World

$1.8M prize for spiritual research goes to Canadian

A Canadian philosopher has won a $1.8 million prize for his theory that the world's problems can only be solved by considering both their secular and spiritual roots.

A Canadian philosopher has won a $1.8 millionprize 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. The 75-year-old university professor is the first Canadian to win the prize.

"For nearly half a century [Taylor] has argued that problems such as violence and bigotry can only be solved by considering both their secular and spiritual dimensions," said a news release from the prize organizers.

"Key to Taylor’s investigations of the secular and the spiritual is a determination to show that one without the other only leads to peril," said the release.

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."

Currently a law and philosophy professor at Northwestern University in Illinois and professor emeritus at McGill, the Montreal-born Taylor is a Rhodes Scholar with degrees from McGill and Oxford.

Quebec Premier Jean Charest recently appointed Taylor to co-chair a commission on the accommodation of cultural and religious differences in public life.

He will officially receive the award— £800,000, the largest annual cash award given to an individual—from Prince Philip during a private ceremony at Buckingham Palace on May 2.

The Templeton Prize for Progress Toward Research or Discoveries about Spiritual Realities was founded in 1972 by philanthropist Sir John Templeton.

Past prize winners include Mother Teresa, Rev. Billy Graham, Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, scientists Paul Davies and Freeman Dyson.

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