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Book: THE MALAISE OF MODERNITY
Author: Charles Taylor
Published in 1991 (1st edition)
Place: Toronto, Canada
Reader: Mr. M.D. Pienaar
22 April 2013
In the thanks forward:
"I am grateful to Eusebia da Silva for her help in defining this, and the larger project to which it belongs."
"Sometimes people feel that some important decline has occurred during the last years or decades—since the Second World War, or the 1950s, for instance. And sometimes the loss is felt over a much longer historical period: the whole modern era from the seventeenth century is frequently seen as the time frame of decline."
".. that the usual run of debate about them in fact misrepresents them—and thus makes us misconceive what we can do about them. …
(1) The first source of worry is individualism. Of course, individualism also names what many people consider the finest achievements of modern civilization. .. to determine the shape of their lives in a whole host of ways that their ancestors couldn't control. And these rights are generally defended by our legal systems. In principle, people are no longer sacrificed to the demands of supposedly sacred orders that transcend them.
few people want to go back to this achievement."
"The eagle was not just another bird, but the king of a whole domain of animal life. By the same token, the rituals and norms of society had more than merely instrumental significance. The discrediting of these orders has been called the "disenchantment" of the world. With it, things lost some of their magic."
".. the individual lost something important along with the larger social and cosmic horizons of action. Some <P4> have written of this as the loss of a heroic dimension to life. People no longer have a sense of a higher purpose, of something worth dying for. … And Nietzsche's "last men" are at the final nadir of this decline; they have no aspiration left in life but to a "pitiable comfort."
This loss of purpose was linked to a narrowing. People lost the broader vision because they focussed on their individual lives."
It seems here that Taylor does not identify with being sacrificed because he refers to "they" and not we. It could be that he feels at his age (60 years, born in 1931) he should be part of the sacrificing (Like Caiaphas) and "they" refers to younger people.
"(2) The disenchantment of the world is connected to another massively important phenomenon of the modern age, which also greatly troubles <p5> many people. We might call this the primacy of instrumental reason. By "instrumental reason" I mean the kind of rationality we draw on when we calculate the most economical application of means to a given end. Maximum efficiency, the best cost-output ratio, is its measure of success."
"In some cases, this was a cosmic order, a "great chain of Being" in which humans figured in their proper place along with angels, heavenly bodies, and our fellow earthly creatures."
".. the will of God, … Similarly, once the creatures that surround us lose the significance that accrued to their place in the chain of being, they are open to being treated as raw materials or instruments for our [bold italics: self] projects. .. instrumental reason not only has enlarged its scope but also threatens to take over our lives. … this worry: for instance, the ways the demands of economic growth are used to justify very unequal distributions of wealth and income, or the way these same demands make us insensitive to the needs of the environment, .."
"Patricia Benner has argued in a number of important works that the technological approach in medicine has often side-lined the kind of care that involves treating the patient as a whole person with a life story, and not as the locus of a technical problem. "
"Almost 150 years ago, Marx, in the Communist Manifesto, remarked that one of the results of capitalist development was that "all that is solid melts in air." The claim is that the solid, lasting, often expressive objects that served us in the past are being set aside for the quick, shoddy, replaceable <p7> commodities with which we now surround ourselves."
"A bureaucrat, in spite of his personal insight, may be forced by the rules under which he operates to make a decision he knows to be against humanity and good sense."
At this stage of the
reading it seems that Taylor regards humanity as groups
and that one may be sacrificed for humanity. This belief
is against Kant who said people
should not be used as means to ends whether the means
is an individual or a group.
"Change in this domain will have to be institutional as well, even though it cannot be as sweeping and total as the great theorists of revolution proposed.
(3) This brings us to the political level, and to the feared consequences for political life of individualism and instrumental reason. One I have already introduced. It is that the institutions and structures of industrial-technological society severely restrict our choices, that they force societies as well as individuals to give weight to instrumental reason that in serious moral deliberation we would never do, and which may even be highly destructive."
"An individual life-style is also hard to sustain against the grain. For instance, the whole design of some modern cities makes it hard to function without a car, particularly where public transport has been eroded in favour of the private automobile."
"What is threatened here is our dignity as citizens. The impersonal mechanisms mentioned above may reduce our degrees of freedom as a society, but the loss of political liberty would mean that even the choices left would no longer be made by ourselves as citizens, but by irresponsible tutelary power.
These, then, are the three malaises about modernity that I want to deal with in this book. The first fear is about what we might call a loss of meaning, the fading of moral horizons. The second concerns the eclipse of ends, in face of rampant instrumental reason. And the third is about a loss of freedom."
