The general feature of human life that I want to evoke is its fundamentally dialogical character. We become full human agents, capable of understanding ourselves, and hence of defining an identity, through our acquisition of rich human languages of expression. For the purposes of this discussion, I want to take “language” in a broad sense, covering not only the words we speak but also other modes of expression whereby we define ourselves, including the “languages” of art, of gesture, of love, and the like. But we are inducted into these languages in exchange with others. No one acquires the languages needed for self-definition on their own. We are introduced to them through exchange with others who matter to us—what George Herbert Mead called “significant others.” The genesis of the human mind is in this sense not “monological,” not something each accomplishes on his or her own, but dialogical.

Charles Taylor, The Ethics of Authenticity