods differently. They must because they are in different practices. They might agree on the need to protect the environment, but disagree on religion or on the importance of family. Difference that contributes to the individual’s flourishing requires a community in which she is able, in conjunction with others, to interpret persistent human desires and construct their goods. Community is dynamic here. In contrast, modern philosophy reifies the community and individual by abstracting them from their historical reality in activity. Yet, the Aristotelian-cum-Marxist approach is to see that “community” names only those actings through which members constitute themselves as community.

Erotic Practices; Erotic Communities


Eros is essential here in two senses, first as creative acting and second as various forms of love. Eros is present in acting to generate new realities and new beauties. It is a longing for new ways of being—of acting (energeia). An erotic community, then, is open to these new realities and new beauties. These new realities and beauties appear in practices through which human beings cultivate and expand their powers and senses. That openness entails a celebration of difference as difference. Members of a community, if they are going to seek common goods—i.e., if they are going to pursue their individual goods—will need to work together to interpret their persistent human desires, to rank order goods, and to rank order practices. Communities, further, require a variety of forms of love, most notably familial love and friendship. I do not mean, first, that the nuclear family is the center of the community, nor, second, that everyone in the community must be friends. Why? Families are necessary for the reproduction of life. The reproduction of life means reproducing our way of life, extending the human powers and senses we have, seeking to satisfy the persistent human desires as we understand them. Families are central to these projects, as sources of new members of community, as the first educators in the various desires and goods of the community, and as sites where individuals first learn about Eros. “Family” is most likely not a nuclear family (mother, father, children in one household), which seems a construct of patriarchal capitalism that divides people from working together to make a common life. Yet, what structure the family has is one of the questions that members of the community must interpret and give answers to, including reasons for this or that answer, reasons and answers which are always in question. To always be in question means to always be challenged—and open to challenge—by difference. Nor need everyone in the community be friends. It is not possible if by friends we mean those who share in common practices and know each other’s secrets. Nor is it really possible for all the members of even small communities to be friends in some more generic sense. No one can, nor should they, try to please everyone or to be of some use to everyone. However, everyone in the community requires friends as one of the constitutive goods of human life—and what such friendship looks like is always a matter of how members of the community interpret those common, persistent human desires. To be a little more nuanced: the members of the community must interpret what appears (to me) as one persistent human desire in history—the desire for friends or sharing with others. So, of course, as with any persistent human desire, the members of the community must interpret that desire and identify what goods attend to it. I say that it most likely will be that they understand that everyone needs friends. What a friend is will always be locally determined, however. Each person needs support; one task of a politics of liberation is to reject the

236 Epilogue idea that an individual can be self-sustaining. On MacIntyre’s account, persons need friends who can and will correct them when they venture down a path that leads away from flourishing. I believe that archaeology shows that homo sapiens need others to share their lives with, others who are not family or not romantic/sexual life-partners. However, everyone in the community must have a willingness to love in the sense of giving discussed in the last chapter. If giving is, as Fromm suggests, the highest expression of potency, it is as well the defining feature of Eros. To be erotic is to give so that new realities and new beauties come into being for the community. Or, as bell hooks echoes Fromm, love entails that one nurture others. The activities of members of communities must be acts that make possible for others—which in the end also means themselves—their own flourishing as the development of human powers and senses. In a politics of liberation, the butcher, the brewer, and the baker do provide meat, wine, and bread so that members of the community can flourish. Love as friendship, or more generally nurturance, not profit, characterizes the acts of members of the society. Because love flows throughout the community-in-act, members nurture difference in each other. No one may be able to identify with another completely or may be capable of understanding the other fully. Such understanding is not necessary for a community aimed at common goods. It prevents questioning and limits opportunities for new experiences. It also prevents the dynamic interactions that make life enjoyable. Yes, of course, frustration attends difference; but community should not seek the end of frustration caused by difference. Rather, through constructing their common goods together, they seek to end the circumstances in which human beings find themselves oppressed and dominated. Nature and Communities A politics of liberation entails that members of the community come together to discover and construct their goods through interpreting their desires so that each and everyone can flourish. Such a community must ensure that all members of the community participate in discussion otherwise no individual will be able to truly flourish. Flourishing entails discovering and constructing my desires with others—all others in the community. If our community excludes voices, then we cannot determine our desires together because we have, ipso facto, denied the “we.” Given this account of common goods, Nature, Uŋcˇ í Makhá, must have a voice in the community as she is a member of the community. This position entails, not the denial of difference or the need to interpret desires, but asserts the interpretation of those desires together in community. Uŋcˇ í Makhá, living nature, includes all the relationships between human and non-human life and all non-living beings that comprise our possibilities for living. Non-human animal life has its own destiny. Uŋcˇ í

Erotic Practices; Erotic Communities


Makhá has her own destiny, a destiny we can barely know as we are always in search of our own destiny. Whatever that destiny is, it arises from Eros in nature, Eros in all of the actings of beings that make the reproduction of life possible. Alienation from nature means seeing nature as lifeless and viewing homo sapiens as somehow transcending nature and our bodies. Our liberation requires that we recognize that we are parts of nature, that our persistent human desires arise from our particular biological nature. Our capacities for language, reason, art, music, are biological capacities, the ends of which are Eros. Interpreting our persistent human desires means that we must recognize the way that nature makes possible the goods that satisfy those desires through our work with nature. “The worker can create nothing without nature” (1844, kl 1065). For Marx, nature comprises the body of the human, for homo sapiens must be continuously working with nature to be human. From nature’s perspective, Marx’s view is one-sided. If the worker requires nature to create herself, to make history with others, then nature is a member of the community in which the individual creates herself. We can only exclude her from community if she is indeed dead, lifeless, meaningless. If, however, she is dynamic, as we have argued, then she is a member of the community, and her desires, her destiny, must have a voice in determining the common goods of community. Consider, as well, that from the perspective of individual species, Marx’s view is one-sided. We need only look inside our intestines for nonhuman organisms that are critical for our being. In our environment, diverse non-human animals and plants populate the world in ways that both inhibit and promote my own acting and seek their flourishing in an environment which I and other human animals in my community construct. Trees that we uproot may provide homes for a variety of species, as well as food sources; they also provide oxygen for us to breathe. Because they are essential to our own possibilities of flourishing, and because they have their own destiny, they should have a say in their destiny—in the human actions that affect their possibilities for flourishing. Eros flows through these other living bodies as much as it flows through us. Had they not come first, our species could not have developed the specific powers by which we mirror so closely the nature of Eros as creative acting. Together with these non-human living bodies, Eros creates new realities and new beauties through our work in union with them. For homo sapiens to act without consulting the lives of non-human animals and plants that their acts will impact violates the common goods of community, violates the notion of community as living itself. This point does not deny difference. It recognizes that the good is open to debate, but that all members of the community—all those who have a destiny— must be able to participate in that good.

238 Epilogue The objection will be that nature, even Uŋcˇ í Makhá, cannot speak. Neither Uŋcˇ í Makhá, nor non-human animals, nor plants can make known to us their desires. They cannot consent to what we do because they have no understanding of what our intentions are. Even if, then, we said that nature was a member of community, it would be meaningless. Vine Deloria Jr. writes, “We no longer depend on the presence and wisdom of elders who can consult the spirits and give us their counsel when making important decisions. Most of us cannot even fathom how living in that manner would be” (Deloria 2006, kl 388). Deloria is right: most of us cannot fathom what it would be to live in a way that we consult nature when making important decisions. In the U.S., our current national system for protecting the environment does not work. Environmental assessments depend on government officials to authorize and use them. Donald Trump, for instance, quickly undermined what limited power such assessments had when he took office. Yet, if we do not begin to listen to Uŋcˇ í Makhá, we will lose billions of lives. Human life itself may end. Just as parents of a child who cannot communicate must do everything they can to protect that child so that she can flourish, so too communities must do everything they can to protect Uŋcˇ í Makhá, the non-human animals, and the plants that are part of the community even though they cannot speak in words we can hear. How particular communities make such protections will depend on the decisions of the members; yet, the need for such protections must be seen as part of the precepts of natural law that ensure that all voices can speak and be heard. Given the severity of our situation, the best path forward is to empower some people to listen to Uŋcˇ í Makhá and speak for her. They should not be able to speak for themselves in community for the period during which they represent Uŋcˇ í Makhá. The reason for such silence is that they must be able to exercise veto power on any decision of the community. While an extreme limitation to the determination of desires and goods, human beings have proven that they cannot be trusted at the moment to listen to Uŋcˇ í Makhá. They killed off nearly every Wicˇ háša Wakhˇ áŋ (medicine man) who could. Does this position allow Young’s objection to stand? Her objection is that community denies difference by imposing the notion of community from outside. My response is that community is an act whereby the members of the community constitute themselves as such. My position entails that everyone be included in the community, including Uŋcˇ í Makhá. Difference arises, I contend, because the members of the community deliberate together about their goods, and such deliberation will entail that some will disagree with the rank-ordering of goods. Inclusion constitutes, not a hindrance, but a condition of diversity, and such inclusion entails that Uŋcˇ í Makhá is necessary for diversity.

