Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Charles Taylor - Future of the Secular

For those who have time, listening to Charles Taylor speak on "The Future of the Secular - the U. S. Case" is enlightening. Whether or not you agree with all of his points, one senses a mind that can grasp our secularist times far better, far more deeply than the ostensible movers and shakers. Here.


Mike O'Malley said...

Yes, Charles Taylor seems deeper than most Secularists. Some things he says during the lecture are attractive and reasonable, but on first hearing I'm left with the impression that he is ultimately incoherent. Taylor’s views seem without a stated anchor other than tolerance and it seems to me that Taylor’s “democracy” would not be sustainable. On first hearing I came away with the impression that Christopher Lasch had more profound insight.

Two younger women on the left side of the stage brought much to the table (in question segments 3 and 4). But Taylor's response to the questions about abortion, beginning with that of an elderly gentlemen on the right side of the stage, in a way tipped Taylor’s hand. And it seems to me that we find that Taylor has stacked the deck in the favor of his own positions. Taylor and his interlocutors presume that the Pro-Life position is solely religious. It is not. Classical Liberal agnostics such as liberal Nat Hentoff on occasion are Pro-Life. But also because Taylor and his interlocutors dismiss the Pro-Life position as anti-democratic and fanatical. What seems telling is the example given of the religious believer who believes that abortion is "murder", wants to “take over” the government, and prohibit abortion. Let’s leave aside the question of how: engaging in democratic discourse, successfully persuading one’s fellow citizens to the end of enacting legislation, is an anti-democratic “take over” of the government. One seems compelled to conclude the Charles Taylor believes that one can not and should not outlaw “murder” of the unborn in a democratic society. Instead one should be free to decline an abortion for one’s self but that other persons should not be restrained from having an abortion, not withstanding Pro-Life activist’s determination and indeed the presumed majority’s determination that abortion is murder.

Let’s alter the given facts just a tad. Can one doubt that Charles Taylor would not argue that an activist could not similar persuade a democratic majority that killing an infant, a women, a “defective” or a racial minority, or a convicted murderer, is murder and then duly outlaw the practice? If not would not Taylor be arguing that a democratic majority could not outlaw murder if the “executioner” was persuaded that such an “killing” was a personal act of conscience? So it seems that Charles Taylor has “stacked the deck” in favor of his view about abortion.

Mike O'Malley said...

During the lecture Charles Taylor proposed India as an alternative democratic model to that of France and America. India’s example seems far more problematic than Mr. Taylor would seem to admit. In fact, democratic tolerance in the India foundered upon the very problem for which he cites it as an alternative to his examples from France and Germany. A sufficient number of Muslims in India refused to live under Hindi majority governance. The resulting partition of India and ensuing ethnic cleansing and mass murder was the direct result of an organized campaign by the Muslim League to institutionalize Islamic dominance in India. Since then democratic “tolerance” in secular India has not been without problems under both secularist Congress Party and Hindu Nationalist governance. Nonetheless the Republic of India has emerged as a democratic success, yet it is a success which continues to be existentially threatened by Islamofascism as the 2008 Mumbai terror attack demonstrates. Secularist Israel suffers similar problems. These are the very emerging multicultural problems with which French and German Secularism seem unable to grapple as so it seems is Charles Taylor.