"Modernity has its boosters as well as its knockers. … In particular, I will claim that the right path to take is neither that recommended by straight boosters nor that favoured by outright knockers. … I want to claim that both boosters and knockers are right, but in a way that can't be done justice to by simple trade-off between advantages and costs."
"In other words, the relativism was itself an off-shoot of a form of individualism, whose principles is something like this: everyone has a right to develop their own form of life, grounded on their own sense of what is really important or of value."
"It seems true that the culture of self-fulfilment has led many people to lose sight of concerns that transcend them. And it seems obvious that it has taken trivialized and self-indulgent forms. .. as people insecure in their identities turn to all sorts of self-appointed experts and guides, shrouded with the prestige of science or some exotic spirituality."
The above "malaise"
could be grounded in the idea that what is most important
to society is what we do not
do. That is to not break the law and as long as the law is
not broken then every individual can determine how
he/she finds a way. This is partly how Jesus defined love when he said love
is a summary of the Old Testament laws and the prophecies.
'"Survivalism has taken the place of heroism as the admired quality."(12) .. why it is used as a hypocritical "patina" by the self-indulgent.'
a green or brown film on the surface of bronze or similar metals, produced by oxidation over a long period.
• a gloss or sheen on wooden furniture produced by age and polishing.
• an acquired change in the appearance of a surface : plankton added a golden patina to the shallow, slowly moving water.
• figurative an impression or appearance of something : he carries the patina of old money and good breeding.' (New Oxford American Dictionary, Apple computer, Version 2.1 (80), Copyright © 2005–2009 Apple Inc. All rights reserved.)
Did Taylor draw a comparison between 'patina' and paten?
'That the espousal of authenticity takes the form of a kind of soft relativism means that the vigorous defence of any moral ideal is somehow off limits. For the implications, as I have just described them above, are that some forms of life are indeed higher than others, and the culture of tolerance for individual self-fulfilment shies away from these claims.'
'One of its basic tenets is that a liberal society must be neutral on questions of what constitutes <p18> a good life.'
'Of course, there are critics who hold that there are standards in reason.(15) They think that there is such a thing as human nature, and that an understanding of this will show certain ways of life to be right and others wrong, certain ways to be higher and better than others. The philosophical roots of this position are in Aristotle. By contrast, modern subjectivists tend to be very critical of Aristotle, and complain that this "metaphysical biology" is out of date and thoroughly unbelievable today.
But philosophers who think like this have generally been opponents of the ideal of authenticity; they have seen it as part of a mistaken departure from the standards rooted in human nature. They had no reason to articulate what it is about; while those who upheld it have been frequently discouraged from doing so by their subjectivist views.'
'What I am suggesting is a position distinct from boosters and knockers of contemporary culture. Unlike the boosters, I do not believe that everything is as it should be in this culture. Here I tend to agree with the knockers. But unlike them, I think that authenticity should be taken seriously as a moral <p23> ideal. I differ also from the various middle positions, which hold that there are some good things in this culture (like greater freedom for the individual), but that these come at the expense of certain dangers (like a weakening of the sense of citizenship), so that one's best policy is to find the ideal point of trade-off between advantages and costs.'
'What we need is a work of retrieval, through which this ideal can help us restore our practise.
To go along with this, you have to believe three things, all controversial: (1) that authenticity is a valid ideal; (2) that you can argue in reason about ideals and about the conformity of practices to these ideals; and (3) that these arguments can make a difference. The first belief flies in the face of the major thrust of criticism of the culture of authenticity, the second involves rejecting subjectivism, and the third is incompatible with those accounts of modernity that see us as imprisoned in modern culture by the "system," whether this is defined as capitalism, industrial society, or bureaucracy.'
'The ethic of authenticity is something relatively new and peculiar to modern culture. Born at the end of the eighteenth century, it builds on earlier forms of individualism, such as the individualism of disengaged rationality, pioneered by Descartes, where the demand is that each person think self-responsibly for him- or herself, or the political individualism of Locke, which sought to make the person and his or her will prior to social obligation.'
The individualism of Descartes and
Locke is misunderstood
when it is claimed that personal will is prioritized above
social obligation. Descartes placed universal laws like
honesty above himself. Descartes said God requires truths.
Honesties were thus a social obligation that keeps
individuals from doing things that require deceits. Other
social obligations that were acknowledged were compliances
to state laws. It was only
under severe state failure that Locke justified revolution
as a means of society to regain their
freedoms that a well-organized state should enforce. When
laws are for example not enforced by the state individuals
loose their freedoms because groups overpower individuals
by violent means and deceits.
