A Secular Age / Edition 1

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Overview

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.

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Editorial Reviews

Alasdair Macintyre
Taylor's book is a major and highly original contribution to the debates on secularization that have been ongoing for the past century. There is no book remotely like it.
Robert N. Bellah
Charles Taylor's remarkable book A Secular Age achieves something quite different from what other writers on secularization have accomplished. Most have focused on decline as the essence of secularism—either the removal of religion from sphere after sphere of public life, or the decrease of religious belief and practice. But Taylor focuses on what kind of religion makes sense in a secular age… Taylor is asking not only how secularism became a significant option in a civilization that not so long ago was explicitly Christian, but what that change means for the spiritual quest, both of those who are still religious and those who consider themselves secular. I doubt many people have even perceived that aspect of secularism, and Taylor's book should be as much of a revelation to them as it was to me.
Baltimore Sun - Glenn C. Altschuler
Sophisticated, erudite…with excursions into history, philosophy and literature, A Secular Age is a weighty and challenging tome. It is also a brilliant account of the 'sensed context' in which secularization developed. And a moving meditation, by a believer, on the 'ineradicable bent' of human beings to respond to something beyond life, to keep open 'the transcendent window.'
New York Sun - Michael Burleigh
A salutary and sophisticated defense of how life was lived before the daring views of a tiny secular elite inspired mass indifference, and how it might be lived in the future.
Vancouver Sun - Douglas Todd
[A] big, powerful book… [Taylor's] book is massive in its historical and philosophical scope. Penetrating and dense, it would take months to fully digest. Loosely structured, it's crammed with original insights. Taylor, 75, can pack more into one of his complex paragraphs than most prevaricating, deconstructing academic philosophers can say in a chapter, or even a book… The book explores the immense ramifications of how the West shifted in a few centuries from being a society in which 'it was virtually impossible not to believe in God' to one in which belief is optional, often frowned upon.
Los Angeles Times - Jack Miles
In A Secular Age, philosopher Charles Taylor takes on the broad phenomenon of secularization in its full complexity… [A] voluminous, impressively researched and often fascinating social and intellectual history…Taylor's account encompasses art, literature, science, fashion, private life—all those human activities that have been sometimes more, sometimes less affected by religion over the last five centuries.
Montreal Gazette - Lorenzo Ditommaso
The real genius of this erudite and profound book resides in its grandeur of theme and richness of detail. For all its imposing intellectual density, it is a delight to read; at times, it was literally impossible to put down. Yet it is also a work that ought to be read by degrees—one chapter at a time, with ample pause for reflection.
American Prospect - Azziz Huq
In an idiosyncratic blend of the philosophical, the historical, and the speculative, Taylor describes the shift from a world brim-full with spirits and magic to a world where divinity is absent. His account resists the idea that the rise of secularism is a process of subtraction, of loss, and of disenchantment. Rather, Taylor describes secularity's birth as the migration of ideas, subtle changes in those ideas, and the opening of new possibilities. If Taylor's communitarian scholarship celebrated historical and social rootedness, A Secular Age is an encomium to the sheer happenstance of how those circumstances arose.
Slate - Tyler Cowen
Taylor's masterful integration of history, sociology, philosophy, and theology demands much of the reader. In return you will be convinced that Charles Taylor is one of the smartest and deepest social thinkers of our time.
Cleveland Plain Dealer - Steven Hayward
A culminating dispatch from the philosophical frontlines. It is at once encyclopedic and incisive, a sweeping overview that is no less analytically rigorous for its breadth. Its subject is a philosophical history of the past, present and future of Western Christendom. As such, it begins with a deceptively simple question: How did it become possible for anyone to not believe in God? …A Secular Age recounts the history of an idea, in other words, but in it the past is not an inert, settled fact, but a reservoir to be drawn upon to shatter the sameness and the apparent inevitability of the present. As a history it clarifies crucial intellectual and theological divisions that continue to structure debates about divinity, but with the aim of reforming the way we think about them, 'to show the play of destabilization and recomposition.' Though this isn't a book you take to the beach, it remains eminently readable. As philosophers go, Taylor is a kind of behaviorist, more concerned with elaborating the implications of a way of thinking than with showing its contradictions. Unlike most philosophers, though, Taylor seems at pains to remain accessible to a general audience to capture complex philosophical debate in ordinary language. An important part of Taylor's argument is that religion and the belief in God, most particularly the experience of transcendence, are not at all outmoded… Though it avoids predictions or prescriptions, A Secular Age leaves us with the sense that the future will be a far poorer, less human place, if we do not discover some expression for that transcendent otherness.
