What is required instead is to ask whyrnmoderns so often choose poorly and howrnthey might choose otherwise.rnThe purpose of this book is to callrnmoderns back (or forward?) to what wernmight call an “authentic authenticity.”rnTaylor proceeds by asking, “What arernthe conditions in human life of realizingrn[such] an ideal?” I low is it that one isrnreally true to himself? hi answering thisrnquestion, he focuses on the “dialogical”rnnature of human self-development. Taylorrnargues that we acquire our distinctivernhumanity only through language, forrnwithout language—the logos—we arernmere animals. Language in turn is acquiredrnthrough others. It is a moral fact,rnwhich wc must respect, that there can bernno human self without encounters withrnother selves. Man’s nature is radically social.rnFrom such a perspective, we can beginrnto see why a “monologieal” notion ofrnthe self understood only as “disengagedrnrationality” is in error. Yet this monological,rnor Cartesian, view is most likelyrnresponsible for the widespread moralrnsubjectivism we encounter today.rnElaborating on the implications of therndialogical self in a chapter titled “InescapablernHorizons,” Taylor argues thatrnany attempt to free the self from its dependencernon conventional values (as thernundergraduate slogan puts it, “all valuesrnare socially constructed”) is ultimatelyrnself-defeating. If we deny the existencernof moral “horizons,” nothing can be inrnthe “foreground,” nothing can havernmoral importance or be a moral ideal.rnThe attempt to escape a shared moralrnworld by purely subjective choice thereforerndoes not simply open up space forrnthe idiosyncratic values which wern(mis)takc to be authentic for us, butrnrather trivializes all values into equal insignificance,rndefeating any moral purpose.rnTaylor writes.rnSelf-choice as an ideal makesrnsense only because some issues arernmore significant than others. . . .rnWhich issues are significant I dornnot determine. If I did, no issuernwould be significant. But thenrnthe very ideal of self-choosing as arnmoral ideal would be impossiblern. . . . Authenticity is not thernenemy of demands that emanaternbeyond the self; it supposes suchrndemands.rnContrarv to the conventional wisdom,rnchoice cannot be what “confers worth.”rnThe only place we can find our authenticrnselves is in our communities.rnTaylor is perhaps most disappointingrnin his political prescriptions. At the endrnof the book he addresses the danger ofrnTocqueville’s soft despotism, which herninterprets primarily as social fragmentationrnbrought about by a politics structuredrnaround, first, the adjudication ofrnrights, and, second, pressures exerted byrnspecial interests. I’aylor believes thatrn”there is a great deal of truth” in the descriptionrnof the twin powers of bureaucracyrnand the market as an “iron cage”rnthat traps us helplessly in comfortablernservility and disunity. But he ultimatelyrnrejects this implicitly revolutionaryrnmetaphor to encourage instead an organizedrnresistance to or struggle against softrndespotism.rnIn order to resist the iron cage, thern”galloping hegemony of instrumentalrnreason,” Taylor suggests the need forrn”democratic will formation”—for empowermentrnby means of an experiencernof popular efficacy in a common moralrnproject for a common good. His modelrnis the environmental movement, wherernat least some people have come to feel arncollective responsibility. But the languagernof democratic will is not the languagernof moral obligation, and it is oddrnto see Taylor effectively repair to Rousseaurnwhen he seeks a model of authenticrnpolitical life. I le seems on surer groundrnwhen he emphasizes alternatively thernpossibilities of a decentralized federalismrn(states’ rights?), which seems to derivernfrom the Catholic principle of subsidiarity.rnBut here the unanswered question isrnhow one defends such an arrangementrnagainst the imperatives of efficiency andrnGhostsrnby George GarrettrnComing unannouncedrnindeed honestly uninvitedrnin dreams of coursernbut also in a stabrnand shock like the stingrnof irrepressible memoryrnmy own dead and woundedrnrise up from dark placesrnto strike me deaf and dumbrnas any stone O fathersrnand mothers moving amid twilightrnstay now and be stillrnas you always were and arernin fading photographsrnpray be smiling and kindly waitrnbe easy on us living and scarredrnkinfolk who come to love and griefrntoo little and too late.rn34/CHRONICLESrnrnrn