Expressive Individualism - Ethics of authenticity revisited

Date: 22 - 23 April 2015

Venue: University of Antwerp - Stadscampus - Room D.015 - Grote Kauwenberg 18 - 2000 Antwerp

Time: 9:20 AM - 4:00 PM

Organization / co-organization: UCSIA and the Center Pieter Gillis

Short description: Conference

The Center for European Philosophy, UCSIA and the Center Pieter Gillis host a two-day congress at the University of Antwerp, 22-23 April 2015.

Charles Taylor is widely recognized as a leading philosopher in the fields of philosophy of culture, political philosophy and theory of secularization. Though Taylor is best known for his detailed and comprehensive studies, in 1991 he wrote a small book which succeeded in presenting a concise and insightful analysis of modern Western society: The Ethics of Authenticity, first published in Canada under the title The Malaise of Modernity. In that book, Taylor argues that although modern individualism tends to degenerate into relativism and loss of meaning, it also embodies a powerful moral ideal: the ideal of authenticity. The search for authenticity reveals the ‘expressive aspects’ of modern individualism, which according to Taylor require openness to horizons of significance and self-definition in dialogue, even if they frequently involve opposition against convention.

In The Ethics of Authenticity, Taylor analyzes cultural evolutions in the second half of the 20th century. Today, one may wonder whether his reflections still hold for the first decades of the 21st century. Are contemporary Western societies still prone to fall below the ideal of authenticity, merely reflecting the dark side of modern individualism and fostering a culture of narcissism? Or did they draw out something of its fuller potential, along the lines that Taylor suggested in the early 1990s? Is Taylor’s analysis of modern individualism still applicable to our current situation or have we explored new roads since then?

Programme 22 April  
The program starts off with an evening lecture by professor Patrick Madigan entitled Expressive Individualism. The Cult of the Artist as Genius and Milton's Lucifer


Programme 23 April  
09:00 Coffee and Croissant
09:20 Welcome and Introduction
Herbert De Vriese (UAntwerp) 
09:30  Authenticity and Fundamentalism
Peter Losonczi (KU Leuven)
10:00 Selfhood and Style: Merleau-Ponty's Ethics of Authenticity
Meirav Almog (Tel Aviv University) 
10:30 Mindfulness and Authenticity: Where Instrumental and Expressive Individualism Meet
Liza Cortois (KU Leuven) 
11:15 Coffee break
11:30 Personal Authenticity – Challenge for or Condition of Responsibility?
Keynote lecture by Katharina Bauer (Ruhr-Universität Bochum)
12:30 Lunch
14:00 Charles Taylor's Ethics of Authenticity
Text seminar led by Guido Vanheeswijck (UAntwerpen) and Patrick Madigan (Heythrop College, University of London)
15:30 Coffee break
16:00 Does Subjectivism Undermine the Meaningfulness of Life?
Keynote lecture by Iddo Landau (Haifa University)



Entrance fee: free of charge

Registration: Send an e-mail to

Contact email:


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