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Charles Taylor (1) (1931–)

Autor(a) de A Secular Age

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42+ Works 5,581 Membros 31 Críticas 12 Favorited

About the Author

Charles Taylor works creatively with material drawn from both analytical and Continental sources. He was born in Montreal, educated at McGill and Oxford universities, and has taught political science and philosophy at McGill since 1961. He describes himself as a social democrat, and he was a mostrar mais founder and editor of the New Left Review. Taylor's work is an example of renewed interest in the great traditional questions of philosophy. It is informed by a vast scope of literature, ranging from Plato to Jacques Derrida. More accessible to the average reader than most recent original work in philosophy, Taylor's oeuvre centers on questions on philosophical anthropology, that is, on how human nature relates to ethics and society. Taylor develops his themes with an engaging, historically accurate insight. (Bowker Author Biography) mostrar menos

Obras por Charles Taylor

A Secular Age (2007) 1,446 exemplares, 9 críticas
Sources of the Self: The Making of the Modern Identity (1989) 1,114 exemplares, 7 críticas
The Ethics of Authenticity (1991) 759 exemplares, 6 críticas
Hegel (1975) 325 exemplares, 2 críticas
Modern Social Imaginaries (Public Planet) (2004) 264 exemplares, 2 críticas
Hegel and Modern Society (1979) 159 exemplares
Varieties of Religion Today: William James Revisited (2002) 158 exemplares, 1 crítica
Philosophical Arguments (1995) 120 exemplares
Philosophy and the Human Sciences (1985) 115 exemplares
Human Agency and Language (1985) 111 exemplares
Retrieving Realism (2015) 59 exemplares
The Explanation of Behaviour (1964) 53 exemplares
Secularism and Freedom of Conscience (2010) 40 exemplares, 1 crítica
Boundaries of Toleration (2014) 11 exemplares
Atomism 1 exemplar

Associated Works

Western Philosophy: An Anthology (1996) — Autor, algumas edições193 exemplares
The Disenchantment of the World (1985) — Prefácio, algumas edições189 exemplares, 1 crítica
After Philosophy: End or Transformation? (1986) — Contribuidor — 121 exemplares, 1 crítica
The Cambridge Companion to Merleau-Ponty (2004) — Contribuidor — 68 exemplares, 1 crítica
The Category of the Person: Anthropology, Philosophy, History (1985) — Contribuidor — 50 exemplares
The Joy of Secularism: 11 Essays for How We Live Now (2011) — Contribuidor — 41 exemplares
Liberalism and the Moral Life (1989) — Contribuidor — 32 exemplares
The Sheed and Ward Anthology of Catholic Philosophy (2005) — Contribuidor — 28 exemplares
Secularism and Its Critics (Themes in Politics) (1998) — Contribuidor — 27 exemplares


Conhecimento Comum



Summary: How Western society moved from a shared belief in God to a secular age in which belief was one option of many.

Charles Taylor’s book, A Secular Age, has become a primary source of sorts for anyone trying to understand our present time. On a regular basis, I come across writers invoking “disenchantment, “social imaginaries,” “the buffered self,” and “the immanent frame.” All of these concepts come out of Taylor.

Like many primary sources, reading Charles Taylor is daunting for most of us. There are 776 pages of dense text that introduce us not only to a breadth of intellectual and cultural history spanning 500 years. We also encounter a truly erudite mind, who quotes literature in several European languages (usually offering translations and weaves a number of people, events and schools of thought in an analysis that seeks to answer one question: how did we move from a world, indeed a cosmos, of shared belief in God to a secular age where belief in God was merely one option of many?

I’ll be honest. I don’t have the learning to offer a detailed analysis of this book. What I will try to do is offer a summary of the major contours of his argument. Following this, I will comment on what I thought the most significant contributions of the book. I’ll note a few questions I have. And I’ll make several suggestions for intrepid souls who want to tackle this book.

Charles Taylor makes the case that secularization is not a matter of subtracting religion from society. Rather, he traces the beginnings to the Reformation that removed hierarchy, elevating the individual. With this comes the disciplinary society, using practices to elevate the spiritual and moral life of all. In time, discipline was separated from devotion to God to stand on its own as a form of incipient humanism. Belief in God wasn’t jettisoned but relegated to a providential Deism. In turn, enlightenment science reduced a cosmos filled with God’s grandeur to an impersonal mechanism and this way of thinking spread to different aspects of society. A shift occurred from the “porous self” exposed to the workings of God and the cosmos to the “buffered self” insulated from such supernatural forces.

