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After Virtue

I am now reading Alasdair MacIntyre’s book After Virtue (1981).

Here is a nice excerpt from page 38:

We are so accustomed to classifying judgments, arguments and deeds in terms of morality that we forget how relatively new the notion was in the culture of the Enlightenment. Consider one very striking fact: in the culture of the Enlightenment the first language of educated discourse was no longer Latin, but it remained learning’s second language. In Latin, as in ancient Greek, there is no word correctly translated by our word ‘moral’; or rather there is no such word until our word ‘moral’ is translated back into Latin. Certainly ‘moral’ is the etymological descendant of ‘moralis’. But ‘moralis’, like its Greek predecessor ‘ethikos’- Cicero invented ‘moralis’ to translate the Greek word in the De Fato-means ‘pertaining to character’ where a man’s character is nothing other than his set dispositions to behave systematically in one way rather than another, to lead one particular kind of life.

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