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Second Prize

On Nov. 29, 2004, the second Kluge W. Prize for Lifetime Achievement in the Humanities and Social Sciences was announced by Librarian of Congress James H. Billington.

The goddess Minerva, in a marble mosaic by Elihu Vedder on the landing of the second-floor stairs to the Visitors' Gallery; Jaroslav Pelikan; Paul Ricoeur

The prize, named for John Kluge, the most generous private benefactor in the Library's history, is given to those who have achieved great distinction in the wide range of disciplines not covered by the Nobel prize, such as history, philosophy, politics, anthropology, sociology, linguistics, religion and criticism in the arts and humanities.

This year the prize was split between two giants in their field: Jaroslav Pelikan, who, over the past 50 years, has made unrivaled contributions to intellectual, cultural and religious history. His major achievements include his authoritative work on the life and work of Martin Luther, both his own writing on Luther and his painstaking translation of Luther's writings (called "Luther's Works," a series of 22 volumes, which Pelikan edited from 1955 to 1971); his original and monumental five-volume "The Christian Tradition: A History of the Development of Doctrine" (1971-1989); and his volumes that gather together the latter-day proliferation of Christian sects, particularly in the Third World, "Credo: Historical and Theological Introduction to Creeds and Confessions of Faith in the Christian Tradition" (1994). Pelikan was born in 1923 in Akron, Ohio.

The other winner is Paul Ricoeur, a philosopher who believes in the duty to explain and comprehend, to understand questions such as, What makes us human? Born in 1913 in Valence, France, Ricoeur purposefully questions in order to understand. Drawing upon both English-language analytical philosophy and 19th and 20th century European philosophy, Ricoeur presses for intelligible discourse -- for language that illuminates meaning and furthers explanation and understanding. For example, how is it meaningful to assert simultaneously that "I am a different person than I was 40 years ago" and yet "I am the same person"? "In what ways different and in what ways the same"? "What is the nature of personal identity"?

Announcing the $1 million award, Billington said: "Jaroslav Pelikan is a historian who deals with the whole of the Christian tradition, from the ancient Near East to the present. He began his deep scholarship on Luther, having been brought up in a Lutheran household, and he has moved over time to consider the whole history of church doctrine, both through the Western Roman Catholic Church and the Eastern Orthodox Church. He is concerned with the history and practice of worship in its doctrinal and creedal forms over two millennia.

"Paul Ricoeur is a philosopher who draws on the entire tradition of Western philosophy to explore and explain common problems: What is a self? How is memory used and abused? What is the nature of responsibility? He is a constant questioner - always pressing to understand the nature and limits of what constitutes our humanity."

The awards were formally presented on Dec. 8 in the Library's Coolidge Auditorium. You can see and listen to the ceremony on the Kluge Center Web site. Through a generous endowment from John W. Kluge, the Library of Congress established the Kluge Center in 2000 to bring together the world's best thinkers to distill wisdom from the Library's rich resources and to stimulate and energize interaction with policymakers in Washington. The Kluge Center houses five senior Kluge Chairs, other senior-level chairs and nearly 25 postdoctoral fellows. For more information about any of the fellowships and programs offered by the center, visit its Web site.


A. Roger Foley, photographer. [The goddess Minerva, in a marble mosaic by Elihu Vedder on the landing of the second-floor stairs to the Visitors' Gallery]. It is fitting that the Kluge Center is in the same building as this representation of the goddess of wisdom -- the 1897 Thomas Jefferson Building. Reproduction information: Not available for reproduction.

B. Michael Marsland, photographer. [Jaroslav Pelikan] Reproduction information: Not available for reproduction.

C. Arturo Patten, photographer. [Paul Ricoeur] Reproduction information: Not available for reproduction.

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