Chapter 3 In Search of a New Grand Narrative: Charles Taylor’s Secularity

In: The Post-Secular City
Paolo Costa
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The Background of a Secular Age

It took more than forty years for the multilayered account of secularization developed independently by Blumenberg and Martin to bear its best fruits in the study of religion. From this point of view, Charles Taylor’s A Secular Age – the most influential work on the subject of the last twenty years – can be seen as the realization of the philosophical and socio-historical-theological premises laid out by the authors of The Legitimacy of the Modern Age and The Religious and the Secular in a condition of relative intellectual isolation. Explaining what this means in detail is the main goal of this chapter.

When Taylor wrote and published A Secular Age in 2007, his reputation as a scholar was solid, but his notoriety outside the boundaries of the academic world was modest.1 It was this doorstopper of a book, which despite its size (874 pages) sold 60,000 copies in its first year alone, that brought him to the centre of the global conversation. Taylor, born in Montreal in 1931, read PPE at Oxford and taught at the university where he obtained his doctorate, as well as at various prestigious North American universities (McGill, Northwestern, New School, among others). Despite some typical traits of the outsider (peripheral geographical origin and non-standard cultural background), his profile is that of a mainstream philosopher who went through all the steps of the more classic academic cursus honorum. After getting a Rhodes scholarship that opened to him the doors of All Souls College, he published a solid doctoral thesis (1964), wrote an impeccable monograph on Hegel (1975) and collected a number of influential essays in his Philosophical Papers (1985). He was then able to produce a classic of twentieth-century philosophy such as Sources of the Self (1989), after which came the international recognition as an authority on multiculturalism and the ethics of authenticity.2 The research project that will lead to A Secular Age coincided thus with the peak of his career.3

The book – a dense work, generous almost to a fault, based on a non-linear, sometimes even haphazard, expository strategy – took the author ten years to complete (1997–2006), but its layout was in some ways already foreshadowed in the last chapter of Sources the Self. In those pages, Taylor capped his reconstruction of the fractured horizons of modern moral identity by alluding to the non-residual vitality of the theistic option, indeed to its incomparably greater potential with respect to other modern moral sources (nature, human dignity, rational freedom, universal justice).4 In doing so, he not only reiterated the claim, advanced several times in the book, that the Christian vision of Christ’s self-denying love remains a crucial asset for many people even today, but also hinted between the lines that agape is the only moral source really equal to the philanthropic effort required of ordinary people in the age of Amnesty International and global campaigns against human rights violations. Faced with the scepticism of many of his readers towards this reliance on the promise implicit in Judaeo-Christian theism of “a divine affirmation of the human, more total than humans can ever attain unaided”,5 Taylor was left with no choice but to confront the view of those who believe that the final refutation of religion has been conclusively pronounced by the court of history and that its name is “secularization”.

Overcoming the Secularization Theorem

How does Taylor address the thesis of the inevitable decline of religion in modernity? For brevity’s sake, we could describe his approach as a strategy of ‘circumvention’. His aim, in fact, is not so much to demarcate it, fix it in a stable image, zoom in on it and reject it with a knock-down argument, as to reconfigure it through a recursive exercise of historical contextualization. His mode of refutation, in other words, is the standard method of immanent critique that takes the thesis of the opponent as a given and explores its shortcomings and inconsistencies from an internal standpoint. The result is a spiral sequence of converging narratives arranged along an axis of substantial theoretical issues.

The main effect of this thematic recursiveness is the wearing down of any static representation of the historical phenomenon under investigation. What we are given, in the end, is something similar to an interpretive refraction in which the concept of secularity is first assumed as a given – that is, it is taken for granted that something has actually happened to “religion” in recent centuries – and immediately problematized, through the articulation of three different meanings of secularization:

(a) the religious neutralization (laïcisation) of the political sphere;

(b) the decline in religious belief and practice;

(c) the revolution of the conditions of personal religious experience and the resulting transformation of devotional forms and agencies.6

The same applies to the secular/religious dichotomy, which is first borrowed from modern common sense and then dialectically destabilized in a historically broadened perspective. Finally, a similar treatment is reserved for classic sociological categories such as disenchantment or rationalization, whose ideal-type character is mitigated by continuous reference to non-depersonalized life contexts.

The classical thesis of secularization, in short, is infused with a dialectical impulse through a reiteration of a demand for sensemaking. In Taylor’s crypto-Hegelian perspective, this means, on the one hand, insisting that the seemingly “familiar” become “known” and, on the other hand, to use A Secular Age’s terminology, bringing to the surface the “unthought” of the secularization theorem, that is, the web of unthematized certainties and prejudices that tacitly channels the analytical efforts of the theorem’s champions by narrowing their theoretical imagination.7

The general aim of Taylor’s investigation is thus to make the tacit background of the classical thesis less predictable than it appears at first sight. And since ‘secularization’ is a noun of process and, in addition, conveys the idea of a completed transition, and with it the reference to a definitively overcome past, a genealogical look is indispensable. Put otherwise, since a métarécit cannot be dispensed with, storytelling becomes the key problem. Accordingly, Taylor makes his polemical objective explicit beforehand. And he does so by expressly contrasting his account with what he calls “subtraction stories”: that is, narratives that picture the origin of secularity as an obvious, unsurprising event.8 From a ‘subtractive’ point of view, the real problem, if anything, is to understand what first prevented and then delayed the rise of a disenchanted form of life. Hence the emphasis on the stages of the liberation process that would lead to the entrenchment of the most natural condition for the human race: unbelief. In this type of meta-narrative, therefore, there is no sense of astonishment at the historical transition investigated, which in the eyes of the storyteller appears rather as a thrust towards emancipation that has been active since the dawn of time against obstacles that have themselves been at work since time immemorial. When only the hard core of human nature matters, secularity cannot be interpreted as an innovative construct, but only as a liberation from the chains of prejudice: the escape from a condition of self-deception or intellectual minority.