'.. the eighteenth-century notion <p27> that human beings are endowed with a moral sense, an intuitive feeling for what is right and wrong. The original point of this doctrine was to combat a rival view, that knowing right and wrong was a matter of calculating consequences, in particular those concerned with divine reward and punishment. The notion was that understanding right and wrong was not a matter of dry calculation, but was anchored in our feelings. Morality has, in a sense, a voice within. (20) … It comes to be something we have to attain to be true and full human beings.
To see what is new in this, we have to see the analogy to earlier moral views, where being in touch with some source—God, say, or the Idea of the Good—was considered essential to full being. Only now the source we have to connect with is deep in us. This is part of the massive subjective turn of modern culture, a new form of inwardness, in which we come to think of ourselves as beings with inner depths.'
(20) The development of this doctrine, at first in the work of Francis Hutcheson, drawing on the writings of the Earl of Shaftesbury, and its adversarial relation to Locke's theory, I have discussed at greater length in Sources of the Self, chapter 15.
'Rousseau frequently presents the issue of morality as that of our following a voice of nature within us. … Rousseau also articulated a closely related idea in a most influential way. This is the notion of what I want to call self-determining freedom. … Self-determining freedom demands that I break the hold of all such external impositions, and decide for myself alone.'
I understand Rousseau's idea of self-determining freedom as having a precondition. The precondition is to sacrifice creators because that gives a person access to the society, which Rousseau promotes. Access to this contractual society frees a person from nature and gives a person the freedom to self-determine because of the security that Rousseau's societies impart.
'I mention this [Self-determining freedom (inserted by reader)] here not because it is essential to authenticity. Obviously the two ideals are distinct. But they have developed together, sometimes in the works of the same authors, and their relations have been complex, sometimes at odds, sometimes closely bound together. As a result, they have often been confused, and this has been one of the sources of the deviant forms of authenticity, as I shall argue.'
above lines seems to identify the ideal Jesus referred to
when he said love is partly
following the prophecies. It could be understood that to
fulfil the prophecy of God as an immanent singular man,
sacrificing of creators should happen, thus identification
with Caiaphas. Secondly it could be interpreted to mean that truth should
be a way even if it implies being sacrificed. Rousseau followed the
'Self-determining freedom has been an idea of immense power in our political life. In Rousseau's work it takes political form, in the notion of a social contract state founded on a general will, which precisely because it is the form of our common freedom can brook no opposition in the name of freedom. This idea has been one of the intellectual sources of modern totalitarianism, starting, one might argue, with the Jacobins. And although Kant reinterpreted this notion of freedom in purely moral terms, as autonomy, it returns to the political sphere with a vengeance with Hegel and Marx.'
The above statement by Taylor shows his mistake because he does not realise that sacrificing creators cause colonization because a state can then not keep up with creativities else where in the world where sacrifices has not the same negative impact on creativities. The result of Taylor's belief is the eventual moving away from a territory by the power he espouses. I do not agree with Taylor that Kant can be compared with Rousseau. Kant espoused honesty and Rousseau implied deceit. Kant espoused creativities and Rousseau denigrated creativities to be sacrificed and developed by his society for gain. Creators are not part of Rousseau's society and can therefore not gain from their creativities because they do not take part in the development process.
'Being true to myself means being true to my own originality, and that is something only I can articulate and discover. In articulating it, I am also defining myself. I am realizing a potentiality that is properly my own. This is the background understanding to the modern ideal of self-fulfilment or self-realization in which it is usually couched. This is the background that gives moral force to the culture of authenticity, including its most degraded, absurd, or trivialized forms. It is what gives sense to the idea of "doing your own thing" or "finding your own fulfilment".'
Taylor misunderstands authenticity because of the psychological barrier of the thoughts of being God self and being honest. Authenticity is controlled by the concept of truths (honesties), which automatically causes originality in new creativities that emanates organically and logically out of truths (correspondences and coherencies). These new creativities cause fear in Taylor and also the transcending of the psychological barrier causes fear in him. He thus chooses Rousseau's way of sacrificing and safety within a gang. Taylor thus probably defines "citizen" as a contractual explicit membership in a city and not as automatic national citizenship after being born in a national state. The elthaught (social tendency to sacrifice the "other I" or "me me".) is part of Taylor and Rousseau's psychological barrier.
'This is a very rapid sketch of the origins of authenticity.'
origins of authenticity in the Western
mind are found in the Bible's identification with truth as
a way, especially in the New Testament books of John,
Revelation and also Hebrews.
