Charles Taylor’s Critique of Naturalism

In Prospect (UK), a profile of Charles Taylor:Portrait_rogers

Charles Taylor’s new book A Secular Age is well timed. Begun long ago, it is now published in the middle of intense public discussion about religion. But though the book reads like an argument with Christopher Hitchens and Richard Dawkins, it won’t be joining theirs at the front of the bookshops.

That is a pity, as Taylor is arguably the most interesting and important philosopher writing in English today. It is also in some respects surprising. For Taylor has most of the attributes that the public look for in a philosopher. His work addresses the big issues. He is politically engaged—indeed, he is a leading public figure in his Canadian homeland. He writes appreciatively about thinkers—including Hegel, the French existentialists and Heidegger—whom most anglophone philosophers view as suspect, but whom many students and non-philosophers find attractive. He addresses himself not just to academics but to educated readers. Tall and handsome, he is a confident and charming public speaker. It has to be said, however, that at 850 pages, A Secular Age is not the Taylor book one would recommend to a novice.

What makes Taylor so important?