Thursday, February 5, 2015

Our Age of Authenticity

The most interesting topic that I found from this weeks readings was the idea of the Age of Authenticity. It is interesting to see this idea of an age dominated by authenticity. "This contemporary social imaginary is crystallized in terms of authenticity" ( p.85). This leads to a world in which choice is the only value and the only sin that isn't tolerated is intolerance ( p.85). This is certainly an interesting observation that I would largely agree with. Smith goes on to discuss how Taylor draws an analogy to fashion and ultimately the consumer identity ( p.86). This is particularly well articulated in the quote from Taylor on pages 86 and 87. Essentially Taylor says that for many young people their sense of identity comes more from styles in relation to celebrities or products than from any "large scale collective agencies, like nations, not to speak of churches, political parties, agencies of advocacy, and the like" (p.87). This is where Taylor starts to note the problem of modern culture. "Here is where Taylor locates the most significant shift in the post-'60s West: while ideals of  tolerance have always been present in the modern social imaginary, in early forms this value was contained and surrounded by other values that were a scaffolding of formation" (p.87). This all leads to Taylor's views on the sacred in this Age of Authenticity. Taylor identifies that religion in this age is marked by the great importance of it being a personal choice and that it must speak to the person (p.88). I think that perhaps the most interesting part of this analysis of the Age of Authenticity is that Taylor doesn't seem to really condemn it. At the same time he doesn't seem to really warm to it in the same way that the New Atheists might. Taylor seems to offer a middle of the road view on this Age of Authenticity. "In other words, while the spiritual seeker in our secular age is on an individual quest, that quest might actually end up with a conversion to Roman Catholicism that cuts against the libertarian individualism of the quest itself" (p.90). He chooses to differentiate between the framework and the content of the religion of the Age of Authenticity (p.90). This allows him to hold a very mild view of the Age of Authenticity and neither herald its coming nor champion against it. This leaves me very interested to see how Taylor will treat all the topics in A Secular Age.  

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