❮Epub❯ ➣ The Ethics of Authenticity ➢ Author Charles Taylor – 91videos.co

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 ChallengesAt 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 PessimismIn 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 LiabilitiesBy 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


10 thoughts on “The Ethics of Authenticity

  1. says:

    I was sitting in a coffee shop just a few months ago when a young lady walked by with a t shirt declaring that, Modernity Has Failed Us I was unsure as to what exactly it was supposed to mean, but as a bit of a Habermas scholar myself, I felt distinctly attacked The concrete gains of modernity are, I freely admit, ambiguous at best But as far as I can see, any critique of modernity is an immanent one insofar as it must itself rely on Enlightenment ideals Only from the perspective of egalitarian universalism implicit in human rights and in the democratic constitutional state can we critique their failings as empirical institutions Similarly, only with the assumption of perfect inclusion presupposed by the democratic public sphere and by mass media can we critique their distortions and omissions Nonetheless, in the intelligentsia as in the general public, the jury is still out as to the overall value of social modernity.This debate forms the background of Charles Taylor s The Malaise of Modernity The book was released at the height of the Culture Wars in the United States, sharing bookstore real estate with James Davidson Hunter s Culture Wars The Struggle to Define American and Allan Bloom s The Closing of the American Mind Taylor characterizes this Kutlurkampf as a dispute between the boosters and the knockers of modernity The first group extols the gains made by the civil rights movements of the 20th century and see the multiplication of individual rights and lifestyle options as unmitigated steps forward In contrast, the second group bemoans the loss of social solidarity and common culture resulting from an increasingly diversified society For this latter group, the shortcomings of Western modernity manifest themselves in the three related malaises of individualism, instrumentalization, fragmentation.In any debate or controversy of public interest, my instinct is always to assume that both sides are wrong And while I disagree with several aspects of Taylor s thought, in this case we are in perfect agreement The boosters are wrong, he says, because they fail to recognize the various ways in which individualistic self fulfilment can lapse into the deviant modes of narcissism and relativism At the same, however, the knockers are wrong to see the modern individualistic ethos as a self indulgent nihilation of all value Taylor s key insight here is that the culture of self fulfilment is driven by its own moral ideal, that of authenticity or of being true to oneself His project is to retrieve and articulate this ideal and, in doing so, to subject its deviant or debased modes to a kind of immanent criticism Taylor s articulation of the ethics of authenticity involves two steps, corresponding to the two deviant modes of self fulfilment In a first step, he highlights the dialogical character of identity formation We define our identities intersubjectively, through our relationships with others In a second step, he stresses that self definition depends for its intelligibility upon established horizons of significance that is, shared frameworks of values and ideals In the absence of a shared horizon, it would be impossible to confer any value to our choices and therefore impossible define our identities by them According to Taylor, these observations exclude both narcissistic modes of authenticity that take a purely instrumental view of human relationships and relativistic modes that reduce all values to individual choices Properly understood, then, authenticity requires us to foster meaningful relationships and to acknowledge a shared reservoir of meanings that transcends us as individuals.One of my favourite professors used to say that a good piece of philosophy has to meet two criteria It has to be new and it has to be true So far so good Taylor s analysis is both original and, as far as I can tell, entirely correct Beyond this point, however, I find it impossible to agree Having addressed the problem of individualism, Taylor dedicates the rest of the book to the remaining two malaises of instrumentalization and fragmentation The first of these echoes Max Weber s characterization of the modern condition in terms of the disenchantment of nature The second vaguely evokes Alexis de Tocqueville s diagnosis of modern democracies as breeding depoliticization Here again, Taylor s strategy is to counter these failings by retrieving the richer moral background that they presuppose In the first case, he argues that the drive to domination takes its rise from the moral ideals of rational autonomy universal benevolence In the second, fragmentation into special interest groups implies the ideal of democratic action Although Taylor s prognosis is cautious in the second case than in the first, he is nonetheless optimistic about the prospects of reawakening humanitarian concern and rekindling social solidarity I must confess that, despite Taylor s caution, his analysis seems to me starry eyed to the point of delusion Whether by constitutional pessimism or by clear sighted realism, I cleave much closer to Weber and Tocqueville In a morbid kind of way, it is amusing to observe just how far the tendencies toward individualism, instrumentalization, and fragmentation have increased since the publication of The Malaise of Modernity The latest American presidential election stands as a testament to the dazzling escalation in divisive party politics and to the increasing subordination of the people to market imperatives that exceed both their understanding and their control Meanwhile, the dawn of the internet age has all but evaporated whatever precious sources of social solidarity remained in 1991 Sequestered in our individual boxes and oblivious to any sense of common fate, we are reduced to sharing selfies and arguing on message boards about a recent celebrity Twitter gaffe or slurping up the latest blockbuster slop dreamed up by our corporate overlords Oh, and by the way, that Modernity Has Failed Us t shirt Turns out it was advertizing a chart topping pop single.


