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Review: NATURALIZING CHRISTIAN ETHICS: A Critique of Charles Taylor's "A Secular Age"

Reviewed Work: A Secular Age by Charles Taylor
Review by: William David Hart
The Journal of Religious Ethics
Vol. 40, No. 1 (March 2012), pp. 149-170
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/41348825
Page Count: 22
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NATURALIZING CHRISTIAN ETHICS: A Critique of Charles Taylor's
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Abstract

This essay critically engages the concept of transcendence in Charles Taylor's A Secular Age. I explore his definition of transcendence, its role in holding a modernity-inspired nihilism at bay, and how it is crucial to the Christian antihumanist argument that he makes. In the process, I show how the critical power of this analysis depends heavily and paradoxically on the Nietzschean antihumanism that he otherwise rejects. Through an account of what I describe as naturalistic Christianity, I argue that transcendence need not be construed as supernatural, that all of the resources necessary for a meaningful life are immanent in the natural process, which includes the semiotic capacities of Homo sapiens. Finally, I triangulate Taylor's supernatural account of transcendence, naturalistic Christianity, and Dreyfus and Kelly's physis-based account of "going beyond" our normal normality in All Things Shining: Reading the Western Classics for Meaning in a Secular Age.

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