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Charles Taylor and the Religious ImaginaryKuipers, Ronald A.; Centre for Philosophy, Religion and Social Ethics, Institute for Christian Studies (Institute for Christian Studies, 2015)The notion of a "social imaginary"—the way people come to understand their social surroundings by way of images, stories, and legends—plays a key role in Charles Taylor's thought, including his magnum opus, A Secular Age. In this intellectual tour de force, Taylor attempts to trace the historical development of Western secularism as we experience it today. In doing so, he challenges the "subtraction story" which he sees animating the social imaginary of today's typical secularist. According to this story, the emergence of secularism in the West follows a linear trajectory, along which humanity slowly sheds the irrational accretions of myth, religion, and the sacred, in order to uncover a rational core of free thought and autonomous science, which may now flourish without the constraints of heteronomous religious authority. In challenging this story, Taylor offers an intriguing new understanding of Western secularism, as well as tantalizing suggestions concerning the continued social relevance a religious imaginary might have in "a secular age." This seminar will be devoted to an in-depth study of this major work, which in its relatively brief life has already become a landmark text in both the philosophy of religion as well as secularization theory. Through this study, seminar participants will also consider what role Taylor's Roman Catholic religious commitment plays in his thought, as well as the role a religiously-informed "social imaginary" might play in a pluralized global society that is deeply impacted by, but also largely at odds with, the particular social imaginary of Western modernity.