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Taylor, Charles (1931–)

DOI: 10.4324/9780415249126-DD089-2
Version: v2,  Published online: 2018
Retrieved July 16, 2024, from

Article Summary

Among the most influential of twentieth-century philosophers, Taylor writes on human agency, identity and the self; language; epistemology; interpretation and explanation in social science; ethics; multiculturalism, and democratic politics. Most recently his attention has turned to the place of religion in modernity.

Taylor did an undergraduate degree in History at McGill University in his native Montreal, Canada and then a second bachelor’s degree in Politics, Philosophy and Economics at Balliol College, Oxford. He remained at Oxford for a PhD in Philosophy. Most of Taylor’s academic career was spent at McGill University in Canada or at Oxford, where he held the Chichele Professorship of Social and Political Theory. In tandem with his successful academic career, Taylor has been a public intellectual and politically active in Canada. He was a member of the New Democratic Party and ran a number of times as one of its candidates for federal parliament. He served on the Quebec Government’s French Language Council and from 2007-2008 co-chaired a public inquiry into the future of cultural and religious differences in that province.

Taylor’s work is shaped by the view that adequate understanding of philosophical arguments requires an appreciation of their origins, changing contexts and transformed meanings. Thus it often takes the form of historical reconstructions that seek to identify the paths by which particular theories and languages of understanding or evaluation have been developed. This reflects both Taylor’s sustained engagement with Hegel’s philosophy and his resistance to epistemological dichotomies such as ‘truth’ and ‘falsehood’ in favour of a notion of ‘epistemic gain’ influenced by H.G. Gadamer

Citing this article:
Calhoun, Craig and Ruth Abbey. Taylor, Charles (1931–), 2018, doi:10.4324/9780415249126-DD089-2. Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Taylor and Francis,
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