These notes are for students in Dr. Scott Moore's PHI 1305.

Charles Taylor, The Ethics of Authenticity

Important Terms and Concepts--Chapter 7: La Lotta Continua



La Lotta Continua -- "the struggle goes on"

a work of retrieval -- Taylor's suggested proposal for identifying and articulating the higher ideal of authenticity which exists behind the more or less debased practices.

a work of persuasion -- for Taylor, a work of retrieval includes a work of persuasion. Instead of fighting over authenticity--for or against it--Taylor believes that we should be fighting about it. We should be trying to convince others and asking questions like, "what does authenticity mean?" and "how is it achieved?" This is the "struggle" Taylor has in mind.

ad hominem -- the logical fallacy of arguing "against the man" rather than against the issue. Taylor makes the point that even those he has described as "Modernity's knockers" feel the force of the ideal of authenticity. Taylor admits that this argument "is not an argument for the worth of the ideal. But it ought to induce some humility in its opponents."

an age of responsibilization -- Taylor's term for the dawning of increasingly realized forms of individualism and freedom which produces a culture in which people are more and more self-responsibile. Having reached this "age of responsibilization," we can never return to an age "before this self-centered modes cold tempt and solicit people."

cultural pessimism -- the notion that societal trends and realities are so bad that there is just no reasonable hope for cultural progress. Adherents of this perspective (like Daniel Bell or Allan Bloom) sometimes compare Western society with that of the Roman Empire in its declining years. Taylor rejects cultural pessimism.

cultural optimism -- the notion that societal trends and realities actually show that things are getting better and better. Taylor also wants to reject this view. Taylor thinks that we should "break with our temptation to discern irreversible trends."


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