2008 Kyoto Prize Laureates

Arts and Philosophy

Thought and Ethics

Charles Margrave Taylor

/  Philosopher

1931 -

Professor Emeritus, McGill University

Commemorative Lectures

What Drove Me to Philosophy


11 /11 Tue

Place:Kyoto International Conference Center


A Secular Age and After —Secularization and Modernity—


11 /12 Wed

13:00 - 17:00

Place:Kyoto International Conference Center

Achievement Digest

Construction of a Social Philosophy to Pursue the Coexistence of Diverse Cultures

Dr. Taylor is an outstanding philosopher who advocates communitarianism and multiculturalism from the perspective of holistic individualism. He has pointed the future course for us through his own life, envisioning the future in which diverse, heterogeneous cultures peacefully coexist upon mutual recognition.


Dr. Charles Margrave Taylor is an outstanding philosopher who advocates “communitarianism” and “multiculturalism” from the perspective of “holistic individualism.” He has constructed and endeavored to put into practice a social philosophy that allows human beings with different historical, traditional, and cultural backgrounds to retain their multiple identities and to live in happiness with each other.

He has criticized the atomistic view of the self, the conception of the human being grounded in the human sciences of naturalistic tendency, and tried to establish a “philosophical anthropology” on a foundation of phenomenology, hermeneutics, and language-game theory. In his view, human beings are “self-interpreting animals.” He criticizes modern utilitarianism and argues that human beings are the “situated selves” that are embedded in the fabric of social relations. In other words, it is through webs of interlocution that human beings develop identities and acquire frameworks within which they determine for themselves what is good, what is valuable, what they should do, and what they are for or against.

Having made extensive studies of Hegel, Dr. Taylor delved back into the thought of Rousseau and Herder. He then adopted Gadamer’s notions “fusion of horizons” and “history of effects” to situate his own thought in a historical context and has built a convincing social theory. Drawing on the concept of “recognition,” which is a key to his philosophy, he contrasts the “dialogical self” with the “monological self” and offers “freedom in situation” in place of “absolute freedom.” Human beings can flourish only if their identities are recognized by others and, accordingly, he stresses the importance of bonds with community and sense of community as a necessary condition for the realization of liberalism emphasizing individual autonomy.

The concept of recognition is at the base of Dr. Taylor’s multiculturalism as well. Dr. Taylor has provided rational grounds for the dignity of human beings living a deep diversity and for their demands for recognition.

In his native Canada, Dr. Taylor is also involved in political activities. He has been seeking a way to overcome Eurocentrism and to reach for genuinely global values. He has invariably aspired to a society resting on mutual recognition, where each member strives by mutual efforts through dialogue for a better understanding. Dr. Taylor is a prominent thinker who has pointed the future course for us through his own life, envisioning the future in which diverse, heterogeneous cultures peacefully coexist upon mutual recognition.

For these reasons, the Inamori Foundation is pleased to present the 2008 Kyoto Prize in Arts and Philosophy to Dr. Charles Margrave Taylor.


Born in Montreal, Canada
B.A.(History), McGill University; Rhodes Scholar to University of Oxford
B.A.(Philosophy, Politics & Economics), University of Oxford
Fellow of All Souls' College, Oxford; Studied under Isaiah Berlin
MA, University of Oxford
Ph.D.(Philosophy), University of Oxford
Assistant Professor, Department of Political Science, McGill University
Assistant Professor, Department of Philosophy, University of Montreal
Professor, Department of Political Science, McGill University
Mills Visiting Professor Philosophy, University of California, Berkeley
Chichele Professor of Social and Political Theory, University of Oxford
Suhrkamp Lecturer, University of Frankfurt
Tanner Lecturer, Stanford University
Max Horkheimer Lecturer, University of Frankfurt
Professor Emeritus, Department of Philosophy, McGill University
Board of Trustees Professor of Law and Philosophy, Northwestern University
Selected Awards and Honors
Le Prix Léon-Gérin, Gouvernement du Québec
Companion of Order of Canada
Grand Officier de l'Ordre National du Québec
Templeton Prize, John Templeton Foundation
British Academy, Royal Society of Canada, American Academy of Arts & Sciences
Selected Publications
Hegel, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 1975.
Hegel and Modern Society, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 1979.
Sources of the Self: The Making of the Modern Identity, Harvard University Press, Cambridge, Mass., 1989.
The Ethics of Authenticity, Harvard University Press, Cambridge, Mass., 1991.
Multiculturalism, Amy Gutman et al., Princeton University Press, Princeton, 1992.
Catholic Modernity?, James L. Heft et al., Oxford University Press, New York, 1998.
Modern Social Imaginaries, Duke University Press, Durham, 2004.
A Secular Age, Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, Cambridge, Mass., 2007.

Profile is at the time of the award.

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