OF THE MANY issues Charles Taylor's extraordinarily rich and stimulating essay raises, I have chosen to focus on the one he discusses last, and to explore, as Taylor does, the ways in which the politics of recognition properly bears on the issue of multicultural education. Before turning to this topic, though, I feel a need to remark on one of the paths not taken—namely, one that would have focused on specifically feminist concerns. Professor Taylor rightly notes the common historical and theoretical roots of the demand for recognition and of an appreciation of its importance that are evident in feminist as well as multicultural politics. But there are differences also, both in the harms suffered and in the ways to correct them. It would be a shame if, while acknowledging the importance of recognition, and specifically, the importance of recognizing difference, we failed to recognize the differences among different failures of recognition and among the harms that ensue from them.
The failures of recognition on which Professor Taylor primarily focuses are, first, a failure literally to recognize that the members of one or another minority or underprivileged group have a cultural identity with a distinctive set of traditions and practices and a distinctive intellectual and aesthetic history, and, second, a failure to recognize that this cultural identity is of deep importance and value. The harms most obvious in this context are, at the least, that the members of the unrecognized cultures will feel deracinated and empty, lacking the sources for a feeling of community and a basis for