The Tablet - David Martin
A Secular Age is a towering achievement… It shows the ways we have traveled from the automatic certainties of 1500 to the fragile alignments of today. It transforms the secularization debate.
New York Times Book Review - John Patrick Diggins
A Secular Age is a work of stupendous breadth and erudition.
The Guardian - Stuart Jeffries
[A] thumping great volume.
Daily Telegraph - Edward Skidelsky
Very occasionally there appears a book destined to endure. A Secular Age is such a book… A Secular Age is an important and deeply interesting work. Its central thesis is that secularization must be understood not simply as the decline of certain beliefs and institutions, but as a total change in our experience of the world… There are subtle, original discussions of the modern self, of changing conceptions of time, of the religious landscape of art, and much else besides. Taylor has a great gift of empathy, an ability to inhabit and bring to life the mental world of both believers and unbelievers. A true Hegelian, he sees the goal of philosophy as understanding, not judgment.
Globe & Mail - Donald Harman Akenson
Though this essential Canadian intellectual may overstate the triumph of secularity, his huge and elegant work takes on the transformation of the world from 1500, when it was almost impossible not to believe in a Creator, to 2000, when religion was simply one choice on a menu of belief systems. He finds the answer in 'exclusive humanism,' which sees 'no final goals beyond human flourishing, nor any allegiance to anything else beyond this flourishing.'
Prospect - Jonathan Derbyshire
The focus here is neither on the role of religion in public institutions nor on the extent of religious beief, but rather on its conditions… It is the slow emergence of secularity in this sense that Taylor sets out to explain, at formidable length, and in remarkable historical and philosophical detail. Binding all that detail together is an argument that Taylor manages to sustain over nearly eight hundred pages. Simply put, A Secular Age is a magisterial refutation of what Taylor calls the 'subtraction story' of secularisation.
Harper's - John Gray
It is refreshing to read an inquiry into the condition of religion that is exploratory in its approach. Charles Taylor, a Roman Catholic as well as one of the world's leading political theorists, does not aim to attack or defend any system of belief in his new book, A Secular Age. Rather, he wants to elucidate the very idea of a secular world. For Taylor, the difference between the pre-modern Western world and the modern West is not simply that beliefs held then are no longer accepted today; it is that the entire framework of thought has changed.
The Tablet - Fergus Kerr
Taylor makes a strong case for the presence in ordinary moral life of something like Plato's idea of the Good, however little acknowledged… A Secular Age carries the story further, into the question of the role of religion in constituting a person's identity. Taylor wants to lay out what it takes to go on believing in God, in the absence of any equivalent to the intellectual, cultural and imaginative surroundings in which pre-modern religion was quietly embedded. This is what he calls our 'social imaginary': how we collectively sense what is normal and appropriate in our dealings with one another and with the world around us. This is something deeper and more diffused than philosophical theories or thought-out positions.
Ottawa Citizen - Robert Sibley
Taylor reminds us that we remain spiritual creatures in our most essential natures, and that what we take for granted—our age's lack of religious faith—is, in fact, an anomaly of history. Our forefathers did not live this way and our grandchildren might not either. Considering the doubts about extreme secularism, it is possible we are entering a new Age of Spirit. If so, Taylor's latest magnum opus serves as a comprehensive guide to the reemergence of religious sensibility.
Prospect - Ben Rogers
