In the paper “Aims of A New Epoch,” Charles Taylor focuses on Hegel’s revolutionary thoughts, a kind of philosophical movement that seemed necessary to the pressing needs of his time. This paper focuses on the paradigm shift around the 17th century from seeing the universe as ordered and predictable by interpretation, to that which has a causal set of contingent correlations, discoverable empirically. At the time Hegel was born (1770), German thought was and literature was at the point of entering into a revolution—a preoccupation of understanding and philosophizing about the basic problems of his time, one, which demanded to be resolved. The German revolution which was imminent was not without a model. “ The 1790s revolution had its full impact, as the shock waves from Paris spread across Europe; and its impact was all the stronger for being bi-valenced: enthusiasm followed by perplexed horror, among the young intelligentsia of Germany” (Taylor, 2001). According to Taylor, the literature of Hegel and a good number of his contemporaries explains the need to come to terms with the “painful, perturbing, conflict-ridden experience of the French Revolution.” So, Taylor presumes, as he puts it, that, “the most economical way of sketching the climate or those aspects of which will help us most in understanding Hegel, is to delineate a central problem, which insistently demanded solution of the thinkers of his time.”
If Taylor is to be understood, he believed that Hegelian philosophy evolved following his reaction to the norms and values that held sway in the German society in their generation—the pre-Romantic generation. He (Taylor) also believed that the problem concerned the nature of human subjectivity and it’s relation to the world—a problem of integrating two apparently indispensable images, which at some level had deep affinities with each other, and yet could not but appear completely compatible.
Subscribe to access this work and thousands more