The philosopher Charles Taylor was awarded the 2007 Templeton Prize of $1.5 million on Wednesday. I like it when good things happen to good people. I also like how Taylor questioned the very notion of the prize “for progress toward research or discoveries about spiritual realities.” An intellectual might indeed wonder whether there are spiritual truths “out there” waiting to be discovered, but of course this is the raison d’etre that Sir John Templeton set up the prize. See the New York Times article in which Peter Steinfels writes, “Professor Taylor immediately noted that the idea of ‘discovery’ in spiritual matters was ‘an analogy to scientific discovery in chemistry, physics and so on.’ In answering a question later, he went further, worrying aloud that ‘the notion of discovery here by analogy with natural science a little bit falsifies the picture.'” No doubt.
By Noelle McAfee
I am professor of philosophy at Emory University and editor of the Kettering Review. My latest book, Fear of Breakdown: Politics and Psychoanalysis, explores what is behind the upsurge of virulent nationalism and intransigent politics across the world today. My other writings include Democracy and the Political Unconscious; Habermas, Kristeva, and Citizenship; Julia Kristeva; and numerous articles and book chapters. Edited volumes include Standing with the Public: the Humanities and Democratic Practice and a special issue of the philosophy journal Hypatia on feminist engagements in democratic theory. I am also the author of the entry on feminist political philosophy in the online Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy and well into my next book project on democratic public life.View all of Noelle McAfee's posts.