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Charles Taylor and the Invention of Modern Inwardness: A Non-Western Response

January 26, 2023 at 6:00 PM to 8:00 PM

Location:303 Paterson Hall

Charles Taylor and the Invention of Modern Inwardness: A Non-Western Response

Philosophers such as Charles Taylor have claimed that selfhood is a distinctly modern phenomenon, associated with inwardness, inner depths, and creativity. In this conception, selfhood is defined in terms of “radical reflexivity”, which saw its emergence with the likes of Descartes. Thus, according to Taylor, it is only with modern people that we see the appearance of selfhood and subjectivity, whereas premoderns did not have a notion of the self, because they lacked the essential conceptions of inwardness and reflexivity. The aim of this lecture is to challenge and overturn this thesis by presenting how various Sufi–Islamic authors placed “inwardness and reflexivity” at the center of their conceptions of the self, while emphasizing its ambivalent nature.

About the Lecturer

Muhammad U. Faruque is the Inayat Malik Assistant Professor at the University of Cincinnati. His research lies at the intersection of religion, science, and philosophy, especially in relation to the Islamic intellectual tradition. His highly acclaimed book Sculpting the Self (University of Michigan Press, 2021) addresses “what it means to be human” in a secular, postEnlightenment world by exploring notions of selfhood and subjectivity in Islamic and non-Islamic literatures, including modern philosophy and neuroscience. Dr. Faruque is the author of forty academic articles which have appeared in various peer-reviewed journals.