Philosopher wins Templeton Prize

Canadian philosopher Charles Taylor has won the 2007 Templeton Prize. Unlike previous recipients such as cosmologist and mathematician John Barrow, who participated in the 2006 ideaFestival, Taylor is professionally concerned with the social sciences, and in particular the price society pays for theories, like behaviorism, that do not acknowledge the role of the spiritual.

In his statement accepting the prize, Taylor said:

We urgently need new insight into the human propensity for violence, and... this cannot be a reductive sociobiological one, but must take full account of the human striving for meaning and spiritual direction, of which the appeals to violence are a perversion. But we don't even begin to see where we have to look as long as we accept the complacent myth that people like us (enlightened secularists, or believers) are not part of the problem. We will pay a high price if we allow this kind of muddled thinking to prevail.

Taylor is currently a professor of law and philosophy at Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois, and professor emeritus in the philosophy department at McGill University in Montréal. 

As for his future work, he said he will use the Templeton Prize money "to advance his studies of the relationship of language and linguistic meaning to art and theology and to developing new concepts of relating human sciences with biological sciences."

Much more, including Taylor's reflections on his published works and a brief statement on "spiritual thinking," can be found at Templeton.

Wayne