Secularisations and Their Debates

Volume 5 of the series Sophia Studies in Cross-cultural Philosophy of Traditions and Cultures pp 199-215


Charles Taylor’s Search for Transcendence: Mystery, Suffering, Violence

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This chapter critically reconstructs Taylor’s image of modernity, and his accompanying human self-image of what he terms the modern buffered self against which he will posit a porous one. The porous self is his own critical anthropology, which points beyond the specifically religious reference point of A Secular Age to the transcendent. It is argued here that there are three main threads with which Taylor weaves his concern with transcendence—suffering, violence and mystery. Suffering, violence and mystery are imbued in his critique of the modern condition. By contrast, and in a critique of modern violence, mystery, so Taylor argues, has been re-articulated in the Romantic counter-current in a way that opens onto another possible relation to moments of transcendence.