Taylor takes a different route in A Secular Age. He tells a series of interlinked stories that, instead of concentrating on what has disappeared, hunt down what has been discovered, invented, constructed, in a word added to the past repertoire of practices and knowledge thanks to human creativity, imagination and initiative. In order to see one’s own age – the ‘here’ from which the storyteller’s retrospective gaze departs – as something new, something that cannot be taken for granted, you have to look at it with different eyes, possibly with the passionate gaze of an explorer. Significantly, in an essay that predated The Secular Age by ten years, Taylor described his own investigation of modern secularity as a Matteo “Ricci-like journey into the present”, i.e., as an ethnography of the modern world, whose value lies in enabling the reader to detect the strange in the familiar, the alien in the known.9 And since the inquiry’s end goal is to discern what is authentically new and what is less new than it seems, the main risk facing the explorer is that of not being sufficiently “bewildered”.10

Taylor’s reference to the seventeenth-century controversy over Chinese rites serves as an invitation not to settle too fast for the first impression. Taking it for granted that there is an ahistorical and a-contextual opposition between the religious and the secular and that this is destined to trigger a series of local zero-sum conflicts, from which only one of the two sides can emerge victorious, risks precluding a different understanding of the historical genesis of today’s spiritual polyphony. For the latter deserves to be read not only as the product of a condition of intellectual confusion, but as a reasonable response to the diversity of competing goods in the modern West.

Living in the Immanent Frame

To sum up: Taylor bases his genealogical investigation on the idea that the correct attitude toward modern secularity is a form of philosophical astonishment at the historical novelty represented by a society in which religious beliefs and practices have become both a fragment of social life and the object of individual choice: in short, an optional component of personal existence. The correct response to this bafflement is, on the one hand, a problematizing re-description of contemporaneity and its context, and on the other hand, a genealogical reconstruction with a positive and not only unmasking intent. In other words, it is vital to recount the genesis of modern secularity with a narrative style that is simultaneously inclusive and disruptive. A historic tale, that is, which can both “successfully integrate the valid insights contained in most competing genealogical accounts” and disarrange the ideological alignments inherited from the past and expand the hypotheses under discussion.11

This is why Taylor begins his ethnographic journey by asking what it means to live in a secular age, what changes in mentality and sensibility it entails. The point is to understand how it was possible and what consequences it had on people’s lives to cast off a society in which political and religious power were intertwined, where religion was everywhere and participating in devotional or apotropaic rituals was the natural way of being in the world, and to move to a society in which religious faith is in principle problematic because it implies a decision and a justification that cannot be taken for granted. From this point of view, the decline of religion essentially means the rise of a web of practices, institutions, imaginaries, theories and arts that made the universal human attitude of not being satisfied with what is simply ‘at hand’ more fragile and problematic.12 According to Taylor’s picture, this non-accepting way of being in the world is characterized by a mixed stance of desire and belief that “this can’t be all there is” that the ghost of a fuller, more authentic life hovers in the shadows of our experience, with the “meaning of meaning” of existence at stake.13 One of the less conspicuous consequences of the spread of a secular mentality is that this reasonable desire for another life takes on a more volatile, problematic, subjective form. To get to the heart of the matter, in a secular age people find it hard to make sense of the vocabulary that has traditionally been used to refer to a meta-biological ideal of life: transcendence, immortality, bliss, salvation, etc.

What the reader is invited to come to terms with in A Secular Age is a non-linear macro-narrative, an interweaving of concatenated stories whose connection is strong enough to make the change intelligible, but not so stringent as to make it appear inevitable, deterministic. In other words, there must remain a sufficiently wide area of causal looseness so as not to deny the ultimately contingent, creative and constructive character of human action in history. “We can set the stage as well as we can”, Taylor admitted with his usual theoretical humbleness, “we can never fully explain the rise of exclusive humanism; certainly not if explanation means: showing its inevitability, given certain conditions. Like all striking human achievements, there is something in it which resists reduction to these enabling conditions”.14 This hesitancy introduces a caution that is both epistemic and moral, and which carries even greater weight here because it concerns the explanation of a turning point in the cultural evolution of humankind.

So far, in describing Taylor’s approach to the secularization theorem, the emphasis has been on the impulse to make the image conveyed by the thesis of the decline of religion more articulate. In comparison to Blumenberg’s injection of complexity, however, a further step is taken.15 For in Taylor’s account human creativity is fired up not by a single challenge, moreover an intellectual challenge, but by a range of challenges, some of which, as will become clear later, are intra-religious. Alongside this thrust towards complexification, however, a complementary need is fulfilled in A Secular Age: the need to have a synoptic explanatory framework and meet a radical urge for sensemaking. The urgency to understand what general lessons are incapsulated in the epochal shift “from a society in which it was virtually impossible not to believe in God, to one in which faith, even for the staunchest believer, is one human possibility among others” is thus fully recognized.16 It is precisely the desire to fulfil this demand that prompts Taylor to tell a story whose protagonists are not only flesh and blood men and women, but also strange entities such as imaginaries, frames, contexts of understanding, types of subjectivity, etc.

The recursive local narratives that give A Secular Age its characteristic density are actually embedded in a broader narrative framework whose main function is to open a glimpse into the religious evolution of humanity over the last 2500 years (from the so-called Axial revolution to the Protestant Reformation). The rise of modern secularity cannot be adequately understood without the sense of historical discontinuity granted by a long-term historical outlook. From this point of view, modern secularity appears as the offspring of the growth and convergence of new practices, new social, cosmic and anthropological imaginaries, and new forms of subjectivity that propagated, first inside and then outside the narrow circle of intellectual elites, the stance which Taylor calls “exclusive humanism”. This historically unprecedented lifeview represents for him a necessary, though not sufficient, condition for the global success of Western modern civilization.

In short, secularization is the complex, disorderly, karstic, but ultimately unitary historical process culminating in the rise of the ‘Immanent Frame’. The latter is to be seen as a constellation of practices and “idées-forces” from which trends, lines of development, ratchet effects, privileged possibilities, in short, ‘vectors’ emerge that give the Western modern landscape its distinctive aspect.17 Taylor’s grand narrative of secularization is the explanatory context that integrate large-scale developments such as disenchantment, the transition from a ‘porous’ to a ‘buffered’ self, the autonomization first of nature and then of society as impersonal orders, i.e., an array of historical-cultural processes that not only possess a spiritual relevance, but have a genealogical link with the evolution of Christianity understood as the late fruit, together with Islam, of the Axial revolution (800–300 BCE).18

