Sunday, October 16, 2016

Gains and Losses

Charles Taylor:
Most of the time I want to say that there are gains and losses. There are very few transitions in history where I feel it’s obvious that it’s all downhill, or all uphill. It’s not all anything.

That’s the interesting thing about the human condition — that you have these different cultural constellations that open up parts of people’s minds but close others. So the interesting normative issue that arises from all this is how to maximally develop, and make as full as possible the things that are good in this country — while somehow seeing whether we can’t recuperate some of the losses.

You know, this is not an invention of mine. This is what underlies a great deal of the Romantic period — of Romantic poetry, and so on. I mean, some Enlightenment boosters think that this means totally looking backward. In reality most of the great Romantic poets were taking some very important features of the Enlightenment, but they were also saying something about loss. Now, we can argue a lot about what are the gains and what are the losses. We won’t agree on that. But this is the only sensible way of talking. The idea that it’s all uphill or downhill is so incredibly implausible in virtue of the nature of human beings and their cultures, that these positions should just be thrown out before we start talking. And yet they are actually very common positions.
From an interesting interview. Taylor is best known for his book A Secular Age, which looks in great detail about what that phrase means and what living in a secular age means for both believers and unbelivers.

1 comment:

G. Verloren said...

Absolutism in any form is absurd. Everything is shades of gray. Omnia mundi fumus et umbra.