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Institutions and Political Authority MacIntyre dichotomizes practices and institutions. Practices pursue internal goods, and institutions pursue external goods as part of their function to support the practice. Kelvin Knight (2011) sees in this distinction the revolutionary nature of MacIntyre’s Aristotelianism. Modern institutions are structured bureaucracies that impose rules over goods in some kind of Kantian nightmare. Such institutions are structured so that managers oversee the functions of the institutions. Yet, managerial reasoning expresses “emotivist moral philosophy” which obliterates the distinction between manipulative and non-manipulative behavior (Knight 2011, 27). Managers justify their actions through appeals to efficiency and the possession of predictive knowledge of how people behave. On MacIntyre’s account, with which Knight agrees, governments consists in “a hierarchy of bureaucratic managers” (ibid., 28). Government officials seek to satisfy competing claims for external goods through trade between the most powerful players, with the vast majority of people bearing the costs for little to no benefit. Thus, institutions and the managers who direct them seek to increase the extraction of surplus value from the worker. Because we unite desire and practical reason in practices, and because practices need institutions, the revolutionary task rests in the transformation of institutions. MacIntyre insists that the task of any institution that bears a practice must constantly ask what the nature of the institution is. For instance, a hospital (MacIntyre and Knight focus on universities) housing the practice of medicine must constantly engage in arguments over the nature of the hospital. Such arguments would presumably keep front and center, at least to some extent, the necessity of the hospital to support the internal goods of medicine. Further, this argument might “expose the incoherence” of rhetoric which supports the modern hospital’s pursuit of external goods over internal goods (Knight 2011, 33). Yet, because the modern institution, including hospitals, hierarchically places managers over managed—managers over doctors, doctors over nurses and patients—a challenge must be made to the legitimacy of that hierarchy. Knight believes MacIntyre has accomplished this challenge, successfully, by opposing the pursuit of internal goods in concrete practices to the abstractions of moral and organizational theories. Further, politics involves the rank ordering of goods and practices. For Knight, this rank ordering includes a conception of the excellences of institutions. Such institutions must be concerned with, not just their own practices and goods, but the goods of the whole human life and with the good human being. MacIntyre, however, provides no blueprint for the ordering of practices and rejects the idea that such a hierarchy is “given by nature or history” (Knight 2011, 34). This position seems right in light of the arguments we have made about the historical nature of human

240 Epilogue action and the historical development of practices. Agents in community determine their rank-ordering together. To suggests that nature, history, or God provides such a rank ordering would contradict the analysis we have given of the discovery of human desires. Where Knight finds revolutionary potential in MacIntyre’s distinction between practice and institution, Keith Breen sees a false dichotomy that undermines strategic action for the pursuit of internal and external goods. For when we accept that goods conflict, that communities, not simply states, are characterized by fundamental conflict and that actors sometimes face dilemmas having no clear resolution, then adaptability and compromise assume an ethical, rather than merely instrumental, status. In both MacIntyre’s early and later periods compromise is tainted by association with emotivist preference maximization. Omitted throughout is the possibility that compromise and adaptation might be … appropriate responses to situations where the achievement of two equally worthy goods is impossible. (Breen 2012, 203–204) Breen is, in some ways, pointing to a different issue in MacIntyre. Knight focuses on the conflicts between institutions and practices and therefore between different institutions at the nation-state level. Breen, in contrast, is discussing conflicts in goods at the level of community as well as between communities. Yet, the comparison is relevant because Breen sees his problem as one with a larger problem in MacIntyre’s thought: “opposition between state and community is therefore guided by a more fundamental opposition between a strategic politics of factional conflict and a consensual politics of the common good” (ibid., 202). MacIntyre does contend that we must engage strategically with the nation-state to support the pursuit of common goods; however, Breen’s larger point is that MacIntyre provides no analysis of strategic rationality and seems to see it as bad to begin with. At some level, this contradiction must be one at the level of theory, because MacIntyre is well aware that institutions must rely on strategic thinking in order to pursue external goods which are always in competition. By exiling strategic thinking to the institution, however, he poses a dichotomy which must be false. To put this point in a different way, why is strategic thought an internal good of the practice of chess but looked down upon in the institution? MacIntyre’s response would be that some institutions are good when they use strategic thinking to pursue external goods, and some are bad. Institutions of modernity mostly seem to pursue external goods under the constraints of capitalism and through managerial bureaucracy which seeks to squeeze as much surplus value out of the laborer as possible. My understanding of Breen’s reply would be that such a response highlights a false dichotomy: institutions are corrupted from the inside, while

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practices are corrupted from the outside. Strategic thinking still appears emotivist except within the confines of practices like chess. I shall suggest two ways to think about how we might construct institutions to support communities of common goods in ways that accept strategic rationality as a good. First, I hope that my discussion of the discovery and construction of common goods in a community made it obvious that I am advocating at the level of the community some version of participatory democracy, a democracy that is as direct, rather than representative, as can be given the social-material conditions of the world. Authority for the goods of a practice and the common goods of a community rests only in one place: the members of the practice and of the community respectively. An abiding task for homo sapiens is to discover their flourishing together—to interpret the persistent human desires and discover and construct the goods that satisfy those desires within historically determinate conditions, conditions which they constitute and recreate in their everyday actions. Such goods cannot be imposed from above or externally except at the cost of removing freedom, understood as making our desires most effective. This understanding of practical and common goods immediately entails that politics aimed at freedom requires participatory democracy. What form that participation takes must be determined locally, where locally is always relative to some larger picture. It must be real participation, though, that gives everyone, not just a chance to be heard, but an effective voice in determining the rank-ordering of goods. It must also be open to disagreement. At some point, especially under current conditions of “liberal democracy,” conflict will arise often. Solutions may not be possible under consensus. Thus, trade-offs might be made and might still comprise an approach to common goods. I have already suggested one such trade-off, one which I think applies to any community: Uŋcˇ í Makhá has veto power. This commitment to participatory democracy has implications for institutions, implications that negate the potential for abuse by managerial rationality and which recognize in strategic thinking a certain kind of good. Institutions must be governed through participatory democratic processes. Obviously, such institutions will rank-order the internal goods of the practice housed in the institution above external goods. Such rankordering might be accomplished in a variety of ways, but in order for the institution to concern the whole human person and to be a free institution, the development of human powers and senses comprises the primary objective of the institution. Those who are charged with the everyday decision-making of the institution must be practitioners first and leaders second. Management has no place in such an institution, not because strategic thinking is necessarily corrupting, but because the ideal of the manager is counter to free action. Further, since no practitioner wishes to abandon her craft permanently and since holding power, even if limited,

