My way : Charles Taylor on identity and recognition in a secular democracy

De Wit, Theo (2018)

CITATION: De Wit, T. W. A. 2018. My way : Charles Taylor on identity and recognition in a secular democracy. Stellenbosch Theological Journal, 4(1):153-178, doi:10.17570/stj.2018.v4n1.a08.

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How should we evaluate Charles Taylor’s famous essay “The politics of recognition” (1992) and other related texts in a time where, at least in Europe, the ideal of a “multicultural society” has lost appeal? This article first tries to set out the way in which Taylor links the modern concepts of recognition, identity and authenticity, and how he argues why modernity not only demands a politics of equal dignity but also a politics of difference. We also discuss his more recent proposal, rethinking the whole idea of secularism and a “secular democracy” – again: to prepare a just and workable answer to societies marked by (not only religious) diversity. We conclude our contribution with three critical remarks on Taylor’s approach: about the recent politicization of culture in Europe and elsewhere, about the necessity of a new role of the public domain, and about the core concept of authenticity.

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