SSRC Salutes Charles Taylor


The SSRC has long sought an interdisciplinary social science, a social science enriched by close relations with the humanities and other fields, and a more international social science. That would be reason enough for SSRC President Craig Calhoun to praise Charles Taylor. As Calhoun puts it, Taylor is "counted among the foremost humanists and the foremost social scientists in the world." But there's also a more personal dimension: Taylor is among the mentors who has had the biggest impact on Calhoun's own intellectual development.

Charles Taylor is a Canadian philosopher, political scientist and public intellectual. Over nearly half a century, his work has had a major impact on theories of the self, the politics of recognition and identity, and the role of language in social life. In more than a dozen books and scores of essays, he has argued for the centrality of interpretation alongside objectivist understandings of social life, and sought to bridge the gap between normative and empirical theories. He has written influentially on the ways in which social life is shaped by culture, by religion, and by different images of what modernity can or should be. Most recently, he has written a major study of what it means to live in a secular era--including what it means for religious understandings of the world. Called A Secular Age, the book is due out in September from Harvard University Press.

It was Taylor's work on the relationship between religion and a secular world that recently led the John Templeton Foundation to announce that it had bestowed on Taylor its yearly prize for "progress toward research or discoveries about spiritual realities."

The prize, the world's largest annual monetary award to an individual, was presented officially to the Canadian philosopher in May at a private ceremony held at Buckingham Palace. He was the first Canadian to receive it.

Compiled, condensed, and edited by Mary-Lea Cox.

Published on: Friday, June 08, 2007