martes, 26 de febrero de 2008

Charles Taylor en Prospect Magazine

Les recomiendo el texto sobre Taylor de Ben Rogers, y la entrevista
que sigue. Algunos extractos:

What makes Taylor so important? Over more than 40 years, four large books, four or five slimmer essays and several volumes of articles, he has worked out a distinctive network of arguments and an exceptionally rich analysis of the modern self and its values—an analysis that reveals us to be altogether deeper and more interesting, but also less self-aware, than we tend to suppose.

(...) At the heart of Taylor's thought is a critique of "naturalist" modes of thinking, whether manifest in philosophy, social science, economics or psychology. For Taylor, naturalism is the view that all human and social phenomena, including our subjectivity, are best understood on the model of natural phenomena, by using scientific canons of explanation. So wherever possible, apparently complicated social entities should be reduced to their simple component parts; social and cultural institutions and practices explained in terms of the beliefs and actions of individuals; value judgements reduced to brute animal preferences; the physical world to sense data; sense data to neurological activity and so on. Taylor believes that in the last 400 years, naturalism has fundamentally reshaped our individual and collective self-understanding. Seeing the limits of this mode of thought promises to give us a critical purchase on ourselves and our culture.

(...) This brings us to the second major concern of Taylor's work. Beyond demonstrating the limits of naturalism, Taylor is concerned to help us understand our modern selves, our values and culture. What is the modern social imaginary? Taylor gives the most worked-out answer in one of his masterworks, Sources of the Self (1989). Here, he sets out to tell the story of the evolution of the modern self—or perhaps just the "self" insofar as it is really only in modern times that humans have had a strong sense of selfhood. Taylor seeks to unweave a number of conceptually distinct but historically related strands to the self. First, we moderns characteristically make a sharp distinction between the inner self and the outer world, finding the sources of reason and value not, as classical and medieval cultures did, in some higher, external realm, but by ordering our inner lives properly. We assume truth and virtue are reached by stepping back from the outer world and getting our thoughts and emotions in order—by following logical procedures, listening to our conscience and subjecting our emotions to reason.

(...) Taylor has sometimes been classed as a "communitarian." But that term is misleading if it suggests someone unsympathetic to the modern values of freedom and self-expression. Taylor has always argued that modern culture is enormously, perhaps uniquely, rich—his quarrel is with what he sees as its pathologies. I have mentioned his criticism of naturalism, but his argument with aspects of liberal individualism is another example. Taylor is no enemy of liberal democracy. But he has argued that liberals are often not sufficiently sensitive to the strength and value of cultural ties—particularly nationality and language. We need a politics, Taylor has argued, that can articulate liberal forms of community and identity, otherwise we will simply get illiberal versions of these things. The challenge facing nations with high immigration, like Britain, France or Canada—as Taylor argues in our interview with him—is not, as some multiculturalists have argued, to dismantle national culture, but to tackle the obstacles that hinder integration, including narrow, monistic or xenophobic identities among both migrant and "host" cultures.


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