Canadian philosopher wins Templeton Prize

A Canadian philosopher, Charles Taylor, who advocates spiritual solutions to violence and warns against identifying Christianity with European civilisation, has won the prestigious Templeton Prize for progress on spiritual issues.

The Malaysia Sun reports that Taylor, a Catholic, will receive the $A2 million prize named after financier John Templeton at a Buckingham Palace ceremony on 2 May.

"Throughout his career, Charles Taylor has staked an often lonely position that insists on the inclusion of spiritual dimensions in discussions of public policy, history, linguistic, literature and every other facet of humanity and the social sciences," Templeton said in a ceremony which named Taylor for the prize.

According to Taylor, spiritual aspects need to be explored as ways to solve violence, in the same way as leaders like Nelson Mandela of South Africa and Mahatma Gandhi of India helped transform their countries under colonial occupation.

In remarks at a New York news conference, Taylor also criticised "the deafness of many philosophers, social scientists and historians to the spiritual dimension."

"We urgently need new insight into the human propensity for violence, and following the authors like Mandela and Gandhi, this cannot be a reductive socio-biological one, but must take full account of the human striving for meaning and spiritual direction, of which the appeals to violence are a perversion," Taylor told reporters, according to the Western Catholic Reporter.

"We urgently need new insight into the human propensity for violence," including "a full account of the human striving for meaning and spiritual direction, of which the appeals to violence are a perversion," he said.

"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."

Taylor also warned against a total identification of Catholicism with European civilisation because it would blunt the Christian message.

On the other hand, rejecting modernity as the enemy of the Christian faith similarly narrows the possibilities for the Christian message.

"There can never be a total fusion of the faith and any particular society, and the attempt to achieve it is dangerous for the faith," Taylor wrote.

Charles Taylor, 75, is currently professor of law and philosophy at Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois, USA, and professor emeritus in the political science department at McGill University in Montreal, the city of his birth.

He is the first Canadian to win the Templeton Prize.

Canadian philosopher wins prestigious Templeton Prize (Western Catholic Reporter, 19/3/07)
Canadian philosopher Taylor wins Templeton Prize (Malaysia Sun, 15/3/07)

LINKS (not necessarily endorsed by Church Resources)
Templeton Prize website
Templeton Prize (Wikipedia)
Charles Taylor (Wikipedia)

British physicist wins Templeton Prize for Religion (CathNews, 15/3/02)

16 Mar 2007

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