Charles Taylor is one of the most important English-language philosophers at work today; he is also unique in the philosophical community in applying his ideas on language and epistemology to social theory and political problems. In this book Taylor brings together some of his best essays, including "Overcoming Epistemology," "The Validity of Transcendental Argument," "Irreducibly Social Goods," and "The Politics of Recognition." As usual, his arguments are trenchant, straddling the length and breadth of contemporary philosophy and public discourse.
The strongest theme running through the book is Taylor's critique of disengagement, instrumental reason, and atomism: that individual instances of knowledge, judgment, discourse, or action cannot be intelligible in abstraction from the outside world. By developing his arguments about the importance of "engaged agency," Taylor simultaneously addresses themes in philosophical debate and in a broader discourse of political theory and cultural studies. The thirteen essays in this collection reflect most of the concerns with which he has been involved throughout his career--language, ideas of the self, political participation, the nature of modernity. His intellectual range is extraordinary, as is his ability to clarify what is at stake in difficult philosophical disputes. Taylor's analyses of liberal democracy, welfare economics, and multiculturalism have real political significance, and his voice is distinctive and wise.
Among the leading philosophers of our time, Charles Taylor stands out for the sheer breadth of his interests and influence...Illuminating and rewarding.
The book is really a showcase for Taylor's wide-ranging interests, which include not only such mainstream philosophical concerns as the nature and validity of reason but topical issues such as ecology, welfare, social justice, and cultural diversity, among others. In all of these, Taylor brings his fine philosophical sensibility to bear, adapting insights from Hegel, Herder, Heidegger, Wittgenstein, and contemporary philosophers.
[This] book is structured by a tightly knit agenda, one in which the form and function of philosophical reasoning itself are at stake. This is not just a collection of philosophical arguments. It is a series of medications about the ability of reason to carry out tasks assigned to it since the beginnings of Western philosophy.
This is a splendid book, perhaps Charles Taylor's best so far, and that is high praise...[T]his is an instructively organized and coherent book. Three introductory essays advance theses about philosophical enquiry; then follow three that pursue enquiry thus defined into the nature of language and its place in human life; the next three draw on the findings of that enquiry in order to characterize key aspects of social activity and relationships; and the final four essays bring that characterization to bear upon issues of political philosophy.
Taylor is a highly distinctive thinker...a figure of very broad intellectual (and indeed emotional and political) sympathies and interests.
A deeply engaging collection...[Taylor] combines a practical interest in current political topics...with a continuing quest for the deepest meanings of language, knowledge, and human beings.
- 336 pages
- 6-1/8 x 9-1/4 inches
- Harvard University Press
From this author
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