Charles Taylor’s brief book, The Malaise of Modernity, published in 1991, identifies three worries that lead to a general malaise–a feeling of being lost or being in decline, feelings that are pervasive today. These worries stem from the problems associated with individualism, instrumental rationality and a decay of politics. All three are tied together. Unlike some other authors who also deal with these problems, Taylor sets out to see if there is any way that the true benefits that have developed from these three phenomena can be separated from their evils, and whether and how we can get out from under the domination of a new kind of authority stemming from technical rationality itself–the tutelary power of “soft despotism.” The ideas of Tocqueville, Kierkegaard and Nietzsche are briefly touched on because Taylor references them as indicative of elements of the malaise.
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