A Secular Age / Edition 1

A Secular Age / Edition 1

by Charles Taylor
Pub. Date:
Harvard University Press
Pub. Date:
Harvard University Press
A Secular Age / Edition 1

A Secular Age / Edition 1

by Charles Taylor


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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.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780674026766
Publisher: Harvard University Press
Publication date: 09/20/2007
Pages: 896
Sales rank: 716,287
Product dimensions: 6.38(w) x 9.25(h) x 1.95(d)

About the Author

Charles Taylor is Professor Emeritus in the Department of Philosophy at McGill University. Author of The Language Animal, Sources of the Self, The Ethics of Authenticity, and A Secular Age, he has received many honors, including the Templeton Prize, the Berggruen Prize, and membership in the Order of Canada.

Table of Contents



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



What People are Saying About This

This is Charles Taylor's breakthrough book, a book of really major importance, because he succeeds in recasting the whole debate about secularism. This is one of the most important books written in my lifetime. I am tempted to say the most important book, but that may just express the spell the book has cast over me at the moment.

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