Henry Laurens

Ernest Renan, Science, Religion and the French Republic Publication date : October 10, 2013

Henry Laurens, a specialist in the Arab-Muslim world, is a professor at the Collège de France.
Contributors: Jean Balcou, Sophie Basch, Corinne Bonnet, Dominique Bourel, Jacques Bouveresse, Dominique Charpin, Antoine Compagnon, Denis Knoepfler, Alain de Libera, Jean-Noël Robert, Thomas Römer, Pierre Rosenvallon, John Scheid, Perrine Simon-Nahum, Céline Surprenant, Claudine Tiercelin, Tobie Zakia, Michel Zink.

Ernest Renan was an influential nineteenth-century French philosopher and historian. The year 2012 marked the 120th anniversary of his death and the 150th anniversary of his famous inaugural lecture at the Collège de France. To commemorate these two events, the Collège de France organised a colloquium in 2012 in honour of Renan. Collected here are the numerous contributions made on that occasion.
Renan’s influence was immense: ‘one of the most wide-ranging intellects of his time,’ according to Anatole France. But for Pope Pius XI he was the ‘European blasphemer’. By the end of his life, Renan had succeeded Victor Hugo as a major intellectual mentor, on an equal footing with Taine.
He thought on a broad, universal scale with deep understanding. His scholarship was vast and he seemed to know and understand everything: China, India, Classical Antiquity, the Middle Ages, the modern era with its far-reaching views on the future, and every known civilisation, philosophy and religion.
His great success rested on his writer’s talent and on his skill in responding to the crucial issues of his time. Rejecting the supernatural, he offered a historical response to the great nineteenth-century question on the nature of religion. As a public figure, he participated in the major debates of his time.

• Illuminating contributions by renowned academics on Ernest Renan’s life and work.
• Renan was an important thinker whose work remains relevant to us today.