242 Epilogue can be corrupting, all positions of decision-making must have term-limits. The energeia, if you will, of the institution is acting for the goods internal to the practice and the goods of human life in general. This point brings us to a politics of liberation that understands love as the final rejection of alienation. “If all public policy was created in the spirit of love, we would not have to worry about unemployment, homelessness, schools failing to teach children, or addiction” (hooks 2000, 98). Alienation consists in saleability, the divorce of fact from value, the feeling of an unnatural power controlling and directing things. Eros entails the agent directing her life according to her persistent human desires. Eros animates the institution to direct itself to the exercise of historically determinate human powers and senses and the pursuit of goods. It also attempts to embody, not impartial rules, but a spirit of love that considers the care of the individual in his or her work. Moreover, Eros “provid[es] the power which comes from sharing deeply any personal pursuit with another” (Lorde 2006, 56). Through the discovery of that deep satisfaction that comes from exercising and extending one’s human powers, Eros ensures that the institution thrives. Further, true friendship is most apt for the character of the relations between members in an institution. True friendship is united by common pursuits—here, in the pursuit of the practice, its human powers and goods, within the institutional framework. We must abandon the idea that such friendship means everyone gets along. Erotic friendship focused on human being means that we work together to accomplish common tasks that we both—we all—believe are, not just important, but essential goods of human life. These two ideas—participatory democracy in all institutions and the animating presences of Eros—will be called utopian, impractical, even impossible. In our current world, dominated by private ownership of the means of production and a belief that human beings are selfish and evil, it will meet much resistance from the mighty and those who have accepted these views of property and human being. That is why institutions are, not only the place wherein we pursue goods, but the place where we might change beliefs about human nature. The work will not be easy; it will require a lot of luck. It will require, in some instances, a willingness of owners to bequeath to their workers the institutions they work in. In other cases, it will require members of a community to desire something so bad that they have no other choice but to organize as an institution—a desire for community itself.

Notes 1 A practice is any coherent and complex form of socially established cooperative human activity through which goods internal to that form of activity are realized in the course of trying to achieve those standards of excellence which are

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appropriate to, and partially definitive of, that form of activity, with the result that human powers to achieve excellence, and human conceptions of the ends and goods involved, are systematically extended (MacIntyre 2007, 187). 2 I thank Alasdair MacIntyre for giving permission to cite from this paper, which he initially delivered at the Center for Contemporary Aristotelian Studies in Ethics and Politics at London Metropolitan University.

References Abbreviations 1844: Marx, Karl (1988) Economic and Philosophic Manuscripts of 1844 and The Communist Manifesto [the latter co-authored by Friedrich Engels], trans. Martin Milligan. New York: Prometheus Books. ECM: MacIntyre, Alasdair (2017) Ethics in the Conflicts of Modernity: An Essay on Desire, Practical Reasoning, and Narrative. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. PPCG: MacIntyre, Alasdair (1998) “Politics, Philosophy, and the Common Good,” in Kelvin Knight (ed.), The MacIntyre Reader (pp. 235–252). Notre Dame, IN: University of Notre Dame Press.

Other References Armstrong, Penny, and Sheryl Feldman (2011) A Midwife’s Story. London: Pinter and Martin. Breen, Keith (2012) Under Weber’s Shadow: Modernity, Subjectivity, and Politics in Habermas, Arendt, and MacIntyre. Burlington, VT: Ashgate. Davis-Floyd, Robbie (1992) “The Technocratic Body and the Organic Body: Cultural Models for Women’s Birth,” Knowledge and Society 9: 59–93. Deloria, Vine, Jr. (2006) The World We Used to Live In: Remembering the Powers of the Medicine Men. Golden, CO: Fulcrum Publishing. hooks, bell (2000) All About Love: New Visions. New York: Harper Perennial. Horkheimer, Max (2004) Eclipse of Reason. New York: Continuum Press. John XXIII (1961). “Mater et Magistra,” encyclicals/documents/hf_j-xxiii_enc_15051961_mater.html. Kornelsen, Jude (2005) “Essences and Imperatives: An Investigation of Technology in Childbirth,” Social Science & Medicine 61(7): 1495–1504. Knight, Kelvin (2011) “Revolutionary Aristotelianism,” in Paul Blackledge and Kelvin Knight (eds.), Virtue and Politics: Alasdair MacIntyre’s Revolutionary Aristotelianism. Notre Dame, IN: University of Notre Dame Press, pp. 20–34. Lear, Jonathan (1998) Love and Its Place in Nature: A Philosophical Interpretation of Freudian Psychoanalysis. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press. Lorde, Audre (2006) “The Uses of the Erotic: The Erotic as Power,” in Audre Lorde, Sister Outsider: Essays and Speeches (pp. 53–59). Berkeley, CA: Crossing Press. MacDorman, M. F., and E. Declercq (2019) “Trends and State Variations in Outof-Hospital Births in the United States, 2004–2017,” Birth (Berkeley, Calif.), 46(2): 279–288.

244 Epilogue MacIntyre, Alasdair (1994) “The Theses on Feuerbach: A Road Not Taken,” in C. C. Gould and R. S. Cohen (eds.), Artifacts, Representations and Social Practice, Boston Studies in the Philosophy of Science, vol 154. Dordrecht: Springer. MacIntyre, Alasdair (2007) After Virtue, 3rd edition. Notre Dame, IN: University of Notre Dame Press. MacIntyre, Alasdair (2009) “Notes from the Moral Wilderness,” in Paul Blackledge and Neil Davidson (eds.), Alasdair MacIntyre’s Engagement with Marxism: Selected Writings 1953–1974. London: Haymarket Books. MacIntyre, Alasdair (2011) “Common Goods, Modern States, Rights, and Maritain.” Unpublished manuscript. Marcuse, Herbert (1969) An Essay on Liberation. Boston, MA: Beacon Press. Marx, Karl (2010) Collected Works Volume 3: Contributions to the Critique of Hegel’s Philosophy of Law, Introduction. London: Lawrence & Wishart. Muhlhahn, Cara (2009) Labor of Love: A Midwife’s Memoir. New York: Kaplan Publishing. Nicholas, Jeffery (2015) “The Common Good, Rights, and Catholic Social Doctrine: Prolegomena to any Future Account of the Common Good,” Solidarity: The Journal of Catholic Social Thought and Secular Ethics, 5(1): article 4. Reiger, Kerreen, and Rhea Dempsey (2006) “Performing Birth in a Culture of Fear: An Embodied Crisis of Late Modernity,” Health Sociology Review, 15(4): 364–373. Rooks, Judith Pence (1997) Midwifery and Childbirth in America. Philadelphia, PA: Temple University Press. Van den Berg, Stephanie (2020) “Home Births in the Netherlands: Why the Dutch Cherish Them,” Expatica, 22 April, ens-health/home-births-in-the-netherlands-100749. Last accessed 19 November 2020. Vedam, S., et al. (2018). “Mapping Integration of Midwives across the United States: Impact on Access, Equity, and Outcomes.” PLOS ONE, 13(2), e0192523. Young, Iris Marion (1995) “The Ideal of Community and the Politics of Difference,” in Penny A. Weiss, and Marilyn Friedman (eds.), Feminism and Community (pp. 233–257). Philadelphia, PA: Temple University Press.