In this sense, secularization is also the product of a ‘rage’ for self-reform arisen and pursued to the extreme consequences within Latin Christianity. This explains why “secularization went along with an intensification of religious faith” and why modern secularists and believers have more in common than they imagine.19 Indeed, as Taylor observes,

the narrative history of the rise of unbelief does not merely relate an irrelevant past, an optional extra for history buffs. Rather, all present issues around secularism and belief are affected by a double historicity, a two-tiered perfect-tensedness. On the one hand, unbelief and exclusive humanism defined itself in relation to earlier modes of belief, both orthodox theism and enchanted understandings of the world; and this definition remains inseparable from unbelief today. On the other hand, later-arising forms of unbelief, as well as all attempts to redefine and recover belief, define themselves in relation to this first path-breaking humanism of freedom, discipline, and order.20

The Vector of Reform

Viewed from sideways on, Taylor’s grand narrative tells a main story that branches off into several subplots.21 Leaving aside the détours, the macro-story can be summarized as follows. The starting point is Latin Christendom. This is presented by Taylor as the result of a compromise between, for one thing, the need to proclaim and preserve the unbridgeable gap dividing heaven and earth, infinite and finite, the extra-worldly and the mundane, and, for the other, the self-reforming impulse to raise the standards of individual faith to the point of extending them to the entire human race, without distinction between élites and popular masses. The mediaeval complexio oppositorum is described in A Secular Age as

an equilibrium in tension between two kinds of goals. On one hand, the Christian faith pointed towards a self-transcendence, a turning of life towards something beyond ordinary human flourishing […]. On the other, the institutions and practices of mediaeval society, as with all human societies, were at least partly attuned to foster some human flourishing. This sets up a tension, between the demands of the total transformation which the faith calls to, and the requirements of ordinary ongoing human life.22

The examples of contrast between the counsels of perfection and the demands of daily life are well known and range from the vocation to celibacy as a precondition for a total orientation of the heart towards God to the self-enhancing uses of sacraments, not to mention the clash between the ethics of honour and rank and the Gospel message. The (precarious) pre-modern way out of the deadlock revolved around the idea of a “hierarchical complementarity”: the division of roles and functions between those who pray, those who fight and those who produce; the periodic inversion of the relationship between structure and anti-structure (Carnival, the feasts of misrule, etc.); interaction between sacred (kairotic) and profane (homogeneous and empty) time; etc.

The emergence of a secular mentality is one of the unforeseen side effects of this (self)criticism of popular religion (of pre-axial origin) joining forces with the disciplinary self made possible and pursued by modern states. Between the starting point (a society so shored up by religious belief as to make disbelief – which should not be confused with lukewarm faith – an almost heroic option) and the point of arrival (a secular age) there is a series of intermediate stages. These include:

  • (a) the process of demagification described by Max Weber (i.e., the breakdown and replacement of the cosmic, social and psychological bulwarks of belief);

  • (b) the genesis of a new form of ‘buffered’ and disciplined self (a different way of being a person that will culminate in the prototype of the bourgeois gentleman);

  • (c) the polarization of the transcendent/immanent dyad (which in the end would lead to an impersonal and self-contained conception of the natural and the socio-moral orders);

  • (d) all the above, then, went together with a depersonalization of God in the modern religious imagination, whose peak was reached with eighteenth-century Deism.

The early-modern civilizing process studied by Norbert Elias, the beginnings of the disciplinary society described by Foucault, the “polite society” and the modern art of sociability, are different embodiments of the overlap of the religious impulse towards self-reform and the systemic demands of the new nation-states and the nascent market economy, which paved the way for the historically unprecedented affirmation of a form of exclusive humanism, a vision of life “accepting no final goals beyond human flourishing, nor any allegiance to anything else beyond this flourishing”.23

The secular age, to put it in a nutshell, is the result of a sea-change of the practices and imaginaries underlying European civilization. Speaking in general, such a shift can be likened to the rise of an Immanent Frame, i.e. of a way of molding everyday experience that does not rely on a transcendent, metaphysical or mysterious plan of existence. In a society shaped by the Immanent Frame, human dealings with the world can dispense with magic, the explanation of natural phenomena can omit any appeal to non-natural causes, social relations can take place on a purely horizontal plane, and people’s moral order increasingly revolves around the pursuit of personal happiness. The individual who feels at ease in this context is the ‘secular gentleman’ whose main character qualities could be described in idealtypical terms as follows:

  • (i) irony and sovereign detachment;

  • (ii) rejection of any religious enthusiasm or aspiration to go beyond the human realm (replaced by intellectual curiosity);

  • (iii) ability to take up the point of view of the impersonal spectator;

  • (iv) nerve for putting themselves on an equal footing with God (hence the fixation on theodicy);

  • (v) assumption of human desire’s innocence;

  • (vi) firmness in the face of evil (sin is not a taint, but a wrong and correctable behaviour);

  • (vii) penchant for internal and immanent moral sources (rational will, detached reason, visceral moral feelings such as sympathy);

  • (viii) inclination to benevolence.

But if the rise of the Immanent Frame does not coincide with the disappearance of religion, what does it mean to live within it for those who do not wholeheartedly embrace exclusive humanism?

To begin with, it means, to use Taylor’s turn of phrase, to pass

from an era in which religious life was more ‘embodied’, where the presence of the sacred could be enacted in ritual, or seen, felt, touched, walked towards (in pilgrimage), into one which is more ‘in the mind’, where the link with God passes more through our endorsing contested interpretations – for instance, of our political identity as religiously defined, or of God as the authority and moral source underpinning our ethical life.24

If, as it is the case with Taylor, one thinks that the aspiration to fullness or “désir d’éternité”25 continues to act as an independent motivational force even within the Immanent Frame, religions cease to look like the sacrificial victims of the process of secularization. As a result, historical contingent circumstances take on a decisive importance in explaining the different outcomes of the historical events under investigation. In the picture of the “spiritual shape of the present age”26 proposed by the Canadian philosopher, the identification of transversal patterns of historical development go together with the recognition of local trajectories produced by the interaction between these vectors of change and the specific conditions in which historical agents lead their lives in different geographical and cultural contexts.

One of the global patterns of belief in the secular age is ‘mobilization’. By it Taylor means the external and internal conditions that induce individuals to experience the social order as a contested option that needs to be realized constructively. In his words, the age of mobilization

designates a process whereby people are persuaded, pushed, dragooned, or bullied into new forms of society, church, association. This generally means that they are induced, through the actions of governments, church hierarchies, and/or other élites, not only to adopt new structures, but also to some extent to alter their social imaginaries, and sense of legitimacy, as well as their sense of what is crucially important in their lives or society.27

It is the same transition described elsewhere as the transition from a paleo-Durkheimian (ancien régime) model, in which “a sense of the ontic dependence of the state on God and higher times is still alive”, to a neo-Durkheimian one, where the problem of political identity takes on crucial importance.28 That is, God can still be instrumental to understanding the foundations of the social order even after the end of the ancien régime, as long as people imagine themselves as members and founders of a society that explicitly follows and tries to realize God’s Plan (i.e., the Modern Moral Order).

