There are, always, more things in heaven and earth than are dreamt of in one’s philosophy—and in these essays Charles Taylor turns to those things not fully imagined or avenues not wholly explored in his epochal A Secular Age. Here Taylor talks in detail about thinkers who are his allies and interlocutors, such as Iris Murdoch, Alasdair MacIntyre, Robert Brandom, and Paul Celan. He offers major contributions to social theory, expanding on the issues of nationalism, democratic exclusionism, religious mobilizations, and modernity. And he delves even more deeply into themes taken up in A Secular Age: the continuity of religion from the past into the future; the nature of the secular; the folly of hoping to live by “reason alone”; and the perils of moralism. He also speculates on how irrationality emerges from the heart of rationality itself, and why violence breaks out again and again.
In A Secular Age, Taylor more evidently foregrounded his Catholic faith, and there are several essays here that further explore that faith. Overall, this is a hopeful book, showing how, while acknowledging the force of religion and the persistence of violence and folly, we nonetheless have the power to move forward once we have given up the brittle pretensions of a narrow rationalism.
Charles Taylor is one of the finest thinkers we have. And by ‘we’ I mean every striving, puzzled, intellectually alert person on the planet. Even when you dissent from his conclusions you’d be a dullard if you chose to ignore Taylor’s verve or the fabulous intellectual tussles his writings provoke. Mostly, you’ll find yourself agreeing with him and I can think of no better introduction to either pursuit (the cheering or the respectful booing) than this splendid book… The wisdom and learning on display is staggering.
Charles Taylor’s worldwide influence and reputation owe to the depth and imagination of his work. They owe, too, to the fact that he is one of the few philosophers who has consistently made his ideas accessible to different philosophical traditions, as well as to scholars in other disciplines. His range of interests and reference is impressively wide and his writing is accessible and bracingly free of jargon. He is almost temperamentally incapable of writing on any subject without relating it to the most fundamental philosophical questions. He is generous when writing of others, drawing out what is most significant in their work, with never an unfair or unforgiving note. He has a keen and constantly curious cosmopolitan sensibility. Above all, his humanity is vast. Every one of these qualities—and more—are present in abundance in these essays.
- 424 pages
- 6-1/8 x 9-1/4 inches
- Belknap Press
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