'Can one say anything in reason to people who are deeply into soft relativism, or who seem to accept no allegiance higher than their own development—say, those who seem ready to throw away love, children, democratic solidarity, for the sake of some career advancement?'
The above statement reflects a contradiction in Taylor's argument because the authenticity he described above causes career failure after sacrificing of authentic original creatures by Rousseau's society, but above he writes of career advancement. There could be therefore somewhere partly a misunderstanding between Taylor and reader. Misunderstandings between Taylor and reader might be in definitions of love by Jesus Christ (complying to Old Testament laws and prophecies) and the dictionary definition of love.
'But we are imagining discussing with people who are in the contemporary culture of authenticity. And that means that they are trying to shape their lives in the light of this ideal. We are not left with just the bare facts of their preferences. But if we start from the ideal, then we can ask: What are the conditions in human life of realizing an ideal of this kind? And what does the ideal properly understood call for? The two orders of questions interweave, or perhaps shade into each other. In the second, we are trying to define better what the ideal consists in. With the first, we want to bring out certain general features of human life that condition fulfilment of this or any other ideal.'
'.. and hence to show that there is indeed a practical point in trying to understand better what authenticity consists in.'
The above is an acknowledgement by Taylor that he does not understand modern authenticity partly because of his psychological barrier and elthaught.
24 April 2013
'The general feature of human life that I want to <p33> evoke is its fundamentally dialogical character.'
'I may be the only person with exactly 3732 hairs on my head, or be exactly the same height as some tree on the Siberian plain, but so what? If I begin to say that I define myself by my ability to articulate important truths, or play the Hammerklavier like no one else, or revive the tradition of my ancestors, then we are in the domain of recognizable self-definitions.
The difference is plain. We understand right away that the latter properties have human significance, or can easily be seen by people to have this, whereas the former do not—not, that is, without some special story. Perhaps the number 3732 is a sacred one in some society; then having this number of hairs can be significant. But we get to this by linking it to the sacred.
We saw above in the second section how the contemporary culture of authenticity slides towards soft relativism. This gives further force to a general presumption of subjectivism about value: things have significance not of themselves but because people deem them to have it—as though people could determine what is significant, either by decision, or perhaps unwittingly and unwillingly by just feeling that way. This is crazy. I couldn't just decide that the most significant action is wiggling my toes in warm mud. Without a special explanation, this is not an intelligible claim (like the 3732 hairs above). So I wouldn't know what sense to attribute to someone allegedly feeling that was so. What could someone mean who said this? <p37> … because your feeling can't determine what is significant. Soft relativism self-destructs.
Things take on importance against a background of intelligibility. Let us call this a horizon.'
should explain how the "self-destruction" takes place. How
can feelings "self-destruct". It is more likely that it is
the reactions of other people to "feelings", which
destroy. If a person is within the laws of society why can the
person's feelings not be respected?
'.. homosexual relations, ..'
Currently there are much upheaval in France about legally allowing homosexual marriage and adoption. A relevant question is whether these laws are acceptable according to Jesus' definition of love because if his definition is transposed to other times as a universal law it means that the law of homosexual marriage should be accepted, even whilst differing from the law's moral authenticity. My definition of authenticity is not the same as Taylor's. Authenticity means to me validity and to him it means invalidity. We agree partly for example about the question of homosexuality? He however describes homosexuality as authenticity and I not. Probably the difference is in the definition of homosexuality self. It seems that people who subscribe to Rousseau's social contract define homosexuality as not being part of an explicit social contract. If such a contract includes a work contract, then dignity becomes relevant and the Roman Catholic church's pride. Society can for example allocate a menial work to an authentic (my definition) character and the character's dignity could prohibit him from entering into such a contract. The extreme result will be death by poverty.
'There is a picture here of what human beings are like, placed between this option for self-creation, and easier modes of copping out, going with the flow, conforming with the masses, and so on, which picture is seen as true, discovered, not decided. Horizons are given.
But more: this minimum degree of givenness, which underpins the importance of choice, is not sufficient as a horizon, as we saw with the example of sexual orientation. It may be important that my life be chosen, as John Stuart Mill asserts in On Liberty, (27) but unless some options are more significant than others, the very idea of self-choice falls into triviality and hence incoherence.'
Taylor chooses the easier road above, but his meaning is not very sure to reader because of probable contradictions in his writing. It looks as if he writes society has a right to decide on the sexual orientation of a person for example in the South of Asia where boys are given poison to change their sexuality. Such a person has not the right according to Taylor to decide self he is a man. Taylor does not distinguish between the important implied difference between Rousseau and Kant. According to Rousseau individuals/groups may be used by society as means to ends and according to Kant societies have not the right to use individuals/groups as means to ends.
