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A Secular Age Hardcover – October 20, 2007
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A good deal of Taylor's book is devoted to understanding the nature of secularism and the different contexts in which the word "secularism" is used. For the larger part of the book, Taylor describes a "secular age" as an age in which unbelief in God or in Transcendent reality has become a live option to many people. He describes our age as such a "secular age" especially among academics and other intellectuals. He wants to give an account of how secularism developed, of its strengths and weaknesses, and of its current significance.
Taylor's book is written on a personal, historical, and contemporary level. Taylor is a believing contemporary Catholic, and much of his treatment of religious belief reflects his own Catholic/Christian commitments.Read more ›
That said, A Secular Age is vintage Taylor, tracing the roots of secularism deep into the furthest reaches of theology and tracing a series of complicated genealogies of modern thought. It's tough going, and Taylor does have a tendency to loop and qualify in the course of elaborating his claims. But if you have the patience for this kind of Hegel-inspired intellectual-philosophical history, you can count on having your thinking nuanced and complicated as well as encountering all sorts of nearly forgotten thinkers from across the Western tradition. It extends and completes some of the arguments advanced in his earlier Sources of the Self: The Making of the Modern Identity
At a price of $36.80 for this Kindle edition, I expected the digital formatting to be properly done. Shame on both Amazon and The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press for selling this shoddy and useless edition for such an outrageous price.
Charles Taylor is a brilliant thinker. His work deserves far better editions than this Kindle one.
Other reviewers have noted several of the stylistic flaws, such as the tendency toward repetition, the assumption that readers speak French, and so forth. I'd simply like to add a brief note of two substantive limitations.
First, Taylor's definition of "religion" is narrow, and thus misses the "religious" aspects of other forms of social/cultural bonding that function as "religions" in our world, from the relatively trivial (such as sports partisanship) to the more serious (such as patriotism and scientism). His argument is thus directed between "belief" and "unbelief," rather than between various forms of belief systems. As he notes (but does not discuss in detail), scientism functions religiously for many, including such popular authors as Richard Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens, famous for their supposed "debunking" of "religion." This diminishes the power of his argument to refute some of the more powerful forms of "belief" in our world today.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Some very interesting ideas, but long winded. I only read about 25% of it for an essay.Published 9 months ago by Robert Williams
One can see the development of the western societies as a road to progressive secularization, a way that leads to a social organization in with religious beliefs are no more... Read morePublished 12 months ago by Marcus
Great experience buying from Levy's books. Good price fast delivery. ThanksPublished 13 months ago by James J.
This is a very long and detailed work of scholarship on the emergence of secularism in modern times. Read morePublished 16 months ago by GeneBales
The objective distance that grants Taylor insight into the sitz im leben of professed identities and belief closes rapidly in the final chapters, where Taylor's criticism of... Read morePublished 17 months ago by ALeyrer
The first half of this massive 2007 study by a Canadian philosopher has appeared as Gifford Lectures, the prestigious Scottish series which since 1888 has featured leading thinkers... Read morePublished 19 months ago by John L Murphy