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Charles Taylor to Speak Feb. 26

Charles Taylor to Speak Feb. 26 at UC Riverside

The Kyoto Prize winner will deliver the keynote address at a two-day symposium, “Saving the Sacred in a Secular Age.”

(February 12, 2010)

Charles Taylor

Charles Taylor

RIVERSIDE, Calif. – Charles Taylor, winner of the 2008 Kyoto Prize for lifetime contributions in arts and philosophy, will be the keynote speaker in a two-day symposium hosted by the UC Riverside Department of Philosophy on Friday, Feb. 26, and Saturday, Feb. 27.

The symposium, “Saving the Sacred in a Secular Age,” will present philosophical, sociological and religious responses to contemporary secularism. The focus of the event is “to understand and articulate different notions of the sacred and to explore ways we could recover and secure practices for experiencing the sacred in the world,” said Mark Wrathall, professor of philosophy and organizer of the symposium.

Taylor, professor emeritus of political science and philosophy at McGill University and a renowned scholar of spirituality and secularism, will discuss “Modes of the Sacred in the Post-Axial Age” at 3:30 p.m. on Friday. Feb. 26, in Interdisciplinary Building 1113. The Post-Axial Age is a period of time during the first millennium B.C.E. when the world’s major religious and philosophical traditions were born.

Winner of the Kyoto Prize – which is sometimes referred to as the Japanese Nobel – Taylor also was awarded the 2007 Templeton Prize for Progress Toward Research or Discoveries About Spiritual Realities. In 2007 he was appointed to head a Commission of Inquiry into accommodating Quebec’s minority cultures. He is the author of “A Secular Age” (Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 2007).

Other scholars who will participate are: Ivan Strenski, Holstein Endowed Chairholder in religious studies, and Howard Wettstein, professor of philosophy, both at UCR; Albert Borgmann, philosophy, University of Montana, Missoula; Craig Calhoun, sociology, New York University; Iain Thomson, philosophy, University of New Mexico; Hubert Dreyfus, philosophy, UC Berkeley; and Peter Gordon, history, Weiming Tu, Chinese history, and Sean Kelly, philosophy, all of Harvard University.

The symposium will begin at 10:30 a.m. Feb. 26 in Interdisciplinary Building 1113. A banquet will be held Friday night at the Arroyo Vista Café in the Alumni and Visitor Center, followed by a special preview screening at 8 p.m. of the Tao Ruspoli documentary, “Being in the World,” in the Interdisciplinary Building screening room. The film, which focuses on ways to keep a sense of the sacred alive, features Wrathall, who also served as a philosophical consultant for the documentary.

The event is free and open to the public. Meals are $30 for the banquet and $30 for lunches both days, or $50 for all three meals. Reservations are required for meals and may be made online at Parking costs $6 per day.

Co-sponsors of the symposium are the Department of Religious Studies, the Center for Ideas and Society, and the Templeton Foundation.

The Department of Philosophy, which is ranked 39th in the English-speaking world, combines the two major strands of philosophy – continental and analytic – which is unique in the UC system, said department chair John Martin Fischer. The continental tradition focuses on European thinkers after the 18th century German philosopher Immanuel Kant and on questions such as the meaning of life and death, freedom, and how to live a life. The analytic tradition focuses on Anglo-American thinkers and takes a more scientific approach to philosophical questions.

The department is ranked 30th in the United States by “Philosophical Gourmet,” which is edited by Brian Leiter at the University of Chicago. It ranks among the top three departments globally for 20th century continental philosophy, in the top six for philosophy of action (i.e. free will), in the top 10 for 19th century continental philosophy, and in the top 20 for the study of 18th century German philosopher Immanuel Kant and for the history of analytic philosophy.



The University of California, Riverside ( is a doctoral research university, a living laboratory for groundbreaking exploration of issues critical to Inland Southern California, the state and communities around the world. Reflecting California's diverse culture, UCR's enrollment has exceeded 21,000 students. The campus opened a medical school in 2013 and has reached the heart of the Coachella Valley by way of the UCR Palm Desert Center. The campus has an annual statewide economic impact of more than $1 billion.

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