Taylor is arguably the most interesting and important philosopher writing in English today… 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… A Secular Age sets out to offer a richer characterization of secularization and the nature of contemporary belief, both religious and skeptical… Taylor writes brilliantly about the new social forms—the nation state, the market economy, the charitable enterprise—and the ideals of altruism and public service that have emerged with them… A Secular Age is effectively a polemic against dogmatic atheism… It is full of insights, and many of its component parts—notably Taylor's discussion of the 'pressures' that make a settled view on the big ontological questions hard to sustain—are as good as anything by this magnificent philosopher.
Times Literary Supplement - Christopher J. Insole
A Secular Age represents a singular achievement… Taylor is somehow uniquely able to combine chutzpah and good manners, making bold and imaginative claims, yet always attending respectfully to the whole range of disciplines that touch on the philosophical trajectory being drawn, whether that be history, sociology, theology, art theory, cultural studies, anthropology or social theory… A Secular Age succeeds in the same way as his previous work: in illuminating through complicating. At the same time, this book seems to step up the ambition somewhat: by attempting to provide a final definitive account of all the narratives and complications that make up our contemporary age, as they implode on themselves and interact with one another… Hegel knew, of course, that 'the owl of Minerva spreads its wings only with the falling of the dusk'; or, in other words, that philosophy can only fathom the truth about an age in hindsight, when the day has passed. But then again, that didn't stop Hegel having a go; and we should be glad that it hasn't stopped Charles Taylor, either.
Commonweal - Peter Steinfels
It is, simply, the most comprehensive account of the process and meaning of secularization… Taylor's depiction of the past two centuries is rich with insights and subtle analyses… Familiarity with Taylor's book is now the entry ticket for any serious discussion of secularization.
Australian Review of Books - Tamas Pataki
[A Secular Age] may become an enduring contribution to understanding religious belief, the evolution of the secular order, and the defining characteristics of modern secularism and contemporary spirituality. Like Charles Taylor's earlier books, it is a product of prodigious erudition. Its 874 dense pages brim with original observation, cogent argument constructed from sources in a wide array of disciplines, and generous ecumenical gestures, even towards humanists. His story is complex, somewhat repetitious and yet unflaggingly interesting: it is loaded with so much novel detail and insight that the reader will be grateful for each scrap of familiar ground.
London Review of Books
In a determinedly brilliant new book, Charles Taylor challenges the 'subtraction theory' of secularization which defines it as a process whereby religion simply falls away, to be replaced by science and rationality. Instead, he sees secularism as a development within Western Christianity, stemming from the increasingly anthropocentric versions of religion that arose from the Reformation. For Taylor, the modern age is not an age without religion; instead, secularization heralds 'a move from a society where belief in God is unchallenged and indeed, unproblematic, to one in which it is understood to be one option among others.' The result is a radical pluralism which, as well as offering unprecedented freedom, creates new challenges and instabilities.
Times Literary Supplement - Rowan Williams
Charles Taylor's A Secular Age offers a uniquely rich historical and philosophical overview of how we came to take a disenchanted world for granted—quietly inviting us to reflect that if disenchantment and the absence of the divine were learned habits of mind, they might not necessarily be the self-evidently rational truths so many think they are.
Dissent - Andrew Koppelman
A Secular Age offers an invaluable map of how the modern religious–secular divide came into being.
Christian Century - Robert Westbrook
If you are, as I am, often puzzled by the landscape of contemporary religious belief and unbelief, you will regard Charles Taylor's huge and hugely rewarding intellectual history of the secularization of European and North American culture as a marvelous gift. A Secular Age is a first-class map of the spiritual terrain of Western modernity as well as the road that got us here.
New York Times - David Brooks
A rich, complex book, but what I most appreciate is [Taylor's] vision of a 'secular' future that is both open and also contains at least pockets of spiritual rigor, and that is propelled by religious motivation, a strong and enduring piece of our nature.
The Economist
One finds big nuggets of insight, useful to almost anybody with an interest in the progress of human society… A vast ideological anatomy of possible ways of thinking about the gradual onset of secularism as experienced in fields ranging from art to poetry to psychoanalysis… Taylor also lays bare the inconsistencies of some secular critiques of religion.
John Patrick Diggins
A Secular Age is a work of stupendous breadth and erudition…
—The New York Times
Publishers Weekly

