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Ethics of Authenticity

by Charles Taylor Harvard University Press
Pub Date:
08/2018
ISBN:
9780674987692
Format:
Pbk 160 pages
Price:
AU$32.99 NZ$34.77
Product Status: Available in Approx 7 days
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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.

“The great merit of Taylor’s brief, non-technical, powerful book...is the vigor with which he restates the point which Hegel (and later Dewey) urged against Rousseau and Kant: that we are only individuals in so far as we are social...Being authentic, being faithful to ourselves, is being faithful to something which was produced in collaboration with a lot of other people...The core of Taylor’s argument is a vigorous and entirely successful criticism of two intertwined bad ideas: that you are wonderful just because you are you, and that ‘respect for difference’ requires you to respect every human being, and every human culture—no matter how vicious or stupid.”
—Richard Rorty, London Review of Books

Acknowledgments


I. Three Malaises


II. The Inarticulate Debate


III. The Sources of Authenticity


IV. Inescapable Horizons


V. The Need for Recognition


VI. The Slide to Subjectivism


VII. La Lotta Continua


VIII. Subtler Languages


IX. An Iron Cage?


X. Against Fragmentation


Notes


Index

“The great merit of Taylor’s brief, non-technical, powerful book…is the vigour with which he restates the point which Hegel (and later Dewey) urged against Rousseau and Kant: that we are only individuals in so far as we are social… Being authentic, being faithful to ourselves, is being faithful to something which was produced in collaboration with a lot of other people… The core of Taylor’s argument is a vigorous and entirely successful criticism of two intertwined bad ideas: that you are wonderful just because you are you, and that ‘respect for difference’ requires you to respect every human being, and every human culture—no matter how vicious or stupid.”—Richard Rorty, London Review of Books


 


“Charles Taylor is a philosopher of broad reach and many talents, but his most striking talent is a gift for interpreting different traditions, cultures and philosophies to one another… [This book is] full of good things.”—Alan Ryan, The New York Times Book Review


 


“Taylor’s crystalline insights rescue us from the plague on both houses in the debate over modernity and its discontents.”—Joseph Coates, The Chicago Tribune


 


“Charles Taylor’s Ethics of Authenticity is a concise, clear discussion reexamining these and closely related ‘malaises’ of modernity while focusing on meaning, its importance in our lives, and why our attempts to find our identities matter—whether these identities be personal, social, political, aesthetic, or scientific. He affirms the moral ground underlying modern individualism, but challenges us to go beyond relativism to pluralism.”—Paul Roebuck, Ethics, Place and Environment


 


“Reading Taylor’s unexpected but always perceptive judgments on modernity, one becomes forcefully aware of the critical potential of that old philosophical injunction ‘know thyself’. This little book points to the importance of public reflection and debate about who we are. It also forcefully draws attention to their absence from our public culture.”—Ben Rogers, The Manchester Guardian


 


“These lectures provide not only an inviting summary of [Taylor’s] recent thought but also, in many ways, a more revealing statement of his underlying convictions. Taylor’s own voice comes through clearly in this book—the voice of a philosophically reflective and hermeneutically rooted cultural critic.”—Joel Anderson, Philosophy and Social Criticism
Charles Taylor is Professor Emeritus in the Department of Philosophy at McGill University.