Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Journal Entry #5 (Taylor, 171-218)

Within this specific selection from Charles Taylor's magnum opus, A Secular Age, he introduces the idea of a social imaginary. According to Taylor, a social imaginary is "broader and deeper than the intellectual schemes people may entertain when they think about social reality in a disengaged mode [. . .]" A social imaginary is "[. . .] the way ordinary people 'imagine' their social surroundings, and this is often not expressed in theoretical terms, it is carried in images, stories, legends, etc." (Taylor 171-172). As mainstream society has become increasingly secularized over an extended period of time, the human social imaginary has changed in countless ways. As a result of the modernization of civilization, the belief in God has merely become one option among many (in terms of the expression of faith by human beings). As a result, emphasis has been placed on the individual, rather than the community. Therefore, citizens have continued to call morality into question. George Orwell's groundbreaking book, Nineteen Eighty-four, proclaims, "War is peace, freedom is slavery, ignorance is strength" (Orwell 4). Humanity has enslaved itself to fundamental features of the political process, including: equality, freedom and liberty, among others. The evolution of humanity's social imaginary is predicated upon individuality (at the expense of authority). Religion continues to be viewed (by some people) as a strict set of standards to be followed without reservations; however, it is much more than this. I firmly believe that mankind's modern social imaginary hasn't lost a sense of the sacred; however, the focus has shifted from transcendence to human flourishing. This isn't detrimental to Catholicism; in fact, it has helped pave the way for the Catholic faith to become stronger in mainstream society.


  1. You made some fairly good points in your post about the social imaginary, especially in connection with Orwell's novel "1984." What's interesting about these tenets are that they are paradoxical in nature; the notion that freedom is slavery seems contradictory at first, yet over the course of the Orwell's book one comes to realize how the two seemingly incompatible notions can co-exist. Going from what you said, have we as a society become so caught up in the idea of tolerance that we now become intolerant of those who disagree with this laissez faire attitude regarding human flourishing (i.e. that one can do whatever they see fit, so long as it does not limit the concurrent rights of their neighbors)? I think this is where the distinction between condoning an action and tolerating an action must be made; one can disagree with an individual's life choices without necessarily being disagreeable. So often tolerance is falsely equated with approval, though this is far from the case. Just because one experiences the so-called Nova Effect, it is not necessary that one consider all views equal. What would constitute an individual's reasoning behind their own personal beliefs if the convictions of others have the same value for then one's choice of beliefs becomes arbitrary? I don't know… any thoughts and opinions on the matter?

  2. I also like your connection to Orwell's 1984. I would agree with you that Taylor is saying that society has become completely individualistic, that cannot really be denied. What I find interesting about this is the idea of religion now. Religion can be defined because of the community that follows it. We talked about this idea in Theology last semester. If I create my own religion, would it really be a religion? Experts say no because I would not have a following or a community belief in said religion. Taylor also states later in the book that most people just want something bugger than themselves to believe in. People feel religious or spiritual when they come together for big events, he mentions even concerts and raves. So since society has become so individualistic, would the community of religion still matter as much? Or would it be the defining factor of religion being changed?