Examples of this neo-Durkhemian solution linking the sacred and the nation are, on the side of the winners, the perception that many Americans still have today of their country’s special mission, and, on the side of the losers, the reinforcing circuit between political and confessional identity that may happen in oppressed peoples (Poland, Ireland, etc.). More generally, this activism is bound to produce different consequences depending on whether the historical context is, for example, marked by the traditional alliance between throne and altar – and its aim is thus the preservation or occupation of the decision-making centre – or is instead characterized by the competition or collaboration of a plurality of actors within civil society rather than in or around the state.

The second transversal pattern indispensable for understanding religion today is the ethics of authenticity. This is, for Taylor, “a cultural revolution […] an individuating revolution”, which, although it became a mass phenomenon only after the 1960s, has its direct antecedent in romantic expressivism.29 In short, in societies dominated by this type of ethics, the social bond (like all other external constraints on the realization of one’s original exemplar of humanity) loses its sacred nature to the person – the ‘sacred’ self – which is seen as the only reality endowed with intrinsic value. In such societies, everything, including religion, turns around the individual, his desire for expressive self-realization and his freedom of choice. The cornerstones of the moral ideal arising from this “real value shift”30 are:

  • (1) primacy of the search for personal happiness as self-expression in new spaces of “mutual display”;31

  • (2) respect for personal choices, i.e. a “soft relativism […] predicated on a firm ethical base”, according to which it is self-evident that the values of others should never be criticized, because everyone has the right to live her own life in complete freedom and the only intolerable sin is intolerance;32

  • (3) a generalized criticism of authority as a suprapersonal instance that stifles creativity, individuality and imagination;

  • (4) a systematic rejection of any institutional mediation.

From this last element derives the tendency to interpret religious experience in terms of an inner spirituality capable of dispensing with doctrines, collective rites and churches. “The injunction would seem to be: let everyone follow his/her own path of spiritual inspiration. Don’t be led off yours by the allegation that it doesn’t fit with some orthodoxy”.33

Fractured Horizons

The modern spiritual landscape forged by this twofold revolution in customs and mentality is a field of powerful and conflicting forces: an age of tension, of fractured horizons, of spiritual uncertainty and creativity, of risk, hope and conflict. To quote Taylor: “The pattern of modern religious life under ‘secularization’ is one of destabilization and recomposition: a process which can be repeated many times”.34 The result is a dynamism that is unprecedented in history. The exclusive humanist option itself is not a static reality, but a substantial source of dynamism. Modern humanism, in spite of its colonizing impetus, is in fact nourished by an unquenchable aspiration to change, a spirit that is not only progressive, but revolutionary. While placing obstacles for vertical transcendence, it is animated by a powerful thrust towards horizontal transcendence, self-improvement.35 This tension is the main driving force behind the Dialektik der Aufklärung, the first incarnation of which is the Romantic polemic against the rationalism, moralism and utilitarianism of the Enlightenment mindset.36

Exclusive humanism must therefore not only face the opposition of traditional faith, but also respond to the internal challenge of alternative interpretations of the true meaning of the secularization process. This produces the notorious ‘malaises’ of modernity, the search for ‘third ways’, cyclical generational conflicts and, above all, a proliferation of cross-pressures and an unprecedented space for carving out niches or oases of uncertainty and suspension of ontological, religious, political commitments and allegiances.

To summarize the spiritual consequences of secularity, it is worth quoting in full a significant passage from A Secular Age. The first phase, for Taylor, is the appearance of

an exclusive humanist alternative to the Christian faith. The second phase sees a further diversification. The multiple critiques levelled at orthodox religion, Deism, and the new humanism, and their cross-polemics, end up generating a number of new positions, including modes of unbelief which have broken out of the humanism of freedom and mutual benefit (e.g., Nietzsche and his followers) – and lots else beside. So that our present predicament offers a gamut of possible positions which extend way beyond the options available in the late eighteenth century. It’s as though the original duality, the positing of a viable humanist alternative, set in train a dynamic, something like a nova effect, spawning an ever-widening variety of moral/spiritual options, across the span of the thinkable and perhaps even beyond. This phase continues to this day. The third, overlapping with the second, is relatively recent. The fractured culture of the nova, which was originally that of élites only, becomes generalized to whole societies. This reaches its culmination in the latter half of the twentieth century. And along with this, and integral to it, there arises in Western societies a generalized culture of ‘authenticity’, or expressive individualism, in which people are encouraged to find their own way, discover their own fulfillment, ‘do their own thing’.37

This shattering of people’s moral horizons has had an enormous impact on the conditions of belief in a secular age primarily because it shifted “the place of the spiritual in human life, at least as lived by many”.38 As a result, “the connection between pursuing a moral or spiritual path and belonging to larger groups – state, church, even denominations – has been further loosened and […] the nova effect has been intensified. We are now living in a spiritual super-nova, a kind of galloping pluralism on the spiritual plane”.39

The picture of religion emerging from Taylor’s account is therefore marked by ambivalence. To use a vocabulary first appeared in Varieties of Religion Today (2002), his claim is not that

our present day is unambiguously post-Durkhemian, as say, mediaeval France was unquestionably paleo-Durkhemian, and say, the nineteenth-century U.S.A. was neo-Durkhemian. Rather there is a struggle going on between these two dispensations. But it is just this, the availability of a post-Durkheimian dispensation, which destabilizes us and provokes the conflict.40

This means, to conclude, that

the religious life of Western societies is much more fragmented than ever before, and also much more unstable, as people change their positions during a lifetime, or between generations, to a greater degree than ever before. The salient feature of Western societies is not so much a decline of religious faith and practice, though there has been lots of that, more in some societies than in others, but rather a mutual fragilization of different religious positions, as well as of the outlooks both of belief and unbelief. The whole culture experiences cross-pressures, between the draw of the narratives of closed immanence on one side, and the sense of their inadequacy on the other, strengthened by encounter with existing milieux of religious practice, or just by some intimations of the transcendent. The cross-pressures are experienced more acutely by some people and in some milieux than others, but over the whole culture, we can see them reflected in a number of middle positions, which have drawn from both sides.41


