It might seem that the Taylor who writes about the modern personality (Sources of the Self, The Ethics of Authenticity) and the Taylor who writes about the modern state (parts of A Secular Age and Multiculturalism and “The Politics of Recognition”) are working on two different projects. I don’t think that is so. Although I could not find a place where Taylor connects the two urges, it seems to me that “authenticity,” a word he uses only for the personal project, is actually the word he wants for the political project too.
Philosophers like Rousseau tend to see political community as the natural enemy of personal authenticity; the state is what represses our true selves. (I have to thank my friend Matthew Simpson, the philosopher and Rousseau scholar, for clarifying this point.) But as I read Taylor, he seems to say that just as any given woman in Quebec wants to be true to herself, the Québécois want to be true to their culture. It is the same problem on two different levels. It is the Romantic urge personally and politically, and in both cases it seems to appear, historically speaking, just on either side of the year 1800. The political urge makes no sense without the personal one. Taylor recognizes this equivalence implicitly, and his work argues for it, but he never quite formulates the extent to which, for him, the personal is political.
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