'We have not shown that any particular one has to be taken seriously.'
Is the above 'one' the surviving sacrificed caused by Taylor's elthaught?
'(2) Another one of the common axes of criticism of the contemporary culture of authenticity is that it encourages a purely personal understanding of self-fulfilment, thus making the various associations and communities in which the person enters purely instrumental in their significance. At the broader social level, this is antithetical to any strong commitment to a community. In particular, it makes political citizenship, with its sense of duty and allegiance to political society, more and more marginal. On the more intimate level, it fosters a view of relationships in which these ought to subserve personal fulfilment. The relationship is secondary to the self-realization of the partners.'
accuses 'authentic' persons from using societal groups as
means to ends. The crux of the matter is
whether an individual should break God's
law for a group he/she is part of? According to Taylor an
individual should break God's law for the society he/she is part of.
The opposite of Taylor's argument implies that citizenship does not require
lying. In absolute terms a person cannot be expected to
lie for society but only expected to keep quiet for
society. A problem is that keeping quiet sometimes causes
inferences of affirmation. This line of argumentation is
dependent on circumstances. Having children for example
can change the view of society in a negative manner. Some
parents could become deceivers for their children against
society. Some partners could become 'Bonny and Clyde',
against broader society, because the partners became a
union for crime.
'The individualism of anomie and breakdown of course has no social ethic attached to it; but individualism as a moral principle or ideal must offer some view on how the individual should live with others.'
anomie |ˈanəˌmē| (also anomy)
lack of the usual social or ethical standards in an individual or group : the theory that high-rise architecture leads to anomie in the residents.
anomic |əˈnämik; əˈnō-| adjective
ORIGIN 1930s: from French, from Greek anomia, from anomos ‘lawless.’ (New Oxford American Dictionary)
The question is whether norms according to Taylor relate to God's norms or to society's normal behavior. Taylor gives the impression that "norms" mean to him societies' norms because he does not refer often enough to God's norms.
'Two modes of social existence are quite evidently linked with the contemporary culture of self-fulfilment. The first is based on the notion of universal right: everyone should have the right and capacity to be themselves. This is what underlies soft relativism as a moral principle: no one has a right to criticize another's values. …
Secondly, this culture puts a great emphasis on relationships in the intimate sphere, especially love relationships. These are seen to be the prime loci of self-exploration and self-discovery and among the most important forms of self-fulfilment. This view reflects the continuation in modern culture of a trend that is now centuries old and that places the centre of gravity of the good life not in some higher sphere but in what I want to call the "ordinary life," that is, the life of production and the family, of work and love.(31)'
Thus, Taylor chooses the dictionary definition of love and not the Bible's definition of love as the true definition.
'As against this notion of honour, we have the modern notion of dignity, now used in a universalist and egalitarian sense, where we talk of the inherent "dignity of human beings," or of citizen dignity. The underlying premiss here is that everyone shares in this.(33)
'The thing about inwardly derived, personal, original identity is that it doesn't enjoy this recognition a priori. It has to win it through exchange, and it can fail.'
Taylor contradicts himself with regard to
'dignity' and 'original identity' above? See page 49.
Taylor argues against any inherency of humans. He argues
like Locke that a person is not inherently good, maybe he
argues like the Roman Catholic Church of the Middle Ages
that people are inherently bad, am not sure.
'It's not surprising that we can find some of the seminal ideas about citizen dignity and universal recognition, even if not in these terms, in Rousseau, one of the points of origin of the modern discourse of authenticity. Rousseau is a sharp critic of hierarchical honour, of "preferences." In a significant passage of the Discourse on Inequality, he pinpoints a fateful moment when society takes a turn towards corruption and injustice, when people begin to desire preferential esteem. (34)'
Taylor contradicts himself again above because here a disagreement with Rousseau's corrupt sacrificing society is mentioned but in the start of the book on page 2 he espouses Rousseau's sacrificing society. It seems that the issue of sacrifice (Self or other, self or own child) is where most people contradict themselves.
'It is not surprising that in the culture of authenticity, relationships are seen as the key loci of self-discovery and self-confirmation.' … They are also crucial because they are the crucibles of inwardly generated identity. … Equal recognition is not just the appropriate mode for a healthy democratic society, Its refusal can inflict damage on those who are denied it, according to a widespread modern view. The projecting of an inferior or demeaning image on another can actually distort and <p50> oppress, to the extent that it is interiorized. .. denied recognition can be a form of oppression.'
