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Multiculturalism (Expanded paperback edition) [Paperback]

Charles Taylor , Kwame Anthony Appiah , Jürgen Habermas , Stephen C. Rockefeller , Michael Walzer , Susan Wolf , Amy Gutmann
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
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Book Description

Sept. 11 1994 0691037795 978-0691037790 Expanded paperback

A new edition of the highly acclaimed bookMulticulturalism and "The Politics of Recognition,"this paperback brings together an even wider range of leading philosophers and social scientists to probe the political controversy surrounding multiculturalism. Charles Taylor's initial inquiry, which considers whether the institutions of liberal democratic government make room--or should make room--for recognizing the worth of distinctive cultural traditions, remains the centerpiece of this discussion. It is now joined by Jürgen Habermas's extensive essay on the issues of recognition and the democratic constitutional state and by K. Anthony Appiah's commentary on the tensions between personal and collective identities, such as those shaped by religion, gender, ethnicity, race, and sexuality, and on the dangerous tendency of multicultural politics to gloss over such tensions. These contributions are joined by those of other well-known thinkers, who further relate the demand for recognition to issues of multicultural education, feminism, and cultural separatism.

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Multiculturalism (Expanded paperback edition) + Multicultural Citizenship: A Liberal Theory of Minority Rights
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Review

"Original and important.... The essays by Taylor and the other contributors raise the debate to a new level, providing it with the high moral seriousness it deserves."--Lawrence Blum, Boston Review

"Multiculturalism ... is packed with depth, intelligence, and (to revive an old-fashioned word) wisdom.... It is highly relevant to pressing debates about nationalism and its identity."--Michael Saward, The Times Higher Education Supplement

"[Taylor's] comments about multiculturalism in particular demonstrate his knack for finding sensible middle ground between unreasonable extremes.... His writing here is clear, direct, and refreshingly free of philosophical jargon. He is also delightfully nonpartisan."--David McCabe, Commonweal

"Multiculturalism . . . is packed with depth, intelligence, and (to revive an old-fashioned word) wisdom. . . ."--Michael Saward, The Times Higher Education Supplement

"[Taylor's] comments about multiculturalism . . . demonstrate his knack for finding sensible middle ground between unreasonable extremes. . . . His writing here is clear, direct, and refreshingly free of philosophical jargon. He is also delightfully nonpartisan."--David McCabe, Commonweal

". . . engaging, thought-provoking, suggestive, full of insights on questions of intellectual history, philosophical and moral psychology, and current issues in political philosophy and practice."--Ethics

"Because it impinges upon so much--from campus speech to bilingual education to the causes and effects of political correctness--the current discussion on multiculturalism is essential to understanding Western academic culture as it exists today (and as it will exist in the future). This book is a valuable guide to the complexities involved."--Washington Times

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Most helpful customer reviews
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
By A Customer
Format:Paperback
One web page which I recently encountered urged the USA to adopt an official policy of multiculturalism, and thereby become the first great nation to make this postmodern leap; ahead of the U.K., and all of the other states which have considered such a move. Yet Canada and Australia have been formally self-designated as multicultural states for decades. What has been the result, and what does multiculturalism offer other pluralist states, such as the United States, in the 21st century? After all, some say that the end of the 'melting pot' would be the end of national unity in America, while others feel it would truly be the begining. In this book, neither the 'potential for utopia', nor the 'armageddon scenario' of multicultural policies will be appeased. Professor Charles Taylor examines the implications of state-enshrined multiculturalism, and then opens the floor to several of the world's leading intellectuals (including Jurgen Habbermas) to debate the topic in this 'heady' little book. The result is rather surprising. Rather than narrowing in on the details of the Canadian or Australian experiences with the policy, the book explores the entire developement of modern liberalism which lead to such policies, and devotes many pages to the argument concerning whether such policies weaken individual rights, while creating collective rights. This is not a manual for extremists, on either side of the debate, but it should aid those who seek to peer deeply beneath the surface of multicultural policies unearthing their philosophical base. The implications of such policies are widely considered, and for a wide range of groups across North America and Europe.
Was this review helpful to you?
By A Customer
Format:Paperback
If you want to read a justification for the politics
of difference, this isw your book.
Taylor stays consistent with his previous work and lays out a solid theory.
The only criticism of this book (and Taylor in general)
is that his personal political views on Quebec get in the way of his philosophical
writing and creates some tension in terms of the practical aplication of the theory.
Was this review helpful to you?
3 of 6 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Academic professionalism May 17 2000
Format:Paperback
At first sight the book seems so insightful - and it clearly stems from a sincere wish to understand other cultures and others holding different views than one's own within one's own culture. But then comes page 20. Gutmann writes that the task is to rescue us from a world of entrenched battlefields and point the way to "mutually respectful communities of substantial, sometimes even fundamental, INTELLECTUAL disagreement" (my emphasis). What such a viewpoint does is to limit the discussion to rational discourse. One can agree on a base-line of open discussion with those you may be in diasagreement with but only when the 'crazies' have been left outside, those who preach hatred, or even those who choose to opt out. This is all what Richard Rorty called 'wet liberalism'. Terribly disappointing. After Gutmann's intellectualist and ultimately elitist point of view dawns, the other essays fall within the same light.
Was this review helpful to you?
0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Multiculturalism Oct. 16 2001
By A Customer
Format:Paperback
I found this book to be well written and therefore, very easy to read. Wonderful new material. I have learned several new theories.
Was this review helpful to you?
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.5 out of 5 stars  6 reviews
22 of 22 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Remains a seminal work on the issues surrounding multiculturalism April 22 2007
By Robert Moore - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
Charles Taylor's classic essay "The Politics of Recognition" that constitutes the heart of this book along with the several excellent responses to it remains at the center of the philosophical and political discussions of multiculturalism. Taylor's main contribution to the debate was to link the debate to the concept of authenticity, arguing that an individual's sense of self requires not merely a social context but respect that affirms them. Because group identity is a crucial aspect of one's sense of self, to have one's tradition or group recognized and respected becomes crucial. Taylor therefore concludes that under certain circumstances the state may intervene with prejudice to protect a group or provide it with special benefits. He situates this very contemporary position in the context of the history of the notion of authenticity as it has developed in Western culture.