These developments created the conditions for what Taylor calls “the nova effect,” an explosion of different ways of believing (or not believing). They range from a theistic or deistic humanism, to a humanism without God, embracing moral virtues. Nietzsche and his followers rejected the quest for truth and morality as camouflages for the will to power. For others, the disconnect of the material world from the supernatural led to the embrace of materialist and atheist belief.

This hardly led to the eradication of belief in God. Taylor describes the era from 1800 to 1960 as “The Age of Mobilization” where movements like Catholic Action in France and Methodists and revivalists in England and North America succeeded in recruiting large numbers of people. Taylor believes that the cultural revolution of the 1960’s introduced an “Age of Authenticity” introducing a variety of religious experiences, designer belief, and the celebration of bodily pleasure.

Having lost connection with the transcendent, we live in the immanent frame, and yet we struggle to find a basis in it for some of our deepest longings, and to deal with the ultimate reality of death. We live amid cross pressures and dilemmas, including the troubling presence of human violence. He concludes the work with narratives of those who believe, often out of some sense of the transcendent. He has strong words to say about the church’s rediscovery of an incarnational life and connects this to an re-consideration of the erotic and its connection to divine love.

Significant Insights
Perhaps the most significant insight is that secularization does not mean the subtraction of religion from our view of the world. Instead, belief in God and Christianity, once shared by all, becomes one of many options.

Second, science isn’t the enemy, according to Taylor. The Reformation created the milieu leading to the eclipse of the transcendent. It’s fascinating that Taylor doesn’t think much of the atheist scientists who challenge belief.

He helps us see how radically our world has shifted, including the eclipse of the supernatural and the rise of the autonomous self.

He shows the inadequacy of humanism to address many of our deepest questions and the challenge of Nietzsche as an alternative that seems to be attractive to many embracing authoritarian leaders in our day.

While we cannot return to pre-modern times, can believing people find a way to live in a supernatural, transcendent frame? It seems that the church, pre-Christendom, and perhaps in parts of the world outside the West, faced or faces the same conditions.

This raises the question of the nearly exclusive focus on the West. What might be learned from other societies and cultures? By the same token, it could be argued that secularization has become a global phenomenon.

His comments on incarnation versus excarnation and sexuality come at the very end. I would love to know if he has developed these further.

Reading Taylor
For most of us, Taylor is a tough read. I read most books in about a week. It took me nearly three months to read A Secular Age. At the suggestion of my reading buddy, I reduced my pace to 10 pages of a day, which is about all I felt I could absorb. I wish I had kept some notes along the way, which would have made tracking Taylor’s thought easier.

Read this with a reading buddy or group. It helped me keep going and we helped each other understand Taylor’s dense prose. I had this book for years, collecting dust. I wouldn’t have finished it without my friend.

It also helps to read this along with a commentary. Several, including my reading buddy recommended, James K. A. Smith’s How (Not) to Be Secular: Reading Charles Taylor.

This seems to be one of those books where one reading isn’t enough. Yet, I find myself wondering if I want to set aside that much time. Ah…time will tell.
… (mais)
BobonBooks | 8 outras críticas | Jun 27, 2024 |
When I was younger I felt I could read moral philosophy and epistemology until the cows came home. I am forever curious about the state of reality and humankind’s place it.

So I read this book with a little nostalgia about the years before I became tethered by familial and commercial responsibilities.

I wondered if I could still read philosophy.

This probably wasn’t a good book to start with. I have fond memories or reading an earlier work of Taylor. This voice was clear, his scholarship was profound.

In this book the scholarship gets a little carried away.

Too many references. Too many avenues of thought here.

I think the title of the book should have been “Sources of the Good.” He seems more concerned with where to find the good in people, and where people have been looking for it through the ages.
… (mais)
MylesKesten | 6 outras críticas | Jan 23, 2024 |
I'm not sure if I am going to finish this. Taylor's writing would benefit from being pared down and concise. Length does not necessarily make for clarity in this case. In some ways, it's a little sad - Taylor has based this book on a lifetime of study and writing; I get the sense that he cannot bear to leave out any well-made point, any apt example, any interesting fact, or any felicitous phrase, and he has ended up overburdening this book. I gave up on the introduction, and moved on to the first chapter. He says that "we" means those "who live in the West, or the Northwest, or otherwise put, the North Atlantic world." He adds that secularity extends beyond. I am an example of the secular person that Taylor is discussing, but I know that many people are not like me. Looking at less secular places, where religion still has a commanding role, does not convince me that secularism is a bad thing.

