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Canadian Philosopher Wins $1.5 Million Templeton Prize

A Canadian philosopher is the recipient of the $1.5 million 2007 Templeton Prize. Fom VOA's New York bureau, correspondent Barbara Schoetzau reports that Charles Taylor, 75, has long argued that spiritual dimensions are part of the solution to issues of violence and bigotry.

Taylor says social scientists and policy makers are wrong to ignore the impact of spirituality, including culture and identity, on modern thought and social policy.

Taylor says social scientists must break down the barriers between science and spirituality to resolve problems caused by clashes of cultures, nationalities, and religions. The philosopher is also critical of those who try to inflict violence on others based on their set of religious or moral beliefs.

At a news conference in New York to announce the award, Taylor said people instinctively live with questions about the meaning of life whether or not they recognize it.

"It is terribly damaging if we forget these questions, because a lot of the things that happen in our world happen because people have answered them in a certain way. A lot of the violence we see in our world today comes when young people are recruited to certain causes, which makes them do really horrifying killings. What recruits them is some offer, supposed offer, of a real sense of meaning to their lives."

Taylor, born and educated in Canada, has spent much of his career at McGill University in Montreal. He is currently a professor of law and philosophy at Northwestern University in the Midwestern state of Illinois. A former Rhodes Scholar, he is the author of two dozen books. He is the first Canadian to win the Prize, which was created by the philanthropist and global investing pioneer Sir John Templeton.

The Templeton Prize exceeds the Nobel Prize in monetary value, because of John Templeton's belief in the importance of spiritual discoveries. The prize was first awarded in 1973.

Taylor says he will use the money for his studies on the relationship of language to art and theology.