Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Former McGill Political Theorist Watch

I don't intend for this blog to become all Taylor all the time. But this is noteworthy.

A Canadian philosopher has won a $1.5 million US prize for his theory that the world's problems can only be solved by considering both their secular and spiritual roots.

Charles Taylor was announced as the winner of the 2007 Templeton Prize Wednesday at a news conference in New York.[...]

Taylor, in an interview with the CBC's Alison Smith, described the essential idea behind his work.

"I think the thing that caught the attention of the people giving the prize is that I've always thought that we've had a social science and philosophy that were much too narrow … that hasn't recognized the importance of the religious and spiritual dimension in peoples' lives," he said.

"And the result is, it's not been good for understanding in the world."

See the official announcement here, and Taylor's interesting reflections on his own published works here.

Mazel tov.

Update And the next day it turns out to be more than 'noteworthy'-- it's the big news. Here's the Montreal Gazette on the news, and Taylor and Montreal; and Taylor's former student, the distinguished Universite de Montreal Canada Research Chair in Ethics and Political Philosophy Daniel Weinstock, on Taylor as a teacher. Here's the McGill press release. And here's the McGill page devoted to Taylor as an intellectual "pioneer."

The funny thing is that, when I was in grad school, the Oxford-Harvard-Princeton crowd treated Taylor's interest in religion as an odd quirk-- something between "interesting trivia you might not have known" [Nozick had a big rent control fight with the author of Love Story, Taylor seems to believe in God] and "interpretive key that will make his whole philosophy make sense at the cost of making it inaccessible and/or uninteresting to people like us." Neither seemed all fair as far as I was concerned, and I'm very glad to see Taylor honored because of rather than in spite of his attention to religious questions and to the relationship between philosophy and religion.

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