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The list of books available on PEP Web is sorted alphabetically, with the exception of Freud’s Collected Works, Glossaries, and Dictionaries. You can find this list in the Books Section.

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Kennedy, R. (1992). Charles Taylor, Sources of the Self: The Making of the Modern Identity, Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1989, 601 pages, pb. Free Associations, 3(2):297-305.

(1992). Free Associations, 3(2):297-305

Charles Taylor, Sources of the Self: The Making of the Modern Identity, Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1989, 601 pages, pb

Review by:
Roger Kennedy

This is an interesting and important work, whose aim is to try to write a history of the modern notion of identity, in order to serve as a starting point for a renewed understanding of modernity. I hope that the book will be of interest to those concerned with psychoanalysis, as it deals with philosophical issues of great importance to psychoanalysis, but which practitioners unfortunately often feel unable or unwilling to tackle. Taylor believes that in order to grasp the richness and complexity of the modern identity it is necessary to see how our modern sense of self has developed in time. He focuses on three main areas — first of all, what has led to our notion of ‘inwardness’, our sense of ourselves as beings with inner depths; second, the affirmation of ‘ordinary life’, concerned with production and reproduction (that is, labour involving the making of things needed for life) and with our sexual life, including marriage and the family; and third, the notion of nature as an inner moral source, which then leads to the notion of an inner voice or impulse through which we can find the truth within us, particularly in our feelings and our sense of solidarity with other people. The term identity, for him, is defined by the commitments and identifications which provide the framework or horizon within which I can try to determine from case to case what is good, or valuable, or what ought to be done, or what I endorse or oppose.

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