Over at the New Statesman, Jonathan Derbyshire interviews Charles Taylor on his new book Secularism and Freedom of Conscience:
Your latest book, Secularism and Freedom of Conscience, has its origins in the 2008 commission on cultural differences in Quebec. Would it therefore be fair to describe it as a work of public philosophy?
Absolutely, because the issues discussed in the book arise out of what’s actually happening. During the brief history of the commission, there was an election, then a scare along the lines of: “Are they going to change our culture?” And so on.
That’s the context in which we delivered the report. Reasons for not having this terror are really what we had to provide.
So, for you, secularism today has to do with how we manage cultural and religious diversity?
The original model of secularism was one in which a very dominant religious group had to fight with other kinds of tendencies. That was the situation in France in the 19th century but it doesn’t at all describe modern-day Canada or the UK. The kind of secularism [advanced in the book] answers the question, “How do we live together?”