VIDEO: Why Should Philosophers Go Into Politics?

How Charles Taylor's Foray Into Public Life Provoked Conversations That Fueled the Life of the Mind

Philosopher Charles Taylor has had a life in politics as well as academia. During the 1950s, when he was studying philosophy at Oxford, he wrote and edited Universities and Left Review, which later became New Left Review, a political and intellectual journal. When he returned to Canada in the early 1960s, while teaching political science, he ran for Parliament unsuccessfully three times, including against future Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau. But he stayed involved in political conversation, and in 2007 co-chaired Quebec’s Consultation Commission on Accommodation Practices Related to Cultural Differences. In that capacity, he studied and made recommendations on cultural integration, collective identity, church-state relations, and how to handle cultural and religious harmonization requests.

Taylor taught Canadians to talk to each other via theory and example, explains Taylor’s long-time colleague, political scientist James Tully, in this essay. In doing so, he also helped the nation move toward embracing a kind of deep multiculturalism.


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