By Alasdair C. MacIntyre
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Additional resources for First Principles, Final Ends and Contemporary Philosophical Issues (Aquinas Lecture)
Why might this be so? It is perhaps because within contemporary philosophy the concepts which generate these divisions occupy a distinctively anomalous position. They are radically discrepant with the modes of thought characteristic of modernity both within philosophy and outside it, so that it is not surprising that relative to those modes of thought they appear functionless or misleading or both. Yet they keep reappearing and resuming their older functions, most notably perhaps in those narratives of objective achievement in enquiry, by recounting which phil-54osophers make what they take to be the progress of their enquiries, and the activities of debate which are so central to that progress, intelligible to themselves and to others.
6 And what those sciences presuppose are those judgments and elements of judgments, understanding of which provides the key to Aristotle's metaphysical enterprise, by directing his and our attention beyond the kinds of being treated by the subordinate sciences to being qua being. Aristotle has sometimes been thought to have undergone a radical change of mind between the earlier Posterior Analytics and the later Metaphysics, not least because in the first he denies that there can be a supreme science, while in the latter he not only affirms there there can be, but pro-36vides it.
These presuppositions can be elucidated in a number of different and competing ways, but it is difficult and perhaps impossible to do so without returning to just that type of framework -59for narrative provided in the early chapters of Metaphysics A. It is thus unsurprising that,so long as this type of narrative survives in a culture, so long also Aristotelian and Thomistic conceptions are apt to recur even among those who believe themselves long since liberated from them. So that one strand in the history of what followed upon the rejection of Aristotelian and Thomistic 61 teleology would be an account of how, under the cover afforded by a certain kind of narrative, some Aristotelian and Thomistic conceptions survived with a kind of underground cultural life.