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Aspiring to Fullness in a Secular Age

Essays on Religion and Theology in the Work of Charles Taylor

edited by Carlos D. Colorado and Justin D. Klassen

Publication Year: 2014

Aspiring to Fullness in a Secular Age, whose title is inspired by Charles Taylor's magisterial A Secular Age, offers a host of expert analyses of the religious and theological threads running throughout Taylor’s oeuvre, illuminating further his approaches to morality, politics, history, and philosophy. Although the scope of Taylor’s insight into modern secularity has been widely recognized by his fellow social theorists and philosophers, Aspiring to Fullness focuses on Taylor's insights regarding questions of religious experience. It is with a view to such experience that the volume’s contributors consider and assess Taylor’s broad analysis of the limits and potentialities of the present age in regard to human fullness or fulfillment. The essays in this volume address crucial questions about the function and significance of religious accounts of transcendence in Taylor’s overall philosophical project; the critical purchase and limitations of Taylor’s assessment of the centrality of codes and institutions in modern political ethics; the possibilities inherent in Taylor’s brand of post-Nietzschean theism; the significance and meaning of Taylor’s ambivalence about modern destiny; the possibility of a practical application of his insights within particular contemporary religious communities; and the overall implications of Taylor’s thought for theology and philosophy of religion. Although some commentators have referred to a recent religious “turn” in Taylor’s work, the contributors to Aspiring to Fullness in a Secular Age examine the ways in which transcendence functions, both explicitly and implicitly, in Taylor’s philosophical project as a whole.

Published by: University of Notre Dame Press

Title Page, Copyright Page

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pp. i-vi

Contents

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pp. vii-viii

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Acknowledgments

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pp. ix-x

This book has been many years in the making; consequently, the debts of gratitude we owe for its completion are many. We are grateful to Ian Angus for introducing us both to Charles Taylor’s work as undergraduate students in the Humanities Department at Simon Fraser University. Later, during...

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Introduction

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pp. 1-10

The publication in 2007 of A Secular Age reconfirmed Charles Taylor’s uniquely comprehensive acumen about the character, promise, and pitfalls of the modern age. As he did in Sources of the Self—which surprised both knockers and boosters of modernity with its capacity to give voice to...

Part I: Existential Theism

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Chapter One: The Affirmation of Existential Life in Charles Taylor’s A Secular Age

Justin D. Klassen

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pp. 13-38

In a recent review essay, John Milbank, initiator of the “new theological imperative” known as Radical Orthodoxy and author of Theology and Social Theory: Beyond Secular Reason, calls Charles Taylor’s A Secular Age a “magnificent, epoch-making work” and says that, on its basis, “one could...

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Chapter Two: Transcendence, “Spin,” and the Jamesian Open Space

Paul D. Janz

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pp. 39-70

One could doubtless find more inviting or compelling ways to begin an essay than to announce in the opening sentence that it is going to be concerned mainly with questions of “method,” a term likely to give the impression of something dry, pedantic, and uninspiring, or concerned primarily...

Part II: Ontology and Polemic

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Chapter Three: Transcendent Sources and the Dispossession of the Self

Carlos D. Colorado

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pp. 73-97

While there is little doubt that the publication of A Secular Age has positioned Charles Taylor at the center of many recent important discussions in religion, ethics, and politics, those familiar with his body of work are well aware that his contribution to the study of religion does not begin with...

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Chapter Four: Theorizing Secularity 3

Ruth Abbey

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pp. 98-124

One of Charles Taylor’s ambitions—perhaps even his central ambition— in A Secular Age is to shed light on Secularity 3, as he calls it, or the current conditions of religious belief and experience in Western societies. This is what, in Taylor’s eyes, sets his approach apart from other analyses of secularity...

Part III: Middle Dwellers

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Chapter Five: Humanism and the Question of Fullness

William Schweiker

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pp. 12-151

Throughout his writings, Charles Taylor has insisted that any adequate account of human action and social relations must attend to the meanings that sustain and motivate human beings. Against the aspiration of some political thinkers to analyze social life on the model of the natural sciences...

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Chapter Six: The “Drive to Reform” and Its Discontents

Charles Matthews and Joshua Yates

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pp. 152-188

A Secular Age offers many lessons, but perhaps the most interesting is one that, ironically, challenges the book’s very title. For in the book, Taylor suggests that the defining characteristic of modern times is not the much-debated rise of the secular, but the universalization of the drive to Reform—...

Part IV: Ethics and Embodiment

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Chapter Seven: The Authentic Individual in the Network of Agape

Jennider A. Herdt

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pp. 191-216

One of the most valuable aspects of Charles Taylor’s work has been the way in which it articulates the complementary character of authentic individuality and genuine community. Throughout his career, Taylor has offered perceptive critiques of the excesses of strong social constructionism...

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Chapter Eight: Enfleshment and the Time of Ethics

Eric Gregory and Leah Hunt- Hendrix

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pp. 217-240

Charles Taylor is a gifted storyteller. His elegant master narratives both thrill and frustrate scholars, sometimes at the same time. Provocative tales of disenchantment as a predicament of modern secularity are important examples of philosophical history that—alongside canonical texts in sociological...

Part V: Outliers

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Chapter Nine: Recovery of Meaning?

Ian Angus

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pp. 243-261

Modernity—its nature, critique, and possibility—is Charles Taylor’s abiding theme. Modernity has altered the basic relation of religion to society and therefore the experience of meaning in modern society. In Taylor’s version of the secularization thesis, the contrast is between “the world that...

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Chapter Ten: Transcendence and Immanence in a Subtler Language

Bruce K. Ward

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pp. 262-290

Why speak of Fyodor Dostoevsky in relation to Charles Taylor’s magisterial analysis of modern secularity? At first sight there might seem little in common between the irenic, carefully measured, scholarly argumentation of the Canadian philosopher and the sometimes wild, often unnerving...

Contributors

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pp. 291-295

Index

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pp. 296-302

Back Cover

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E-ISBN-13: 9780268077020
E-ISBN-10: 0268077029
Print-ISBN-13: 9780268023768
Print-ISBN-10: 026802376X

Page Count: 344
Illustrations: NA
Publication Year: 2014