The Ethics of Authenticity

The Ethics of Authenticity

Charles Taylor / Feb 20, 2020

The Ethics of Authenticity Everywhere we hear talk of decline of a world that was better once maybe fifty years ago maybe centuries ago but certainly before modernity drew us along its dubious path While some lament the sli

  • Title: The Ethics of Authenticity
  • Author: Charles Taylor
  • ISBN: 9780674268630
  • Page: 452
  • Format: Hardcover
  • Everywhere we hear talk of decline, of a world that was better once, maybe fifty years ago, maybe centuries ago, but certainly before modernity drew us along its dubious path While some lament the slide of Western culture into relativism and nihilism and others celebrate the trend as a liberating sort of progress, Charles Taylor calls on us to face the moral and politicalEverywhere we hear talk of decline, of a world that was better once, maybe fifty years ago, maybe centuries ago, but certainly before modernity drew us along its dubious path While some lament the slide of Western culture into relativism and nihilism and others celebrate the trend as a liberating sort of progress, Charles Taylor calls on us to face the moral and political crises of our time, and to make the most of modernity s challenges.At the heart of the modern malaise, according to most accounts, is the notion of authenticity, of self fulfillment, 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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      Published :2019-07-21T18:39:31+00:00

    About "Charles Taylor"

      • Charles Taylor

        Librarian Note There is than one author in the database with this name This profile may contain books from multiple authors of this name Other authors with this name Charles TaylorCharles Taylor, Journalist, Film criticCharles Margrave Taylor CC GOQ FBA FRSC is a Canadian philosopher, and professor emeritus at McGill University He is best known for his contributions to political philosophy, the philosophy of social science, history of philosophy and intellectual history This work has earned him the prestigious Kyoto Prize, the Templeton Prize, the Berggruen Prize for Philosophy, and the John W Kluge Prize, in addition to widespread esteem among philosophers Source


    1. The Ethics of Authenticity by Charles Taylor is an uncharacteristically short work in which Taylor presses home through clear arguments the point that critics of the modern moral stance or ethos of authenticity, represented by Allan Bloom, author of The Closing of the American Mind, and Christopher Lasch, the author of The Culture of Narcissism, go too far in their condemnations and so prevent a fruitful engagement with the good that can be affirmed and rescued in contemporary notions of the aut [...]

    2. Charles Taylor has a remarkable grasp of intellectual history and this book is no exception in his continued efforts to carefully position present ideas against the horizons of past conceptual shifts and innovations. Unlike his other books like Sources of the Self or A Secular Age, though, this book is a much briefer treatment of one idea in particular, namely the ideal of authenticity and its relationship to individualism in this contemporary age. Nonetheless, I found Taylor's arguments to be p [...]

    3. A short philosophy book that perfectly illustrates my own existential struggles and moral dilemmas in our modern society. I agree wholeheartedly that our era is characterised by an ethic of authenticity; we feel deeply responsible to create ourselves and to express our own originality, but find ourselves often lost and bewildered when doing so. In order to truly embody this goal we require recognition by others, and for recognition we require a horizon of common held significances These signific [...]

    4. short, sharp, perceptive, pungent. have not read his longer books, academic articles, but this is a concise book giving a contrary argument to those who see current culture as declining. itself a historical document 1991, it is useful to think his thoughts in the air of that time. there is some history, then some dispute that everything was better once, that there was ever a hierarchy ordering the world, but also recognition that there is some loss, primarily in atomism, fragmentation, powerless [...]

    5. This is an excellent book exploring the relevance of the notion of authenticity, the source of authenticity, and how it can still be indelibly linked to 'being true to ourselves' without having to walk away from our sense of connectedness and responsibility to the wider whole. Taylor presents three malaises: a) Individualism – loss of historical sense of role and position in community; loss of heroic dimension to life; and loss of purposeb) Primacy of instrumental reason – a rationality that [...]

    6. I really liked the section of this book which related the cult of the artist in Western traditions to the idea of authenticity. The rub was that becoming an individual is often seen as in opposition to conventional morality in our society. Thus, flouting the rules (at least for a while) becomes the natural means of achieving some measure of self-definition. Taylor brought in some big names to argue this point but still maintained a clarity of thought and lightness of touch. I appreciated that! T [...]

