- Series: Public Planet Books
- Paperback: 232 pages
- Publisher: Duke University Press Books (December 29, 2003)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0822332930
- ISBN-13: 978-0822332930
- Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.8 x 7.8 inches
- Shipping Weight: 8.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 8 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #424,039 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.
Modern Social Imaginaries (Public Planet Books)
Use the Amazon App to scan ISBNs and compare prices.
The Amazon Book Review
Author interviews, book reviews, editors picks, and more. Read it now
Frequently bought together
Customers who bought this item also bought
From the Inside Flap
"Charles Taylor presents a fundamental challenge to neoliberal apologists for the new world orderbut not only to them. Anyone who wishes, as I do, to defend transcultural political ideals, notions of development, or the like, will have to face his formidable array of hermeneutically inspired reflections on Western modernitys defining cultural formations. His particular take on the social imaginary makes the strongest case there is for the idea of multiple modernities."Thomas McCarthy, Northwestern University --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
Top customer reviews
There was a problem filtering reviews right now. Please try again later.
The "social imaginary", broadly speaking, consists of images, stories and legends, is shared by large groups of people, and serves to make possible "common practices and a widely shared sense of legitimacy" (23). The particularities of the *modern* social imaginary is that "Modernity is secular ... in the fact that religion occupies a different place, compatible with the sense that all action takes place in profane time" (194). The modern social imaginary consists of the objectivity of the economic sphere, the public sphere (which is beyond the control of any particular political or religion interest group) vs. the private sphere (which is the sphere of the family and of religion), and the sovereignty of "the people".
What emerges, then, is a series of fairly thick discussions of political philosophy, economic theory and, yes, theology. Taylor ties modernity to Protestantism for in setting itself against the medieval/catholic worldview of sacred time (feast and fast days with their attendant saints, liturgical seasons) and the broadly accepted idea that the world was enchanted - miracles, angels, demons and saints were all a part of the medieval worldview - time itself became a profane realm such that it would eventually become eclipsed by nationalism with its own local feast days and national saints (patriots, so to speak). The disenchantment of the world, then, is the foundation of the modern social imaginary and all modernities are rooted in this disenchantment.
This disenchantment, however, is by no means the exorcising of the idea of a moral order. What the aforementioned disenchantment serves to do is to root the belief in a moral order in something other than a transcendent realm: nature. Nature, reason and science all serve to metaphysically ground a particular understanding of people - that they are fundamentally reasonable/rational - and, from this, that society must necessarily progress along natural, reasonable lines. This understanding of people makes people sovereign, so to speak, and eventually serves to ground what Taylor sees as the ultimate myth of modernity: the American myth of "We the people..." founding their own political *order*.
This is a brilliant work and, despite its highly theoretical orientation, should be picked up by all who are interested in discussions of moderity, religion, the public sphere, democracy, and the moral order. As an extended discussion of a central section of his Gifford Lectures of 1999, "Living in a Secular Age", it also serves as a tantalizing prelude to Taylor's next book.
Taylor's general philosophical project is to attack the idea of Western liberalism as being a "neutral" or "non-ideological" view of the world, and to downplay its role in the formation of modern man. Instead, he proposes a more communitarian view of liberalism, where liberalism is one comprehensive moral doctrine between others, but happens (for historical reasons) to be one that has been very succesful in shaping the mindset of Western man, rather more so than it has been succesful politically.
Taylor also rejects many of the ideas of liberalism itself, in particular the "rights-based" thinking and its concept of the individual's relation to his culture. The former is most clearly seen in his book "Sources of the Self", whereas the latter is most clearly expressed in this work. The modern social imaginary, i.e. the ways in which modern man is capable of seeing the world (which is not the same as the way he sees the world!) is explored from every possible cultural and philosophical angle.
On the whole, his communitarian philosophy tends to be conservative, but rather of the traditionalist conservative kind than of the religiously inspired reactionary kind one sees in the US so much (though Taylor is very catholic). His interests are clearly in defining what makes modernist culture a culture of its own and why it is a historically developed integral whole, not a content-neutral political system as many liberals seem to think it is. Because of this appeal to historicism, Taylor's work is also very useful and interesting for more radical progressives seeking to criticize the liberal's claims to neutrality and autonomy.
On the whole, this booklet (less than 200 pages of content) is an exciting and relatively legible summary of Taylor's views on Western society and where it came from. Recommended to everyone except those who have read Taylor's larger works (especially "Sources of the Self" and "Multiculturalism"), for whom it will perhaps not be as new as it was for me.