At the end of chapter V, Taylor and I agreed.
' .. one holds to a subjectivist view of moral convictions as mere projections that reason cannot alter.'
'And they tend to see fulfilment as just of the self, neglecting or delegitimating the demands that come from beyond our own desires or aspirations, be they from history, tradition, society, nature, or God; they foster, in other words, a radical anthropocentrism.'
Here it seems clear
that Taylor and my differences are on a high level where
definitions of God are relevant. He sees anthropomorphism
as negative for society and I see
anthropomorphisms as positive for society. He has a
psychological barrier, which prohibits his 'horizon'
to beyond anthropomorphism to anthropomorphisms formed by
the Word of God. He uses a presupposition of one singular
'radical' anthropomorphic God who survived sacrificial
religious rites as possible, whereas I rejected the
presupposition of possibility of one singular future
anthropomorphic God. Another possibility is that he
believes in the possibility of a wholly incorporeal God
that will never return in human form, which according to
me is not possible without transcendent creatures.
'But in fact, the Nietzschean critique of all "values" <p61> as created cannot but exalt and entrench anthropocentrism. … As this "higher" theory filters down into the popular culture of authenticity—we can see this, for instance, among students, who are at the juncture of the two cultures—it further strengthens the self-centred modes, gives them a certain patina of deeper philosophical justification.'
Nietzsche caused the necessity of re-evaluation of dogmatic values for example honesties. Honesties as valuable moral has to be proven in our postmodern society and the proof has to be sufficiently spread before society will recover to a new order of explained values. Reader's thoughts that Taylor's reference to 'patina' refers to human sacrifices and patens are enforced above. The reference to students with a patina is probably a reference to arrogant students who needs to be sacrificed according to Taylor.
'Since about 1800, there has been a tendency to heroize the artist, to see in his or her life the essence of the human condition, and to venerate him or her as a seer, the creator of cultural values.
But of course, along with this has gone a new understanding of art. No longer defined mainly by imitation, by mimēsis of reality, art is understood now more in terms of creation. These two ideas go together. If we become ourselves by expressing what we're about, and if what we become is by hypothesis original, not based on the pre-existing either, but a new creation. We think of the imagination as creative.'
The above writing shows Taylor's identification with forming catharsis and being Caiaphas. He does not realize it seems that he can reject both Caiaphas and Caiaphas' teaching (assumed) that one anthropomorphic God, the Messiah, can exist after surviving numerous attempts to murder 'Him'. He accepts Caiaphas' teaching, which is similar to Aristotle's teaching of 'mimēsis'.
'But there is another range of reasons for this close drawing together of art and self-definition. It's not just that both involve creative poiēsis. It is also that self-definition comes early to be contrasted to morality. Some theories hold them tightly together. Rousseau does, for instance: "le sentiment de l'existence" would make me a perfectly moral creature if I were but in full contact with it. But very early on it came to be seen that this was not necessarily so.
'Poïesis (Ancient Greek: ποίησις) is etymologically derived from the ancient term ποιέω, which means "to make". This word, the root of our modern "poetry", was first a verb, an action that transforms and continues the world.' (From http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Poiesis on 24 April 2013)
Above Taylor opines that there is not a mystical union between one anthropomorphic human and a metaphysical force.
'Authenticity involves originality, it demands a revolt against convention. It is easy to see how standard morality itself can come to be seen as inseparable from stifling convention. Morality as normally understood obviously crushing much that is elemental and instinctive in us, many of our deepest and most powerful desires. So there develops a branch of search for authenticity that pits it against the moral.'
Taylor does not distinguish between the Dionysian and Apollonian in Nietzsche's writings. He generalises against anthropomorphism's good and evil parts. He thus presupposes a wholly incorporeal God like Plato. Plato distinguishes clearly between Dionysian and Apollonian characters in The Statesman. Plato also says though that humans cannot be God in The Statesman. Plato is a bit closer to the truth than Taylor because he distinguishes between good and evil anthropomorphism.
'So authenticity can develop in many branches. Are they all equally legitimate? I don't think so. I am not trying to say that these apostles of evil are simply wrong. They may be onto something, some strain within the very idea of authenticity, that may pull us in more than one direction.'
