Ernest Renan

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Ernest Renan
Ernest Renan 1876-84.jpg
Ernest Renan by Antoine Samuel Adam-Salomon, circa 1870s
Joseph Ernest Renan

(1823-02-28)28 February 1823
Died2 October 1892(1892-10-02) (aged 69)
Era 19th-century philosophy
Region Western philosophy
School Continental philosophy
Main interests
Philosophy of religion, political philosophy
Notable ideas
Civic nationalism [1]
Signature of Ernest Renan.svg

Joseph Ernest Renan (French:  [ʁənɑ̃] ; 28 February 1823  2 October 1892) [2] was a French expert of Semitic languages and civilizations (philology), philosopher, biblical scholar and critic, [3] and historian of religion. He is best known for his influential and pioneering historical works on the origins of Early Christianity, [3] and his political theories, especially concerning nationalism and national identity. Renan is credited as being among the first scholars to advance the Khazar theory, which held that Ashkenazi Jews were descendants of the Khazars, Turkic peoples who had adopted Jewish religion and migrated to Western Europe following the collapse of their khanate.

Semitic languages Language group containing Arabic and Hebrew

The Semitic languages, previously also named Syro-Arabian languages, are a branch of the Afroasiatic language family originating in the Middle East that are spoken by more than 330 million people across much of Western Asia, North Africa and the Horn of Africa, as well as in often large immigrant and expatriate communities in North America, Europe and Australia. The terminology was first used in the 1780s by members of the Göttingen School of History, who derived the name from Shem, one of the three sons of Noah in the Book of Genesis.

Philology is the study of language in oral and written historical sources; it is the intersection of textual criticism, literary criticism, history, and linguistics. Philology is more commonly defined as the study of literary texts as well as oral and written records, the establishment of their authenticity and their original form, and the determination of their meaning. A person who pursues this kind of study is known as a philologist.

Philosopher person with an extensive knowledge of philosophy

A philosopher is someone who practices philosophy. The term "philosopher" comes from the Ancient Greek, φιλόσοφος (philosophos), meaning "lover of wisdom". The coining of the term has been attributed to the Greek thinker Pythagoras.



Birth and family

Ernest Renan birthplace museum in Treguier Maison Musee Ernest Renan Treguier.jpg
Ernest Renan birthplace museum in Tréguier

He was born at Tréguier in Brittany to a family of fishermen. [4] His grandfather, having made a small fortune with his fishing-shack, bought a house at Tréguier and settled there, and his father, captain of a small cutter and an ardent republican, married the daughter of a Royalist tradesman from the neighbouring town of Lannion. All his life, Renan was aware of the conflict between his father's and his mother's political beliefs. He was five years old when his father died, and his sister, Henriette, twelve years his senior, became the moral head of the household. Having in vain attempted to keep a school for girls at Tréguier, she departed and went to Paris as a teacher in a young ladies' boarding-school. [5]

Tréguier Commune in Brittany, France

Tréguier is a port town in the Côtes-d'Armor department in Brittany in northwestern France. It is the capital of the province of Trégor.

Brittany Historical province in France

Brittany is a cultural region in the west of France, covering the western part of what was known as Armorica during the period of Roman occupation. It became an independent kingdom and then a duchy before being united with the Kingdom of France in 1532 as a province governed as if it were a separate nation under the crown.

Republicanism is a representative form of government organization. It is a political ideology centered on citizenship in a state organized as a republic. Historically, it ranges from the rule of a representative minority or oligarchy to popular sovereignty. It has had different definitions and interpretations which vary significantly based on historical context and methodological approach.


Ernest, meanwhile, was educated in the ecclesiastical seminary of his native town. [6] [5] His school reports describe him as "docile, patient, diligent, painstaking, thorough". While the priests taught him mathematics and Latin, his mother completed his education. Renan's mother was half Breton. Her paternal ancestors came from Bordeaux, and Renan used to say that in his own nature the Gascon and the Breton were constantly at odds. [7] [5]

Bordeaux Prefecture and commune in Nouvelle-Aquitaine, France

Bordeaux is a port city on the Garonne in the Gironde department in Southwestern France.