So far, Taylor’s view has been discussed by focusing on what he calls the third meaning of secularity, namely the change of the conditions of belief in a secular age. As I said above, from a perspective that emphasizes discontinuity over continuity, ours appears as an age shaped by the rise of a historically unprecedented Immanent Frame. There are, however, opposing ways of interpreting and experiencing the anthropological, social and cosmological imaginaries that delimit the boundaries of the Immanent Frame. For a ‘frame’, in Taylor’s non-deterministic historical outlook, is not a steel cage. Rather, it is a mobile and discontinuous frontier that both excludes and opens up possibilities. More specifically, the Immanent Frame “is something that permits closure, without demanding it”.42 In other words, it too is at the centre of a conflict of interpretations that cannot be solved by taking on a neutral point of view or by setting up an a priori argument. The most reasonable option, then, would be to keep the conversation alive among the various ideological and spiritual families that inhabit modern secular societies.43

Two insidious obstacles, however, may hinder the unfolding of such an open-ended dialogue. The first is the stigmatization among the European educated classes of ‘religion’ as a potentially disruptive psychological, intellectual and social phenomenon that must be continually tamed. This distrust is partly a consequence of the trauma of the religious wars that broke out in Europe after the schisms in Christianity occurred in the sixteenth-century. More generally, however, the sacred as such is an object not easy to classify and situate for the ‘buffered self’. It is for this reason that its natural location – that is, the realm in which, instead of fomenting chaos, it can operate as a bringer of order and discipline – is shifted in modernity from the outside world into people’s intimate lives or, at most, is exiled into an ineffable ulteriority positioned beyond space and time.

From this point of view, the decline in the intensity of religious belief and practice, i.e. a growing detachment and indifference towards the sacred – at least towards the traditional ‘wild’ sacred – which is seen as a distinctive feature of secularization in the classical view, appears as a cure-all. Thus, self-restraint, in particular the self-limitation of claims to truth or absoluteness, ends up playing here the same function as the impulse control necessary for leading a civilized, peaceful, ordered way of life. The risk, however, for Taylor, is to introject this model of subjectivity as an accomplished, mature, self-satisfied ideal, instead of experiencing it as a compromise formation. In other words, even today’s descendants of the secular ‘gentleman’ may be tempted to see themselves as the transposition into everyday life of Kant’s bare reason, unable to acknowledge any commonality with those who, following Dostoevsky, could be called the men and women of the ‘Underground’.

The second obstacle to a non-shielded interpretation of the Immanent Frame is the all-out defence of the principle of secularism in contemporary political discourse.44 This generally goes hand in hand with a tendency to conceive of the issue of state neutrality as a legal problem, which admits a single, conclusive, exclusionary solution. Underlying this geometric spirit is the conviction that such disputes can be resolved through an ironclad separation between ‘religion’ – understood as a subjective preference that cannot be publicly justified – and what is by its nature rational, impartial, non-partisan.

While this principle is presented by its supporters as an objective truth – the discovery of a golden rule that only asks to be applied consistently – Taylor uses his own constructive genealogical account to show how this unwarranted belief cannot hold unless one overlooks the historical background responsible for the particular and untransplantable (at least sic et simpliciter) character of the institutional devices designed by European modern states after centuries of partial successes and missteps (which continue to this day).

Here again, Taylor’s argumentative strategy has a crucial goal: to weaken the secularists’ claim to absoluteness by contextualizing and relativizing it. With respect to the alleged antithesis between religion and secularity, provincializing Europe means identifying a plausible alternative to the polarizing, contrastive, idealized model that prevailed in the former Latin Christendom and that made possible the supremacy of the well-known dichotomies between faith and reason, immanent and transcendent, enchantment and disenchantment, etc. The metaphor of the ‘Wall of Separation’ between the secular and the religious actually presupposes a three-stage (non-consequential) historical evolution in which the distinction between Church and State makes way to their legal separation and, finally, to the marginalization (after privatization or stigmatization) of religion with respect to public life.45 In its maximalist variant (best exemplified by the French laïcité) this “polemical assertion of secularity”46 based on the idea of its self-sufficiency is the product of a particular trajectory within a local parabole. As Taylor notes, “the clear”, one might say dualistic, “separation of an immanent order from a transcendent order is one of the inventions […] of Latin Christendom. The new understanding of the secular […] builds on this separation. It affirms, in effect, that the ‘lower’ – immanent or secular – order is all that there is and that the higher – or transcendent – is a human invention. Obviously, the prior invention of a clear-cut distinction between these levels” – which was initially not exclusionary, but complementary – “prepared the ground for the ‘declaration of independence’ of the immanent”.47

An outline of the history of the invented dualism between religion and secularity has been already given in the previous pages. The polarization of the immanent/transcendent dyad by Deism and some Christian theological currents, often indebted to Ockham’s voluntarism, plays a crucial role here. The political side of this very European story was at the centre of Taylor’s interests even before he systematically devoted himself to the critique of the secularization theorem. Since the influential essay “Modes of Secularism” (1998), Taylor has identified and described two idealtypical solutions in modern political thought to the dramatic challenge posed by the religious wars of the seventeenth-century. The first one is what he calls the “common ground” strategy, the aim of which was to identify a set of principles and doctrines that could be agreed upon by all denominations and confessions (initially Christian, but the consensus gentium was potentially extendable to a much wider spectrum of related spiritual positions). In this case, the settlement of differences did not require the exclusion of the religious dimension from public life, but only an effort to mitigate potential sources of doctrinal conflict. As Taylor notes:

Here the goal is not to make religion less relevant to public life and policy, in the name of an independent ethic, but rather to prevent the state from backing one confession rather than another. The goal is a state which is even-handed between religious communities, equidistant from them, as it were, rather than one where religious reasons play no overt role.48

Needless to say, such an objective is all the easier to achieve the more the various worldviews share a common history, vocabulary and symbolic repertoire.