'Briefly, we can say that authenticity (A) involves (i) creation and construction as well as discovery, (ii) originality, and frequently (iii) opposition to the rules of society and even potentially to what we recognize as morality. But it is also true, as we saw, that it (B) requires (i) openness to horizons of significance (for otherwise the creation loses the background that can save it from insignificance) and (ii) a self-definition in dialogue. That these demands may be in tension has to be allowed. But what must be wrong is a simple privileging of one over the other, of (A), say, at the expense of (B), or vice versa. <p67> This is what the trendy doctrines of "deconstruction" involve today. They stress (A.i), the constructive, creative nature of our expressive languages, while altogether forgetting (B.i). And they capture the extremer forms of (A.iii), the amoralism of creativity, while forgetting (B.ii), its dialogical setting, which binds us to others.
The above quote
shows that Taylor's emphasis is on sacrifice of the amoral
but his emphasis is problematic because he interferes with
the judicial system when he philosophises sacrifices of
the amoral as part of the '"bourgeois" ethic of order'
(p66) because inherent in his saying is a disrespect of
the judicial system, which' mandate it is to sacrifice
amoral people. Through his generalisation about
anthropocentric authenticity he could allow
himself to sacrifice, which is against the judicial
system's rules, good anthropomorphism. Reader experienced
such sacrificing last year when his employer dismissed him
and broke many laws of the Labour Relations Act in the
name of sacrificing anthropomorphism, without
distinguishing between right and wrong.
Sociology of Knowledge and madness of crowds are relevant.
Anthropomorphism is part of Western human nature after 1
500 years of Christian indoctrination. If a person does
not acknowledge anthropomorphism by him/her Self the
person makes a presupposition error, which causes
irrational behaviour. Natural transcendence in metaphors
about Father of God, Mother of God and Son of God does not
leave any human's subconscious in the West, which followed
the normal educational route, alone. Taylor should have
rather accepted that fact and channelled his own God
thoughts to the good; his denial of his own God thoughts
perhaps plunged him into evil, Caiaphas like, sacrificing.
Caiaphas utilitiristically, sacrificed Jesus who defined
love as partly
complying with laws, whilst Jesus had a friend, Matthew
who was a tax collector. There was thus no amorality in
Jesus' philosophy but yet he was sacrificed because of
Caiaphas' and society's God thoughts (after 333
years of Greek and Roman mythological influence). Mind
you, Taylor must be already 82 years old, if still alive.
25 April 2013
'There is already a battle going on between the boosters and the knockers as far as the culture of authenticity is concerned. I'm suggesting that this struggle is a mistake; both sides are wrong. What we ought to be doing is fighting over the meaning of authenticity, and from the standpoint developed here, we ought to be trying to persuade people that self-fulfilment, so far from excluding unconditional relationships and moral <p73> demands beyond the self, actually requires these in some form.'
That makes sense.
'..—authenticity points us towards a more self-responsible form of life. … at it's best authenticity allows a richer mode of existence.'
'On one level, it clearly concerns the manner of espousing any end or form of life. … But this doesn’t mean that on another level the content must be self-referential: that my goals must express or fulfil my desires or aspirations, as against something that stands beyond these. I can find fulfilment in God, or a political cause, or tending the earth.'
'The change I want to talk about here goes back to the end of the eighteenth century and is related to the shift from an understanding of art as mimēsis to one that stresses creation, which I discussed in section VI.'
This question about mimesis or creation has its presuppositions in different versions of Exodus 20:4. In the 1933 Afrikaans version it is: 'Jy mag vir jou geen gesnede beeld of enige gelykenis maak van wat bo in die hemel is, of van wat onder op die aarde is, of van wat in die waters onder die aarde is nie.' In the New International Version (English) of 1985 it reads: 'You shall not make for yourself an idol in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below.' The Afrikaans is much stricter and probably the Jewish as well because The New Testament in Afrikaans (1933 version) speaks about Jesus' 'gelykenisse' and Exodus 20 does not refer to an idol. The reference is to any painting or statue or parable. The implication in the 1933 Afrikaans version is that Jesus broke this law of God by comparing parables to actualities. Probably it is also this Old Testament law of God, which inspired Derrida's post-modern philosophy of deconstruction to not make 'gelykenisse' when we speak. The Christian church rejects this law of the Old Testament because the history of Jesus is mimesis.
'Shakespeare could draw on the correspondences, for instance when, to make us feel the horror of the act of regicide, ..'
'"…'nature', which was once prior to the poem and available for imitation, now shares with the poem a common origin in the poet's creativity."(45)'
'(45) Earl Wasserman, The Subtler Language (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1968), pp. 10-11.
'To take a salient
example, just because we no longer believe in the
doctrines of the Great Chain of Being, we don't need to
see ourselves as set in a universe that we can consider
simply as a source of raw materials for our projects.
