Politics of Recognition: The Guideline for Modern Humanism

By Tony Svetelj.

Published by The International Journal of Civic, Political, and Community Studies

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Article: Electronic $US5.00

Within the context of multicultural and multi-religious society and the process of globalization, a traditional understanding of humanism offers insufficient frameworks for an adequate comprehension of human flourishing, human search for meaning, and original expressions of human agency in modernity. This paper will present some guidelines for a more globalizing and differences-inclusive humanism, based on Charles Taylor's reflection on multiculturalism. Taylor in his ‘politics of recognition’ claims that all human cultures that have animated whole societies and our globalizing world have something important to say. For this reason, every society, culture, its intrinsic values, and the dignity of individuals, call for recognition; their recognition should lead us toward a new multicultural civilization and humanism. Modern humanism is different from the 16th century humanism with its re-discovery or interests in the ancient times and knowledge; modern humanism faces the challenge of integration of the present, i.e. ‘living’ cultural and religious differences, the unknown, into a new non-threatening harmony. This recognition is not a gift, but a fragile achievement that constantly needs to be shored up and defended. Modern humanism does not require us to make peremptory and inauthentic judgments of values, but invites us to be open to a comparative cultural study. Even though the importance of recognition seems to be universally acknowledged, recognition might fail, and the withholding of recognition can become a form of oppression. The basis of modern humanism cannot be an act of good will. Every culture has a certain sense of the good, the holy, and the admirable: that ‘something’ which deserves our admiration and respect, and which offers us solid grounds for a more complex comprehension of modern humanism. Its creation requires from us a substantive commitment, which is much more than a procedural commitment. Liberalism or those liberal societies that claim to provide us with means to deal fairly and equally with each other, regardless of how we conceive our ends of life, are insufficient.

Keywords: Charles Taylor, Universal Humanism, Globalization, Recognition, Authenticity, the Human Agent

The International Journal of Civic, Political, and Community Studies, Volume 10, Issue 4, 2012, pp.45-53. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 134.854KB).

Tony Svetelj

Lecturer, Philosophy Department, Boston College, Boston, MA, USA

Tony Svetelj is a lecturer at Boston College, Hellenic College, and Merrimack College, teaching philosophy. His main interests include secularization, multiculturalism, Charles Taylor, political philosophy, ethics.