Charles Taylor first became known to many through his important essays challenging the regime of behavioralism in the human sciences. For those like myself who were clinging to the hope that there would be room for scholars who were not committed to a positivist epistemology and to the behavioralist outcropping in departments of Political Science, Taylor was a lifeline. He helped many whose training was not in philosophy proper but in its political theory variant to appreciate the distinctive quality of the Geisteswissenschaften and to fight back when we were told that the only way to do things was to abandon the ground of meaning and values; to embrace a narrow science of verification; to ignore ontological or anthropological questions altogether; and to hold epistemological debates at arm's length. Taylor's resounding claim, backed up with richly elaborate and elegant argument, was that the human sciences cannot be wertfrei because “they are moral sciences” whose subject matter is that “self-interpreting animal,” the human person. Taylor's monumental Sources of the Self added much needed richness and nuance to the question of identity, displaying in full his historic acumen and knowledge. This volume signaled Taylor's move toward that phase of his career associated with “the politics of recognition,” very much linked to questions of identity and current, often heated, debates about multiculturalism.
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