In his characteristically erudite yet engaging fashion, Taylor, winner of the 2007 Templeton Prize, takes up where he left off in his magnificent Sources of the Self (1989) as he brilliantly traces the emergence of secularity and the processes of secularization in the modern age. Challenging the idea that the secular takes hold in a world where religion is experienced as a loss or where religions are subtracted from the culture, Taylor discovers the secular emerging in the midst of the religious. The Protestant Reformation, with its emphasis on breaking down the invidious political structures of the Catholic Church, provides the starting point down the road to the secular age. Taylor sweeps grandly and magisterially through the 18th and 19th centuries as he recreates the history of secularism and its parallel challenges to religion. He concludes that a focus on the religious has never been lost in Western culture, but that it is one among many stories striving for acceptance. Taylor's examination of the rise of unbelief in the 19th century is alone worth the price of the book and offers an essential reminder that the Victorian age, more than the Enlightenment, dominates our present view of the meanings of secularity. Taylor's inspired combination of philosophy and history sparkles in this must-read virtuoso performance. (Sept.)

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Baltimore Sun

Sophisticated, erudite...with excursions into history, philosophy and literature, A Secular Age is a weighty and challenging tome. It is also a brilliant account of the "sensed context" in which secularization developed. And a moving meditation, by a believer, on the "ineradicable bent" of human beings to respond to something beyond life, to keep open "the transcendent window."
Glenn C. Altschuler

New York Sun

A salutary and sophisticated defense of how life was lived before the daring views of a tiny secular elite inspired mass indifference, and how it might be lived in the future.
Michael Burleigh

Vancouver Sun

[A] big, powerful book...[Taylor's] book is massive in its historical and philosophical scope. Penetrating and dense, it would take months to fully digest. Loosely structured, it's crammed with original insights. Taylor, 75, can pack more into one of his complex paragraphs than most prevaricating, deconstructing academic philosophers can say in a chapter, or even a book...The book explores the immense ramifications of how the West shifted in a few centuries from being a society in which "it was virtually impossible not to believe in God" to one in which belief is optional, often frowned upon.
Douglas Todd

Los Angeles Times

In A Secular Age, philosopher Charles Taylor takes on the broad phenomenon of secularization in its full complexity...[A] voluminous, impressively researched and often fascinating social and intellectual history...Taylor's account encompasses art, literature, science, fashion, private life--all those human activities that have been sometimes more, sometimes less affected by religion over the last five centuries.
Jack Miles

Montreal Gazette

The real genius of this erudite and profound book resides in its grandeur of theme and richness of detail. For all its imposing intellectual density, it is a delight to read; at times, it was literally impossible to put down. Yet it is also a work that ought to be read by degrees--one chapter at a time, with ample pause for reflection.
Lorenzo DiTommaso

American Prospect

In an idiosyncratic blend of the philosophical, the historical, and the speculative, Taylor describes the shift from a world brim-full with spirits and magic to a world where divinity is absent. His account resists the idea that the rise of secularism is a process of subtraction, of loss, and of disenchantment. Rather, Taylor describes secularity's birth as the migration of ideas, subtle changes in those ideas, and the opening of new possibilities. If Taylor's communitarian scholarship celebrated historical and social rootedness, A Secular Age is an encomium to the sheer happenstance of how those circumstances arose.
Azziz Huq

Slate

Taylor's masterful integration of history, sociology, philosophy, and theology demands much of the reader. In return you will be convinced that Charles Taylor is one of the smartest and deepest social thinkers of our time.
Tyler Cowen

Cleveland Plain Dealer

A culminating dispatch from the philosophical frontlines. It is at once encyclopedic and incisive, a sweeping overview that is no less analytically rigorous for its breadth. Its subject is a philosophical history of the past, present and future of Western Christendom. As such, it begins with a deceptively simple question: How did it become possible for anyone to not believe in God?...A Secular Age recounts the history of an idea, in other words, but in it the past is not an inert, settled fact, but a reservoir to be drawn upon to shatter the sameness and the apparent inevitability of the present. As a history it clarifies crucial intellectual and theological divisions that continue to structure debates about divinity, but with the aim of reforming the way we think about them, "to show the play of destabilization and recomposition." Though this isn't a book you take to the beach, it remains eminently readable. As philosophers go, Taylor is a kind of behaviorist, more concerned with elaborating the implications of a way of thinking than with showing its contradictions. Unlike most philosophers, though, Taylor seems at pains to remain accessible to a general audience to capture complex philosophical debate in ordinary language. An important part of Taylor's argument is that religion and the belief in God, most particularly the experience of transcendence, are not at all outmoded...Though it avoids predictions or prescriptions, A Secular Age leaves us with the sense that the future will be a far poorer, less human place, if we do not discover some expression for that transcendent otherness.
Steven Hayward

