In this video I discuss the modern idea authenticity as developed in chapters 2 and 3 of Charles Taylor’s “The Malaise of Modernity” (CBC Massey Lecture Series, 1991). Taylor thinks that the ethic of authenticity is separable from the moral relativism, emotivism and narcissism with which it is associated by authors like Allan Bloom and Christopher Lasch, and that it holds promise as a modern moral ideal if we can do so. In these two chapters he begins to excavate why American (including Canadian, though probably less so) culture took a turn into flabby relativism and narcissism and how we might excavate the original meaning of authenticity to see if it holds true promise. To that end, he discusses its Romantic origins in the ideas of Rousseau and Herder. Along the way, I relate some of Taylor’s ideas the work of Isaiah Berlin and Leo Strauss.
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