Thursday, February 26, 2009

Charles Taylor - A Review (+ A Comment on Richard Rorty)

I (like you?) read a lot of books at one time. I'm still slowly reading through Charles Taylor's brilliant A Secular Age. There's an entire universe of ideas in this book - what a read! I am now thinking that if I were stranded on a deserted island and could take only a few books with me, Taylor's would be one.

Here's a nice review from an agnostic on Taylor's book.

Note the comment on Richard Rorty. "I’m not prepared to argue, as Richard Rorty does, that there is no transcendent basis for my commitment to human rights and that it is a purely contingent historical formation. Rorty is mighty sure of himself. I just don’t know. So there is what appears to be a permanent gap in my belief system. If I were a religious person, I guess I’d be entitled to call it a Mystery. This gap doesn’t trouble me. All belief systems have Mysteries."

Personally, were I an atheist, I'd have to side with Rorty. I fail to see how his statement could be false. If there's no God then it seems to analytically follow that "there is no transcendent basis for my commitment to human rights." That leaves: "a purely contingent historical formation.