This book provides a comprehensive critical account of the philosophy of Charles Taylor. The author engages with the secondary literature on Taylor's work and suggests that some interpretations and criticisms have been based on misunderstandings of the ontological dimension of strong evaluation, while also developing a novel interpretation of Taylor's ontological thought. Meijer argues that a close examination of Taylor’s central concept of “strong evaluation” reveals both the potential of and the tensions in his entire thinking. The analysis pursues the development of Taylor’s thought from his very first philosophical papers (1958) until his most recent reflections in Retrieving Realism (2015) and The Language Animal (2016). It also examines in detail Taylor’s ambitious philosophical project: to connect arguments in philosophical anthropology, ethics, phenomenology, and ontology across the full range of his diverse writings. The book therefore specifically traces the links between Taylor’s arguments, with strong evaluation as their unifying leitmotif.
lntroduction / 1. The Doctrine of Strong Evaluation / 2. Complicating the Doctrine of Strong Evaluation / 3. Philosophical Anthropology of Strong Evaluation / 4. Ethics of Strong Evaluation / 5. Ontology of Strong Evaluation
I am grateful to Michiel Meijer for his interesting and challenging description of the inner relations – and tensions – in my account of human agency. There is certainly a lot more to be worked out in this area. His discussion should help further define the issues involved, which are central to our understanding of what it is to be human.
Michiel Meijer does a great job of bringing out how distinctive, and yet how valuable, Charles Taylor’s contribution to contemporary debates in ethics is. Centering on Taylor’s important, multi-layered concept of strong evaluation, Meijer ranges across decades of Taylor’s writings to masterfully explicate the complications and nuances of Taylor’s thought while also engaging constructively with the large secondary literature about it.
Michiel Meijer’s book is an impressive addition to the scholarship on Taylor. By focusing on the key concept of strong evaluation, and then analysing how this concept features in Taylor’s writings in philosophical anthropology, ethics and ontology, Meijer brings a new and interesting perspective to bear on Taylor’s philosophical work as a whole.
Michiel Meijer is Doctor of Philosophy and Postdoctoral Research Fellow of the Research Foundation Flanders at the University of Antwerp.