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Charles Taylor, Winner of the 2016 Berggruen Prize


Distinguished Canadian philosopher Charles Taylor has been named the first winner of the Berggruen Prize. The $1 million award is given annually to a humanistic thinker whose ideas have helped us find direction, wisdom, and improved self-understanding in a world being rapidly transformed by profound social, technological, political, cultural, and economic change.

A global leader in deepening understanding among different intellectual traditions and civilizations, Taylor’s work has been influential throughout the humanities and social sciences, as well as in public affairs. He has been a prominent voice for the unity of Canada and the preservation of the distinctive identity of Quebec. He is the author of many books, including Explanation of Behaviour (1967), Sources of the Self (1989), and A Secular Age (2007). His newest book is The Language Animal (2016).

Taylor’s work urges us to see humans as constituted not only by their biology or their personal intentions, but also by their existence within language and webs of meaningful relationships. As he wrote in 1994, “We define our identity always in dialogue with, sometimes in struggle against, the things our significant others want to see in us. Even after we outgrow some of these others—our parents, for instance—and they disappear from our lives, the conversation with them continues within us as long as we live.”

The Berggruen Prize is selected by an independent jury, which was chaired this year by Kwame Anthony Appiah, Professor of Philosophy and Law at New York University.