Professor Charles Taylor On the Templeton Prize (2007) & Gifford Lectures (1998-99 and 2009)

British Academy, 2012

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In the following interview for the Templeton Prize Laureate series, Professor Charles Taylor speaks about his work in Secular Age and its thesis that there isn’t just one modernity but multiple ones emerging from different cultures and different forms. Trying to understand why modernities can emerge so differently across the world, Professor Taylor argues that we need to turn to what has been called the “Axial Age” — an expression introduced by Karl Jaspers referring to the beginning of a period in which radical changes occurred across civilizations more than two millennia ago that saw the emergence of revolutionary thinking in figures like the Buddha in India, Confucius in China, and Plato in Greece, in ways that were similar but also importantly different. The argument is that trying to understand the differences and the similarities between modernities requires an understanding of this Axial Age. Much of Professor Taylor’s work has been in exploring the modern narrative in the context of the Axial changes that have affected the Greek and Hebrew traditions.

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