Antoine Compagnon

On Authority Annual Colloquium of the Collège de France Publication date : October 16, 2008

“Authority: the power or right to give commands and enforce obedience.” From Antiquity to today, cultures have always founded the social order on authority, i.e. on sovereignty, on what is held to be sacred, on the Book, on dogma. Authority is thus everywhere and nowhere. Law, philosophy, religion, political science, economics, sociology, as well as the exact sciences — all these forms of knowledge are examined here by the most reputed specialists in the light of how they saw, or still see, the function of authority, the need for authority, or the consequences of a lack of authority.

The questions examined from this perspective cover a wide range: the authority of the Constitution, the definition of an “independent high-ranking authority”, the authority of the King of Mesopotamia, and what it represented, the role of tradition, the origin of the biblical canon, the status of authority in science, medicine, or climatology, for example, as well as the notion of moral authority, and the weight of authority in belief structures.

The colloquium on authority was held at the Collège de France on 18-19 October 2007. Every year, eminent scholars from all over the world, representing the humanities as well as the exact sciences, participate in the colloquia of the Collège de France, which are an occasion for exceptional exchanges on some major interdisciplinary questions.

Antoine Compagnon, a literary historian and professor at the Collège de France, is the editor of Proust and an heir and critic of structuralism. He is, most notably, the author of La Seconde Main, Nous, Michel de Montaigne, La Troisième République des lettres, Le Démon de la théorie and Les Antimodernes.

Contributions by: C. Audard, J. Bouveresse, E. Brezin, J. Bricmont, G. Canivet, J.M. Durand, R. Guesnerie, D. Jérôme, H. Laurens, X. Le Pichon, P. Mazeaud, J. Ménard, T. Römer, L. Schweitzer, B. Saint-Sernin, C. Severi, M. Zink.