  2. says:

    A short but sweet piece Taylor, who is responding here to the cultural criticisms of Alan Bloom, Daniel Bell, and Kit Lasch, presents a workable ethics than his targets In short, Taylor agrees with the subject of their criticism However, he departs from their take on the dominance of subjectivity disagreeing that it portends a slip into narcissism Rather to Taylor, there is no going back to the pre modern modes of being Modernity and classical liberalism has led to the ascendancy of subjectivity as we know it To Taylor, this is here to stay, and there are successful routes and less unsuccessful routes The unsuccessful routes fail to project an ideal or fail to live up to their ideal The successful routes reach out onto a horizon where the person strives beyond the subjective In the closing chapters, Taylor gives an intimation of how this ethics would work out in real life In the 1990s, at the time of publication, the regional communities of Canada still resembled the communities de Tocqueville saw in the 19th Century they still provided avenues for people to be engaged with agency and with space to strive towards the horizons However over the years, Canada was drifting closer to its neighbor to the south Here, the action takes place on electoral and legal stages removed from access for the general populous, and largely leaving the populous without direct access to political horizons We are still grappling with these issues This books presents a promising start to a workable, livable ethics It s a short piece It only anticipates what this would look like.


  3. says:

    The Ethics of Authenticity by Charles Taylor is an uncharacteristically short work in which Taylor presses home through clear arguments the point that critics of the modern moral stance or ethos of authenticity, represented by Allan Bloom, author of The Closing of the American Mind, and Christopher Lasch, the author of The Culture of Narcissism, go too far in their condemnations and so prevent a fruitful engagement with the good that can be affirmed and rescued in contemporary notions of the authenticity from the aberrations from the good such as in instrumental self centeredness and subjectivist affirmation of choice in and of itself without a horizonal setting which is necessary to give it meaning Since I am a fan of Bloom and Lasch s books I found this especially intriguing and challenging I think Taylor is effective in making his case His strength is an assiduous, empathic seeking to know which sometimes leaves me feeling queasy I think though that Taylor still has iron in his critique both of the critiquers and the critiqued Regarding the later I found his analysis deft and clear regarding how many attempts to ground the worth of non standard sexual orientations based on choice for choices sake, without a horizon beyond the self to give it meaning, collapse into incoherence.


  4. says:

    Charles Taylor has a remarkable grasp of intellectual history and this book is no exception in his continued efforts to carefully position present ideas against the horizons of past conceptual shifts and innovations Unlike his other books like Sources of the Self or A Secular Age, though, this book is a much briefer treatment of one idea in particular, namely the ideal of authenticity and its relationship to individualism in this contemporary age Nonetheless, I found Taylor s arguments to be perceptive and convincing In particular, I appreciated the way in which he carefully distinguished higher forms of the ideal of authenticity from degenerate forms of the ideal Taylor s arguments go a long way towards re energizing the ethical value of personal autonomy, and especially moving away from a conception of personal autonomy as a mere commitment to human choice This is an accessible book for non philosophers and might offer a good bridge to Taylor s larger and expansive works, namely Sources of the Self and A Secular Age.