Sam and Ash sit on a bench in the courtyard of an old brick building that serves as a tea house and community center. Well, they turned it into a community center with the help of their friends. Their baby nurses at Sam’s breast. Twenty of their friends are gathered with them. Sam’s midwife is among them, as is her doula. Several of the people in Ash’s art cooperative are gathered. Ash even convinced some members of the local Millwrights union to join them. They all knew each other, had been meeting for months. They had canvassed the homes throughout their region and managed to get one of their members elected. Ash, because of her friendships with the Millwrights, had won a seat on the school board. Tonight, they were celebrating the arrival of spring. They stood in small groups of people in daily contact with each other, six feet apart from everyone else. The masks were back on after the dinner. An Uber driver and a penetration tester stood leaning against a tree deep in conversation broken by the occasional kiss. A young transman was talking animatedly to a Black police officer about defunding the police. Sam and Ash were discussing magic. “Philosophy is magic,” Sam argued. They both had read Starhawk’s The Fifth Sacred Thing and knew that magic aimed at changing consciousness. It meant convincing people that they had the ability to change things when all the powers of the world tried to convince them the decision had already been made. Ash just disagreed about philosophy, recounting the number of times she had fallen asleep in her philosophy class in college. She thought art was magic. Sam looked over at the mural on the side of the building Ash had painted. Obviously, the colors and images of death and life, of a new world, could stir the imagination. The magic of art was immediate. The magic of philosophy lingered, she said. Everyone there knew they needed some magic. The recent election had broken voter turnout records. Those numbers only showed the fear. Third party and independent voting had decreased from 5% in 2016 to less than 2% in 2020. The large number of voters were good, but the party breakdown showed how much people believed they did not have a choice. That was one of the first things they had to change in consciousness. Changes

246 Conclusion in consciousness were not enough. They were a result, not a beginning. What they needed was change in the way people lived. Sam sat back and smiled. Still, she mused, ideas had brought them together. It was a start. Herbert Marcuse (2015) argued that we need both objective and subjective conditions for change. The objective conditions for Marcuse were the growing inequality and the contradictions of capital with its recurring crises. The subjective conditions lay in consciousness, the awareness of needs that the system produced in the individual which it also prevented the individual from fulfilling. Our technology has advanced enough that people need not perform alienated labor but can instead develop their capacities in new ways. Subjective conditions are never enough by themselves; objective conditions are necessary and, he thought, present in the 1970s. The argument of Love and Politics focuses more on the subjective conditions. It challenges us to think about our work from the perspective of Eros. It argues that a particular kind of metaphysics—a mechanistic and dualistic metaphysics—supports alienated labor, and that a new metaphysics of Eros can support free labor. From a Marxist point of view, do I not have the argument backwards? Is not MacIntyre right that we begin to change by engaging in practices? What need we a theory of human nature? What matters is real, sensuous activity. True enough. Real sensuous activity—the base—gives rise to a variety of institutions and social structures as well as philosophies that both result from and feedback in to support the real sensuous activity. When the obstetrician learns to cut into the perineum of the laboring woman, he partakes in and recreates the social structures of patriarchy and authoritarianism that we find in the hospital system and the U.S. medical establishment. When people vote for a Democrat or Republican because they have to vote for the lesser evil or because Republicans and Democrats are the only ones who can win, they re-constitute the social structures that shape their consciousness. When a white cop kneels on the neck of a Black man, killing him, and remains a cop, or when a college man rapes an unconscious woman and is not punished because it would ruin his life, practices re-constitute themselves and their social structures so that the next white cop can kill another Black man and the next college man can rape the next unconscious woman with impunity. When one group meets violence from another group with violence, they re-constitute the social structures that make violence possible, legitimating it. Practice is always the base of our ideas, but ideas still do matter. Marx was a true Aristotelian when he recognized that activity changes consciousness, and MacIntyre is both a true Marxist and a true Aristotelian when he insists that we change our desires—consciousness— through our practices—real sensuous activity. When I first picked up a paintbrush, I had no idea what I was doing. Even when I watched my teacher paint, and I tried to mimic him, I could not tell what it was that



he was doing and that I was doing different. Yet, had I never picked up that paint brush, I would never have learned how to paint. Nor would I have learned the way that paint on a canvas can express emotion. I learned to look at the world differently, asking myself how I could capture that sky, that color, that feeling on canvas. MacIntyre was also a true Aristotelian when he ignored or discounted the role of Eros in that practice. Perhaps the choice of practices influenced him; chess, farming, and fishing are male-dominated practices, competitive, aimed at man’s dominance of others. My argument shows that, even if practices determine consciousness, they do so in circumstances not of our choosing and they incorporate cultural values that in turn determine the practice. That female obstetricians are more likely to want a C-section than the everyday woman demonstrates how practices and teaching interweave to determine consciousness, to determine choices. My conclusions about Revolutionary Aristotelianism, then, differ from those more conservative readers of MacIntyre, those who belong to the International Society of MacIntyrean Enquiry and those who are just regular Thomists or American Catholics. We differ on issues of authority which I have not addressed in this manuscript. Authority would involve discussing Roman Catholic doctrinal authority, and that issue lay too far outside the confines of a politics of liberation. It delves into issues of God and the truth of Sacred Scriptures, as well as the identity of those who penned the Sacred Scriptures. We do not live in a world where we can settle political arguments via doctrinal authority. If we did, I would not have had to write the fourth paragraph above. Catholics would never vote for Republicans, who support the death penalty and give lip service to the right to life, or Democrats, who find reasons of efficiency to justify abortion and abolition of the death penalty. Both belong to a culture of death. The fact that American Catholics cannot recognize that says a lot more about doctrinal authority than I could ever write. My interpretation differs from conservative commentors on MacIntyre on primarily three issues. First, the place of moral standards in the community. I read MacIntyre as arguing that moral standards are subsidiary to the development of a community of common goods. Conservatives read MacIntyre as holding that community is subsidiary to moral standards. On this disagreement hinges, as I argued in Chapter 4, a variety of practical issues. The conservative sees freedom as consisting in part in obeying moral rules because through them we are directed to our goods to develop moral virtues. Instead, I insist, at least with the young, Marxist MacIntyre, that freedom lies in making our persistent human desires most effective. Second, conservative commentators are communitarian in a variety of ways in which MacIntyre contends that he is not. They see MacIntyre’s communities as static and unitary. They are the sorts of communities that Iris Marion Young argues deny difference. They are reified versions of community. In contrast, community on my view is

248 Conclusion dynamic, always in question. It takes the form of Eros that Diotima describes, never full nor starving, but always conveying between the finite and the infinite, or in the case of community, between the individual and the communal common goods. Third, we disagree on the value of Marx and critical theory for bringing about a better society, on the one hand, and on the value of liberation theology on the other. On this last point, MacIntyre is more skeptical of my project than on the other points. He sees little value in Marcuse, though, to be fair, he did encourage me to write a book on Marcuse to reassess his contribution to philosophy. (MacIntyre and I have never discussed liberation theology, and I presume he is more accepting of that tradition.) Some of my colleagues who appreciate MacIntyre have challenged me in the past for adopting Marx because of Marx’s atheism. They cannot see how one can square the circle of Marx and God, even though we are committed to helping the poor. I am simply not convinced that this circle needs to be squared. Plenty of Catholic thinkers, including Augustine and Thomas Aquinas, have appreciated the work of nonChristians. Others believe that, while Marx was important for early MacIntyre, he is not important to any significant extent now. Yes, we can see how Marx helps us to understand the reason why the idea of the human person and the tradition of the virtues failed because of capitalism, but the real work to be done ahead does not need Marx. I hope that one thing is clear in this text by now: Marx clarifies and extends Aristotle’s ideas about human powers. He has, in my opinion as I have argued, a clear understanding of what Energeia is, even if he did not use that term. If MacIntyre’s Revolutionary Aristotelianism has anything to it to offer, it comes primarily from Marx’s insight on that point. Some might ask, in addition, why does not MacIntyre follow up on giving an account of a historical human nature? Why did he not address these issues and develop a metaphysical biology in Dependent Rational Animals? I take it that MacIntyre’s response to Bernard Williams indicates why he did not need anything more in DRA. MacIntyre argues, contra Williams, that rationality is the characteristic human power because, not only is it distinct from what non-human animals are capable of, but also because it organizes all of our other activities. It determines what eating and love look like. In making such a response, MacIntyre relies on a, perhaps unrecognized, dualism of love: love as the common goddess would see it, love of self, and romantic love, and love as the motherless Aphrodite would see it, charity, Christian-though-not-theological love. If love comes in two flavors, one of which is somehow bound up with God, then it is easy to contend that reason changes all of our other powers. Or, it is more difficult to recognize that love changes all of our activities, including reason. Our metaphysical biology, for MacIntyre, is captured in the telos of rationality as a biologically based but evolutionarily transcendent power.