    7. пам'ятаєте, як у заставці до "сімпсонів" барт пише на дощці (щоразу нову) фразу по сто разів?так от, це текст, після якого мені хочеться взяти десь дошку й усю її розписати словами "я більше не читатиму українських перекладів наукової літератури". ясно, що, як і барт сімпсон, ціє [...]

    8. Incredibly insightful. Taylor tries to uncover the moral ideal behind modernity. His attitude towards modernity is more irenic than mine, but he really helped me to understand somethings much more clearly. For example, the way in which Romanticism affected modern consciousness in reaction to Cartesian dis-engagement, but in continuity with idealist subjectivism

    9. My eye falls upon words of philosophy that are easy to read: tears come to my eyesNext I notice that this philosophy lives in a small book: I look skyward and bless the heavensFor real tho kudos to Taylor for making phil so easy and accessible Content wise I'm more mixedSo this book is about all the problems of modernity- you know the ones: the hyper individualism, the passiveness, the instrumental reasonThis book addresses and examines that and comes to an interesting conclusion:Modern life asp [...]

    10. Charles Taylor’s The Ethics of Authenticity is an exploration and critique of the “modern” existential ethos. Each chapter functions to help develop a conceptual framework through which to interpret and evaluate individualism and its impact upon Western societies. To do this Taylor first identifies what he coins as the “three malaise” of modern existence: individualism, instrumental reasoning, and soft-despotism. Once these malaises have been introduced, he spends the next eight chapte [...]

    11. As the book flap promises, "[b]y looking past simplistic, one-sided judgements of modern culture, by distinguishing the good and valuable from the socially and politically perilous, Taylor articulates the promise of our age" and, in his well-reasoned and well-written way, the moral benefits inherent in the freedom to define one's self and one's values.A favorite quote: "Some people in the West make the end of the Cold War a pretext for the celebration of their own utopia, a free society ordered [...]

    12. It's a good starting point to think about authenticity as a concept both revered and hated. Charles Taylor does not give any real answers in this book, but he does show why none of the aforementioned positions do justice to the idea and he instills a thought that it is possible to find another way of looking at it. It would be very interesting to see what this non-middle-ground option would be.

    13. My first of his books. It’s a profound philosophical work. It inspires you to love philosophy and critical thinking- both painful among a society trapped in triviality. This is what he challenges. A quest to reclaim genuine authenticity by constantly struggling with strong malaises of twisted individualism, “instrumental reason,” and political decay that results from these. I’m challenged!

    14. Charles Taylor's Ethics of Authenticity is a good little book about the importance that most modern Western societies places on a concept he calls 'authenticity.' Presumably this concept of authenticity pervades other areas of the world beside the West but it has its roots in the West. The perspective of authenticity tends to favor (1) the priority of the individual and her desires over everything else, (2) instrumental reason over other competing ways to reason about what is good for us, and (3 [...]

    15. Charles Taylor's book was exactly the kind of thing I want to read being steeped in a political culture that offers very little reflection about how we can ethically operate in a modern world. This readable and provocative tome is essentially Professor Taylor's attempt to moderate between two camps: the "boosters" and the "knockers" of non-traditional definitions of ethics and morality. On the one hand, "knockers" postulate that a lack of deference toward older societal structures has caused a d [...]

    16. I'm not usually moved by books topical to ethics. Philosophical thought, while fun to talk about with people close to me, tends to bore me in written form. This book, however, has been important.Charles Taylor covers all the current negative trends in societal individualism (which he argues is inherently contradictory), covering the gamut from nihilism to relativism, pointing out several impossibilities on the latter. I had two reactions to Taylor's approach. First, I worried that he didn't take [...]

    17. This was my first encounter with Charles Taylor. Extraordinary mind. Reading this pushed me to the limits of my understanding, as most books on philosophy do. I could almost feel new neural synapses forming in my brain! :) I particularly enjoyed his thoughts on the transformational shift in literature and art at the end of the eighteenth century from mimesis (imitation) to creation. Taylor writes, "Where formerly poetic language could rely on certain publicly available orders of meaning, it now [...]

