NATURALIZING CHRISTIAN ETHICS: A Critique of Charles Taylor's A Secular Age
Article first published online: 17 JAN 2012
© 2012 Journal of Religious Ethics, Inc.
Journal of Religious Ethics
Volume 40, Issue 1, pages 149–170, March 2012
How to Cite
Hart, W. D. (2012), NATURALIZING CHRISTIAN ETHICS: A Critique of Charles Taylor's A Secular Age. Journal of Religious Ethics, 40: 149–170. doi: 10.1111/j.1467-9795.2011.00513.x
- Issue published online: 17 JAN 2012
- Article first published online: 17 JAN 2012
This essay critically engages the concept of transcendence in Charles Taylor's A Secular Age. I explore his definition of transcendence, its role in holding a modernity-inspired nihilism at bay, and how it is crucial to the Christian antihumanist argument that he makes. In the process, I show how the critical power of this analysis depends heavily and paradoxically on the Nietzschean antihumanism that he otherwise rejects. Through an account of what I describe as naturalistic Christianity, I argue that transcendence need not be construed as supernatural, that all of the resources necessary for a meaningful life are immanent in the natural process, which includes the semiotic capacities of Homo sapiens. Finally, I triangulate Taylor's supernatural account of transcendence, naturalistic Christianity, and Dreyfus and Kelly's physis-based account of “going beyond” our normal normality in All Things Shining: Reading the Western Classics for Meaning in a Secular Age.