Taylor's essay comprises, along with editor Amy Gutman's introduction, around half the book. The bulk of the volume consists of a number responses that were contained in the original publication of the book as well as two subsequent essays that were added to a later addition. All of these are, to speak truthfully, absolutely first rate, though they are of varying usefulness. Most of the first edition essays merely amend Taylor's original arguments. Why I think they make important alterations to his essay, none of them reach the heart of it. To be frank, Taylor is a wonderfully engaging, persuasive writer. Even if one has troubles with many of his core ideas, nonetheless even the most disengaged reader will agree with a host of his insights. If he errs, he does not err wildly.

The final two essays do take issue with Taylor on a deeper level. The Habermas essay is not, in my view, especially helpful. He is unquestionably one of the premiere philosophers of his age, but although he has been influenced by Anglo-American philosophy to a degree that is unusual in a German philosopher, his essays seems alien to every other essay in the collection. One first has to understand Habermas and then engage in the difficult work of fitting it to the discussion as initiated by Taylor. I simply did not find it to be terribly helpful. The essay by Kwame Anthony Appiah, on the other hand, is a different matter. Appiah is the lone writer to respond to Taylor's challenge and lay bare many of the shortcomings of his argument. He has gone on to do this additionally in his exceptionally fine THE ETHICS OF IDENTITY. Most of the ideas contained in his essays in this volume show up in expanded form in that book. Essentially, Appiah wants to question Taylor's assumption that political rights attach to groups as they do to individuals. More to the point, he wants to deny that groups are the basic unit of political consideration. Taylor believes that groups can be extended rights to such a degree that lesser rights of individuals can be impinged. For instance, in French Canada children of French-speaking parents can have access to English-language schools banned so as to guarantee the continued existence of a French-speaking population to keep Quebec French-speaking. Appiah is suspicious of the limitations on individuals that such considerations place on them, of the kinds of scripts and expectations imposed upon them. Appiah can hardly be accused of parochialism. As the child of a Ghanese father and white English mother--and therefore in the algebra of our society considered black--who was raised in Ghana, educated in England, and lives in America, and who is also gay, he falls into a number of groups that could be considered collectivities deserving of special consideration. But he finds such thinking in the long run harmful to the individuals in such groups. He is acutely aware of how a culture is essential in providing the raw material for any person to be a person, but he insists in the end that the individual and not groups--that may be impossible to define clearly in addition to all else--is the fundamental political unit.
31 of 33 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A timely debate, with an emphasis on the philosophical. July 25 1999
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
One web page which I recently encountered urged the USA to adopt an official policy of multiculturalism, and thereby become the first great nation to make this postmodern leap; ahead of the U.K., and all of the other states which have considered such a move. Yet Canada and Australia have been formally self-designated as multicultural states for decades. What has been the result, and what does multiculturalism offer other pluralist states, such as the United States, in the 21st century? After all, some say that the end of the 'melting pot' would be the end of national unity in America, while others feel it would truly be the begining. In this book, neither the 'potential for utopia', nor the 'armageddon scenario' of multicultural policies will be appeased. Professor Charles Taylor examines the implications of state-enshrined multiculturalism, and then opens the floor to several of the world's leading intellectuals (including Jurgen Habbermas) to debate the topic in this 'heady' little book. The result is rather surprising. Rather than narrowing in on the details of the Canadian or Australian experiences with the policy, the book explores the entire developement of modern liberalism which lead to such policies, and devotes many pages to the argument concerning whether such policies weaken individual rights, while creating collective rights. This is not a manual for extremists, on either side of the debate, but it should aid those who seek to peer deeply beneath the surface of multicultural policies unearthing their philosophical base. The implications of such policies are widely considered, and for a wide range of groups across North America and Europe.
5.0 out of 5 stars Came very quickly May 15 2014
By cerwin2 - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
It came very quickly. It is a little beaten up for sure but it came quick. The book itself is a fairly small read, like 160 words or so but it does pack quite a good punch. The book is concise and well written. It really gets into multiculturalism in the Unites States.
5 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A sophisticated philosophical defense of multiculturalism April 22 1997
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
If you want to read a justification for the politics
of difference, this isw your book.
Taylor stays consistent with his previous work and lays out a solid theory.
The only criticism of this book (and Taylor in general)
is that his personal political views on Quebec get in the way of his philosophical
writing and creates some tension in terms of the practical aplication of the theory.
30 of 67 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Academic professionalism May 17 2000
By ann broadbent - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
At first sight the book seems so insightful - and it clearly stems from a sincere wish to understand other cultures and others holding different views than one's own within one's own culture. But then comes page 20. Gutmann writes that the task is to rescue us from a world of entrenched battlefields and point the way to "mutually respectful communities of substantial, sometimes even fundamental, INTELLECTUAL disagreement" (my emphasis). What such a viewpoint does is to limit the discussion to rational discourse. One can agree on a base-line of open discussion with those you may be in diasagreement with but only when the 'crazies' have been left outside, those who preach hatred, or even those who choose to opt out. This is all what Richard Rorty called 'wet liberalism'. Terribly disappointing. After Gutmann's intellectualist and ultimately elitist point of view dawns, the other essays fall within the same light.
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