  5. says:

    To Charles Taylor s credit, he recognizes that his Massey Lecture The Malaise of Modernity is rendered deficient by its own constraints He has neither the time nor the space to fully develop his argument, and even the first premise , that the search for individual authenticity in Western civilization is a malaise, doesn t move beyond a skeletal outline.It seems almost disingenuous, therefore, to criticize his work, but Taylor himself would not likely want to shut down discourse, for any reason, and I feel compelled to make a few observations.The first is about Taylor s seeming criticism of the inherent anthropocentrism of individual self actualization or personal authenticity He implies that the focus on humanity as the end goal of the universe is a great weakness in our culture s drive to authenticity, then suggests that this anthropocentrism is unique to the postmodern world Perhaps there is a subtlety missing in Taylor s lecture because of its constraints, but every viewpoint Taylor discusses has anthropocentrism at its core, yet he only seems to see it as a weakness in the one.The second is the way Taylor sees the tension between the two extremes of the authenticity debate His position is that these two poles are the debate, implying that the two sides of the debate are populated by nearly equal sized groups One side is filled with those who believe in and practice self actualization, and the other side is filled with those who are opposed to the narcissism of self fulfillment Because these two sides are the debate, they cancel each other out, making the key to overcoming the malaise of self actualization the retrieval of a supposedly hidden middle ground.What Taylor s book fails to address and I suspect this is a genuine constraint of the book and not a downfall of Taylor s is that this middle ground doesn t need to be retrieved because it already exists, although their population is minimal In fact, there are really very few people who are capable of true authenticity, and even fewer are capable of authenticity devoid of anthropocentrism and they are those who make up the pole of anthropocentric self actualization So those few who are truly engaged in self actualization, those in touch with the authentic ideal, are not of the pole but the equator They DO exist, and they are acted on upon by the poles on a regular basis Which suggests that Taylor is not dealing with the real issue involved in his first malaise He calls for a retrieval of this equatorial situation, but since it already exists one needs to ask how and why it is ineffective What does that say about Western humanity What does that say about the first malaise How do we overthrow the malaise and make this equatorial ideal a potent rather than impotent element of the debate How do we stop the poles from silencing the equator The Malaise of Modernity is a fine starting point, as Taylor himself suggests, and it does much to generate thought particularly in the final chapter, Against Fragmentation , making it a book well worth reading But if you are looking to Taylor for answers you will be disappointed The Malaise of Modernity should generate questions Use as directed and you will be just fine.


  6. says:

    The agent seeking significance in life, trying to define him or herself meaningfully, has to exist in a horizon of important questions That is what is self defeating in modes of contemporary culture that concentrate on self fulfillment in opposition to the demand of society, or nature, which shut out history and the bonds of solidarity These self centered narcissistic forms are indeed shallow and trivialized they are flattened and narrowed, as Bloom says But this is not because they belong to the culture of authenticity Rather it is because they fly in the face of its requirements To shut out demands emanating beyond the self is precisely to suppress the conditions of significance, and hence to court trivialization To the extent that people are seeking a moral ideal here, this self immuring is self stultifying it destroys the condition in which the ideal can be realized 40


  7. says:

    This is a very insightful book diagnosing correctly the issues of modern society It looks in particular at individualism, instrumentalism and techno bureaucracy s hold on us and attempts to reframe the critiques that many levy at contemporary culture While many sociologists, philosophers and cultural critics grasp at low hanging fruit, Taylor decides to change the way we think of individualism as narcissistic, of pure instrumentalism as abusive and self centered and, of technology as our supposed iron cage In a certain way, Taylor has alleviated my cynicism and my temptation to discern irreversible trends where actually we see that there is a struggle here, whose outcome is continually up for grabs We ve got the diagnosis, now we just we need the right prescription.