Could he or should he have said more about a historical human nature? I disagree with Paul Blackledge on the issue here. Blackledge contends that MacIntyre saw the fragmentation of the working class and saw no way to theorize a unity of revolutionary action. Thus, practices and local communities become the answer. Yet, I think Blackledge is too quick to accept the idea, or to suppose that MacIntyre has accepted the idea, that the working class exhibits a unity of consciousness primed for revolutionary action. Brexit, the rise of Boris Johnson and the fall of Jeremy Corbyn in the U.K., and the rise of Donald Trump and fall of Bernie Sanders in the U.S. speak to a much less revolutionary class consciousness than we might hope for. In Marcuse’s terms, the subjective conditions for liberation are not yet present because, rather than a recognition for class revolution, Johnson and Trump signify a resentment that prevents class consciousness. Thus, we might say with MacIntyre that every political theory has failed. COVID-19 might be the last chance for conversion before climate collapse takes away all possibility of conversion. I agree with Chris Harman that a significant, global working class exists that can be the subject of revolution. When a factory worker leaps from the windows of an iPhone factory, he testifies to the objective and subjective conditions for change. Mohamed Bouazazi’s self-immolation was as much a protest against capitalism as it was against an autocratic government. Still, the Arab Spring only changed people, not forms of living. The working class has not yet focused its energy to realize that they can no longer tolerate capitalism. 70-million votes for Donald Trump testify to the willingness to live with capitalism, maybe because they see no other option. Thus, I think it is reasonable that MacIntyre conclude that the working class is still too fragmented, a “profound barrier to the struggle for socialism” (Blackledge 2005, 719). If MacIntyre abandoned the project of a historical human nature because he abandoned the struggle for socialism, then it is not clear that Blackledge has given him a reason to take up the quest. So, perhaps the more important question is: why did I take up the project? As I began to research midwifery as a practice in hopes to give concrete, empirical support to Revolutionary Aristotelianism, I was struck by the historical challenges in different countries and the resulting articulation of desires by women and midwives, and others. If I bring up U.S. midwifery to European colleagues, they simply do not believe me when I explain how bad it is here in the U.S. When I speak to European midwives, I am struck by how my wife and I missed out in the birth of our children because we lived in different socio-historical circumstances. As I continued to examine these issues, I read more MacIntyre and more Marx, and broadened my reading of feminist critical theory, first with Sylvia Federici’s Caliban and the Witch. These intersections led me to question what it is MacIntyrean practices fail to consider. Through it all,

250 Conclusion I kept coming back to one essay, an essay I found important enough to teach next to Horkheimer’s Eclipse of Reason and Marcuse’s Lectures from Vincennes: MacIntyre’s “Notes from the Moral Wilderness.” This essay is clear in its defense of a need to give an account of historical human nature. MacIntyre has never given a reason for why that project was wrong, only reasons for why he no longer could do it. Naïve, overly ambitious me took up the task. Yet, even I would not have been so… brave, if you want, or ignorant, to be more accurate, to engage in this project had it not been for one encounter. I read Starhawk’s The Fifth Sacred Thing (in conjunction with a number of other utopian texts, including Ursula LeGuin’s Always Coming Home and Kim Stanley Robinson’s Pacific Edge). The depiction of this utopian, flawed, and yet critically hopeful society that honored the four sacred aspects of nature and clung to the fifth sacred thing mesmerized me. The argument of Love and Politics is an attempt to articulate philosophically the idea of a community of common goods which I recognized in Starhawk’s San Francisco. Madrone is a midwife, engaged in a sacred practice, and Bird a musician, scarred but trying to find his hope again. San Francisco is a participatory democracy that embodies a community of common goods, and the discussions depicted in the novel (like those depicted in Robinson’s Pacific Edge) are attempts to discover persistent human desires and rank order common goods. Revolutionary Aristotelianism presents a philosophical understanding of the imaginative world that Starhawk envisions we can build if only we engage in practices dedicated to the reproduction of life in which Uŋcˇ í Makhá has a voice. I hope this ode to Starhawk begins to open up conversation between progressives, the philosophical left, and Revolutionary Aristotelians. The philosophical concepts at the heart of RA—practices and common goods—as articulated by Alasdair MacIntyre and those committed leftists who engage with his work—provide resources for thinking about how to build a new community free of exploitation, oppression, and domination. They must be saved from those organizational experts and conservative Christians who see in them only an efficient causality for recognizing the soft problems of the world as it is. Practices and common goods as I have formulated them here are a critical means for conversion to a politics of liberation. As well, they express Marx’s idea that free activity, activity aimed at satisfying real human needs, embody opportunities to develop human powers and human senses. Yes, I opened up a number of lacunae in the discussion which put these concepts into question. First, the divide between the call for a historical conception of human nature in early MacIntyre and the lack of such a conception in later MacIntyre, as well as its seeming replacement by a creationist intellectualism, open up a space for investigation that brought challenges to the concepts. Second, these concepts seem incapable of dealing with issues of racism, sexism, genderism, and other



oppressions that cannot be addressed as external goods but rather undermine the articulation of internal goods which can support the development of human nature. Third, Revolutionary Aristotelianism cannot address the alienation from nature which, I argued, is the root of other forms of alienation. If I make any contribution to these issues, it lies in the recognition that any philosophical anthropology must give an account of Eros, and that, in such an account lies the capacity to articulate a historical human nature. To recognize these connections, however, means to recognize that historical human nature is a project for members of a community. Only through the communal discovery and construction of our desires can we identify the plethora of activities open before us through which we develop human powers and human senses, through which we become more human. The failure of Nik Naylor and Martin Blank, of those subjects of the Milgram Experiment who shocked people at 450 volts, of those who vote in elections as though it will change the underlying structure of exploitation, domination, and oppression is the failure to realize that, in interpreting our desires together, we change our history in circumstances not of our choosing.

References Blackledge, Paul (2005) “Freedom, Desire, and Revolution: Alasdair MacIntyre’s Early Marxist Ethics,” History of Political Thought, XXVI(4): 696–720. Federici, Sylvia (2004). Caliban and the Witch: Women, the Body, and Primitive Accumulation. New York: Autonomedia. Horkheimer, Max (2004) Eclipse of Reason. New York: Continuum Press. LeGuin, Ursula (2001) Always Coming Home. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press. Marcuse, Herbert (2015) Paris Lectures at Vincennes University, 1974: Global Capitalism and Radical Opposition. Scotts Valley, CA: Create Space Independent Publishing. Robinson, Kim Stanley (2013) Pacific Edge (Three Californias). New York: Orb Books. Starhawk (1993) The Fifth Sacred Thing. New York: Bantam.


A Critique of German Ideology 112–114 acting (practice) 221 acting (metaphysical) 171–175, 196, 199–202, 207–209, 212, 215, 231, 235, 237; see also energeia activity 14, 19–21, 28, 30, 38, 66, 68, 80, 87, 95–96, 113–116, 143, 152, 157, 159–161, 163, 166–167, 186, 222–223, 229, 232, 234, 246, 250; and energeia 168–174, and eros 200–201, 215; love as 206–207; see also energeia; sensuous activity 43 actuality and potency 168, 171 Adorno, Theodor 47–48, 88; see also critical theory Adrià of Spain, Ferran 67 adverse possession 29 After Virtue 40, 58, 73 agape 15, 199, 209, 212–215 agency 19, 108, 181, 191, 194, 230 Alcibiades 155, 156 alienation 20, 25, 88–89, 109, 203, 219, 242; in Aristotle 161–163, 174; and birth 132–133; as fact-value divorce 47–48, 141–142; and MacIntyre 42–44, 47–48, 58–59; and Marx 41–43, 46–47; and narrative unity of life 79–80; from nature 7, 12, 28, 31, 48, 105, 119, 131, 137, 152, 164–165, 178, 193–196, 205, 208–209, 237, 251; in Plato 155–157; and practices 73–76; as saleability 21, 24, 141–142; and tradition 82–83 altruism 101, 209–211 American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology (ACOG) 131, 134, 143 American Indian 122–123, 180–181, 191–192

