September 24, 2009 Iranian Philosopher Abdolkarim Soroush Named Distinguished Visiting Scholar at John W. Kluge Center

Press Contact: Donna Urschel (202) 707-1639
Public Contact: Robert Saladini (202) 707-2692

Librarian of Congress James H. Billington has named Abdolkarim Soroush—renowned Iranian thinker, philosopher and reformer—as Distinguished Visiting Scholar at the Library’s John W. Kluge Center.

Named by Time magazine as one of the world’s 100 most influential people in 2005 and by Prospect magazine as one of the most influential intellectuals in the world in 2008, Soroush will conduct research at the Library from September to January 7, 2010.

Soroush’s research will concentrate on the contextualization and historicization of Islamic philosophy. He is primarily interested in the philosophies of science and religion, comparative philosophy and the philosophical system of Mowlana Jalaleddin Balkhi, who is known as the mystical poet Rumi. Soroush is an expert on Rumi and Persian Sufi poetry.

Soroush is the director of the Institute for Epistemological Research and a former senior fellow at the Research Institute for Human Sciences and Cultural Research, both in Tehran. In 2008, he was a visiting scholar at Georgetown University’s Berkley Center for Religion, Peace and World Affairs. He has held regular visiting professorships at Princeton, Yale and Harvard universities and at the University of Amsterdam.

After receiving a doctorate in analytical chemistry from the University of London, Soroush attended Chelsea College and earned a doctorate in the history and philosophy of science. In 1979, Soroush returned to Iran, where he was born in 1945. He became an advocate of Islamic ideology and was part of the Cultural Revolution of the 1980s, a project that imposed Islamic curricula on Iranian universities, although Soroush became highly critical of the political role played by the Iranian clergy.

Among his many books are “Reason, Freedom and Democracy in Islam” (2000); “The Theoretical Contraction and Expansion of Religion: Theory of Evolution of Religious Knowledge” (1998); and “Wisdom, Intellectualism and Religious Conviction” (1995).

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 stimulate and energize one another to distill wisdom from the Library’s rich resources and to interact with policymakers in Washington. For further information on the Kluge Center, visit


PR 09-184
ISSN 0731-3527