Modernity and Disenchantment: Charles Taylor on the Identity of the Modern Self
Keywords:Modernity, Disenchantment, Communitarianism, Self, Identity, Taylor, Heidegger
In his magnum opus, Sources of the Self: The Making of Modern Identity (1989), Charles Taylor gives an exhaustive and teleologically interpretive history of the modern self. He, in fact, is in search of the core of the modern identity. By ‘identity’ Taylor means the ensemble of the understanding of what is to be a ‘human agent’, a ‘person’, a ‘self’. Taylor in generating the ontology of the self is greatly inspired by the understanding of Dasein in Heidegger. This paper also focuses on how Taylor uses Heidegger’s hermeneutics of the self in several ways to give to modernity a base that is not Cartesian. Taylor’s central argument is ‘how the assertion of the modern individual has spawned an erroneous understanding (identity) of the self’, where one experiences a loss of horizon. He has turned our attention, more than anyone else, towards the communitarian constitution of the self, and pointed out the limitations of insights within liberal individualism. For Taylor, as for early Heidegger, the self is not neutral or atomic. The self exists only in terms of questions and constitutive concerns, and it is not amenable to arbitrary determination, but can be made sense of only in terms of its life as a whole at any moment.
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