VIDEO: Are You an Optimist?

Charles Taylor on Hope as a Matter of Faith and Morality

It’s harder to be an optimist when times are uncertain than when they are relatively sunny. Canadian philosopher Charles Taylor, professor emeritus at McGill University, explains the sources of his optimism.

Since the 1960s Taylor has written about the humanities, sociology, political science, and the history of philosophy. Through his writing (16 books plus contributions to many others), teaching, and collaborations, Taylor has plumbed the mysteries of how we understand ourselves as well as how we may come to understand others who hold markedly different beliefs and values. In addition to his academic work, he has been involved in politics in Canada and has worked (via public dialogue) on the tricky issues of multiculturalism and cultural identity.

Taylor himself has also given his readers reason to be optimistic, as in this essay by James K.A. Smith about why his millennial students at a small Christian college love reading Taylor’s A Secular Age. “So this big philosophical tome ends up doing what David Foster Wallace used to say a good novel is supposed to do: give us a sense that we aren’t alone.”


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