Gascony former France territory

Gascony is an area of southwest France that was part of the "Province of Guyenne and Gascony" prior to the French Revolution. The region is vaguely defined, and the distinction between Guyenne and Gascony is unclear; by some they are seen to overlap, while others consider Gascony a part of Guyenne. Most definitions put Gascony east and south of Bordeaux.

During the summer of 1838, Renan won all the prizes at the college of Tréguier. His sister told the doctor of the school in Paris where she taught about her brother, and he informed F.A.P. Dupanloup, who was involved in organizing the ecclesiastical college of St Nicholas du Chardonnet, a school in which the young Catholic nobility and the most talented pupils of the Catholic seminaries were to be educated together, with the idea of creating friendships between the aristocracy and the priesthood. Dupanloup sent for Renan, who was only fifteen years old and had never been outside Brittany. "I learned with stupor that knowledge was not a privilege of the church ... I awoke to the meaning of the words talent, fame, celebrity." Religion seemed to him wholly different in Tréguier and in Paris. [5] He came to view Abbé Dupanloup as a father figure. [8]

Félix Dupanloup French bishop

Mgr. Félix Antoine Philibert Dupanloup was a French ecclesiastic. He was among the leaders of Liberal Catholicism in France.

Study at Issy-les Moulineaux

In 1840, Renan left St Nicholas to study philosophy at the seminary of Issy-les-Moulineaux. He entered with a passion for Catholic scholasticism. Among the philosophers, Thomas Reid and Nicolas Malebranche first attracted him, and, then he turned to G. W. F. Hegel, Immanuel Kant and J. G. Herder. [8] Renan began to see a contradiction between the metaphysics which he studied and the faith he professed, but an appetite for verifiable truths restrained his scepticism. "Philosophy excites and only half satisfies the appetite for truth; I am eager for mathematics", he wrote to Henriette. Henriette had accepted in the family of Count Zamoyski an engagement more lucrative than her former job. She exercised the strongest influence over her brother. [5]

Issy-les-Moulineaux Commune in Île-de-France, France

Issy-les-Moulineaux is a commune in the southwestern suburban area of Paris, France, lying on the left bank of the river Seine. It is one of Paris entrances and is located 6.6 km (4.1 mi) from Notre-Dame Church, which is considered Kilometre Zero of France. On 1 January 2010, Issy-les-Moulineaux became part of the Grand Paris Seine Ouest agglomeration community, which merged into the Métropole du Grand Paris in January 2016.

Scholasticism A method of critical thought which dominated teaching by the academics ("scholastics", or "schoolmen") of medieval universities in Europe from about 1100 to 1700

Scholasticism is a method of critical thought which dominated teaching by the academics of medieval universities in Europe from about 1100 to 1700, and a program of employing that method in articulating and defending dogma in an increasingly pluralistic context. It originated as an outgrowth of and a departure from Christian theology within the monastic schools at the earliest European universities. The rise of scholasticism was closely associated with the rise of the 12th and 13th century schools that developed into the earliest modern universities, including those in Italy, France, Spain and England.

Thomas Reid Scottish philosopher

Thomas Reid was a religiously trained Scottish philosopher. He was the founder of the Scottish School of Common Sense and played an integral role in the Scottish Enlightenment. In 1783 he was a joint founder of the Royal Society of Edinburgh. A contemporary of David Hume, Reid was also "Hume's earliest and fiercest critic".

Study at college of St Sulpice

It was not mathematics but philology which was to settle Renan's gathering doubts. His course completed at Issy, in 1844 he entered the college of St Sulpice in order to take his degree in philology prior to entering the church, and, here, he began the study of Hebrew. He realized that the second part of the Book of Isaiah differs from the first not only in style but in date, that the grammar and the history of the Pentateuch are later than the time of Moses, and that the Book of Daniel is clearly written centuries after the time in which it is set. At night he read the new novels of Victor Hugo; by day, he studied Hebrew and Syriac under Arthur-Marie Le Hir. [8] In October 1845, Renan left St Sulpice for Stanislas, a lay college of the Oratorians. Still feeling too much under the domination of the church, he reluctantly ended the last of his associations with religious life and entered M. Crouzet's school for boys as a teacher. [5]

