On the Religious Sources of Autonomy and Self-Expression: Charles Taylor and Marcel Gauchet
University of Antwerp, BE
Stijn Latré obtained his Ph. D. at the university of Leuven in 2008, with a dissertation on the philosophy of Charles Taylor. He is currently working on a research project in the field of theory of secularisation. The project is funded by the Flemish Fonds voor Wetenschappelijk Onderzoek (FWO). The author is also associated to the Centre Pieter Gillis of the University of Antwerp.
Self-expression is often called upon as a fundamental individual or collective right. In this article, the author explores the anthropological and historical conditions that constitute self-expression. For that purpose, he looks at two contemporary thinkers, Charles Taylor and Marcel Gauchet. The first part reflects their anthropological presuppositions. The second part focuses on the historical implementation of these presuppositions in both thinkers, thereby paying special attention to the way religion is involved in shaping the phenomenon of self-expression. It will turn out that self-expression and its underlying notion of autonomy are not won against forms of religious paternalism, but are rather the result of transformations established by (Christian) religion itself. As to the contemporary role of self-expression, Stijn Latré concludes by pointing out the fundamental divergence between Taylor and Gauchet.