Taylor calls “independent political ethics” the second historical example of mediation of religious differences. Here the aim (pursued in exemplary fashion by Grotius) is rather to define a political ethics untied of all religious beliefs, and which can be binding even in the (originally purely theoretical) hypothesis of the non-existence of God. Citizens, especially believers, are thus required to disregard their deepest convictions whenever they are to deliberate on matters of general interest – a claim that is far from obvious outside the narrow circle of the learned. A corollary of this ground of peaceful coexistence is a privatized view of religious faith that ends up relegating it to “optional accessories, which often disturb the course of this-worldly life”.49 In addition, the higher the number of people who experience this independent ethic not as a mere experimentum mentis – an intellectual artifice indispensable to temper religious conflicts and allow people to live in peace – but, to use John Rawls’s vocabulary, as a ‘comprehensive doctrine’, the higher the number of those who see it “as a gratuitous extrusion of religion in the name of a rival metaphysical belief”, and not as a “necessary policing of the boundary of a common independent public sphere”.50

The two competing models are still recognizable today behind the two main styles of secularity adopted by Western democracies: the American (tacitly dependent upon a civil religion) and the French (consecrated to an independent morality). The lesson Taylor draws from the historical contextualization of the problematic relationship between liberal politics and religion, however, aims to go beyond these models by adopting a variant of secularism that is more hospitable to deep diversity. Given the level of pluralism characterizing contemporary societies, “the only thing we can hope to share is [for him] a purely political ethic, not its embedding in some religious view”.51 In short, the most realistic goal is an overlapping consensus on a set of political principles which, although broadly shared, will be justified and accepted on the basis of even radically different ‘metaphysical’ justifications. This idea of secularism may also be viewed as a stance that relies on the complementarity of particularities and does not gloss over the limitations inherent in any aspiration to universality:

in the political arena we have to operate on the assumption that disagreement will continue […] and this means that we will have to live with compromises between two or more such views. That is, this will have to be understood as not an abnormal, scandalous, and hopefully temporary shift, but as the normal state of affairs for the indefinite future.52

For Taylor, only this variety of secularism can legitimately aspire to be re-appropriated, or rather ‘reinvented’ in very different cultural contexts.53

Obviously, the balancing act between consensus on principles and disagreement on moral sources is far from being a simple goal which is ensured upstream. On the contrary, peaceful but vigorous conflict in the interpretation and implementation of the tables of values and rights will be the rule rather than the exception in the life of even the most solid democracies. The principle of state secularity, then again, is not an undemanding requirement, since the goods pursued through it are at least three, according to Taylor:

  • (a) freedom of conscience and expression (i.e. the liberty to believe or not to believe);

  • (b) equality among different religions or worldviews (granted by the neutrality of the state);

  • (c) genuine accord among citizens even in spite of radical diversity of opinions (and this good is inseparable from confidence in the fact that each will be guaranteed the right to contribute meaningfully to the political identity of a community and to the choice of the means through which it is realized in history).

Such complexity is a source of dynamism, because the ways to achieve the ends change according to the context, and the negotiation between the various spiritual families will always be intense in any non-authoritarian regime. But the key point, for Taylor, is that state secularity has more to do with the (suitable) response to deep diversity rather than with the relationship between faith and reason. This means that “there is no reason to single out religion, as against nonreligious, ‘secular’ (in another widely used sense), or atheist viewpoints. Indeed, the point of state neutrality is precisely to avoid favouring or disfavouring not just religious positions but any basic position, religious or nonreligious”.54

The fetishization of the institutional means that characterizes today’s Western public debates on the future of secularism is a delusion that can at least partly be explained as a side-effect of the primacy of instrumental reason in the modern mindset. But this overconfidence in the power of procedures holds something more. Religious people’s activism hits a nerve in modern democracies. Since they are communities built on people’s self-determination or the sovereign will of the nation, democracies have a permanent need to shore up their collective identity, ritually reaffirming the existence of a ‘we’ that, under extreme circumstances, can speak with one voice and act accordingly. It is this functional requirement that gives rise to the alarming thrust towards democratic exclusion and the tendency to sacralize certain non-negotiable aspects of liberal political identity, for example state secularity or the primacy of the individual over the community.

Modern democracies, however, are not just a collection of cooperating individuals. Their raison d’être essentially resides in providing an inclusive space for continuous negotiation between identities that feel a sense of commonality in spite of diversity. It is no coincidence that liberal democracies are embodied by a special form of government, where the centre can only be occupied temporarily. Revealingly, only the non-monopolizability of the seat of sovereign power can hold together a society of free and equal individuals. Those who are able to appreciate the unprecedented potential of such self-limitation of political sovereignty can understand why the impartiality of the democratic state vis-à-vis the various comprehensive doctrines is better seen as a means for maximizing the fundamental goods of freedom, equality and solidarity and not as an infallible institutional trick. Since, however, there is no optimal model of maximization, we have to accept that these “principles can be realized in a number of different ways, and can never be applied neutrally without some confronting of the substantive religious-ethnic-cultural differences in societies […] Solutions have to be be taylored to particular situations”.55

As in other areas of human life, the most sensible solution when you are dealing with a scenario that is by definition uncertain is to favour openness rather than closure, avoiding conversation-stoppers as much as possible.56 This is no easy task, though. The diversity of goods that a democratic community has to pursue is bound to periodically saddle citizens with heavy burdens. As a result, the temptation to rely on decision-making devices that make it possible to circumvent the difficult negotiations aimed at an uncertain maximization of equally important goods is destined to reemerge incessantly. The religious-ideological neutrality of the state is one of such pragmatic expedients always at risk of becoming a fetish, a mantra. It is not surprising, then, that the dream of neutralizing uncertainty went hand in hand with another lure: that of telling a story that made the value of state religious neutrality depend on a historical evolution that did not need further justification, confusing along the way “political secularization (laïcisation) and social secularization (sécularisation)”.57 It is also in this way that secularization has become one of the founding myths of modern Western rationalism.58


