Prominent Canadian philosopher Charles Taylor has been named the first-ever recipient of the Berggruen Prize.

The accolade, announced late Tuesday, will see Taylor receive a $1-million US award from the Berggruen Institute, a California-based non-partisan think-tank founded in 2010.

The institute said in a statement Taylor, 84, is the first recipient of the award, which will be handed out annually to a thinker "whose ideas are of broad significance for shaping human self-understanding and the advancement of humanity.''

Taylor, a McGill University professor emeritus, is a leading voice for Canadian unity and the preservation of Quebec's distinct identity.

He is also a household name in the province for having co-chaired, with sociologist and historian Gérard Bouchard, the Bouchard-Taylor commission, which explored the "reasonable accommodation'' of religious minorities.

The institute says its mission is "to develop foundational ideas'' and use them to help shape political and social institutions in the 21st century.

Its founder paid tribute to Taylor, 84, who was chosen by an independent jury and was selected because of his contributions to various social sciences, public affairs and humanities.

"Charles Taylor is a brilliantly appropriate recipient, because he has changed the way people all over the world think about some of the most basic questions in human life,'' said philanthropist and investor Nicolas Berggruen, the institute's chairman.

Taylor will receive the award in a ceremony to be held in New York City on Dec. 1.