- Taschenbuch: 624 Seiten
- Verlag: Harvard University Press; Auflage: Reprint (20. Juli 1992)
- Sprache: Englisch
- ISBN-10: 9780674824263
- ISBN-13: 978-0674824263
- ASIN: 0674824261
- Größe und/oder Gewicht: 16,1 x 3,9 x 23,1 cm
- Durchschnittliche Kundenbewertung: 2 Kundenrezensionen
- Amazon Bestseller-Rang: Nr. 84.749 in Fremdsprachige Bücher (Siehe Top 100 in Fremdsprachige Bücher)
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Sources of the Self: The Making of the Modern Identity (Englisch) Taschenbuch – 20. Juli 1992
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A magnificent account, full, fair, well read, well written, complicated and high spirited--a credit, one might say, to the modern self that is capable of plumbing the depths of its own heritage in such a generous way.--Jeremy Waldron "Times Literary Supplement "
For sociologists, there is no more important philosopher writing in the world today than Charles Taylor.--Alan Wolfe "Contemporary Sociology "
Undoubtedly one of the most significant works in moral philosophy and the history of ideas to appear in recent decades.--Frances S. Adeney "Theology Today "
Surely one of the most important philosophical works of the last quarter of a century.--Jerome Bruner
Sources of the Self is in every sense a large book: in length and in the range of what it covers, but above all in the generosity and breadth of its sympathies and its interest in humanity...Few books on such large subjects are so engaging.--Bernard Williams "New York Review of Books "
Taylor has taken on the most delicate and exacting of philosophical questions, the question of who we are and how we should live...and he has made this an adventure of self-discovery for his reader. To have accomplished so much is an important philosophical achievement.--New Republic
Discusses contemporary notions of the self, and examines their origins, development, and effects.Alle Produktbeschreibungen
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Nearly 20 years earlier, Taylor wrote the book I am reviewing here, "Sources of the Self" (1989). This book is, if anything, more difficult to read than its successor. The book addresses the same complex of questions as does "The Secular Age", but from the other end. Rather than focusing on God and secularization, the book describes "the making of the modern identity" -- concepts of human selfhood and human personality that have helped made modern life what it is.
Both books show a great deal of erudition and take an approach both analytical and historical. As Taylor says, in order to know where we are, we have to know where we have been. In "The Secular Age", Taylor identifies himself at the outset as a practicing, believing Catholic. In the earlier book, he keeps his hand somewhat more hidden. His own commitments might even be missed under a casual reading of an extraordinarily dense book.
Although the book wanders and lacks strong focus, Taylor's primary interest lies in showing what gives meaning to life. In the opening Part of this five-part book, Taylor explores the relationship between views of personal identity and views of the good. This section of the book is essential to understanding the long historical discussion that forms the remaining four Parts of the study. Taylor attacks various forms of ethical and metaphysical theories that deny the intelligibility of talking about "the good" or "the good life" for human beings. The denial frequently is based on various naturalistic or relativistic theories about the nature of the good which, Taylor claims, are in turn based upon a fractured approach to human knowing that he will describe in detail in the historical sections of the book. Human life, for Taylor, differs from other forms of life or types of things in that only human life possesses dignity. To have dignity, choices, and projects is what it is to be human and a self. By cutting the self off artificially from these sources is to narrow unduly the inquiry into self and goodness at the outset. Further, Taylor claims that thinkers who do so fequently are inconsistent and unaware of their own motivations. There goal is to cut off certain claims to transcendence or elitism as goals of life in favor of exhalting values such as ordinary life -- meaningful work, sexuality and sensuality, family, benevolence towards others, and broad equality. But, Taylor argues, their metaphysical, epistemological, and ethical commitments are insufficient to support the views of the good that these thinkers themselves tacitly hold.
Following this long opening part, Taylor seemingly changes track. He discusses various historical concepts of the self that, Taylor claims, illustrate the many strands and tensions that inform the ways people today try to understand themselves. Thus, in part 2, Taylor begins with the ancients, proceeds through Augustine, and winds up with Descartes and Locke in showing how a disengaged, inward concept of the self developed at the outset of the modern scientific age. In part 3, Taylor discusses how "ordinary life" as I summarized it above, became the source of meaning for life; and he equates this with the shift from traditional theism to deism and ultimately to secularity. Taylor then describes the development of romanticism and nature as a response to instrumentalism and disengagement. Romanticism tended to lead to "expressivism" -- the value of individual creativity and subjectivity with the threat to "objective" understanding of good and value. The final part of the book, which covers a great deal with a broad brush begins with the Victorians and proceeds to show how modern thinkers, writers and artists reacted against both instrumentalism and expressivism.
Taylor's analysis is dense, careful and difficult. The degree of learning is extraordinary, but it frequently gets in the way of understandability. It helped me to think of the book as something of a combination of Hegel and Heidegger. Very simply, the approach is Hegelian because Taylor tries to show how various concepts of the self developed historically, with each pointing out and attempting to address some perceived deficiency in an earlier approach. The approach is also Hegelian because Taylor is reluctant to reject any approach out of hand. The varying approaches he describes are not so much wrong as partial and incomplete. Taylor's goal is to take what he finds valuable in each of them and work to a synthesis rather than in advocating for one or the other approach. This seems to me to owe much to Hegel. The Heideggerian component of the book consists, I think, in Taylor's discomfort with a move towards objectification -- or separating the "self" from "nature". This truncation is, for Taylor, the result of a too narrow focus on epistemology. Taylor would begin instead with what Heidegger would call being-in-the-world and take life experience, before reduction to a scientific approach, as the source for understanding the self. This approach, Taylor suggests, would allow for the sense of the dignity of human life, and the plurality of goods that constitute a good life. Behind the carefully restrained and analytical prose, Taylor offers a strong critique of over-intellectualization. Among the many other writers that Taylor discusses, he seems also to have a great affinity for Dostoevsky and Nietzsche.
