John Scheid, Alain Prochiantz

Lights, light The 2015 Colloquium of the Collège de France

The new term's colloquium of the Collège de France is published under the direction of John Scheid. A historian and specialist in Roman antiquity, he is a professor of the Collège de France where since 2011 he has occupied the Chair of Religion, Institutions and Society in Ancient Rome.
Contributors: Dominique Charpin, Serge Haroche, Pascale Hémery, Anne-Marie Lagrange, Alain de Libera, Daniel Roche, Marc Fontecave, Alain Prochiantz, Jen-Noël Robert, Alain-José Sahel, Philippe Walter and Claire Wyart.
Sun-worshipping cults were important in ancient times, and religious historians of the 19th century would still attribute great importance to them, to the point of seeking to explain all the antique divinities as metaphors for the sun. Also, humans very rapidly attempted to explain manifestations of light, revealed in particular by the practice of astronomy, by submitting diverse theories which found their expression not only in cosmology but also in physics and in innumerable related applications. Finally, we can observe that light which is artificially produced or controlled, be it visible light or invisible electromagnetic radiation, is one of the essential components of a huge number of technologies today.
• In parallel with these scientific developments, European thinkers of the 17th Century drew upon light as a metaphor to define an intellectual process whose objective was to illuminate the spirit (Light, Enlightenment, Aufklârung), while artistic endeavours had always applied the idea of light and darkness in the representation or transfiguration of reality.