Irony and Humanity: A Dialogue between Jonathan Lear and Alasdair MacIntyre

Apr 17, 2012
Oriental Institute, Breasted Hall
1155 East 58th St.
Chicago, IL 60637
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Jonathan LearUniversity of Chicago

Alasdair MacIntyreUniversity of Notre Dame


Presented by the Committee on Social Thought and the Department of Philosophy.
Co-sponsored by the Lumen Christi Institute.

In his most recent book, A Case for Irony, Jonathan Lear argues that becoming a human being is a difficult task, and that developing a capacity for irony is essential to doing it well. He claims that ironic experience is a form of truthfulness that is constitutive of human flourishing, such that a capacity for irony is a kind of virtue or human excellence. Alasdair MacIntyre will join Lear in a conversation about his book.

Jonathan Lear is the John U. Nef Distinguished Service Professor at the Committee on Social Thought and in the Department of Philosophy and is the Roman Family Director of the Neubauer Collegium for Culture and Society at the University of Chicago. He works primarily on philosophical conceptions of the human psyche from Socrates to the present. He also trained as a psychoanalyst at the Western New England Institute for Psychoanalysis. His recent books include: Happiness, death and the remainder of life (2000), Therapeutic action: an earnest plea for irony(2003), Freud (2005), Radical Hope: Ethics in the Face of Cultural Devastation (2006), and A Case for Irony (2011).

Alasdair MacIntyre has made great contributions to the history of philosophy, moral philosophy, and especially to the renewal of Aristotelianism and its challenge to rival traditions. He is Senior Research Fellow at the Centre for Contemporary Aristotelian Studies in Ethics and Politics (CASEP) at London Metropolitan University and Emeritus Professor of Philosophy at the University of Notre Dame. MacIntyre is author of After VirtueWhose Justice? Which Rationality? and Dependent Rational Animals. His After Virtue remains the most important text in the recovery of virtue ethics.