Dr. Taylor is an outstanding philosopher who advocates communitarianism and multiculturalism from the perspective of holistic individualism. He has pointed the future course for us through his own life, envisioning the future in which diverse, heterogeneous cultures peacefully coexist upon mutual recognition.
Hegel, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 1975.
Hegel and Modern Society, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 1979.
Sources of the Self: The Making of the Modern Identity, Harvard University Press, Cambridge, Mass., 1989.
The Ethics of Authenticity, Harvard University Press, Cambridge, Mass., 1991.
Multiculturalism, Amy Gutman et al., Princeton University Press, Princeton, 1992.
Catholic Modernity?, James L. Heft et al., Oxford University Press, New York, 1998.
Modern Social Imaginaries, Duke University Press, Durham, 2004.
A Secular Age, Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, Cambridge, Mass., 2007.
Dr. Charles Margrave Taylor is an outstanding philosopher who advocates “communitarianism” and “multiculturalism” from the perspective of “holistic individualism.” He has constructed and endeavored to put into practice a social philosophy that allows human beings with different historical, traditional, and cultural backgrounds to retain their multiple identities and to live in happiness with each other.
He has criticized the atomistic view of the self, the conception of the human being grounded in the human sciences of naturalistic tendency, and tried to establish a “philosophical anthropology” on a foundation of phenomenology, hermeneutics, and language-game theory. In his view, human beings are “self-interpreting animals.” He criticizes modern utilitarianism and argues that human beings are the “situated selves” that are embedded in the fabric of social relations. In other words, it is through webs of interlocution that human beings develop identities and acquire frameworks within which they determine for themselves what is good, what is valuable, what they should do, and what they are for or against.
Having made extensive studies of Hegel, Dr. Taylor delved back into the thought of Rousseau and Herder. He then adopted Gadamer’s notions “fusion of horizons” and “history of effects” to situate his own thought in a historical context and has built a convincing social theory. Drawing on the concept of “recognition,” which is a key to his philosophy, he contrasts the “dialogical self” with the “monological self” and offers “freedom in situation” in place of “absolute freedom.” Human beings can flourish only if their identities are recognized by others and, accordingly, he stresses the importance of bonds with community and sense of community as a necessary condition for the realization of liberalism emphasizing individual autonomy.
The concept of recognition is at the base of Dr. Taylor’s multiculturalism as well. Dr. Taylor has provided rational grounds for the dignity of human beings living a deep diversity and for their demands for recognition.
In his native Canada, Dr. Taylor is also involved in political activities. He has been seeking a way to overcome Eurocentrism and to reach for genuinely global values. He has invariably aspired to a society resting on mutual recognition, where each member strives by mutual efforts through dialogue for a better understanding. Dr. Taylor is a prominent thinker who has pointed the future course for us through his own life, envisioning the future in which diverse, heterogeneous cultures peacefully coexist upon mutual recognition.
For these reasons, the Inamori Foundation is pleased to present the 2008 Kyoto Prize in Arts and Philosophy to Dr. Charles Margrave Taylor.
Aristotle tells us that the impulse which drives us to philosophize is gthaumazeinh, wonder at the world. In a way this is right. The most important philosophical moments are when something you have always taken for granted, barely even noticed, strikes you as remarkable, even astonishing.
But there is another side to this wonder, and that is puzzlement. Once you are led to ask questions like these, you donft know how to go on. How should you formulate these questions? How to seek for an answer? This puzzlement can be painful, as much as the wonder is exhilarating; and both together drive you to try to formulate, articulate, deep issues of which you were unaware, issues you didnft know existed in the past (and which others may find weird).
I want to talk of how wonder and puzzlement intruded into my life, and pushed me where I have gone.
At first, I studied history. This seemed to be the best way. Then I became involved in politics; in the ways that politics could transform human life. But underlying all these was an interest in philosophical anthropology: what were human beings, these beings who can speak and therefore articulate, and in this way transform themselves?
In contact with both history and politics as academic subjects, I began to see how often they are studied in a way which shuts out the questions I was asking. Often they suppose a stripped-down, reductive view of human life. A great deal of my work has been an attempt to combat this kind of reductive, over-simple, one-dimensional understanding. Another impetus was a more immediate practical one: how to articulate the political issues of our time, so that we can actually make headway.
From this beginning point I will try in my lecture to make sense of the questions I have tried to deal with, of my understanding of philosophy as not gpureh, but involving a knowledge (in my case) of society and history. I will talk of the discouragements, and then (sometimes) break-throughs, which are inseparable from any life of the gphilosophicalh kind (which it can be seen is lived by lots of thinkers who are not philosophers in the narrow, academic sense).