A Secular Age

  • by Charles Taylor
  • Narrated by Dennis Holland
  • 43 hrs and 14 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

What does it mean to say that we live in a secular age? Almost everyone would agree that we - in the West, at least - largely do. And clearly the place of religion in our societies has changed profoundly in the last few centuries. In what will be a defining book for our time, Charles Taylor takes up the question of what these changes mean - of what, precisely, happens when a society in which it is virtually impossible not to believe in God becomes one in which faith, even for the staunchest believer, is only one human possibility among others.
Taylor, long one of our most insightful thinkers on such questions, offers a historical perspective. He examines the development in "Western Christendom" of those aspects of modernity which we call secular. What he describes is in fact not a single, continuous transformation, but a series of new departures, in which earlier forms of religious life have been dissolved or destabilized and new ones have been created.
As we see here, today's secular world is characterized not by an absence of religion - although in some societies religious belief and practice have markedly declined - but rather by the continuing multiplication of new options, religious, spiritual, and anti-religious, which individuals and groups seize on in order to make sense of their lives and give shape to their spiritual aspirations.
What this means for the world - including the new forms of collective religious life it encourages, with their tendency to a mass mobilization that breeds violence - is what Charles Taylor grapples with, in a book as timely as it is timeless.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

Needs Guest Narrators for French and German

It's great to have such a serious academic title available on audio, but the publisher, Audible Studios, need to seriously reconsider using English language narrators for the many long passages in French or German. Audible Studios produces French and German audiobooks for their foreign .fr and .de sites, so this is hardly beyond their resources or competence. Holland makes so many errors with his French, and his German is simply growling, guttural English (not remotely like anything that sounds like German and utterly unintelligible), that the foreign language passages, which frequently come in the space of every couple minutes, make the book an unnecessarily painful experience for the many multilingual listeners who are likely to be among its audience. Passages shouldn't be unintelligible just because they're in a foreign language, especially for listeners fluent in those languages.

Prospective listeners not fluent in French or German needn't be put off from the book in that all such passages are translated after the initial (horrific) reading.

I still give the book 4 stars overall, as any audio production of a 900-page tome from Harvard Press is a considerable service. Holland well captures Taylor's meditative yet embattled tone, though the book lacks structure and I think promises more than it delivers in terms of its thesis.
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- Norman

The Path to Exclusive Humanism

One can see the development of the western societies as a road to progressive secularization, a way that leads to a social organization in with religious beliefs are no more necessary to explain the human life. This narrative, Charles Taylor convincingly argues, is questionable and has alternatives. The development of science and the reinvention of the individual aren't incompatible with the desire of transcendency. Modern societies show the revival of religious beliefs - the author refers the examples of the United States and Latin American countries - and entertain ideas and institutions based in a conception of the human that is not exclusively naturalistic. This is a most read book by whom wants to understand postmodern human society.
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- Marcus

Book Details

  • Release Date: 08-25-2014
  • Publisher: Audible Studios