The Tablet

Taylor makes a strong case for the presence in ordinary moral life of something like Plato’s idea of the Good, however little acknowledged...A Secular Age carries the story further, into the question of the role of religion in constituting a person’s identity. Taylor wants to lay out what it takes to go on believing in God, in the absence of any equivalent to the intellectual, cultural and imaginative surroundings in which pre-modern religion was quietly embedded. This is what he calls our “social imaginary”: how we collectively sense what is normal and appropriate in our dealings with one another and with the world around us. This is something deeper and more diffused than philosophical theories or thought-out positions.
Fergus Kerr

New York Times Book Review

A Secular Age is a work of stupendous breadth and erudition.
John Patrick Diggins

The Guardian

[A] thumping great volume.
Stuart Jeffries

Daily Telegraph

Very occasionally there appears a book destined to endure. A Secular Age is such a book...A Secular Age is an important and deeply interesting work. Its central thesis is that secularization must be understood not simply as the decline of certain beliefs and institutions, but as a total change in our experience of the world...There are subtle, original discussions of the modern self, of changing conceptions of time, of the religious landscape of art, and much else besides. Taylor has a great gift of empathy, an ability to inhabit and bring to life the mental world of both believers and unbelievers. A true Hegelian, he sees the goal of philosophy as understanding, not judgment.
Edward Skidelsky

Globe and Mail

Though this essential Canadian intellectual may overstate the triumph of secularity, his huge and elegant work takes on the transformation of the world from 1500, when it was almost impossible not to believe in a Creator, to 2000, when religion was simply one choice on a menu of belief systems. He finds the answer in "exclusive humanism," which sees "no final goals beyond human flourishing, nor any allegiance to anything else beyond this flourishing."
Donald Harman Akenson

Prospect

Taylor is arguably the most interesting and important philosopher writing in English today...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...A Secular Age sets out to offer a richer characterization of secularization and the nature of contemporary belief, both religious and skeptical...Taylor writes brilliantly about the new social forms--the nation state, the market economy, the charitable enterprise--and the ideals of altruism and public service that have emerged with them...A Secular Age is effectively a polemic against dogmatic atheism...It is full of insights, and many of its component parts--notably Taylor's discussion of the "pressures" that make a settled view on the big ontological questions hard to sustain--are as good as anything by this magnificent philosopher.
Ben Rogers

Harper's

It is refreshing to read an inquiry into the condition of religion that is exploratory in its approach. Charles Taylor, a Roman Catholic as well as one of the world's leading political theorists, does not aim to attack or defend any system of belief in his new book, A Secular Age. Rather, he wants to elucidate the very idea of a secular world. For Taylor, the difference between the pre-modern Western world and the modern West is not simply that beliefs held then are no longer accepted today; it is that the entire framework of thought has changed.
John Gray

Ottawa Citizen

Taylor reminds us that we remain spiritual creatures in our most essential natures, and that what we take for granted--our age's lack of religious faith--is, in fact, an anomaly of history. Our forefathers did not live this way and our grandchildren might not either. Considering the doubts about extreme secularism, it is possible we are entering a new Age of Spirit. If so, Taylor's latest magnum opus serves as a comprehensive guide to the reemergence of religious sensibility.
Robert Sibley

Times Literary Supplement

A Secular Age represents a singular achievement...Taylor is somehow uniquely able to combine chutzpah and good manners, making bold and imaginative claims, yet always attending respectfully to the whole range of disciplines that touch on the philosophical trajectory being drawn, whether that be history, sociology, theology, art theory, cultural studies, anthropology or social theory...A Secular Age succeeds in the same way as his previous work: in illuminating through complicating. At the same time, this book seems to step up the ambition somewhat: by attempting to provide a final definitive account of all the narratives and complications that make up our contemporary age, as they implode on themselves and interact with one another...Hegel knew, of course, that "the owl of Minerva spreads its wings only with the falling of the dusk"; or, in other words, that philosophy can only fathom the truth about an age in hindsight, when the day has passed. But then again, that didn't stop Hegel having a go; and we should be glad that it hasn't stopped Charles Taylor, either.
Christopher J. Insole

