This interview with Charles Taylor explores a central concern throughout his work, viz., his concern to confront the challenges presented by the process of ‘disenchantment’ in the modern world. It focuses especially on what is involved in seeking a kind of ‘re-enchantment.' A key issue that is discussed is the relationship of Taylor’s theism to his effort of seeking re-enchantment. Some other related issues that are explored pertain to questions surrounding Taylor’s argument against the standard secularization thesis (...) that views secularization as a process involving the ineluctable fading away of religion. Additionally, the relationship between Taylor’s religious views and his philosophical work is discussed. (shrink)
With fundamentalists dominating the headlines and scientists arguing about the biological and neurological basis of faith, religion is the topic of the day. But religion, Mark C. Taylor shows, is more complicated than either its defenders or critics think and, indeed, is much more influential than any of us realize. Our world, Taylor maintains, is shaped by religion even when it is least obvious. Faith and value, he insists, are unavoidable and inextricably interrelated for believers and nonbelievers alike. (...) Using scientific theories of dynamical systems and complex adaptive networks for cultural and theological analysis, After God redefines religion for our contemporary age. Taylor begins by asking a critical question: What is religion? He then proceeds to explain how Protestant ideas in particular undergird the character and structure of our global information society—the Reformation, Taylor argues, was an information and communications revolution that effectively prepared the way for the media revolution at the end of the twentieth century. Taylor’s breathtaking account of religious ideas allows us to understand for the first time that contemporary notions of atheism and the secular are already implicit in classical Christology and Trinitarian theology. Weaving together theoretical analysis and historical interpretation, Taylor demonstrates the codependence and coevolution of traditional religious beliefs and practices with modern literature, art, architecture, information technologies, media, financial markets, and theoretical biology. After God concludes with prescriptions for new ways of thinking and acting. If we are to negotiate the perils of the twenty-first century, Taylor contends, we must refigure the symbolic networks that inform our policies and guide our actions. A religion without God creates the possibility of an ethics without absolutes that leads to the promotion of creativity and life in an ever more fragile world. The first comprehensive theology of culture since the pioneering work of Paul Tillich, After God is a radical reconceptualization of religion and Taylor’s most pathbreaking work yet, bringing together various strands of theological argument and cultural analysis four decades in the making. (shrink)
The age of information, media, and virtuality is transforming every aspect of human experience. Questions that have long haunted the philosophical imagination are becoming urgent practical concerns: Where does the natural end and the artificial begin? Is there a difference between the material and the immaterial? In his new work, Mark C. Taylor extends his ongoing investigation of postmodern worlds by critically examining a wide range of contemporary cultural practices. Nothing defines postmodernism so well as its refusal of depth, (...) its emphasis on appearance and spectacle, its tendency to collapse a three-dimensional world in which image and reality are distinct into a two-dimensional world in which they merge. The postmodern world, Taylor argues, is a world of surfaces, and the postmodern condition is one of profound superficiality. For many cultural commentators, postmodernism's inescapable play of surfaces is cause for despair. Taylor, on the other hand, shows that the disappearance of depth in postmodern culture is actually a liberation repleat with creative possibilities. Taylor introduces readers to a popular culture in which detectives--the postmodern heroes of Paul Auster and Dennis Potter--lift surfaces only to find more surfaces, and in which fashion advertising plays transparency against hiding. Taylor looks at the contemporary preoccupation with body piercing and tattooing, and asks whether these practices actually reveal or conceal. Phrenology and skin diseases, the "religious" architecture of Las Vegas, the limitless spread of computer networks--all are brought within the scope of Taylor's brilliant analysis. Postmodernism, he shows, has given us a new sense of the superficial, one in which the issue is not the absence of meaning but its uncontrollable, ecstatic proliferation. Embodying the very tendencies it analyzes, Hiding is unique. Conceived and developed with well-known designers Michael Rock and Susan Sellars, this work transgresses the boundary that customarily separates graphic design from the story within a text. The product of nearly three decades of reflection and writing, Hiding opens a window on contemporary culture. To follow the remarkable course Taylor charts is to see both our present and past differently and to encounter a future as disorienting as it is alluring. (shrink)
Charles Taylor is one of the most distinctive figures in the landscape of contemporary philosophy. His ability to contribute to philosophical conversations across a wide spectrum of ideas is especially impressive in a time of increasing specialization. These areas include moral theory, theories of subjectivity, political theory, epistemology, hermeneutics, philosophy of mind, philosophy of language and aesthetics. Most recently, Taylor has branched into the study of religion. Written by a team of international authorities, this collection will be read (...) primarily by students and academic professionals in philosophy, political science, and religious studies, and will also appeal to a broad swathe of professionals across the humanities and social sciences. Ruth Abbey is Senior Lecturer in Political Theory at University of Kent at Canterbury. She has published numerous articles and is author of Nietzsche's Middle Period (Oxford University Press, 2000) and Philosophy Now: Charles Taylor (Princeton University Press, 2000). (shrink)
This is the first comprehensive evaluation of Charles Taylor's work and a major contribution to leading questions in philosophy and the human sciences as they face an increasingly pluralistic age. Charles Taylor is one of the most influential contemporary moral and political philosophers: in an era of specialisation he is one of the few thinkers who has developed a comprehensive philosophy which speaks to the conditions of the modern world in a way that is compelling to specialists in (...) various disciplines. This collection of specially commissioned essays brings together twelve distinguished scholars from a variety of fields to discuss critically Taylor's work. The topics range from the history of philosophy, to truth, modernity and postmodernity, theism, interpretation, the human sciences, liberalism, pluralism and difference. Taylor responds to all the contributions and re-articulates his own views. (shrink)
Thomas Taylor in England, by K. Raine.--Thomas Taylor in America, by G. M. Harper.--Biographical accounts of Thomas Taylor.--Concerning the beautiful.--The hymns of Orpheus.--Concerning the cave of the nymphs.--A dissertation on the Eleusinian and Bacchic mysteries.--Introduction to The fable of Cupid and Psyche.--The Platonic philosopher's creed.--An apology for the fables of Homer.--Bibliography (p. -538).
