Kyoto Prize Symposium 2009

Kyoto Prize Symposium Arts and Philosophy Presentation by Charles Margrave Taylor, PhD

"Democracy and Exclusion: The Darker Side of Political Identity" with response by Robert Bellah, PhD, Professor Emeritus, University of California, Berkeley

Friday, March 20, 2009
10:30 a.m - 12:15 p.m.
Shiley Theater, Camino Hall, University of San Diego

To register, go to

View a live video of the lecture here, beginning at 10 a.m., Friday, March 20.

The Inamori Foundation’s 24th Annual Kyoto Prize for Lifetime Achievement in Arts and Philosophy was presented to Charles Margrave Taylor, PhD in 2008.

Charles Margrave Taylor discusses how democracy generates pressure toward exclusion as well as inclusion. In a democracy, being in the majority has decisive importance, so a society is forced to define a collective identity to which a majority can subscribe. But what happens to those whose difference threatens the dominant identity -- immigrants, cultural minorities, or those who cherish a non-standard version of the dominant identity?

Taylor is a philosopher who has worked to help build a society that allows people with different historical, traditional, and cultural backgrounds to live in happiness with each other while recognizing their distinctive identities and values.

Taylor was born in 1931 to a French-speaking mother and an English-speaking father in Montreal. After earning a B.A. (1952) from McGill University, Montreal, Taylor attended the University of Oxford as a Rhodes scholar and received a B.A. (1955) and Ph.D. (1961). His dissertation, which was supervised by noted philosopher Isaiah Berlin, was published as his first book, The Explanation of Behavior (1964). In that volume Taylor charged that psychological behaviorism studied human activity without considering thought or subjective meaning. In 1961 he returned to Canada, where he taught at McGill and ran for a seat in Parliament. Subsequently he taught at numerous Canadian, American, and European institutions, and was in frequent demand as a lecturer. In 2002 he became a professor of law and philosophy at Northwestern University.

A lifelong Roman Catholic, Taylor delivered the annual Marianist Lecture at the University of Dayton, Ohio, in 1997 (published as A Catholic Modernity? in 1999); he urged the church to avoid two extremes—fully identifying with Western civilization or fully rejecting modernity. In the Gifford Lectures at the University of Edinburgh in 1999, Taylor traced the development of Western modernity as a movement away from spirituality toward objective reasoning. The lectures were published in three volumes, of which the last, A Secular Age (2007), was conceived as a comprehensive examination of secularization and the modern world.

In all of his work, Taylor sought to remedy the tendency of academics in most fields to ignore the human need to seek meaning and goodness. When the 2007 Templeton Prize was announced, Taylor called for more study of the spiritual dimensions of violence; he characterized appeals to violence as a distortion of people’s searches for meaning. He chastised those secularists and believers who did not consider themselves part of the problem, saying, “We will pay a high price if we allow this kind of muddled thinking to prevail.”

~Encyclopedia Britannica