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Melancholic FreedomAgency and the Spirit of Politics$
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David Kyuman Kim

Print publication date: 2007

Print ISBN-13: 9780195319828

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2007

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195319828.001.0001

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 Through a Self Darkly

 Through a Self Darkly

Projects of Regenerating Agency

(p.55) 3 Through a Self Darkly
Melancholic Freedom

David Kyuman Kim (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

This chapter focuses on so-called projects of regenerating agency in late modernity and postmodernity. It begins by recapping Taylor's diagnosis of the problem of agency in modernity: a diagnosis that turns out to be a revised version of the secularization thesis. It then moves to Taylor's suggested therapy for the problem of agency, namely, his invocation of the aesthetic and poetic as epiphanic, that is, as a revelation of held moral orientations, ideals, values, and ends. Taylor's treatment of the epiphanic is critiqued through a discussion of the relationship between the sublime and agency. It is argued that Taylor's invocation of the epiphanic as sublime remains a gesture, that is, a promising movement and hope for a glimpse of transcendence. The promise of the epiphanic and the sublime for projects of regenerating agency becomes clearer when interpreted as part of the ends and aims of the disciplines of self-cultivation and self-transformation.

Keywords:   Charles Taylor, problem of agency, postmodernity, epiphanic, sublime, Romanticism, love, good

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