We may still need to see ourselves as part of a larger
order that can make claims on us. <p90> Indeed, this
latter may be thought of as urgent. It would greatly help
to stave off ecological disaster if we would recover a
sense of the demand that our natural surroundings and
wilderness make on us. … Albert Borgman points out how
much of the argument for ecological restraint and
responsibility is couched in anthropocentric language.
(50) Restraint is shown as necessary for human welfare.'
'Richer moral sources have fed it. But as in the case of authenticity, these moral sources tend to get lost from view, precisely through the hardening of atomist and instrumentalist values. Retrieving them might allow us to recover some balance, one in which technology would occupy another place in our lives than as an insistent, unreflected imperative.
Stopping utilitarian imparting of ideas could help to achieve the above wish of Taylor. Concurrently the Occidental universally unrealised ethic of modernity, which causes creativities, can be explained to humanity in a way all realize their own creativities, without ideas being imparted to all in order to prohibit inequality due to territorial advancements.
'Atomism in particular tends to be generated by the scientistic outlook that goes along with instrumental efficiency, as well as being implicit in some forms of rational action, such as that of the entrepreneur. And so these attitudes acquire almost the status of norms, and seem backed by unchallengeable social reality.'
'We need think only of the whole movement since the Romantic era, which has been challenging the dominance of these categories, and of the offshoot of that movement today, which is challenging our ecological mismanagement.'
I argued that utilitarian imparting of ideas contribute to ecological mismanagement. The following argument about ethics of authenticity could further enhance ecological management. It is a universal argument that if every nation in the world sees dignity in creating their own, that possibly ecological mismanagement would be less because then acceptance of imparting of others' ideas would not be accepted and imparting of ideas would not happen. Perhaps then, naturally, the world will go back to a state in which consuming societies and greed will not be the overpowering force it is currently. A world can then be imagined, which will compare to the time of presumed Atlantis when one island fell away into the see, perhaps, because that island could not contain it's own consumption.
'A sense grows that the electorate as a whole is defenceless against the leviathan state; a well-organized and integrated partial grouping may, indeed, be able to make a dent, but the idea that the majority of the people might frame and carry through a common project comes to seem utopian and naïve. And so people give up. Already failing sympathy with others is further weakened by the lack of a common experience of action, and a sense of hopelessness makes it seem a waste of time to try.
'And this common action requires that we overcome fragmentation and powerlessness—that is, that we address the worry that Tocqueville first defined, the slide in democracy towards tutelary power.'
tutelary |ˈt(y)oōtlˌerē| (also tutelar |-tl-ər|)
serving as a protector, guardian, or patron : the tutelary spirits of these regions.
• of or relating to protection or a guardian : the state maintained a tutelary relation with the security police.
ORIGIN early 17th cent.: from Latin tutelarius, from tutela ‘keeping’ (see tutelage ). (New Oxford American Dictionary)
Aristotle · 7, 23
authenticity · 7, 8, 9, 10, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 20, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 28, 29
Caiaphas · 3
capitalism · 8
capitalist · 4
citizen · 12, 19, 20
citizens · 5
citizenship · 8, 12, 17, 18
colonization · 11
consequences · 5, 9
decline · 2
dialogical · 14, 24
dignity · 5, 16, 19, 20, 29
disenchantment · 2, 3
eagle · 2
elthaught · 12, 14, 17
ends · 4, 5, 17
feeling · 9, 15
freedom · 5, 8, 10, 11
horizon · 15, 16, 21
individual · 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 17, 18
individualism · 2, 5, 6, 9, 18
instrumental reason · 3, 4, 5
Kant · 4, 11, 12, 17
king · 2
larger project · 2
legal systems · 2
liberal · 7
Locke · 9, 10
love · 6, 11, 13, 15, 19, 25
Marx · 4, 11
mean · 3, 5, 11, 15, 18, 26
meaning · 5, 16, 26
moral · 5, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 16, 18, 19, 21, 22, 23, 26, 28
Nietzsche · 3, 22, 24
Nietzsche's "last men" · 3
opponents · 7
patina · 6, 7, 22
political · 5, 9, 11, 17, 26
projects · 4, 27
right and wrong · 9, 25
Rousseau · 10, 11, 12, 13, 16, 17, 20, 23
sacrificing · 3
self-fulfilment · 6, 7, 12, 17, 19, 26
society · 2, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 20, 21, 22, 24, 25
soft relativism · 7, 13, 15, 19
state · 9, 11, 12, 29, 30
subjectivism · 8, 15
subjectivists · 7
threaten · 4
tutelary · 5, 30
universal · 19