For an overview of Taylor’s work see Rosa, Hartmut, Identität und kulturelle Praxis: Politische Philosophie nach Charles Taylor, Frankfurt a.M./New York: Campus Verlag 1998; Abbey, Ruth, Charles Taylor, Princeton: Princeton University Press 2000; Costa, Paolo, Verso un ontologia dell’umano. Filosofia politica e antropologia filosofica in Charles Taylor, Milan: Unicopli 2001; Smith, Nicholas H., Charles Taylor: Meaning, Morals and Modernity, Cambridge: Polity Press 2002; Laitinen, Arto, Strong Evaluation without Moral Sources. On Charles Taylor’s Philosophical Anthropology and Ethics, Berlin: Walter de Gruyter 2007. Excellent collections of essays on his work are: Tully, James (ed.), Philosophy in an Age of Pluralism. The Philosophy of Charles Taylor in Question, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press 1994; Abbey, Ruth (ed.), Charles Taylor, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press 2004; Laforest, Guy/de Lara, Philippe (eds.), Charles Taylor et l’interpretation de l’identité modern, Sainte-Foy/Paris: Presses de L’Université Laval and Éditions du Cerf 1998; Kühnlein, Michael/Lutz-Bachmann, Matthias (eds.), Unerfüllte Moderne? Neue Pespektiven auf das Werk von Charles Taylor, Frankfurt a.M.: Suhrkamp 2011; Taussig, Sylvie (ed.), Charles Taylor. Religion et sécularisation, Paris: CNRS Éditions 2014; Taylor, Charles, Modernità al bivio: l’eredità della ragione romantica, edited by P. Costa and with contributions by R. Abbey/R. Beiner/R. Bhargava/N. Kompridis/ A. Laitinen/J. Maclure/D. McPherson/M. Meijer/H. Rosa/J.K.A. Smith/N.H. Smith, Bologna: Marietti 2021.


Cf. Taylor, Charles, The Explanation of Behaviour, London: Routledge & Kegan Paul 1964 (new edition with a new preface by the author and a foreword by Alva Noë: 2021); Taylor, Charles, Hegel, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press 1975; Taylor, Charles, Philosophical Papers I: Human Agency and Language, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press 1985; Taylor, Charles, Philosophical Papers II: Philosophy and The Human Sciences, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press 1985; Taylor, Charles, Sources of the Self: The Making of the Modern Identity, Cambridge (MA): Harvard University Press 1989; Taylor, Charles, The Ethics of Authenticity, Cambridge (MA): Harvard University Press 1992; Taylor, Charles, “The Politics of Recognition”, in Charles Taylor, Philosophical Arguments, Cambridge (MA): Harvard University Press 1995, pp. 225–256.


Cf. Taylor, Charles, A Secular Age, Cambridge (MA): Harvard University Press 2007. For an in-depth examination of the book see Smith, James K.A., How (Not) To Be Secular. Reading Charles Taylor, Grand Rapids (MI): Eerdmans 2014; Warner, Michael/Vanantwerpen, Jonathan/Calhoun, Craig (eds.), Varieties of Secularism in a Secular Age, Cambridge (MA): Harvard University Press 2010; Leask, Ian (ed.), The Taylor Effect. Responding to a Secular Age, Newcastle upon Tyne: Cambridge Scholars Publishing 2010; and symposia published in: Modern Theology (26/2010) and New Blackfriars (91/2010), with responses by the author. On Taylor’s contribution to the field of religious studies see also Costa, Paolo, “Charles Taylor ha 90 anni: il suo contributo agli studi religiosi”, in: Annali di Studi Religiosi (23/2022).


Cf. Taylor, Charles, Sources of the Self, p. 518.


Cf. Taylor, Charles, Sources of the Self, p. 521. For a frontal attack on Taylor’s claim, see Skinner, Quentin, “Who are ‘We’? Ambiguities of the Modern Self”, in: Inquiry (34/1991), pp. 133–153; Skinner, Quentin, “Modernity and Disenchantment: Some Historical Reflections”, in James Tully (ed.), Philosophy in an Age of Pluralism, pp. 37–48.


Cf. Taylor, Charles, A Secular Age, pp. 1–4.


Cf. Taylor, Charles, A Secular Age, p. 427 et seq.


Cf. Taylor, Charles, A Secular Age, pp. 22 and 26. See also Taylor, Charles, “Afterword: Apologia pro Libro Suo”, in Michael Warner/Jonathan Vanantwerpen/Craig Calhoun (eds.), Varieties of Secularism in a Secular Age, pp. 300–304.


Cf. Taylor, Charles, “A Catholic Modernity?” (1999), in Charles Taylor, Dilemmas and Conections: Selected Essays, Cambridge (MA): Harvard University Press 2011, pp. 167–187, here p. 186.


Cf. Taylor, Charles, “A Catholic Modernity?”, pp. 169 and 186. On the pros and cons of the “Ricci lens”, see also Taylor, Charles, “A Catholic Modernity – 25 Years On”, in Anthony J. Carroll/Staf Hellemans (eds,), Modernity and Transcendence: A Dialogue with Charles Taylor, Amsterdam: Amsterdam University Press 2021, pp. 180–205.


Cf. Casanova, José, “A Secular Age: Dawn or Twilight?”, in Michael Warner/Jonathan Vanantwerpen/Craig Calhoun (eds.), Varieties of Secularism in a Secular Age, p. 267.


Cf. “2007 Templeton Prize Press Conference Statement by Prof. Charles Taylor” (, date of last access: 11.04.2022): “Human beings, whether they admit it or not, live in a space of questions, very deep questions. What is the meaning of life, what is a higher mode of life, a lower mode of life, what is really worthwhile, what is the basis of the dignity that I’m trying to define for myself, the hunger to be really on the side of the good and the right, in popular terms to be part of the solution and not part of the problem, […] Everybody exists in this space of questions whether they recognize it or not. They may not think they’ve been posing or solving the question of the meaning of life, but, being a human being, that has to get to you at some level and you have to be living an answer to that, whether you recognize it or not”.


Cf. Taylor, Charles, A Secular Age, p. 677.


Cf. Taylor, Charles, A Secular Age, p. 258.


On the ‘aborted’ dialogue between Taylor and Blumenberg, see Monod, Jean-Claude, “Une si brève discussion: Blumenberg dans L’Âge séculier”, and Bouchindhomme, Christian, “Remarques sur le non-dialogue avec Blumenberg (et quelques autres). En annexe à la ‘Note’ sur ce même non-dialogue de Jean-Claude Monod”, both in Sylvie Taussig (ed.), Charles Taylor. Religion et sécularisation, pp. 155–179.


Cf. Taylor, Charles, A Secular Age, p. 3.


Cf. Taylor, Charles, Sources of the Self, p. 204.


