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date: 13 June 2021

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter reviews Charles Taylor’s Sources of the Self. The book displays Taylor’s mastery not only of the history of philosophy, but of theology, poetry, and art. He also shares Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel’s commitment to synthesizing competing and conflicting elements of the culture. Unlike Hegel, however, Taylor does not see philosophy as the highest and truest expression of the human mind or spirit; rather he sees the artists—the poets most especially—as the ones who “can put us in contact with” what we as living and thinking humans need to be in contact with. This chapter examines Taylor’s arguments as articulated in Sources of the Self, especially his view that human beings are self-interpreting and self-misinterpreting animals and that self-interpretation has ontological significance. It also considers what Taylor identifies as a “phenomenology” of human action, his theory of morality and identity, and his concept of the “punctual self.”

Keywords: Sources of the Self, Charles Taylor, philosophy, art, Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel, self-interpreting animals, self-interpretation, human action, morality, punctual self

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