Aphrodite 156, 167, 248 Aquinas see Thomas Aquinas Arendt, Hannah 3 Aristotle 14, 26, 54, 66, 106, 164–165, 206; and alienation from nature 161–164, 174; on change 159–16l; and energeia 168–173, 200; on eros 166, 168, 173, 200, 208; on friendship 212; on generation 124, 179; and good life 73–75; and labor 174; and metaphysical biology 93–95, 161–164; on metaphysics 152, 157–159, 168–173; and patriarchy 143, 179; on Plato 155–157, 174 Armstrong, Penny 224–225 Auggie Awards 71 authority 5, 247 Aŋpétu Wašté Wiŋ (Beautiful Day Woman) 193 Baby: as commodity: 133; as product 132–133, 134,136 142, 145 Bacon, Francis 125–126, 143 Ballard, Martha 188 base-superstructure 6, 94, 97, 195, 246 beauty 152–155, 166–167, 173, 214 biology 163, 194, 196, 220–221; see also metaphysical biology birth: as business 131–132, 133–134; costs of 134; and love 8; medicalized 138–140, 145; midwifery views of 188–191; outcomes in the US 7–8, 134, 137, 222; as pathology 138–140, 224; and race 8 Blackledge, Paul 13, 93, 99, 249; on Lutz 95–97; on MacIntyre’s Marxism 97–98, 249 Black Lives Matter 52, 92–93 Blair, George 169–173

Index bioethics 53 body 110, 116, 145, 146,168, 173–174, 196, 202, 204, 222, 237; and birth: 189–191; contrasted with soul 154–155, 159; female 179, 181; Lorde on 202, 204–205; male 181; trust in 223, 225; unity with body 169–170, 175 Bouazazi, Mohamed 249 Breen, Keith 240 Brillat-Savarin, Jean Anthelme 70 Brown, Dee 180 Buffalo Kill Ceremony 193 Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee 180 caesarean births (C-sections) 134–137, 140, 145, 247 Callicott, J. Baird 182 capacities 30, 55, 81, 99, 101, 178, 206; to create new realities 201, 219; human 46, 55, 58, 64–65, 75, 237; for life 159–160, 162; 163, 169–170, 201; for love 209; for reason 106, 159 capitalism 1, 23, 27–28, 30–31, 69–70, 75, 96, 101, 112, 119–120, 195, 202, 208–210, 248–249; critical theory and 47; MacIntyre on 49, 98, 106–107; Marx critique of 33–35, 90; modern science 106, 152; and patriarchy 120–121, 127, 235; Social Reproduction Theory 109–112 capitalist 19, 23–27, 34; capitalist production 30, 33, 45, 109–110, 123, 127, 234; capitalist society 71–72 Catholic social thought 88, 226, 231 change, metaphysical problem of 153–55, 157, 159–161, 171–173 charity 98, 100–102, 213, 248 chess 73–74, 203, 220, 225, 240 Christianity 41, 178, 183–184, 214 class analysis 113–115 class, causal nexus with race and gender 123, 130, 179, 208–209 class struggle 92–93, 114, 118–119, 193–194 classical liberalism see liberalism climate change xvii, 22, 32, 127, 184–185, 192, 249 commodity 132–133, 136, 142 common good 65, 106, 108, 205, 226–228; Catholic social thought on 226–227; and eros 228–230; MacIntyre on 228–229


commons, the 120; enclosure 126; see also primitive accumulation communitarian 232, 247 community 44–46, 48–49, 72, 74–75, 101, 106, 246–247; communities in act 233–236; erotic 231; and moral rules 89–90, 246; and nature 236–238; Young’s critique 231–233 compartmentalization 79–80; defined 79 Comte, Auguste 101, 210, 214 consciousness, change in 245–247 Conservative Party 45; see also individualism; liberalism consumption model 133–134 cooking 66–71 cooking institutions 71–72 COVID-19 249 craft work 121–122, 126 Crazy Horse see Thˇ ašúŋke Witkó creationist 88, 94–95 critical theory 6, 87–88, 248; definition 6; and birth 9 Culinary Institute of America 71 culture 138, 145, 179–181, 195–196, 201, 220–221 Dakhˇ óta 192 Darwin, Charles 180–181 Dawkins, Richard 210 Davis-Floyd, Robbie 131–132, 140–141, 143–145, 179, 190–191 deliberation 56, 229, 231, 233; see also practical reasoning Deloria, Vine jr 193–195, 208, 238 democracy, participatory 241–242 Democrats 45, see also individualism; liberalism deontology 35–36 desire 47, 54, 228–230; changing 74, 99; historical development 30–32; see also persistent human desire Diotima 153, 155, 167–168, 175, 206, 207 divine 172–173, 190–191, 195 division of labor 30, 113, 126 DNA 93–94, 165 domination of life 109, 110; see also domination of nature, Social Reproduction Theory domination of nature 114, 123, 161, 183, 186, 208; class conflict 115, 118–119; critical theory on 48, 88;

254 Index and obstetrics 146, 188; and science 124–126, 145 dualism 9, 124–126, 154–157, 158, 166, 172–174; Plato’s 155–158, 161 dunamis 169; defined 175n1 1844 Economic and Philosophic Manuscripts 20, 89 emotivism 10, 43, 50–52, 60, 88, 212; defined 51; and alienation 12, 203 and manipulation 52–54; see also fact-value divorce expressivism see emotivism ends see teleology energeia 14, 174, 195–196, 200–201, 206, 220, 235; defined 169, Blair’s interpretation 169–170; origin 170–171; and eros 168–169, 173 Engels 27; on reproductive labor 113–115, 116, 117–118 epidural block 144–145, eros 14–15, 179, 186–187, 195–196, 210, 237–238 242; defined 166, 200; as agape 212–215; Aristotle on 152, 166, 168, 170; and common goods 228–230; and community 23, 234–235; contrasted with self-perpetuating motion machine 200–201; and energeia 168–174, 200; as generating 167–168, 200–201, 206–209, 213; and God-Is-Love 215; Audre Lorde on 202–206; and love as acting 206–209; MacIntyre on 100, 211; Marcuse on 11; in nature: 200–201; Plato on 156, 166–168; as spiritual 215–216; telos 219–220 Eros (god) 152, 156, 166–168 Ethics in the Conflicts of Modernity 58 evolution 55, 57–58, 114, 165, 189, 200–201; as process 169; as evolutionary advantage 100–101 exploitation 92, 114–115, 202, 205–206; origin 118–120, 127 external goods 68, 70, 71, 143

feminism and Marxism 111–112, 114, 123 feudalism 23 Feuerbach, Ludwig 42, 101 first mover 172 fishing 106–110, 117, 228 flourishing 19, 70, 204, 220, 236–237; see also human powers, expansion of Floyd, George 52 FORM (Platonic) 155–158 FORM BEAUTY 167, 214 FORM GOOD 173 form (Aristotelian): defined 158–159; and change 159–161; form-matter unity 155, 157–159; and generation 162–163; and knowledge 161–162, 164; see also soul (Aristotelian) Fort Laramie Treaty 83, 192 Foucault, Michel 94 Frankfurt, Harry 55–57, 213 freedom 91–93, 147, 196; Hegel on 42; Lutz on 91; MacIntyre on 97–98; as making desires most effective 219, 241, 247; Marx on 37 Freud, Sigmund 201 Fromm, Erich 210–211, 213; on parental love 212

fact see persistent human desire fact-value divorce 43, 58–59, 79–80, 93, 141–142; see also emotivism family 113, 122–123, 235 farming 116–117 Federici, Sylvia 249; on the new patriarchy 120–122 female as mutilated male 162; see also Harvey, William

Harman, Chris 21, 135, 249 Harvey, William 124–125, 143, 179 Hegel, GWF 41–42, 180–181 Heraclitus 154, 171–172 Hesiod 166 historical human nature 13, 58, 88, 102, 117, 220–222, 229; MacIntyre’s contribution to Marxism 92, 96–98; need for 97–98, 146–147, 248–251;

