Perhaps the closest predecessor for Taylor’s arguments is Max Weber, though Taylor’s differences with Weber are still major. Like Weber, Taylor argues that the Reformation attempted to obliterate the difference between the religious (in the sense of monastic) life and daily life by giving the latter a profound religious meaning in the doctrine of the calling—an effort that, to the extent that it succeeded, ended up undermining the very tension that the Reformation itself generated. But he diverges from Weber in maintaining that the success of the drive toward Reformation, mirrored to more than a small degree by the Counter-Reformation initiative, gave rise to new problems. On the one hand, the very success of these efforts seemed to imply that their religious underpinnings were no longer necessary—that secular “progress” could take over from religious impulses. Yet, as the book’s Part III shows, the new secularity produced its own problems, sometimes but not necessarily leading to a retrieval of religious belief. What we have now is a situation in which neither belief nor unbelief can be taken for granted and where ever more numerous examples of both continue to appear on the scene.
more from Robert Bellah on Charles Taylor in the first essay published at The Immanent Frame 5 years ago here.