Book of Isaiah book of the Bible

The Book of Isaiah is the first of the Latter Prophets in the Hebrew Bible and the first of the Major Prophets in the Christian Old Testament. It is identified by a superscription as the words of the 8th-century BCE prophet Isaiah ben Amoz, but there is extensive evidence that much of it was composed during the Babylonian captivity and later. Bernhard Duhm originated the view, held as a consensus through most of the 20th century, that the book comprises three separate collections of oracles: Proto-Isaiah, containing the words of Isaiah; Deutero-Isaiah, the work of an anonymous 6th-century BCE author writing during the Exile; and Trito-Isaiah, composed after the return from Exile. While virtually no scholars today attribute the entire book, or even most of it, to one person, the book's essential unity has become a focus in more recent research. Isaiah 1–33 promises judgment and restoration for Judah, Jerusalem and the nations, and chapters 34–66 presume that judgment has been pronounced and restoration follows soon. It can thus be read as an extended meditation on the destiny of Jerusalem into and after the Exile.

Moses Abrahamic prophet said to have led the Israelites out of Egypt

Moses was a prophet according to the teachings of the Abrahamic religions. Scholarly consensus sees Moses as a legendary figure and not a historical person, while retaining the possibility that a Moses-like figure existed.

Book of Daniel book of the Bible

The Book of Daniel is a 2nd-century BC biblical apocalypse combining a prophecy of history with an eschatology which is both cosmic in scope and political in its focus. In more mundane language, it is "an account of the activities and visions of Daniel, a noble Jew exiled at Babylon," its message being that just as the God of Israel saved Daniel and his friends from their enemies, so he would save all of Israel in their present oppression.

Scholarly career

Portrait of Joseph Ernest Renan, by F. Mulnier Joseph Ernest Renan, by F. Mulnier.jpg
Portrait of Joseph Ernest Renan, by F. Mulnier

Renan, educated by priests, was to accept the scientific ideal with an extraordinary expansion of all his faculties. He became ravished by the splendor of the cosmos. At the end of his life, he wrote of Amiel, "The man who has time to keep a private diary has never understood the immensity of the universe." The certitudes of physical and natural science were revealed to Renan in 1846 by the chemist Marcellin Berthelot, then a boy of eighteen, his pupil at M. Crouzet's school. To the day of Renan's death, their friendship continued. Renan was occupied as usher only during evenings. During the daytime, he continued his researches in Semitic philology. In 1847, he obtained the Volney prize, one of the principal distinctions awarded by the Academy of Inscriptions, for the manuscript of his "General History of Semitic Languages." In 1847, he took his degree as Agrégé de Philosophie – that is to say, fellow of the university – and was offered a job as master in the lycée Vendôme. [5]

In 1856, Ernest Renan married in Paris Cornélie Scheffer, daughter of Hendrik Scheffer and niece of Ary Scheffer, both French painters of Dutch descent. They had two children, Ary Renan, born in 1858, who became a painter, and Noémi, born in 1862, who eventually married Yannis Psycharis.

Life of Jesus

Within his lifetime, Renan was best known as the author of the enormously popular Life of Jesus (Vie de Jésus, 1863). [9] [10] Renan attributed the idea of the book to his sister, Henriette, with whom he was traveling in Ottoman Syria and Palestine when, struck with a fever, she died suddenly. With only a New Testament and copy of Josephus as references, he began writing. [11] The book was first translated into English in the year of its publication by Charles E. Wilbour and has remained in print for the past 145 years. [12] Renan's Life of Jesus was lavished with ironic praise and criticism by Albert Schweitzer in his book The Quest of the Historical Jesus . [13]

Renan claimed Jesus was able to purify himself of "Jewish traits" and that Jesus became an Aryan, his Life of Jesus promoted racial ideas and infused race into theology and the person of Jesus, he depicted Jesus as a Galilean who was transformed from a Jew into a Christian, and that Christianity emerged purified of any Jewish influences. [14] The book was based largely on the Gospel of John, and was a scholarly work. [14] It depicted Jesus as a man but not God, and rejected the miracles of the Gospel. [14] Renan believed by humanizing Jesus he was restoring to him a greater dignity. [15] The book's controversial assertions that the life of Jesus should be written like the life of any historic person, and that the Bible could and should be subject to the same critical scrutiny as other historical documents caused some controversy [16] and enraged many Christians, [17] [18] [19] [20] and many Jews were enraged because of its depiction of Judaism as foolish and absurdly illogical and for insisting that Jesus and Christianity was superior. [14]