On what Karl Jaspers called the “Axial age” see Bellah, Robert N., Religion in Human Evolution: From the Paleolithic to the Axial Age, Cambridge (MA): Harvard University Press 2011; Joas, Hans, Was ist die Achsenzeit? Eine wissenschaftliche Debatte als Diskurs über Transzendenz, Basel: Schwabe Verlag 2014; Bellah, Robert N./Joas, Hans (eds.), The Axial Age and Its Consequences, Cambridge (MA): Harvard University Press 2012; Taylor, Charles, “What Was the Axial Revolution?”, in Charles Taylor, Dilemmas and Connections, pp. 367–379. Taylor’s articulated take on ‘disenchantment’ can be found in Taylor, Charles, “Disenchantment-Reenchantment”, in Charles Taylor, Dilemmas and Connections, pp. 287–302; Meijer, Michiel/Taylor, Charles, “What Is Reenchantment? An Interview with Charles Taylor”, in Michiel Meijer/Herbert De Vriese (eds.), The Philosophy of Reenchantment, London: Routledge 2021, pp. 17–37; Taylor, Charles, “Drei Arten von Entzauberung”, in Magnus Schlette/Bettina Hollstein/Matthias Jung/Wolfgang Knöbl (eds.), Idealbildung, Sakralisierung, Religion. Beiträge zu Hans Joas’ ‘Die Macht des Heiligen’, Frankfurt/New York: Campus 2022, pp. 255–270.


Cf. Taylor, Charles, A Secular Age, p. 143.


Cf. Taylor, Charles, A Secular Age, p. 269.


Cf. Taylor’s reply to Kieran Flanagan in the symposium published in New Blackfriars quoted in note 103: “I am treating secularity as something which is pathdependent. But this path is immensely complex, more an interlocking skein of highways and byways than a single giant autobahn. My book treats only a small and idiosyncratic collection of byways” (“Charles Taylor Replies”, in: New Blackfriars (91/2010), p. 721).


Cf. Taylor, Charles, A Secular Age, p. 44.


Cf. Taylor, Charles, A Secular Age, p. 18.


Cf. Taylor, Charles, A Secular Age, p. 554.


Cf. Taylor, Charles, A Secular Age, p. 530.


Cf. Taylor, Charles, A Secular Age, p. 539.


Cf. Taylor, Charles, A Secular Age, p. 445.


Cf. Taylor, Charles, A Secular Age, p. 455.


Cf. Taylor, Charles, A Secular Age, p. 473. See also Taylor, Charles, Modernità al bivio.


Cf. Taylor, Charles, A Secular Age, p. 480.


Cf. Taylor, Charles, A Secular Age, p. 481.


Cf. Taylor, Charles, A Secular Age, p. 484.


Cf. Taylor, Charles, A Secular Age, p. 489.


Cf. Taylor, Charles, A Secular Age, p. 461.


On the history of the ascetic impulse, see Sloterdijk, Peter, You Must Change Your Life: On Anthropotechnics, trans. by W. Hoban, Cambridge: Polity Press 2013.


Cf. Taylor, Charles, Hegel and Modern Society, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press 1979, chapter 1.


Cf. Taylor, Charles, A Secular Age, p. 299.


Cf. Taylor, Charles, A Secular Age, p. 299.


Cf. Taylor, Charles, A Secular Age, p. 299 et seq.


Cf. Taylor, Charles, A Secular Age, p. 488.


Cf. Taylor, Charles, A Secular Age, p. 594 et seq.


Cf. Taylor, Charles, A Secular Age, p. 544.


Cf. Taylor, Charles, “Afterword: Apologia pro Libro Suo”, p. 320; Taylor, Charles, “Après L’Âge séculier”, in Sylvie Taussig (ed.), Charles Taylor: Religion et sécularisation, p. 9: “My book […] is for me like a beginning. A beginning of a conversation”; Taylor, Charles, “Replik”, in Michael Kühnlein/Matthias Lutz-Bachmann (eds.), Unerfüllte Moderne, pp. 850–858 (“Vernunft und Beweiskraft”); Taylor, Charles, “John Main and the Changing Religious Consciousness of Our Time”, in Laurence Freeman/Stefan Reynolds (eds.), John Main: The Expanding Vision, Norwich: Canterbury Press, 2009, p. 14 et seq. (for the replacement of the idea of progress with that of a “constant conversation with the past”).


For an overview of the entangled stories of liberal political philosophy and religion, see Laborde, Cécile/Bardon, Aurélia (eds.), Religion in Liberal Political Philosophy, Oxford: Oxford University Press 2017.


Cf. Taylor, Charles, “What Does Secularism Mean?”, in Charles Taylor, Dilemmas and Connections, p. 308.


Cf. Taylor, Charles, “What Does Secularism Mean?”, p. 306.


Cf. Taylor, Charles, “What Does Secularism Mean?”, p. 305.


Cf. Taylor, Charles, “Modes of Secularism”, in Rajeev Bhargava (ed.), Secularism and its Critics, New Delhi: Oxford University Press 1998, p. 35.


Cf. Taylor, Charles, “What Does Secularism Mean?”, p. 306.


Cf. Taylor, Charles, “Modes of Secularism”, p. 36; Taylor, Charles, “What Does Secularism Mean?”, p. 307.


Cf. Taylor, Charles, “Modes of Secularism”, p. 37.


Cf. Taylor, Charles, “Modes of Secularism”, p. 51.


Cf. Taylor, Charles, “Modes of Secularism”, p. 38.


Cf. Taylor, Charles, “The Meaning of Secularism”, in: The Hedgehog Review (12/2010), p. 25; Taylor, Charles, “Why We Need a Radical Redefinition of Secularism”, in Eduardo Mendieta/Jonathan Vanantwerpen (eds.), The Power of Religion in the Public Sphere, with contributions by J. Habermas, C. Taylor, J. Butler and C. West, New York: Columbia University Press 2011, p. 37; Maclure, Jocelyn/Taylor, Charles, Secularism and Freedom of Conscience, trans. by J.M. Todd, Cambridge (MA): Harvard University Press 2011, ch. 1.


See Taylor, Charles, “Democratic Exclusion (and Its Remedies?)”, in Charles Taylor, Dilemmas and Connections, p. 144. For a defence of the principle of religious neutrality of the state that takes seriously Taylor’s concerns, see Laborde, Cécile, Liberalism’s Religion, Cambridge (MA): Harvard University Press 2017.


Cf. Taylor, Charles, “Afterword: Apologia pro Libro Suo”, p. 318: “What makes me impatient are the positions that are put forward as conversation-stoppers”.


Cf. Maclure, Jocelyn/Taylor, Charles, Secularism and Freedom of Conscience, p. 15.


Cf. Taylor, Charles, “Die bloße Vernunft” and “What Does Secularism Mean?”, both in Charles Taylor, Dilemmas and Connections, pp. 303–346.

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