It is easy to forget how much philosophy exists in everyday conversation. Every social/political position you support, or reject, is based on some kind of outlook on human nature and society itself. Charles Taylor’s recent book Sources of the Self explores these issues of identity in a way that will force you to question who exactly you really are.
Mr. Taylor is regarded as “one of the world’s leading philosophers…whose ideas have been influential in the humanities, social sciences and public affairs” as reported by The New York Times. Because of Taylor’s accomplishments, the Berggruen Institute awarded him the prestigious Berggruen Prize, which comes with $1 million in cash.
The prize is meant for “a thinker whose ideas are of broad significance for shaping human self-understanding and the advancement of humanity.” The best way to access Taylor’s work is through his two most influential books: Sources of the Self and A Secular Age. Each of which will leave you reeling with existential issues to deal with.
Sources of the Self deals with our identity and where it comes from. Once we know where our identity comes from, we can begin to change things in ourselves and in our society. Taylor argues: who we are is based on what we consider to be the ideal conception of goodness. Our conception of goodness better be as accurate as possible because it will be the main motivator behind our actions. What’s special about this book, and philosophy in general, is that once you delve into these ideas, you may never think the same way again.
Edie Brickell said it best, “Philosophy is a walk on slippery rocks.” What she might be saying here is that philosophy, in a sense, is a dangerous thing. Just like walking on slippery rocks is a dangerous thing. She is right, because whichever conclusions you come to in philosophy will then determine your behavior. Think deeply fellow readers, and remember “The life unexamined is not worth living.” – Socrates.
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