    18. Taylor is a cultural amillennialist: things are neither getting worse or getting better, they are muddling along and we must make the best of it. He demonstrates that modernity means humans have developed an exaggerated individualism, and individualism seeks authenticity in fulfillment according to personal criteria. What he argues is that while the manner of finding this can be individual, the ideal with which the individual identifies, which gives an ethic to his quest for authenticity, need n [...]

    19. This book was not what I expected, in a good way. It was a good and thought-provoking read, calling us to aspire to the best possibilities of authenticity, technology, and politics. Taylor lays out a straightforward philosophical argument that avoid and debunks both blind optimism and harsh cynicism - seeking instead to live in the ongoing tension of struggling, aspiring for the best while attempting to avoid the slippery slopes of individualism, instrumental reason, and fragmentation. This was [...]

    20. Taylor discusses what he sees as the major problems of modern societies, why they are problems, and how to best fix these problems. Much of the time this comes down to ensuring that one sees the true moral ideals behind both history and modernity, rather than write ideas off as something they are not. He effectively deals with each of the three malaises that he originally identifies, and although dealing mainly with the first one (authenticity) he outlines a similarly logical framework for deali [...]

    21. Bloody hell, it's three in the morning and I've literally just finished reading the last insufferable chapter of this insufferable book. Am very tempted to throw it straight into a fire right now (or at least out the nearest window) but woe of woes, I have an essay to write on it and as it's the set text for my philosophy exam this May, I hardly think that either of those actions would be beneficial to me in the long run.The ideas that are presented in this book aren't awful in themselves - they [...]

    22. This book was published in 1991 and takes a stance in debates that were active then. They seem a bit dated, or at least familiar, to me. Authenticity involves listening to our "self." Some argue that we live in a self-indulgent culture with no standards, others that we are oppressed by standards and should pay more attention to our selves. Taylor argues that we should not stop listening to our selves (indeed we can't), but we need to be more critical about the truth we think we hear. My interest [...]

    23. An insightful analysis of the problems of modernity. However, I disagree with the standpoint taken on the market - I disagree that the market cannot be abolished. I add a provision to Taylor's statement that removing the market is costly - this applies if it is the localised removal of markets. A global doing-away with the market economy would not have the issues that Taylor says it would. I also disagree with the emphasis Taylor puts on 'horizons of significance'. I side with Sartre and Camus i [...]

    24. I cannot recommend this book more highly. Informed by the giant "Sources of the Self," one of the more highly acclaimed works by peers and students who land all over the spectrum in relation to his stands, work, and ideas. I taught a course where this was the only text. We met for four hours or more to discuss each of the chapters (I believe there are three) and my role was to ensure that we each understood what was posited by the author before we spoke about it in any manner. It is an extraordi [...]

    25. Charles Taylor is always exciting and thought provoking. I feel terrible because I read this book so long ago that I cannot recall any finer details. This actually may be one of the small problems with Taylor; in each book (nay, each chapter!) he covers a broad range of ideas in subtle and somewhat ambiguous ways. Sometimes it is difficult to identify the main point of his arguments. At the same time, no matter what is on your mind that day, Taylor's writing seems to be speaking directly to you [...]

    26. Much more readable than Secular Age. Good ideas, not fleshed out, but good places to start. I'm not entirely persuaded that he understands the conservative views here or that he quite has sorted out the meanings of pluralism. But I think he does propose a useful, dynamic middle ground between "boosters" and "knockers" of modern individualism.

    27. A nice stop between Rorty and Carse, arguing for the ideal of self-defining originality and creativity that he sees behind the modern era, and defending it from the critiques of individualistic narcissism that capitalism in particular pushes it towards, through defining it in term of dialog and social expression.

    28. This book is a compilation of radio addresses given in Canada and can be used as a good introduction to the work of Charles Taylor. One can find a more detailed expression of the same themes in the last few chapters of Sources.

    29. A strong argument for cultivating active social-mindedness as a means toward self-actualization, but for all Taylor's practical lessons, I question academic philosophy's capacity to affect real change, inaccessible as it can be.

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