Gaskin, Ina May 189–190, 195, 215 generation 162–165; as process 169; see also reproduction God 4, 22, 184, 205, 214, 247; as common good 227, 240; creationist 95; ideological 97, 200; Locke’s bestows land to humanity 22, 29; and love 42, 100–101, 183; see also God-Is-Love, YHWH God-Is-Love 101, 183–184, 196, 206–207, 213–214 goods 54, 59, 107, 221, 223–224 Grosse Pointe Blank 1, 4, 25 Guevara, Che xv

Index and the sexual division of labor 112–115 Holloway, Heather 34, 55–56 hooks, bell 207–209, 213, 236 Horkheimer, Max 6, 10, 47–48, 88 hospital 131–132, 136, 139, 140, 188; as institution 133, 136, 141, 239 human action 65–67, 76–77, 80 human good 67, 68–69, 100 human nature 13, 143, 146, 225, 229–230; under capitalism 120–122, 209–210; as eros 196, 237; MacIntyre on 58–59, 75, 89–90, 98, 248–249; Marx on 26, 31, 37 107; mediated through history 31–32, 58–59, 75–76, 80, 207; as selfish 209, 214; as social animals 31, 48–49, 57–58, 89, 93–97, 112; see also dualism; historical human nature; mechanism human powers 37, 58, 67–68, 201–202, 207–208, 224–225; expansion of 30, 67, 69, 75, 175, 177, 203–204, 209, 212–213, 220–221, 250; see also capacities; freedom hylomorphic metaphysics 164–165; defined 158; see metaphysics, Aristotle’s ideology 94–95, 96–97 individual, see individualism individualism 10, 22, 35, 89–90, 214, 232; and private property 31–32, 45 institutions 139, 141, 204, 239–242; MacIntyre on 71–73; and practices 121–122, 127, 135–138, 143 intention 65–67, 76–77 internal goods 68–71, 73–74, 203–204, 223–224; and institutions 72–73; and practices 68–69 Intravenous Therapy see IV Íŋyaŋwakagˇ api Otpi (Sacred Stone Camp) 193 Irigaray, Luce 168 Iroquois 37 IV 141–142 Jesuits 122–123 Johnson and Wales University 71–72 joy 204–205 Judaism 182–185 kibbutz 37–38 Kierkegaard, Soren 213–214


Knight, Kelvin 88, 239–240 knowledge 154, 160–162, 164 Kosman, Aryeh 172–173 labor 26–28, 75, 208; as alienated 21–24, 35–37, 72; as coming to be 28; division of 30, 75, 113, 126; duty 25; essence of human 26, 28–30; waged 110–111 labor power 21, 107; defined 21 labor time, socially necessary 135 labor theory of value 21, 24, 107; see also Locke, John laborer 23, 26, 110, 135, 144 Labour Party 45; see also individualism; liberalism LaDuke, Winona 193 Lakhˇ óta 33–34, 37, 83; views of nature 192–195 Lame Deer, John Fire see Thˇ áhˇ cˇ a Hušté language 201; capacity for 99 Lear, Jonathan 9 left 88, see also New Left liberal individual, see individualism liberalism 44–47, 72, 88, 95–96, 106 liberation theology 248 living bodies 157–159, 169, 196; powers of 159, 165, 215 Locke, John 21–22, 29–30, 180, 186–187 Lorde, Audre 202–206, 209, 210 love 209, 221; as acting 206–209; as agape 15, 199, 209, 212–215; and birth 8; as emotion 102, 211; as friendship 212–215; as generative 166–167; MacIntyre’s understanding of 54–57, 100–102, 207, 248; and moral flexibility 2–6, 52, 56; and nature 9, 185; as parental 211–212; as process 169; and reason 55–58; as self-love 209–210; as spiritual 215–216; in Plato’s Symposium 152–155 Lutz, Christopher 88, 89–93; on metaphysical biology 93–94; on teleology 94–95 MacIntyre, Alasdair 49–50, 164, 203–204, 246–248; on alienation 43, 47–48, 58–59; on alienation in Marx 41–43, 46–47; on Black Lives Matter 92–93; on common goods 227–229; on community 48–49,

256 Index 89–91, 231–233; on compartmentalization 79; conservative interpretation of 247; contributions to Marxism 97–98; and creationism 94–95; and critical theory 87–88, 248; on emotivism 50–51, 54; on fact-value divorce 58–59; on farming 116–117; on fishing 106–109, 116–117; on Harry Frankfurt 54; on freedom 91–92; on human nature 58–59, 75, 89–90, 98, 248–249; on human powers 75, 201, 222; importance of 9–11; on institutions 239–240; on internal goods 69; on love 54–57, 100–102, 207, 248; and Marcuse 9, 11, 248; on Marx 20, 41–44, 46, 89; on narrative unity of life 77–78; and the New Left 9, 46–47; on parental Love 211–212; on practices 66, 207; on reason 54–57, 99, 248; and Revolutionary Aristotelianism 65–66; and Social Reproduction Theory 110–111, 116–117; split from Marxism 46–47; strategic rationality 239–240; on telos 96; on tradition 81; on virtues 108, 110; on Bernard Williams 56–57 making history 49, 215, 220, 222 management 117, 134, 240–241 manipulation 87–88; and manipulator 3, 52–54 Marcuse, Herbert 9, 46, 201, 246; and MacIntyre 11, 248 Marx, Karl 46, 97, 207; abolition of private property 27–28; on alienation 20, 25–26; on capitalism 24; and Christian heresy 40–42; on community 36–38, 75, 89–90; on compartmentalization 80; emancipation 32–33, 220; on exploitation 117–118; on Feuerbach 42, 101; freedom 37; on expansion of human powers 26, 32–35, 37, 58, 175, 220; historical human nature 30–31, 49, 96; on human nature 26, 37 107; importance of 20, 248; on labor 28; MacIntyre on 20, 41–43, 46–47, 89; and political economy 21–22; on reproductive labor 110, 112–114, 116; social animals 31, 36–37; and transcendence 32–35 Marxism An Interpretation 42–44, 46, 100–101

Marxism 46, 94, 95–97; as Christian heresy 40–41; and feminism 111–112, 114, 123; MacIntyre on 41, 43, 46–47 Marxists 41, 66; seealso New Left matter defined 158–159; and change 160 means of production 23–24, 26 as private property 27–28 means of subsistence 23, 27 mechanism 9, 124–126, 152, 185–186, 207 Merchant, Carolyn 123–126, 179, 185–187 Merton, Thomas 207, 213 Mészáros, Istvan 20, 21, 32, 41, 43 metaphysical biology 13–14, 143, 146–147, 175, 194–196, 220, 248; and Aristotle: 93–94, 163–164 metaphysics: defined 152; Plato’s 152–155; Aristotle’s 157–159, 161 midwives 7, 9, 121, 137, 139–140, 188–191, 222–226; contrasted with obstetrician 133–134 midwifery 249–250; as erotic practice 222–226; views of nature 188–191 Mies, Maria: on exploitation 117- 120, 163, 179; on Marx and Engels 112–115; on women’s object relations 115–117, 179 Milgram Trials 4–5, 251 misericordia 100, 102 mitákuye oyás’iŋ (all our relations, we are all related) 193 Montagnais-Naskapi 122–123 moral flexibility 2–6; and emotivism 52, 56; in Grosse Pointe Blank 1; and love 3–4; and psychology 4, 52; in Thank you for Smoking 2–6 moral rules 89–93, 247 moral values 5; as bullshit 2, 5, 52 mortality, infant see birth, outcomes in the US mortality, maternal see birth outcomes in the US motion 171–173, see also energeia Muhlhuhn, Cara 223 narrative unity of life 76–79, 204; and alienation 79–80 nation-state 88, 106, 195; see also liberalism nature 13–14, 123, 145; capitalism’s attack on 111; and Christianity

