Malaise of Modernity, The by Charles Taylor
Finalist for The QSPELL Prize for Non-Fiction in 1992
Opinion is polarized about the momentous transformations of culture and society which we call modernity. Optimistic liberals portray them as outright progress, pessimistic conservatives as decline, loss and forgetfulness. Neither side is correct, writes Charles Taylor.
In the Malaise of Modernity, Taylor focuses on the key modern concept of self-fulfillment, often attacked as the central support of what Christopher Lasch has called “the culture of narcissism.”
Taylor approaches the question more cautiously. He recognized that the impulse towards self-fulfilment is often expressed in self-centered ways, but argues that it is not simply a turning away from traditional values and social commitment – the impulse also reflects something authentic and valuable in modern culture. Only by distinguishing what is good in this modern striving from what is socially and politically dangerous, Taylor says, can our modern age be made to deliver its promise.
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