This is a long, difficult, provocative,and sometimes diffuse work. Readers who have struggled with questions of meaning and value and who have a strong background in philosophy and literature will find this study, and Taylor's "The Secular Age" challenging and rewarding.
He wrote in the Preface to this 1989 book, "this book... is an attempt to articulate and write a history of the modern identity. With this term, I want to designate the ensemble of ... understandings of what it is to be a human agent: the sense of inwardness, freedom, individuality, and being imbedded in nature which are at home in the modern West. But I also wanted to show how the ideals and interdicts of this identity... shape our philosophic thought, our epistemology, and our philosophy of language, largely without our awareness... In addition, this portrait of our identity is meant to serve as the starting point for a renewed understanding of modernity... We cannot understand ourselves without coming to grips with this history... This book attempts to define the modern identity in describing its genesis."
He states, "Moral argument and exploration go on only within a world shaped by our deepest moral responses... No argument can take someone from a neutral stance towards the world... to insight into moral ontology. But it doesn't follow from this that moral ontology is a pure fiction, as naturalists often assume. Rather we should treat our deepest moral instincts, our ineradicable sense that human life is to be respected, as our mode of access to the world in which ontological claims are discernable and can be rationally argued about and sifted... I spoke at the outset about exploring the `background picture' lying behind our moral and spiritual intuitions. I could now rephrase this and say that my target is the moral ontology which articulates these intuitions." (Pg. 8)
He says, "I want to defend the strong thesis that doing without frameworks is utterly impossible for us... the horizons within which we live our lives and which make sense of them have to include these strong qualitative discriminations... living within such strongly qualified horizons is constitutive of human agency, that stepping outside these limits would be tantamount to stepping outside what we would recognize as integral, that is, undamaged human personhood." (Pg. 27)
He argues, "what description of human possibilities... ought to trump what we can descry from within our practice itself as the limits of our possible ways of making sense of our lives? After all, the ultimate basis for accepting any of these theories is precisely that they make better sense to us than do their rivals. If any view takes us right across the boundary and defines as normal or possible a human life which we would find incomprehensible or pathological, it can't be right. It is on these grounds that I oppose that naturalist thesis and say that the horizons in which we live MUST include strong qualitative discriminations." (Pg. 32)
He contends, "Theories like behaviourism or certain strands of contemporary computer-struck cognitive psychology... are based on a crucial mistake...What we need to EXPLAIN is people living their lives... How can we ever know that humans can be explained by any scientific theory UNTIL we actually explain how they live their lives in its terms?... The terms we select have to make sense across the whole range of explanatory and life uses... unless and until we can replace them with more clairvoyant substitutes. The result of this search for clairvoyance yields the best account we can give at any given time... The best account in the above sense trumps." (Pg. 58)
He suggests, "The belief in God, say, offers a reason not in this sense but as an articulation of what is crucial to the shape of the moral world in one's best account. It offers a reason rather as I do when I lay out my most basic concerns in order to make sense of my life to you. And we can see right off from this why the perception of a hypergood, while offering a reason, at the same time helps to define my identity." (Pg. 76)
In his chapter on "Rationalized Christianity," he says, "Seen from this perspective, the legislative, self-proclaiming God is a great benefactor to mankind. I believe that this is how Locke saw him, and that this was the basis of a genuine and deeply felt piety. Today this may be hard to credit, because the contemporary scene is dominated on the one side by believers from whom this kind of faith seems at best flat and repugnant (I confess to being in this latter category). But it would be anachronistic to conclude from this that Locke's faith was either insincere or peripheral to his life." (Pg. 241)
He comments about Deism, "the appeal of this Deism... is the force of the ideal of self-responsible reason. Here was a fully rational religion, which made no appeals to historically grounded authority. This is often given exclusive attention in discussions of Deism today. My argument here has been intended to show that there was another facet to its motivation, that it also drew on certain ideals whose roots are deep in the Christian tradition itself. This latter element in the motivation explains why, for all the elements of continuity, the order admired by Deists of this century is very different from that of the ancient tradition." (Pg. 274)
He points out, "We are meant to be concerned for the life and well-being of all humans on the face of the earth; we are called on to further global justice between peoples; we subscribe to universal declarations of rights. Of course, these standards are regularly evaded... It remains that they are the publicly accepted standards. And they do from time to time galvanize people into action---as in the great television-inspired campaigns for famine relief or in movements like Band-Aid... these standards... can just be felt as peremptory demands, standards that we feel inadequate... for failing to meet... Or perhaps we can get a `high' when we do sometimes meet them... But it is quite a different thing to be moved by a strong sense that human beings are eminently WORTH helping or treating with justice, a sense of their dignity or value. Here we have come into contact with the moral sources which originally underpin these standards." (Pg. 515)
Taylor is one of the few major contemporary philosophers who is still interested in such "metaphysical" topics as he discusses here; this book is one of his major efforts, and will be of key interest to students of contemporary philosophy.