  8. says:

    I love the mission Taylor hands to us restoring the ideal of authenticity to modern culture.It s too easy to dismiss liberals as a lost cause More often than not, a left wing millenial strikes a thinking traditionalist as nonsensical, and one can easily conclude these kids are idiots and not worth bothering with It s easy to sympathize with this conclusion, I think The modern ideal of authenticity , as Taylor puts it, too often manifests itself as my right to do whatever I want without morality being forced upon me cough, Planned Parenthood, cough It takes a discerning, patient, and benevolent mind to rummage through the crap our culture glamorizes and find the best in it Taylor does this beautifully Despite the intellectual rigor usually associated with emotionless academia, I sensed that what Taylor wanted to do here, than make an insightful point or put forward a cogent argument, was give us hope Authenticity is a valid ideal, he writes the liberals and sentimental millenials aren t entirely driven by than irrational self indulgence You can argue in reason about ideals and about the conformity of practices to these ideals, he goes on relativism and subjective definitions of self fulfillment can be ostensibly proven nonsense and finally, these arguments can make a difference He s writing for a reason He wants to help our culture The liberal millenials aren t a lost cause, and it s time to sit down and have a real conversation about how to live our lives Articulacy here has a moral point, not just in correcting what may be wrong views but also in making the force of an ideal that people are already living by palpable, vivid for them and by making it vivid, empowering them to live up to it in a fuller and integral fashion.


  9. says:

    This book is definitely very 1991 It s not that it s dated badly I think most of what Taylor says is applicable today but it s very much responding to the climate of the times and the culture wars that were going on For instance, one of Taylor s first references is to The Closing of the American Mind , a book which essentially criticized the way students were thinking at the time Camille Paglia called this book, by Allan Bloom, the first shot of the culture wars As I gather from Charles Taylor, American Mind takes aim at the principle that students were espousing that all values are equal, all life styles are equal, and that criticizing someone s lifestyle was taboo in the sense that one shouldn t argue that homosexuality is immoral, because it s someone s lifestyle Bloom considered this to be a narcissistic and self serving way of being in the universe, apparently Taylor describes it as concerned with an individualism centring on the self and a concomitant shutting out, or even unawareness, of the greater issues and concerns which transcend the self, be they religious, political, historical So that is Bloom s perspective, and others , and Taylor calls them the knockers of individualism because they condemn the very ideal of being authentic to oneself He contrasts them with the boosters of it, which would be the other side in the culture wars many but not all 80s 90s feminists, multiculturalists, postmodernists, and the rest What it is that makes them boosters of individualism is that they support what Taylor calls the liberalism of neutrality One of its basic tenets is that a liberal society must be neutral on questions of what constitutes a good life That s because even if the government said that every person must seek the good life in their own way, that itself would be taking sides.After outlining all this, Taylor goes on to argue that there is a greatness in individualism, which he sees as the ideal of authenticity as outlined by Rousseau, Schiller, and others The knockers of individualism are dismissing one of modernity s greatest assets as narcissistic self involvement, which he takes issue with That is one of his big criticisms of Bloom s book However, the boosters who support individualism in this way are not living up to the ideal themselves, either His main argument on this is that if every choice is equal, every choice is meaningless the old thing about picking whether to go to MacDonald s or Dairy Queen, a meaningless choice He argues that the only thing that gives any meaning to choice is a moral horizon, something to mark the significance of things So, it s not that it doesn t matter whether you are a man or a woman, it s that it does matter, but both things share in common what makes each of them significant empathy, strength, love, etc etc The things that Taylor criticizes here, although directed towards modernity, are clearly the issues of the late 80s and the early 90s yet they hit home as central to the issues of today as well The knockers and boosters of individualism have waxed and waned, but neither has disappeared from the scene, and neither has resolved the internal conflicts described by Taylor although I don t take it for granted that he was right The Malaise of Modernity has a lot in common with the thought of John Ralston Saul, another Canadian writing around the same time I wonder how much of their congruity is Saul taking from Taylor That s a good question for someone to answer As it is, this is an intellectual stimulating and rigorous book that still speaks today.


  10. says:

    The perfect introduction to the great man s magisterial works Sources of the Self or A Secular Age Good news We are not cultural orphans drifting aimlessly on the waves of history In fact, our present condition has an admirable philosophical heritage and Taylor means to introduce us to our cultural family tree Things are not all bad although they are somewhat confused This book brings new hope for the wretched.