Saturday, August 13, 2011
This is a very interesting and thoughtful piece by Mark Oppenheimer on the great Charles Taylor (h/t Paul H.). Of particular interest to me was the way in which the historians discussed at the end of the piece describe Taylor's uses of history for prescriptively optimistic theoretical motives of his own -- "it is history for argument about modernity, the cause of the modern condition, and its possible cure. It is a history of lament and failure intended to propel readers toward a history of meaning and fulfillment." This particular criticism of the strategic uses of history resonated with me not so much because I agree with the historian cited (I don't know enough to agree or disagree), but because it's something I've been thinking about recently in legal scholarship.
In related news, this forthcoming book by Taylor and Jocelyn Maclure, Secularism and Freedom of Conscience (examining in specific the situation of the Quebecois, which the piece in The Nation talks about as well) looks well worth reading.