Continuation of scholarly career: social views

Renan was not only a scholar. In his book on St. Paul, as in the Apostles, he shows his concern with the larger social life, his sense of fraternity, and a revival of the democratic sentiment which had inspired L'Avenir de la Science. In 1869, he presented himself as the candidate of the liberal opposition at the parliamentary election for Meaux. While his temper had become less aristocratic, his liberalism had grown more tolerant. On the eve of its dissolution, Renan was half prepared to accept the Empire, and, had he been elected to the Chamber of Deputies, he would have joined the group of l'Empire liberal, but he was not elected. A year later, war was declared with Germany; the Empire was abolished, and Napoleon III became an exile. The Franco-Prussian War was a turning-point in Renan's history. Germany had always been to him the asylum of thought and disinterested science. Now, he saw the land of his ideal destroy and ruin the land of his birth; he beheld the German no longer as a priest, but as an invader. [5]

Ernest Renan in his study by Anders Zorn ErnestRenan.jpg
Ernest Renan in his study by Anders Zorn

In La Réforme Intellectuelle et Morale (1871), Renan tried to safeguard France's future. Yet, he was still influenced by Germany. The ideal and the discipline which he proposed to his defeated country were those of her conqueror—a feudal society, a monarchical government, an elite which the rest of the nation exists merely to support and nourish; an ideal of honor and duty imposed by a chosen few on the recalcitrant and subject multitude. The errors attributed to the Commune confirmed Renan in this reaction. At the same time, the irony always perceptible in his work grows more bitter. His Dialogues Philosophiques, written in 1871, his Ecclesiastes (1882) and his Antichrist (1876) (the fourth volume of the Origins of Christianity, dealing with the reign of Nero) are incomparable in their literary genius, but they are examples of a disenchanted and sceptical temper. He had vainly tried to make his country obey his precepts. The progress of events showed him, on the contrary, a France which, every day, left a little stronger, and he roused himself from his disbelieving, disillusioned mood and observed with interest the struggle for justice and liberty of a democratic society. The fifth and sixth volumes of the Origins of Christianity (the Christian Church and Marcus Aurelius) show him reconciled with democracy, confident in the gradual ascent of man, aware that the greatest catastrophes do not really interrupt the sure if imperceptible progress of the world and reconciled, also, if not with the truths, at least with the moral beauties of Catholicism and with the remembrance of his pious youth. [5]

Definition of nationhood

Renan's definition of a nation has been extremely influential. This was given in his 1882 discourse Qu'est-ce qu'une nation? ("What is a Nation?"). Whereas German writers like Fichte had defined the nation by objective criteria such as a race or an ethnic group "sharing common characteristics" (language, etc.), Renan defined it by the desire of a people to live together, which he summarized by a famous phrase, "avoir fait de grandes choses ensemble, vouloir en faire encore" (having done great things together and wishing to do more). Writing in the midst of the dispute concerning the Alsace-Lorraine region, he declared that the existence of a nation was based on a "daily plebiscite." Some authors criticize that definition, based on a "daily plebiscite", because of the ambiguity of the concept. They argue that this definition is an idealization and it should be interpreted within the German tradition and not in opposition to it. They say that the arguments used by Renan at the conference What is a Nation? are not consistent with his thinking. [21]

Karl Deutsch (in "Nationalism and its alternatives") suggested that a nation is "a group of people united by a mistaken view about the past and a hatred of their neighbors." This phrase is frequently, but mistakenly, attributed to Renan himself. He did indeed write that if "the essential element of a nation is that all its individuals must have many things in common", they "must also have forgotten many things. Every French citizen must have forgotten the night of St. Bartholomew and the massacres in the 13th century in the South."

Renan believed "Nations are not eternal. They had a beginning and they will have an end. And they will probably be replaced by a European confederation". [22]

Renan's work has especially influenced 20th century theorist of nationalism, Benedict Anderson.

