Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Methodology Redux: Straight Shots vs. Zigs & Zags

I've noted earlier that Taylor sees "story" as inherent to his project in a significant sense, precisely because it's a story about secularization that he's contesting.

In chapter 2 Taylor re-emphasizes an important point: the path from 1500 to 2000 is not a straight shot; that is, as he’s said before, this is not just a “subtraction” story of “progress.” Subtraction stories are straight-shot accounts which assumes the truth and goodness of the terminus, and thus simply read developments as steps on the way to that end (90). In contrast, recognizing the complexity of causes and the contingency of different developments, Taylor offers a “zig-zag account” which recognizes a contingent sort of pinball effect. The point is that developments which from our (modern, secularist) perspective might seem to be “advances” toward our secular accomplishment “in other circumstances might never have come to have the meaning that it bears for unbelievers today” (95). Our anachronistic hindsight tends to impose a secularist trajectory on earlier shifts whereas, in fact, they might have been “pointed” in a very different direction.

No comments:

Post a Comment