Week 4: Charles Taylor

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Post by Yael on Sun Apr 08, 2018 11:04 am

Dear Students,

The question for our fourth session is

What are the transformations in religious faith in the modern age, according to Taylor? What are their implications?

Your replies are due on Sunday the 15th till 20.00.

I look forward to our discussion,



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Post by altair3feb on Mon Apr 16, 2018 9:53 am

Going through Charles Taylor's work in the Secular Age, I found myself taking in most of the imagery of pre-modern superstition to be simply that; superstition, fantasy, unworldly fabrications. It always took me some effort to realize the extent of impact these images had on their respective peoples. Images of melancholic black bile Shocked, of a benevolent goddess ministering acts of love, and of charged relics that bring destruction and misery to their surroundings if they are not preserved.

Taylor argues that societies of pre-modern times construed the existence of a God to achieve "fullness", an escapable aspiration of humankind. By fullness, I took it to mean a feeling of completion and satiated spirituality that gives reality a weighted justification. Along those lines, he mentions how different objects and events in pre-modern lives had to have meaning in and of themselves, contrary to modern autonomous human beings that control the traffic of meaning into their minds.

It is not clear to me whether Taylor's account on the enchanted world is necessarily lamenting our current reality of a disenchanted world, which is Max Weber's notion on the modern world. Do you think the book carries tones of grief towards what we've come to, or is it more a sigh of relief that humanity is no longer tethered to such noumena?


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Post by 7ajje94 on Mon Apr 16, 2018 11:49 am

Philosophy, science and social theory led to the disappearance of Religion.
In my opinion, one of the most important points that religion was created for was to give people explanations about things that they could not understand as death. I see that modern societies are disenchanted for denying God but enchanted within themselves living without any connection to a spiritual belief


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Post by TA on Mon Apr 16, 2018 12:40 pm

There are many causes and implications why these transformations in religious faith have happen, it would not be possible to point all but I think there are some major events that Taylor is mentioning.
The first is a change in man approach and perception of himself morally and philosophically which has created the enlightenment movement and also great revolutions. For example, towards the church like the resistance to the Catholic church and the creation of Protestant movement. Later then the revolutions against the monarchies (like the french revolution).
The advance of science (Copernicus, Darwin, Newton) and the disenchantment of the world. people stoped believing in demons and magic, and trust more science, therefore their is less need for a god-like beliefs.
Morality start to emerge from people and social studies and not from the bible and religious laws as it used to be: governments, kingdoms, courts, hospitals, public institutions etc. are receiving a more secular approach.


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Post by Music on Mon Apr 16, 2018 1:46 pm

In A Secular Age, Charles Taylor draws an image that contrasts the human in 1500 and 500 years after that. The main development the human goes through in 500 years is defence. The human in the pre-modern, "enchanted" world was susceptible and vulnerable to dangers, mental and physical. The erection of bulwarks - as he terms them in the title of the chapter - served as a defence mechanism to their mental and physical states, tells us Taylor.  

Taylor also portrays the difference between the porous self of the enchanted world versus the buffered self of modernity. The porous self is submissive; the buffered self is safe. Porosity brought fatality to the human who sought immortality. Porosity was tackled with fortification. The human protected their self by finding new meanings in the world. On the other hand, they also protected their selves physically and that is noticeable in the infrastructures that protect our constructions today.

Taylor discusses why it was impossible for the enchanted human - in Europe - not to believe in God, whilst it is almost inevitable for the human today. He builds a structure of thought by bringing in different philosophies and examples to tell the story through his own eyes. To me, the reading was quite perplexing due to sporadic syntax and a bouncing from one subject to another without a clear flow. Although I found his insights essential.

What I would like to point out is that although a major wave of atheism has struck the shores of humanity, in many societies, God is still undeniable. The major causes for the switch from theism to atheism is our enslavement to money and addiction to technology.


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