The newest episode of the Democracy in Question podcast, hosted by Central European University (CEU) President and Rector, Shalini Randeria, features Charles Taylor, one of the most preeminent contemporary philosophers of our times. He's Professor Emeritus of Philosophy at McGill University in Montreal where he spent a large part of his illustrious teaching career. He was Fellow of All Souls College and Professor of Social and Political Theory at Oxford University, where I had the privilege of being his student. His remarkable and vast oeuvre includes landmark monographs on Hegel, on social theory, religion, language, and multiculturalism. Among his books, let me just mention three, "Sources of the Self: The Making of Modern Identity, "Multiculturalism and the Politics of Recognition," and "Secular Age."
All three have decisively shaped contemporary debates in their respective fields. His latest book, co-authored with Craig Calhoun and Dilip Gaonkar, makes a timely intervention in current political and philosophical engagements with the crises of democracy. Following up on the previous episode of the podcast which featured Craig Calhoun, I will ask Charles Taylor today to elaborate on some of the key arguments they have developed in their book, "Degenerations of Democracy.
In this episode "Charles Taylor on Degenerations and Regenerations of Democracy" published November 23, Shalini and her guest discuss why democracy is prone to degeneration, and how this affects our conventional notions of democracy itself. Do we usually depend too much on a thin formal institutional conception of democracy focused on electoral routines, and thus, neglect broader questions of class, culture, equality, and solidarity? How can we reimagine and also regenerate progressive democracy with the right balance of freedom, equality, and solidarity on the local, national, as well as supranational levels? And how can we overcome the pervasive sense of powerlessness in the face of abstract impersonal forces, forces that Charles Taylor refers to not only as opaque, but also as those signaling the loss of citizen efficacy?