A secular age? Reflections on Taylor and Panikkar

  • Fred DallmayrEmail author


During the last few years two major volumes have been published, both greatly revised versions of earlier Gifford Lectures: Charles Taylor’s A Secular Age (2007) and Raimon Panikkar’s The Rhythm of Being (2010). The two volumes are similar in some respects and very dissimilar in others. Both thinkers complain about the glaring blemishes of the modern, especially the contemporary age; both deplore above all a certain deficit of religiosity. The two authors differ, however, both in the details of their diagnosis and in their proposed remedies. Taylor views the modern age—styled as “secular age”—as marked by a slide into secular agnosticism, into “exclusive humanism”, and above all into an “immanent frame” excluding theistic “transcendence”. Although sharing the concern about “loss of meaning”, Panikkar does not find its source in the abandonment of (mono)theistic transcendence; on the contrary, both radical transcendence and agnostic immanence are responsible for the deficit of genuine faith. For him, recovery of faith requires an acknowledgment of our being in the world, as part of the “rhythm of being” happening in a holistic or “cosmotheandric” mode. In classical Indian terminology, while Taylor’s emphasis on the transcendence-immanence tension reflects ultimately a dualistic perspective (dvaita), Panikkar’s holistic notion of the rhythm of being captures the core of Advaita Vendanta.


Crisis of modernity Immanent frame Exclusive humanism Advaita Vedanta Secularism Cosmotheandric vision 


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Dallmayr, F. (2002). Dialogue among civilizations: Some exemplary voices (pp. 185–200). New York: Palgrave Macmillan.Google Scholar
  2. Dallmayr F. (2005) Small wonder: Global power and its discontents. Rowman & Littlefield, Lanham, MDGoogle Scholar
  3. Dallmayr, F. (2010). Integral pluralism: Beyond culture wars (pp. 45–66). Lexington, KY: University of Kentucky Press.Google Scholar
  4. Guardini, R. (1950/1956). Das Ende der Neuzeit [The end of the modern world]. New York: Sheed & Ward.Google Scholar
  5. Guénon, R. (1928/1962). La crise du monde moderne [The crisis of the modern world] (M. Pallis & R. Nicholson, Trans.). London: Luzac.Google Scholar
  6. Heidegger, M. (1968). What calls for thinking? (F. D. Wieck & J. G. Gray, Trans.). New York: Harper & Row.Google Scholar
  7. Heidegger M. (1977) Letter on humanism. In: Krell D. F. (eds) Martin Heidegger: Basic writings. Harper & Row, New York, pp 189–242Google Scholar
  8. Hölderlin, F. (1966). Poems and fragments (M. Hamburger, Trans.). Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press.Google Scholar
  9. Maritain, J. (1973). Integral humanism: Temporal and spiritual problems of a new Christendom (J. W. Evans, Trans.). Notre Dame, IN: University of Notre Dame Press.Google Scholar
  10. Merleau-Ponty, M. (1964). Cezanne’s doubt. In H. L. Dreyfus & P. A. Dreyfus (Trans.), Sense and non-sense. Evanston: Northwestern University Press.Google Scholar
  11. Merleau-Ponty, M. (1968). The visible and the invisible, followed by working notes (C. Lefort, Ed., & A. Lingis, Trans.). Evanston, IL: Northwestern University Press.Google Scholar
  12. Panikkar R. (1973) Worship and secular man. Maryknoll, NY, Orbis BooksGoogle Scholar
  13. Panikkar R. (2010) The rhythm of being: The Gifford lectures. Maryknoll, NY, Orbis BooksGoogle Scholar
  14. Roy A. (1997) The god of small things. Random House, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  15. Spengler, O. (1918/1939). The decline of the west. New York: Knopf.Google Scholar
  16. Strauss L. (1964) The crisis of our time. In: Spaeth H. J. (eds) The predicament of modern politics. University of Destroit Press, Detroit, MIGoogle Scholar
  17. Taylor C. (1989) Sources of the self: The making of the modern identity. Harvard University Press, Cambridge, MAGoogle Scholar
  18. Taylor C. (1992) The ethics of authenticity. Harvard University Press, Cambridge, MAGoogle Scholar
  19. Taylor, C. (1999). In J. L. Heft (Ed.), A catholic modernity? New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  20. Taylor C. (2007) A secular age. Harvard University Press, Cambridge, MA, pp 2–3Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Political ScienceUniversity of Notre DameNotre DameUSA

Personalised recommendations