Chapter 11: Nineteenth Century Trajectories

In this chapter, Taylor zooms in on the nova effect and traces the development of new forms of unbelief in different countries. He focuses on England, America and France. Much of the ground Taylor covers in this chapter has already been laid out in broad strokes in previous chapters, and his in depth analysis of … Continue reading Chapter 11: Nineteenth Century Trajectories

Chapter 10: The Expanding Universe of Unbelief

In this chapter, Taylor wants to explore two things, first, the development of a “middle space”, a “no-man’s land” between belief and unbelief, in which both are cross pressured. Second, Taylor wants to talk about the development of deeper forms of unbelief, more firmly grounded in the social and cosmic imaginaries of our own age, … Continue reading Chapter 10: The Expanding Universe of Unbelief

Chapter 9: The Dark Abyss of Time

In this chapter, Taylor seeks to describe the emergence and the shape of the modern cosmic imaginary. By “cosmic imaginary” Taylor has in mind something analogous to what he refers to as the “social imaginary.” In the case of the “cosmic imaginary” it is that generally shared background understanding of the world and our place … Continue reading Chapter 9: The Dark Abyss of Time

Chapter 8: The Malaises of Immanence

Having described the rise of exclusive humanism and the buffered self, Taylor now moves on to a different phase of the story he is telling. In this chapter, he wants to describe the “experienced predicament” that the shift to Deism and exclusive humanism brought about. In other words, both Christianity, and the exclusive humanism that … Continue reading Chapter 8: The Malaises of Immanence

Chapter 7: The Impersonal Order

In this chapter, Taylor wants to explore the background conditions that motivated the shift to Providential Diesm. He is here, reacting against a common “subtraction story” that wants to claim that it was “Science” and “Reason” that made people reject orthodox forms of Christianity, and adopt Deism and later, materialist atheism, in its place. Taylor … Continue reading Chapter 7: The Impersonal Order

Chapter 6: Providential Deism

In this chapter Taylor is trying to give an account of how “an exclusive humanism became a life option for large numbers of people, first among the elites, and then more generally.” As we discussed in previous chapters, exclusive humanism is an account of the good life with no recourse to Transcendence. The motivation and … Continue reading Chapter 6: Providential Deism

Chapter 5: The Spectre of Idealism

In this brief chapter, Taylor wants to defend himself against a possible charge of “idealism;” that his history of the transformation of the social imaginary gives undue causal power to ideas. This is contrasted with materialist explanations, which claim that material motivations (money, power, means to life) are more dominant in history than ideal motivations. … Continue reading Chapter 5: The Spectre of Idealism

Chapter 4: Modern Social Imaginaries

This is Taylor’s most detailed and complex chapter yet and my summery will necessarily leave a lot out. I suppose this goes for all of the Chapters I have summarized so far, reading Taylor is like drinking from a firehose. In this chapter Taylor is interested in describing the modern social imaginaries, he gives an … Continue reading Chapter 4: Modern Social Imaginaries