On Tuesday, September 29th, the Library of Congress will once again confer the Kluge Prize upon two individuals whose outstanding scholarship in the humanities and social sciences has shaped both public affairs and civil society. Here’s a look at all the recipients of the Kluge Prize, past and present…
Polish philosopher Leszek Kolakowski exhaustively analyzed the development and flaws of Marxism, and provided the intellectual background for the Solidarity Movement. His writings helped to end the Communist system in Europe.
One of the most important historians of any religion in the twentieth century, Jaroslav Pelikan brought the Eastern traditions of Christianity into the hitherto largely Western narrative of the world’s largest religion. He also exhaustively inventoried the vibrant recent growth of African Christianity.
Paul Ricoeur, the French critic, rehabilitated the humanistic tradition of tracing the fabric of meaning in a variety of books on influential figures in shaping knowledge in the modern age.
John Hope Franklin
John Hope Franklin was a pioneering leader in transforming the study of American history and society by establishing African American history as a discipline, utilizing a wide variety of source material and conducting a national dialogue about race.
Yu Ying-shih of China and the U.S. worked with original texts throughout the length of Chinese history. His work used a variety of disciplines, time periods, and issues to create a modern narrative of Chinese history and to rescue the Confucian heritage from caricature and neglect.
Romila Thapar of India created a new and more pluralistic view of Indian civilization, studying its evolution and its changing historical consciousness. Her prolific writings have set a new course for world-wide scholarship about the Indian subcontinent and for the writing of history textbooks in India.
Peter Brown revolutionized the study of what used to be described as ancient and medieval history. He reconceptualized the first millennium A.D. and the era of late antiquity, covering many languages and cultures within and beyond the Mediterranean world from Iceland to Damascus.
Fernando Henrique Cardoso
Fernando Henrique Cardoso, the 34th president of Brazil, has been one of the most wide-ranging and consequential social scientists in the recent history of Latin America. His decades of study and sustained inquiry in the social sciences–more than a quarter century of scholarship–laid the intellectual groundwork for his subsequent political career.
Charles Taylor’s writings have ranged across subjects as diverse as metaphysics, modern culture, human conduct and behavior, modernization and the place of religion in a secular age. His contributions to our understanding of agency, freedom, spirituality and the relation between the natural sciences and the humanities will be of lasting import.
Jürgen Habermas is a scholar whose impact cannot be overestimated. In both his magisterial works of theoretical analysis and his influential contributions to social criticism and public debate, he has repeatedly shown that Enlightenment values of justice and freedom, if transmitted through cultures of open communication and dialogue, can sustain social and political systems even through periods of significant transformation.
The John W. Kluge Prize for Achievement in the Study of Humanity will be bestowed again on September 29, 2015 to philosophers Jürgen Habermas and Charles Taylor. The ceremony will be streamed live on YouTube. On social media: #KlugePrize.