Living a life and the problem of existential impossibility

Inquiry 34 (2):217 – 236 (1991)
Taylor's book Sources of the Self faces the tasks of showing how persons are situated in moral traditions and how these can be used in moral arguments. ?Moral traditions? cover answers to questions of the meaning of life, of the good life and of justice. The first part of this paper deals with the relationship of persons with moral traditions. Do people have to make sense of their lives, do they have to distinguish between worthy and unworthy ways of living? It is argued that people have a strong need to answer these questions; life would be unbearable without biographical narratives; living without orientation towards the good is an existential impossibility. Taylor's theory is evaluative in the sense that his transcendental conditions of personhood are necessary because they fulfil a practical need. The second part of the paper examines the use of articulating moral traditions. It is claimed that they can be useful in practical discourse but that they presuppose the moral point of view. Moral traditions answer the question why people are worthy of respect, but not why we should ask that question. It is argued that a minimal version of the principle of equal respect is built into the structure of communication, so that we have no choice but to ask for the normative justification of relationships
Keywords No keywords specified (fix it)
Categories (categorize this paper)
DOI 10.1080/00201749108602253
 Save to my reading list
Follow the author(s)
My bibliography
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Revision history Request removal from index
Download options
PhilPapers Archive

Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy on self-archival     Papers currently archived: 16,658
External links
Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
Through your library
References found in this work BETA

Add more references

Citations of this work BETA
Michiel Meijer (2014). Strong Evaluation and Weak Ontology. The Predicament of Charles Taylor. International Journal of Philosophy and Theology 75 (5):440-459.
Iain MacKenzie (2000). Beyond the Communicative Turn in Political Philosophy. Critical Review of International Social and Political Philosophy 3 (4):1-24.

Add more citations

Similar books and articles

Monthly downloads

Added to index


Total downloads

6 ( #336,406 of 1,725,989 )

Recent downloads (6 months)

1 ( #369,877 of 1,725,989 )

How can I increase my downloads?

My notes
Sign in to use this feature

Start a new thread
There  are no threads in this forum
Nothing in this forum yet.