I have read several books this year on similar subjects. I am a bit tired of having modernism attacked with sanitized versions of the past - particularly since the authors can't agree on what it was like. There is an adage that in theory, there's not difference between theory and practice, in practice there is. In considering the here and now, people so often look at what is (practice), but see other times and places according to theory. Taylor seems to like the three estates idea of complementarity, where some pray, some work, and some fight, in theory to protect the other estates. In truth, then as so often now, "Oh dear me, the world is ill divided/Them that work the hardest are the least provided." * Those who work got the least, although their religion would like them to believe that the work of prayer is more important than feeding the population. Their so-called protectors have an unnerving habit of invading other people, taxing the workers to pay for their armies, dragging workers into their fights, and keeping the spoils for themselves.

In discussing why it used to be impossible not to believe in god, they keep ignoring the elephant in the room: i.e, the Latin churches' willingness to use violence to extend their reach (like the Northern Crusades) and to keep their captive audience in line (The Albigensian Crusade, the burning of heretics.) A person would have to feel very strongly to risk the violence that would descend on them for not conforming or stating outright disbelief. The churches are not alone in using violence to stifle dissent, my point is that the risks, and the lack of a way for common people to record opinions, means that we are probably more in the dark about what they thought than we would like to think. In chapter 1, Taylor does get into the justification for this, i.e., that if one member of a community failed in their religious duty, god's wrath might fall the community as a whole. This occurs in other religions as well. Ordinary citizens of the Roman Empire were said to dislike Jews because they didn't participate in communal religious celebrations, still the government didn't persecute them for it and allowed the Temple to substitute praying to their god for the good of the empire for worshiping the emperor. Still other cultures managed to live side by side with different gods and religions; perhaps polytheists were willing to worship other gods as part of a community effort. This has always struck me as a difference between the Jewish bible and the letters of Paul. In the former, the Jews as a nation were collectively responsible, whereas in the letter of Paul, the Christians lived in communities within the larger pagan world, and outside of their willingness to preach to them, but only if they wanted to listen, contented themselves with not trying to control them. This got lost, as soon as Christians got enough power to attack other people.

My second objection is that we don't actually know what common people thought in the past. When people discuss the "Medieval Mind," whose mind do they mean? Authority figures, usually. Just because the church taught something doesn't prove that people believed it. The church believed that god placed each person in their station, but this didn't stop serfs from escaping. The English Peasant's Revolt of 1381 left us the quote: "When Adam delved and Eve span,/Who was then the gentleman?" Clearly the idea that god put them in their place didn't always impress the lower classes.

I often use the Epicurean Paradox as a partial explanation for my own atheism, it boils down to: "If god can prevent evil and doesn't why call him good, if he cannot prevent evil, why call him god.?" I don't think that it requires any great education to ponder the question of evil, but it did require great courage or outrage to speak it aloud in earlier times.

I don't think that the difference between 1500 and now is quite as stark as Taylor would have it. Most people in the US believe in a god, 40% of them believe that the world is less than 10k years old, people still consult fortune tellers, cast spells, light votive candles, and otherwise pray to saints. To me, secularism denotes a lack of an official presence for religion in governing society, separation of church and state, and freedom of religion and nonreligion. I was also interested to see that Taylor blamed the mind-body problem on secularism - other people that I have read argued that is an artifact of Christianity's Greek influences, and does not occur in Judaism. Modern psychology and biology are certainly moving away from that idea, as well as the idea that only human beings have a mind.

*Jute Mill Song" by Mary Brookbank
… (mais)
PuddinTame | 8 outras críticas | Aug 31, 2023 |
Good book, although I’m ashamed to say a lot of it went past me. I can’t grasp plenty of complex books, and that’s fine if it’s a matter of subject matter that my education hasn’t covered and they’re written very technically. But Taylor wrote well and plainly. There were some words I needed to look up, and I only looked up some of them. But mostly, I think this book requires and deserves close attention and a bit of work on the part of the reader, and I just didn’t seem to have it in me. Laziness I guess. My loss, and not a reflection on the book...… (mais)
steve02476 | 5 outras críticas | Jan 3, 2023 |



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