Charles Taylor, Augustine and the Ethics of Authenticity

5646 Words Mar 23rd, 2005 23 Pages
Introduction
The notion of authenticity is one of self-fulfillment and Charles Taylor recognizes that there are dangers in accepting modernity's drive toward self-realization. However, he is not willing to give up on this idea of "authenticity." In The Ethics of Authenticity, Taylor lays out a system of thought and morals that connect our search for self-realization with our desire towards self-creation. He is attempting to keep a form of individualism while still operating under objectivism. He will point out the good and damaging aspects of the modern development of an authentic self and mention the importance of some moral measurement system. Taylor claims that St. Augustine initiated a concept of inwardness, a turning towards the
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Authenticity
In his discussion of relativity, Taylor points out areas of disagreement as well as agreement. He defines relativism as a system of thought derived from a form of individualism "whose principle is something like this: everyone has a right to develop their own form of life, grounded on their own sense of what is really important or of value." Basically there is no hierarchical ordering of truths. Everyone has their own set of truths and no one should try to convince them otherwise. This is what Taylor calls the "individualism of self-fulfillment." His concern about this view is that it narrows the meaning of life because it is too self-centered and it rejects issues that go beyond the self. However he thinks there is "a powerful moral ideal at work here" which is the view of being true to oneself and will refer to this view as authenticity. "The point is that today many people feel called to do this, feel they ought to do this, feel their lives would be somehow wasted or unfulfilled if they didn't do it." ; Taylor thinks this point is being overlooked that there must be some moral reason pushing people in a certain direction. Deviant forms of authenticity simply consider the advantages given to the individual apart from any moral stance. He admits that there are deviant forms of authenticity but they take away from the true meaning of it and that when most
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