Late scholarly career

Renan in his study in the College of France Renan in his Study in the College of France.jpg
Renan in his study in the College of France
Renan caricatured by GUTH in Vanity Fair, 1910 Caricature of Ernest Renan, Vanity Fair.jpg
Renan caricatured by GUTH in Vanity Fair, 1910

Shifting away from his pessimism regarding liberalism's prospects during the 1870s while still believing in the necessity of an intellectual elite to influence democratic society for the good, Renan rallied to support the French Third Republic, humorously describing himself as a légitimiste, that is, a person who needs "about ten years to accustom myself to regarding any government as legitimate," and adding "I, who am not a republican a priori, who am a simple Liberal quite willing to adjust myself to a constitutional monarchy, would be more loyal to the Republic than newly converted republicans." [23] The progress of the sciences under the Republic and the latitude given to the freedom of thought that Renan cherished above all had allayed many of his previous fears, and he opposed the deterministic and fatalist theories of philosophers like Hippolyte Taine. [24] [25]

As he got older, the philosopher contemplated his childhood. He was nearly sixty when, in 1883, he published the autobiographical Souvenirs d'Enfance et de Jeunesse which, after the Life of Jesus, are the work by which he is chiefly known. [5]

They showed the blasé modern reader that a world no less poetic, no less primitive than that of the Origins of Christianity exists or still existed within living memory on the northwestern coast of France. They have the Celtic magic of ancient romance and the simplicity, the naturalness, and the veracity which the 19th century prized so highly. But his Ecclesiastes, published a few months earlier, his Drames Philosophiques, collected in 1888, give a more adequate image of his fastidious critical, disenchanted, yet optimistic spirit. They show the attitude towards uncultured Socialism of a philosopher liberal by conviction, by temperament an aristocrat. We learn in them how Caliban (democracy), the mindless brute, educated to his own responsibility, makes after all an adequate ruler; how Prospero (the aristocratic principle, or, if we will, the mind) accepts his dethronement for the sake of greater liberty in the intellectual world, since Caliban proves an effective policeman and leaves his superiors a free hand in the laboratory; how Ariel (the religious principle) acquires a firmer hold on life and no longer gives up the ghost at the faintest hint of change. Indeed, Ariel flourishes in the service of Prospero under the external government of the many-headed brute. Religion and knowledge are as imperishable as the world they dignify. Thus, out of the depths rises unvanquished the essential idealism of Renan. [5]

Renan was a great worker. At sixty years of age, having finished the Origins of Christianity, he began his History of Israel , based on a lifelong study of the Old Testament and on the Corpus Inscriptionum Semiticarum, published by the Académie des Inscriptions under Renan's direction from the year 1881 till the end of his life. The first volume of the History of Israel appeared in 1887; the third, in 1891; the last two posthumously. As a history of facts and theories, the book has many faults; as an essay on the evolution of the religious idea, it is (despite some passages of frivolity, irony, or incoherence) of extraordinary importance; as a reflection of the mind of Renan, it is the most lifelike of images. In a volume of collected essays, Feuilles Détachées, published also in 1891, we find the same mental attitude, an affirmation of the necessity of piety independent of dogma. During his last years, he received many honors, and was made an administrator of the Collège de France and grand officer of the Legion of Honor. Two volumes of the History of Israel, his correspondence with his sister Henriette, his Letters to M. Berthelot, and the History of the Religious Policy of Philippe-le-Bel , which he wrote in the years immediately before his marriage, all appeared during the last eight years of the 19th century. [5]

Renan died after a few days' illness in 1892 in Paris, [5] and was buried in the Cimetière de Montmartre in the Montmartre Quarter.

