Ethics of Authenticity

ISBN-10: 0674268636
ISBN-13: 9780674268630
Edition: 1991
Authors: Charles Taylor
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Description: Everywhere we hear talk of decline, of a world that was better once, maybe fifty years ago, maybe centuries ago, but certainly before modernity drew us along its dubious path. While some lament the slide of Western culture into relativism and  More...

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Book details

List price: $37.00
Copyright year: 1991
Publisher: Harvard University Press
Publication date: 9/22/1992
Binding: Hardcover
Pages: 154
Size: 5.75" wide x 8.50" long x 0.75" tall
Weight: 0.902
Language: English

Everywhere we hear talk of decline, of a world that was better once, maybe fifty years ago, maybe centuries ago, but certainly before modernity drew us along its dubious path. While some lament the slide of Western culture into relativism and nihilism and others celebrate the trend as a liberating sort of progress, Charles Taylor calls on us to face the moral and political crises of our time, and to make the most of modernity's challenges. At the heart of the modern malaise, according to most accounts, is the notion of authenticity, of self-fulfillment, which seems to render ineffective the whole tradition of common values and social commitment. Though Taylor recognizes the dangers associated with modernity's drive toward self realization, he is not as quick as others to dismiss it. He calls for a freeze on cultural pessimism. In a discussion of ideas and ideologies from Friedrich Nietzsche to Gail Sheehy, from Allan Bloom to Michel Foucault, Taylor sorts out the good from the harmful in the modern cultivation of an authentic self. He sets forth the entire network of thought and morals that link our quest for self-creation with our impulse toward self-fashioning, and shows how such efforts must be conducted against an existing set of rules, or a gridwork of moral measurement. Seen against this network, our modern preoccupations with expression, rights, and the subjectivity of human thought reveal themselves as assets, not liabilities. By looking past simplistic, one-sided judgments of modern culture, by distinguishing the good and valuable from the socially and politically perilous, Taylor articulates the promise of our age. His bracing and provocative book gives voice to the challenge of modernity, and calls on all of us to answer it.

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 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.

Acknowledgments
Three Malaises
The Inarticulate Debate
The Sources of Authenticity
Inescapable Horizons
The Need for Recognition
The Slide to Subjectivism
La Lotta Continua
Subtler Languages
An Iron Cage?
Against Fragmentation
Notes
Index

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