“Few contemporary thinkers can match the diversity, quantity, and quality of work produced by Charles Taylor. . . . [A] concise and rewarding book.” — Mark Redhead , Perspectives on Politics
“I can’t remember a philosopher I’ve enjoyed as much since my Rorty marathon earlier this year.” — Extended Phenotype Blog
“Modern Social Imaginaries is subtle, complex, and thought-provoking. It is a valuable contribution to the literature on a wide range of concerns within political philosophy and beyond.” — Sarah Marshall, Contemporary Political Theory
“Perhaps the most attractive feature of his new book is that it continues Taylor’s pragmatist explanation of why facets of American culture cannot be as stark and clear-cut as demagogues and cultural conservatives insist they should be. Readers who know Taylor’s work will be interested in what this new work reveals about how Taylor balances or reconciles his Catholic faith with the outlook provided by pragmatism.” — John Rothfork , Rocky Mountain Review
"[T]his book reaffirms Charles Taylor’s status as Canada’s version of Richard Rorty. This is not only because he is a public intellectual with a gift for being able to discuss matters as diverse as multiculturalism, Aristotle and God, but because he mines the Nietzschean strains of European political thought — here represented in the image of society as a single horizontal plane, and a long excurses on secular time — and argues for their basic affinities with the principles of North American liberalism and pragmatism".
— Stephen Crocker , Canadian Journal of Sociology
"As always with Taylor, the writing is marked by erudition, elegance, and generosity of spirit. The book, while hardly mentioning Islam or other traditions, may be seen as a quietly understated thesis congruent with Samuel Huntington's more pointed reflections on 'the clash of civilizations.'" — First Things
"By casting new light on Western modernity, Taylor reveals it to be one conception among many and not the center from which all other modernities are defined. With his characteristic clear prose and clear thinking, Taylor presents a compelling view of the modern social imaginary."
— Seminary Co-op
"Charles Taylor's new book continues his project of erudite investigations into the origins of the modern sense of self. . . . The author's breadth of learning and humanistic disposition constitute a rare fusion of qualities in the current climate of intellectual warfare. . . ." — Mark Heffernan , Montreal Book Review
"Few have been brave enough to confront the issue of Western modernity at such a general level as Taylor, or if they have, few have managed to be so succinct and explicit about it. I believe this book provides a valuable conceptual clarification of what is distinctive about Western modernity; at the very least, it will spark some valuable reflection on this much discussed yet much misunderstood topic." — David Thunder , Review of Politics
"In this brief book for the general reader, Taylor shows that modern liberal societies in fact depend on the communal imagination. Since religion has little public role in these societies, Modern Social Imaginaries shows how secularity provides a system of meaning for modern man." — Ray Conlogue, Literary Review of Canada
"Taylor's Modern Social Imaginaries is rich in ideas and histories . . . . This book is worth reading for those concerned with ethics, politics, and modernity and rises to the top of Taylor's more recent work." — Jeffery L. Nicholas , Review of Metaphysics
"Taylor's prose is wonderfully clear and direct. It leaps across centuries of change and controversy with considerable grace. And it avoids the portentous huffing and puffing about imminent collapse that so often mars philosophical analysis of modernity and its prospects. Reading the book is like engaging in a conversation with a wonderfully intelligent and articulate friend, if one is lucky enough to have such a friend. It breathes a kind of serene confidence that one can approach even the broadest questions about what makes us tick in the calmest and most reasonable manner." — Bernard Yack , Ethics
"The purpose of this short, pleasingly crunchy essay is to see how our modern social imaginary developed, via such changes as the taming of the nobility; the promotion of economic order; the Great Disembedding (the disappearance of the sense of belonging granted by early religious societies); and a new vision of moral and political order that does not depend on transcendent foundations. There is still room for God, however, Taylor thinks. Which is nice." — Steven Poole , The Guardian
"The richness of Taylor's historical recounting of modernity does an enviable job of the first task, and though there is scarcely enough room for the second task, he takes care to be 'off on the right foot' with it. This seems a welcome change from the naturalizing tendency in philosophy of the last several decades, and perhaps marks the beginning of a trend from which most disciplines of the Western intellectual world could profit. In Twilight of the Idols, Nietzsche complained of philosophers' 'lack of historical sense': at least in Charles Taylor's case, he must withdraw the charge."
— George Williamson , Metapsychology Online Reviews
“Charles Taylor presents a fundamental challenge to neoliberal apologists for the new world order—but not only to them. Anyone who wishes, as I do, to defend transcultural political ideals, notions of development, or the like, will have to face his formidable array of hermeneutically inspired reflections on Western modernity’s defining cultural formations. His particular take on the ‘social imaginary’ makes the strongest case there is for the idea of ‘multiple modernities.’” — Thomas McCarthy, Northwestern University