Library Journal

This magnum opus of a major philosopher won the 2007 Templeton Prize, a highly prestigious award for works that significantly contribute to the understanding of science and faith. Taylor (philosophy, emeritus, McGill Univ.) describes in careful detail how over the past five centuries the Western world has become an increasingly secular one. "Why was it virtually impossible not to believe in God in, say, 1500 in our Western Society, while in 2000 many of us find this not only easy, but even inescapable?" he asks. A common answer to this question is that secularization has been the result of a healthy shift from a naively theistic worldview to a sophisticated, humanistic one. As a theist, Taylor takes a different and more nuanced approach. His careful analysis of the shifts over the centuries sees the spiritual and sacred in ongoing interaction. He thus offers a unique and creative view of the development of modern culture. Highly recommended for public and academic libraries.
—John Jaeger

Kirkus Reviews
An analysis of secularism from Canadian philosopher Taylor (Modern Social Imaginaries, 2004, etc.), winner of the 2007 Templeton Prize. If the author had accomplished nothing more than a survey of the voluminous body of "secularization theory," he would have done something valuable. But, although Taylor clearly articulates his disdain for the view that modernity ineluctably led to the death of God, he goes far beyond a literature review. Insofar as belief in God is a choice, he argues, the West is now a profoundly secular society, and even the most devout in America partake of secularity. How did the West change from a society in which "it was virtually impossible not to believe in God" to one in which belief is optional? What Taylor is after in asking that question is the conditions for belief: Today, one's "construal shows up as such"-that is, 600 years ago, people wouldn't have reflected much on or even noticed the fact that they believed in God, but now everyone's beliefs and non-beliefs are chosen, and they are thus both noticeable and noticed. In tracing the rise of secularism, Taylor ranges through the Reformation, the development of perspective in painting and, more recently, the creation of a youth market and post-World War II America's obsession with authenticity. Our current society is "schizophrenic," he concludes. We live in an "ideologically fragmented" world in which both belief and non-belief are under pressure to harness their moral sources to nurture human well-being and to reject violence. In addition to its conceptual value, this study is notable for its lucidity. Taylor has translated complex philosophical theories into language that any educated reader will be ableto follow, yet he has not sacrificed an iota of sophistication or nuance. A magisterial book.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780674026766
  • Publisher: Harvard University Press
  • Publication date: 10/15/2007
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 896
  • Sales rank: 194,768
  • Product dimensions: 6.50 (w) x 9.30 (h) x 2.00 (d)

Meet the Author

Charles Taylor is Professor Emeritus of Philosophy at McGill University.
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Table of Contents

Preface

Introduction

Part I: The Work of Reform

1. The Bulwarks of Belief

2. The Rise of the Disciplinary Society

3. The Great Disembedding

4. Modern Social Imaginaries

5. The Spectre of Idealism

Part II: The Turning Point

6. Providential Deism

7. The Impersonal Order

Part III: The Nova Effect

8. The Malaises of Modernity

9. The Dark Abyss of Time

10. The Expanding Universe of Unbelief

11. Nineteenth-Century Trajectories

Part IV: Narratives of Secularization

12. The Age of Mobilization

13. The Age of Authenticity

14. Religion Today

Part V: Conditions of Belief

15. The Immanent Frame

16. Cross Pressures

17. Dilemmas 1

18. Dilemmas 2

19. Unquiet Frontiers of Modernity

20. Conversions

Epilogue: The Many Stories

Notes

Index

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Sort by: Showing all of 3 Customer Reviews
  • Posted February 21, 2010

    A good analysis of why Christian churches have diminishing influence. The author provides much history by tracing of philosophical core assumptions of how the nation has arrived to a point where one does not need to include the word "God"

    The book is pretty deep and takes much time to read. If one is interested in "how" the western nations got to a point where the words "God and Religion" need not be mentioned for one to have a normal life, this volume goes into detail. The author's arguments "build" on themselves. So following the chapters in sequence helps make sense of the book. The author does a good job at clarifying his terms. The book is well researched. Probably a class in either Humanities, Theology or basic Philosophy would serve one well before reading this book. It has many good intellectual "nuggets" in it if one takes the time to "mine them."

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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    Posted May 7, 2010

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    Posted September 4, 2010

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