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A Secular Age by Charles Taylor
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A Secular Age (2007)

by Charles Taylor

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A painful exacting description of the gradual displacement of a religious world with the scientific viewpoint enjoyed today. This is not easy reading, or clear. View it as an extensive conversation with an acquaintance, who is not happy when meeting with the question "What exactly do you mean by that?" His responses are somewhat catty and lead to even more involved responses. While I came to understand what he was getting at, none-the-less there was more exasperation than exhilaration in the discovery. ( )
  DinadansFriend | Nov 8, 2015 |
The Path to Exclusive Humanism
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 necessary to explain the human life. This narrative, Charles Taylor convincingly argues, is questionable and has alternatives. The development of science and the reinvention of the individual aren't incompatible with the desire of transcendency. Modern societies show the revival of religious beliefs - the author refers the examples of the United States and Latin American countries - and entertain ideas and institutions based in a conception of the human that is not exclusively naturalistic. This is a most read book by whom wants to understand postmodern human society. ( )
  MarcusBastos | Jul 29, 2015 |
Dear non existent god,

Please do not make any more Charles Taylors! The gist of the book is: 'Life is so much more worth while when you believe in fairy tales." He's an obvious disciple of the late Heidegger...that senile old Nazis who pined away for the return of a Fuhrer with all his nonsensical waiting for being and higher values and all the other mumbo jumbo.

He fails to notice that secularization accelerated when open disbelief no longer carried the death penalty...gee imagine that. Unbelief was much more ubiquitous than Mr. Taylor realizes when disbelief in God was supposedly unimaginable as some recent books on the history of atheism have pointed out.

I had to read this for a class. Thank god( the non-existent one ) I never had to suffer through one of his lectures. After 2000 years, this is what Christianity has to offer?!?! No thanks. If I wasn''t already an atheist, I would be one after reading this book.

One positive aspect is the fact that this book was written at all which to me is a celebration of the fact that the monotheistic religious filth is on the wane. Thank you Mr. Taylor for this performative proof. Muslim terrorism can be viewed in this light as the dying gasp of a dying religion. ( )
1 vote ElectricKoolAid | Mar 22, 2014 |
A monstrous work of insight and speculation; a grand framing narrative for academics who've come back around to wanting framing narratives again, Taylor enfolds Foucault, Hegel, and a vast swathe of Latin European history within his easygoing language. I'd assign chapters of this to undergrads.
1 vote YunusWesley | Aug 15, 2010 |
Wavers between beautiful/deep and inscrutable/mumbo-jumbo. I don't know if I can press on. About a third deep. I like the outline of the thesis. I'm open to the idea that seculars have given shoddy, self-surving explanation for the decline in religiousness--- but I'd appreciate it if Taylor would keep the discussion down-to-the-ground / analytic, with none of that airy-fairy sociological musings. But maybe that's the best that can be done.

UPDATE: I badly want to finish this, but dammit parts of it are just to conceptual and fluffy, and I can't press on. I'm gonna return the library copy, and promise myself that I'll buy the paperback when it comes out.
2 vote leeinaustin | Mar 16, 2009 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0674026764, Hardcover)

What does it mean to say that we live in a secular age? Almost everyone would agree that we--in the West, at least--largely do. And clearly the place of religion in our societies has changed profoundly in the last few centuries. In what will be a defining book for our time, Charles Taylor takes up the question of what these changes mean--of what, precisely, happens when a society in which it is virtually impossible not to believe in God becomes one in which faith, even for the staunchest believer, is only one human possibility among others.

Taylor, long one of our most insightful thinkers on such questions, offers a historical perspective. He examines the development in "Western Christendom" of those aspects of modernity which we call secular. What he describes is in fact not a single, continuous transformation, but a series of new departures, in which earlier forms of religious life have been dissolved or destabilized and new ones have been created. As we see here, today's secular world is characterized not by an absence of religion--although in some societies religious belief and practice have markedly declined--but rather by the continuing multiplication of new options, religious, spiritual, and anti-religious, which individuals and groups seize on in order to make sense of their lives and give shape to their spiritual aspirations.

What this means for the world--including the new forms of collective religious life it encourages, with their tendency to a mass mobilization that breeds violence--is what Charles Taylor grapples with, in a book as timely as it is timeless.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:15:32 -0400)

"What does it mean to say that we live in a secular age? Almost everyone would agree that we - in the West, at least - largely do. And clearly the place of religion in our societies has changed profoundly in the last few centuries. Charles Taylor takes up the question of what these changes mean - of what, precisely, happens when a society in which it is virtually impossible not to believe in God becomes one in which faith, even for the staunchest believer, is only one human possibility among others." "Taylor offers a historical perspective. He examines the development in "Western Christendom" of those aspects of modernity which we call secular. What he describes is in fact not a single, continuous transformation, but a series of new departures, in which earlier forms of religious life have been dissolved or destabilized and new ones have been created." "What this means for the world - including the new forms of collective religious life it encourages, with their tendency to a mass mobilization that breeds violence - is what Charles Taylor grapples with, in a book as timely as it is timeless."--BOOK JACKET.… (more)

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