In this extensive inquiry into the sources of modern selfhood, Charles Taylor demonstrates just how rich and precious those resources are. The modern turn to subjectivity, with its attendant rejection of an objective order of reason, has led--it seems to many--to "mere" subjectivism at the mildest and to sheer nihilism at the worst. Many critics believe that the modern order has no moral backbone and has proved corrosive to all that might foster human good. Taylor rejects this view. He argues that, properly understood, our modern notion of the self provides a framework that more than compensates for the abandonment of substantive notions of rationality.The major insight of "Sources of the Self" is that modern subjectivity, in all its epistemological, aesthetic, and political ramifications, has its roots in ideas of human good. After first arguing that contemporary philosophers have ignored how self and good connect, the author defines the modern identity by describing its genesis. His effort to uncover and map our moral sources leads to novel interpretations of most of the figures and movements in the modern tradition. Taylor shows that the modern turn inward is not disastrous but is in fact the result of our long efforts to define and reach the good. At the heart of this definition he finds what he calls the affirmation of ordinary life, a value which has decisively if not completely replaced an older conception of reason as connected to a hierarchy based on birth and wealth. In telling the story of a revolution whose proponents have been Augustine, Montaigne, Luther, and a host of others, Taylor's goal is in part to make sure we do not lose sight of their goal and endanger all that has been achieved. "Sources of the Self" provides a decisive defense of the modern order and a sharp rebuff to its critics.
The authors have enjoyed extraordinary access to influential figures and forces the world over, and the book is a global tour of the innovators. The front lines are in Chinese-oriented Asia, where experiments in state-directed capitalism and authoritarian modernization have ushered in an astonishing period of development. Other emerging nations are producing striking new ideas, from Brazil's conditional cash-transfer welfare system to India's application of mass-production techniques in hospitals. These governments have not by any means got everything right, but they have embraced the spirit of active reform and reinvention which in the past has provided so much of the West's comparative advantage. The race is not just one of efficiency, Sources of the Self: The Making of the Modern Identity pdf but one to see which political values will triumph in the twenty-first century: the liberal values of democracy and freedom or the authoritarian values of command and control. The centre of gravity is shifting quickly, and the stakes could not be higher.
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