Sources of the Self: The Making of the Modern Identity
In this extensive inquiry into the sources of modern selfhood, Charles Taylor demonstrates just how rich and precious those resources are. The modern turn to subjectivity, with its attendant rejection of an objective order of reason, has led—it seems to many—to mere subjectivism at the mildest and to sheer nihilism at the worst. Many critics believe that the modern order has no moral backbone and has proved corrosive to all that might foster human good. Taylor rejects this view. He argues that, properly understood, our modern notion of the self provides a framework that more than compensates for the abandonment of substantive notions of rationality. The major insight of Sources of the Self is that modern subjectivity, in all its epistemological, aesthetic, and political ramifications, has its roots in ideas of human good. After first arguing that contemporary philosophers have ignored how self and good connect, the author defines the modern identity by describing its genesis. His effort to uncover and map our moral sources leads to novel interpretations of most of the figures and movements in the modern tradition. Taylor shows that the modern turn inward is not disastrous but is in fact the result of our long efforts to define and reach the good. At the heart of this definition he finds what he calls the affirmation of ordinary life, a value which has decisively if not completely replaced an older conception of reason as connected to a hierarchy based on birth and wealth. In telling the story of a revolution whose proponents have been Augustine, Montaigne, Luther, and a host of others, Taylor’s goal is in part to make sure we do not lose sight of their goal and endanger all that has been achieved. Sources of the Self provides a decisive defense of the modern order and a sharp rebuff to its critics.
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This proved to be crucial. My thanks go also to McGill University for a sabbatical, and to the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada for a Sabbatical Leave Fellowship, which allowed me to complete the manuscript.
Much contemporary moral philosophy, particularly but not only in the English-speaking world, has given such a narrow focus to morality that some of the crucial connections I want to draw here are incomprehensible in its terms.
Racists have to claim that certain of the crucial moral properties of human beings are genetically determined: that some races are less intelligent, less capable of high moral consciousness, and the like. The logic of the argument ...
What I have been calling a framework incorporates a crucial set of qualitative distinctions. To think, feel, judge within such a framework is to function with the sense that some action, or mode of life, or mode of feeling is ...
The crucial quality which commands our respect here is a certain direction of the will. This is very different from the spirit of Platonic self-mastery, where the issue turns on the hegemony of reason, however much that spirit may ...
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LibraryThing ReviewUser Review - stillatim - LibraryThing
Don't tell my dissertation advisers that I hadn't read this before I finished- they might revoke my degree. On the other hand, they might say "well, you don't really need to read this unless you're a ... Read full review
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Yesterday, early in the morning, I finished this book. This was a six month stint and it took a mighty effort just to finish it off, meaning that I lost much needed sleep in order to bring the reading ... Read full review
The Providential Order
The Culture of Modernity
Nature as Source
In Interiore Homine
Descartess Disengaged Reason
Lockes Punctual Self
Exploring lHumaine Condition
A Digression on Historical Explanation
God Loveth Adverbs
The Expressivist Turn
Our Victorian Contemporaries
Visions of the PostRomantic
Epiphanies of Modernism
The Conflicts of Modernity