Analysis of a European Union funded biotechnology project on plant genomics and marker assisted selection in Solanaceous crops shows that the organization of a dialogue between science and society to accompany technological innovations in plant breeding faces practical challenges. Semi-structured interviews with project participants and a survey among representatives of consumer and other non-governmental organizations show that the professed commitment to dialogue on science and biotechnology is rather shallow and has had limited application for all involved. Ultimately, other priorities tend (...) to prevail because of high workload. The paper recommends including results from previous debates and input from societal groups in the research design phase (prior to communication), to use appropriate media to disseminate information and to make explicit how societal feedback is used in research, in order to facilitate true dialogue between science and society on biotechnology. (shrink)
I present the foundational structure for a life-centered theory of environmental ethics. The structure consists of three interrelated components. First is the adopting of a certain ultimate moral attitude toward nature, which I call “respect for nature.” Second is a belief system that constitutes a way of conceiving of the natural world and of our place in it. This belief system underlies and supports the attitude in a way that makes it an appropriate attitude to take toward the Earth’s natural (...) ecosystems and their life communities. Third is a system of moral rules and standards for guiding our treatment of those ecosystems and life communities, a set of normative principles which give concrete embodiment or expression to the attitude of respect for nature. The theory set forth and defended here is, I hold, structurally symmetrical with a theory of human ethics based on the principle of respect for persons. (shrink)
Gene Spitler has raised certain objections to my views on the biocentric outlook: (1) that a factual error is involved in the assertion that organisms pursue their own good, (2) that there is an inconsistency in the biocentric outlook, (3) that it is impossible for anyone to adopt that outlook, and (4) that the outlook entails unacceptable moral judgments, for example, that killing insects and wildfiowers is as morally reprehensible as killing humans. I reply to each of these points, showing (...) that the biocentric outlook on nature is not only a possible, but also a reasonable world view. (shrink)
This article introduces the preoccupations and themes that define the study and practice of black aesthetics. It presents a provisional sketch of a field that has long been recognized in other humanities disciplines, but that is only now gaining wide notice in academic philosophy. This sketch emphasizes the aspects of the field that invite specifically philosophic scrutiny, while touching lightly on specific artworks, critical literatures and historical developments. Among the topics that receive attention are the following: race, aesthetic politics, creolization, (...) nationalism, modernity, white supremacy and the blues. (shrink)
Louis G. Lombardi’s arguments in support of the claim that humans have greater inherent worth than other living things provide a clear account of how it is possible to conceive of the relation between humans and nonhumans in this way. Upon examining his arguments, however, it seems that he does not succeed in establishing any reason to believe that humans actually do have greater inherent worth than animals and plants.
Working in the fragment of Martin-Löfs extensional type theory  which has products (but not sums) of dependent types, we consider two additional assumptions: firstly, that there are (strong) equality types; and secondly, that there is a type which is universal in the sense that terms of that type name all types, up to isomorphism. For such a type theory, we give a version of Russell's paradox showing that each type possesses a closed term and (hence) that all terms of (...) each type are provably equal. We consider the kind of category theoretic structure which corresponds to this kind of type theory and obtain a categorical version of the paradox. A special case of this result is the degeneracy of a locally cartesian closed category with a morphism which is generic in the sense that every other morphism in the category can be obtained from it via pullback. (shrink)
In his contribution to Cheryl Misak's New Pragmatists volume, David Bakhurst considers the "prospect of a fruitful alliance between [ethical] particularism and pragmatism." 1 In an attempt to show that members of the two camps can "profit from critical engagement with each other's works" (124), he considers how pragmatists might help resolve three outstanding problems for ethical particularists. Unfortunately, his generosity outpaces his imagination, and he does not really find a great deal that pragmatists can contribute. So Bakhurst's potential alliance (...) ends up being a case of convergent evolution. He finds that he and his fellow particularists now occupy positions—positions against, among other .. (shrink)