October 05, 2016 - 2:54 PM
MONTREAL - Prominent Canadian philosopher Charles Taylor says he's still getting over the shock of being named the first-ever recipient of the Berggruen Prize.
The Montreal philosopher and writer learned earlier this week of the accolade, which carries a US$1-million award from the Berggruen Institute, a California-based non-partisan think-tank founded in 2010.
Taylor, 84, will receive the honour on Dec. 1 in New York City.
The institute described it as annual prize to be awarded to a thinker "whose ideas are of broad significance for shaping human self-understanding and the advancement of humanity."
"I'm very pleased and honoured because the goal of the Berggruen foundation is to find some way of overcoming the mutual misunderstandings between the great cultures, great civilizations which I think are very deep and very troubling and creating all sorts of difficulties for us," Taylor said in an interview.
"That they could think my work could be somehow relevant to that is tremendously satisfying because it's something that's very important to me too, so that makes me extra pleased."
The McGill University professor is known as a leading voice for Canadian unity and the preservation of Quebec's distinct identity.
Taylor is a household name in Quebec for having co-chaired with Gerard Bouchard the Bouchard-Taylor commission, which looked at the "reasonable accommodation" of religious minorities.
The Berggruen 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, who was chosen by an independent jury and 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 has won several major prizes in the past decade — including the John W. Kluge prize for achievement in the study of humanities, an honour he shared with German counterpart Jurgen Habermas. And in 2007, he won the Templeton Prize for progress toward research or discoveries about spiritual realities.
Both those prizes also carry awards valued at more than $1 million.
Taylor said he didn't know he was in contention for the Berggruen award and thought the panel would look outside the West for its first recipient.
"It's just mind-bending," he said. "It's not something I ever had on my radar as a possibility, unlike other awards that have existed for years. So this is something that...I'm still getting over the shock."
News from © The Canadian Press, 2016