- Hardcover: 142 pages
- Publisher: Harvard University Press; 1 edition (September 22, 1992)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0674268636
- ISBN-13: 978-0674268630
- Product Dimensions: 5.8 x 0.7 x 8.6 inches
- Shipping Weight: 11.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #41,657 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Ethics of Authenticity 1st Edition
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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 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 Chicago Tribune)
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 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'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)
From the Back Cover
At the heart of the modern malaise, according to most accounts, is the notion of authenticity, to selffulfillment, 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 pessimism.
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Top Customer Reviews
Very good and concise presentation of the topic, I also found several thinking patterns and models that are labelled differently in managemen/leadership books. Taylor gives great points for the future leaders, leaders of generation Y (or generation C, "C" standing for communities like the numerous virtual networks in internet).
This book helps You think, it doesn't give specific answers or "think it for You"!
Thinking doesn't hurt. :-)
This 1991 book is an extended version of the 1991 Massey Lectures, which were broadcast in November 1991 as part of CBC Radio’s ‘Ideas’ series. (It was originally published under the title, “The Malaise of Modernity.”)
He says in the first chapter, “The changes defining modernity are both well-known and very perplexing, and that is why it’s worth talking still more about them. (1) The first source of worry is individualism…This worry has recently surfaced again in concern at the fruits of a ‘permissive society,’ the doings of the ‘me generation,’ or the prevalence of ‘narcissism,’ to take just three of the best-known contemporary formulations. The sense that lives have been flattened and narrowed, and that lives have been flattened and narrowed, and that this is connected to an abnormal and regrettable self-absorption, has returned in forms specific to contemporary culture. This defines the first theme I want to deal with. (2) The disenchantment of the world is connected to another massively important phenomenon of the modern age, which also greatly troubles many people. We might call this the primacy of instrumental reason… Maximum efficiency, the best cost-output ratio, is its measure of success… (3) This brings us to the political level, and to the feared consequences for political life of individualism and instrumental reason. One… is that the institutions and structures of industrial-technological society severely restrict our choices, that they force societies as well as individuals to give a weight to instrumental reason that in serious moral deliberation we would never do, and which may even be highly destructive. (Pg. 2-8)
He continues, “the real nature of moral choices to be made is obscured. In particular, I will claim that the right path to take is neither that recommended by straight boosters nor that favored by outright knockers… I want to claim that both boosters and knockers are right, but in a way that can’t be done justice to by a simple trade-off between advantages and costs… the issue is not how much of a price in bad consequences you have to pay for the positive fruits, but rather how to steer these developments towards their greatest promise and avoid the slide into the debased forms.” (Pg. 11-12)
He suggests, “What we need is a work or retrieval, through which this ideal can help us restore our practice. To go along with this, you have to believe three things, all controversial: (1) that authenticity is a valid ideal; (2) that you can argue in reason about ideals and about the conformity of practices to these ideals; and (3) that these arguments can make a difference.” (Pg. 23)
He explains, “to return to the ideal of authenticity… There is a certain way of being human that is MY way. I am called upon to live my life in this way, and not in imitation of anyone else’s. But this gives a new importance to being true to myself. If I am not, I miss the point of my life, I miss what being human is for ME. This is the powerful moral ideal that has come down to us. It accords crucial moral importance to a kind of contact with … my own inner nature, which it sees as in danger of being lost, partly through the pressures towards outward conformity… Not only should I not fit my life to the demands of external conformity; I can’t even find the model to live by outside myself. I can find it only within.” (Pg. 28-29)
He concludes chapter IV, “Only if I exist in a world in which history, or the demands of nature, or the needs of my fellow human beings, or the duties of citizenship, or the call of God, or something else of this order MATTERS crucially, can I define an identity for myself that is not trivial. Authenticity is not the enemy of demands that emanate from beyond the self; it supposes such demands.” (Pg. 40-41) Later, he adds, “Briefly, we can say that authenticity (A) involves (i) creation and construction as well as discovery, (ii) originality, and frequently (iii) opposition to the rules of society and even potentially to what we recognize as morality.” (Pg. 66)
He observes, “The fate of the great ‘postmodern’ doctrines that I’ve been describing here, as they impact on the North American university, illustrates this. They become both flatter and kinder than the originals. Flatter, because they serve in the end to bolster the more self-centered images of authenticity. Kinder, because they are taken as supports for the demands to recognize difference.” (Pg. 68-69)
He points out, “If authenticity is being true to ourselves, is recovering our own ‘sentiment de l’existence,’ then perhaps we can only achieve it integrally if we recognize that this sentiment connects us to a wider whole. It was perhaps not an accident that in the Romantic period the self-feeling and the feeling of belonging to nature were linked. Perhaps the loss of a sense of belonging through a publicly defined order needs to be compensated by a stronger, more inner sense of linkage. Perhaps this is what a great deal of modern poetry has been trying to articulate; and perhaps we need few things more today than such articulation.” (Pg. 91)
He concludes, “What our situation seems to call for is a complex, many-levelled struggle, intellectual, spiritual, and political, in which the debates in the public arena interlink with those in a host of institutional settings, like hospitals and schools, where the issues of enframing technology are being lived through in concrete form; and where these disputes in turn both feed and are fed by the various attempts to define in theoretical terms the place of technology and the demands of authenticity, and beyond that, the shape of human life and its relation to the cosmos. But to engage effectively in this many-faceted debate, one has to see what is great in the culture of modernity, as well as what is shallow or dangerous. As Pascal said about human beings, modernity is characterized by GRANDEUR as well as by misère. Only a view that embraces both can give us the undistorted insight into our era that we need to rise to its greatest challenge.” (Pg. 120-121)
This book will be of great interest to anyone studying Taylor and the development of his thought.