In the footsteps of Ernest Renan, French national thinker and thinker of the French nation

François Hartog (Professor of History at EHESS)

20 February 2019, 16:00-18:00, Theatre, Badia Fiesolana

An undoubted scholar, Ernest Renan (1823-1892) was also a controversial man. After the publication of his Life of Jesus, the former seminarian became for Catholics “the great blasphemer”. Although he rallied late to the Republican camp, he was going to be one of the tutelary figures whom the Third Republic honored. Three questions guide François Hartog’s journey in the footsteps of Renan: the future, religion, the nation. A convinced evolutionist, Renan strongly believes in the future, but what will become of the very idea of ​​the future? He thinks that Christianity has had its day, but what will be the religion of the future, since a future without religion is inconceivable? Political form of the time, the nation does not escape the work of time: what will be the future of the nation and that of Europe? Because in the world then dominated by Germany, the question of the nation and that of Europe are linked. Are these three questions still ours? In the distance that separates us from Renan and by using his work as a prism, what do they give us to see of our contemporary? Until recently, Renan’s future could still be ours; religion until recently appeared to be behind us; the nation, too, appeared to be a political form exhausted and in the process of being outmoded. And here all these themes come back and lead us to reconsider what we thought we knew of our situation.

Benoit Vaillot

Doctorant en histoire Arche EA 3400 (Université de Strasbourg) / PhD Researcher (European University Institute, Florence). Coordinateur du séminaire doctoral « Nationalism Working Group » hébergé à l'Institut Universitaire Européen.

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