Dear Curious Souls,
I’m excited to introduce our winter workshop on Charles Taylor’s The Ethics of Authenticity! In the fall we gave our brains a good workout as we read and discussed an inspiring (and sometimes cryptic) text by philosopher of dialogue, Martin Buber. As we ease into the new year, I’ve picked out an accessible text that speaks directly to contemporary cultural challenges, and performs the sort of “bridge-building” thinking that many of us are wishing to do amidst the cultural divisions we face today.
In The Ethics of Authenticity, Charles Taylor articulates three “malaises of modernity,” as he calls them: (1) Hyper-individualism that too often becomes narcissism and a loss of meaning; (2) a primacy of instrumental reason that serves goals of efficiency and profit, but forgets critical thinking about which “ends” are worth pursuing; and (3) a political disengagement that threatens the undoing of democracy.
Taylor urges us to see that at the bottom of these problematic developments in modern culture, there are important moral ideals struggling to be expressed. He helps us to see, in particular, what the goal of personal authenticity really means, and how we might overcome its self-centered version and pursue one that is connected to social-political life.
Monica Vilhauer, founder of Curious Soul Philosophy, designs and leads workshops and retreats that approach philosophy as a way of life. She also offers one-on-one philosophical counseling for adults.