Index 183–185, 187; and communities 236–238; and culture 124, 179–182, 194, 196, 202; disorder of 123–124, 144; as erotic 101, 166–168, 178– 179, 205; and human relationship 9–10, 31–32, 37, 74, 95, 111, 113, 115–117, 164–166, 202, 205, 237–238; in Judaism 182–184, 187; in Lakhˇ óta tradition 191, 193–195; Locke on 21–22, 29–30; and love 9, 185; Marx on 28, 37; in midwifery 188–191; oppression 6; and race 111–112, 179–182; reason and 47; reification of 181; in Renaissance science 123–126, 185–187; as self-generating 168; and sexism 111–112, 123, 125, 144, 179–182; and women 123–124; see also alienation, from nature Naylor, Joey 3–4; 34, 52, 208; see also Thank You for Smoking Naylor, Nik 2–4; 55–57, 208, 251; see also Thank You for Smoking need for society 36–38, 54, 69–70 New Left 44, 46–47, 97 Noponen, Niko 88, Notes from the Moral Wilderness 44–49, 58, 89, 250 Nuremberg Trials 3, 4 Nye, Andrea 168 Nygren, Anders 212 object relations: defined 115, 195; men’s 118–120; women’s 115–117 objectification 41–42, 47; see also alienation obstetrics 143, 146, 181, 188; and domination of nature 145; and mechanism 146; as practice 136, 138, 146; as primitive tribe 138–139; and technological rationality 142–143 obstetrician 132, 141–144; contrasted with midwives 133–134, 222 Ocˇ héthi Šakówiŋ (Seven Council Fires) 191–193; see also Lakhˇ óta Odent, Michel 8, 189 Ollman, Bertell 20, 41, 43 Origin of the Family, Private Property, and the State 112–115 Outka, Gene 213–214 Pahá Sápa (The Black Hills, The Heart of All That Is) 192–193


pandemic 52 Parmenides 154, 166, 171–172 patriarchal family 114 patriarchy 108–111, 114–115, 120, 143–145, 163, 208; as new patriarchy 120–122 Pausanias 156 perception 161–162, 164 persistent human desire xv, 10, 15, 133, 196, 250; and common goods 58, 229; and community 234–235; and eros 230, 241–242; as fact 49, 59–60, 87; and freedom 72–73, 108, 247; and institutions 206; and love 208, 212; and nature 237; and value 77–78; and politics of liberation 229–230; and practices 73–74, 212, 220–221; as rational desire 220–221; as telos 147, 208; and tradition 81–83, 212; as urges 196, 205, 237 personal property: defined 27, 29–30 philia 166, 212 philosophical anthropology, see human nature Plato 153, 156, 157–158, 161, 167–168, 173, 214 pneuma 163, 164 politics of liberation, xv, 14, 15, 64–65, 70, 152, 166, 174, 178–179, 202, 205–206, 209, 219, 228–232, 234–236, 247–248 Pope Francis 184–184, 194 pornography 202, 204 practices 48, 146, 230, 234–235, 246–247, 250; definitions 10, 66, 220; and alienation 73–76; and common goods 228; erotic practices 204, 220–222; evil 96; and freedom 10; and internal goods 68–69; and institutions 71–73, 121–122, 135–138, 143, 239–241; MacIntyrean 66–58; midwifery as 222–225; and moral rules 91–92; ontologies of 138–139; politics as 228; as real sensuous being 71; and tradition 82; and virtues 106 practical reasoning 55–58, 111, 227–231; see also deliberation primitive accumulation 107–108, 120–122, 126, 137, 192 principalism 53 private property 26, 89–91, 123; defined 27; as alienated labor 27; see also means of production

258 Index

race 110, 122–123, 137–138; and birth 8, 138; and nature 179–182 racism 110, 192, 208 Radah 183–185 rape 137 rationality 47; strategic 240–241; technological 142 reason 98–99, 201–203, 248; and love 55–58; as rationality 47 Reason, Tradition, and the Good 80 Reich, Wilhelm 8–9 reproduction 124–125; conscious control of 114, 116; as consumption 133; male control over 118–119, 120–121, 125, 132, 137, 145, 157 reproductive labor 109–110, 112–115, 121; subsumed under productive labor 125, 136 reproduction of life 115–116, 195, 202–203, 208, 215, 230, 250; and practices 219, 221; see also reproductive labor Republican Party 45; see also individualism, liberalism revolution 97–98 Revolutionary Aristotelianism 92, 117, 136, 222, 239, 247, 249–250; and Social Reproduction Theory 109–111 Robinson Cruesoe 31–32 rock-n-roll 82–83 Roman Catholicism 51–52, 81, 82–83, 182, 247 Ruddick, Sara 211–212

senses 33–35, 162–163, 164 sensuous activity 43, 66, 246; see also practices sexism 163, 174, 208 sexual desire 211 sexual division of labor 109, 112, 119 sexuality 125–126, 142–143, 204 Singer, Irving 214 Sioux 192 slavery 23, 122 Smith, Adam 30, 101, 126, 210 Soble, Alan 213 social reproduction 116; see also reproduction of life; reproductive labor; Social Reproduction Theory Social Reproduction Theory 13, 111–112, 123, 127, 131, 136; defined 109; and Marx 112–114, 116; and Revolutionary Aristotelianism 109–111 Socrates 153, 155, 157–158, 168 SOUL (Platonic) 153 soul (Aristotelian) 93–94; defined 159; as activity/Energeia 161, 200; and change 159–161; as organizing activity 160; see also form (Aristotelian) soul-body unity see form-matter unity spirit 147 Stalinism 44, 46–47 standards of excellence 71–72, 143; and practices 66–67, 220–222 standards of reason 82–83, 221 subsistence economies 119–120 substance 157–159, 164; defined 157; and change 159–161 surplus value xiv, 107, 109–111, 114–115, 119, 131, 136–137, 142 symposium 152–153, 155; see also The Symposium

Sachs, Rabbi Jonathan 100 Saint Francis of Assisi 184 Saint Paul 41, 43 Saint Pope John XXIII 226–227 saleability see alienation, as saleability science 123–126, 145; Renaissance 185–187 self-perpetuating motion machine 200–201, 207 self-sufficiency 172–173, 224–225, 232 selfishness 209–211

Tarzan 31–32 Taylor, Janelle 132–133 teamsters 36 technocratic 138–140; tenets of 140–143 telos 58–59, 76, 94–96, 146–147, 175, 196, 219–220 teleology 65–67, 68, 75–76, 77–78, 93–95 Thank You for Smoking 2–4, 25, 55; see also Joey Naylor; Nik Naylor; Heather Holloway

production model 131–132, 134; and consumption model 133–134 productive labor 109–110, 112–115, 121, 132; origin of 118 prostitution 121 public goods 226

Index The Fifth Sacred Thing 245, 250 The Republic 100 The Symposium 100, 154, 167–168, 213–214 thinking 200; as divine 172–173; as human function 169–170 Thomas Aquinas 29, 91, 94–95, 97, 100 Thomists 29, 41, 73, 95–96, 247 Thˇ áhˇ cˇ a Hušté (John Fire Lame Deer) 193, 194 Thˇ ašúŋke Witkó (Crazy Horse) 33, 192–193 Timaeus 154–155, 167–168, 185 tradition 80–82, 182, 204, 221; and alienation 82–83 transcendence 32–35, 58, 215–216 trust 223 truth 95, 173 Tuana, Nancy 163 ultrasound 132–133 Uŋcˇ í Makhá:194–195, 201; as member of community 236–238 unions 36–37, 70 utilitarian 182–183, 185 Utilitarianism 35–36


Vincent, Peggy 188–189 violence 118, 137 virtues 67, 73, 106, 108–110; define 73; love as 101–102 vitalism 186 Vlastos, Gregory 212 voting xiv, 246–247 wage laborer, see laborer Wagner, Marsden 131 Wakhˇ áŋ 194–195, 215; defined 194 Wakhˇ áŋ Thˇ áŋka 194 Weber, Max 47 Williams, Bernard 56–58, 248 witchcraft 124 witch-hunt 121–122, 125–126 women: as machines 131–133; and nature 123–124; object relations 115–117; views of under capitalism 110, 121–122 world soul 155, 185–186 work, see labor worker, see laborer Wounded Knee 192 YHWH: 182, 187 Young, Iris Marion 231–234, 238