Reputation and controversies

Hugely influential in his lifetime, Renan was eulogised after his death as the embodiment of the progressive spirit in western culture. Anatole France wrote that Renan was the incarnation of modernity. Renan's works were read and appreciated by many of the leading literary figures of the time, including James Joyce, Marcel Proust, Matthew Arnold, Edith Wharton, and Charles Augustin Sainte-Beuve. [26] [27] One of his greatest admirers was Manuel González Prada in Peru who took the Life of Jesus as a basis for his anticlericalism. In his 1932 document "The Doctrine of Fascism", Italian dictator Benito Mussolini also applauded perceived "prefascist intuitions" in a section of Renan's "Meditations" that argued against democracy and individual rights as "chimerical" and intrinsically opposed to "nature's plans". [28]


Statue of Ernest Renan in Treguier town square Renan12.jpg
Statue of Ernest Renan in Tréguier town square

In 1903 a major controversy accompanied the installation of a monument in Tréguier designed by Jean Boucher. Placed in the local cathedral square, it was interpreted as a challenge to Catholicism, and led to widespread protests, especially because the site was normally used for the temporary pulpit erected at the traditional Catholic festival of the Pardon of St Yves. It also included the Greek goddess Athena raising her arm to crown Renan gesturing in apparent challenge towards the cathedral. [29] [30] The local clergy organised a protest Calvary sculpture designed by Yves Hernot as "a symbol of the triumphant ultramontaine church."

Views on race

Renan believed that racial characteristics were instinctual and deterministic. [31] [32] He has been criticised for his claims that the Semitic race is inferior to the Aryan race. [33] Renan claimed that the Semitic mind was limited by dogmatism and lacked a cosmopolitan conception of civilisation. [34] For Renan, Semites were "an incomplete race." [35] Some authors argue that Renan developed his antisemitism from Voltaire's anti-Judaism. [36]

He did not regard the Ashkenazi Jews of Europe as being a Semitic people; Renan is credited with launching the so-called Khazar theory. This theory states that Ashkenazim had their origin in Turkic refugees that had converted to Judaism and later migrated from the collapsed Khazar Khanate westward into the Rhineland, and exchanged their native Khazar language for the Yiddish language while continuing to practice the Jewish religion. In his 1883 lecture "Le Judaïsme comme race et comme Religion" he disputed the concept that Jewish people constitute a unified racial entity in a biological sense, [37] which made his views unpalatable within racial antisemitism. Renan was also known for being a strong critic of German ethnic nationalism, with its antisemitic undertones. [38] His notions of race and ethnicity were completely at odds with the European antisemitism of the 19th and 20th centuries.

Renan wrote the following about the long history of persecution of Jews:

When all nations and all ages have persecuted you, there must be some motive behind it all. The Jew, up to our own time, insinuated himself everywhere, claiming the protection of the common law; but, in reality, remaining outside the common law. He retained his own status; he wished to have the same guarantees as everyone else, and, over and above that, his own exceptions and special laws. He desired the advantages of the nations without being a nation, without helping to bear the burdens of the nations. No people has ever been able to tolerate this. The nations are military creations founded and maintained by the sword; they are the work of peasants and soldiers; towards establishing them the Jews have contributed nothing. Herein is the great fallacy inspired in Israelite pretensions. The tolerated alien can be useful to a country, but only on condition that the country does not allow itself to be invaded by him. It is not fair to claim family rights in a house which one has not built, like those birds which come and take up their quarters in a nest which does not belong to them, or like the crustaceans which steal the shell of another species. [39]

However, during the 1880s, Renan shifted away from these views. In a lecture on "Judaism as a Race and as a Religion", he stated:

When, in 1791, the National Assembly decreed the emancipation of the Jews, it concerned itself very little with race. It considered that men ought to be judged, not by the blood that runs in their veins, but by their moral and intellectual value. It is the glory of France to take these questions by their human side. The work of the nineteenth century is to tear down every ghetto, and I have no praise for those who seek to rebuild them. The Israelite race has in the past rendered the greatest services to the world. Blended with the different nations, in harmony with the diverse national unities of Europe, it will continue to do in the future what it has done in the past. By its collaboration with all the liberal forces of Europe, it will contribute eminently to the social progress of humanity. [40] [41]

And in 1883, in a lecture called "The Original Identity and Gradual Separation of Judaism and Christianity":

Judaism, which has served so well in the past, will still serve in the future. It will serve the true cause of liberalism, of the modern spirit. Every Jew is a liberal ... The enemies of Judaism, however, if you only look at them more closely, you will see that they are the enemies of the modern spirit in general. [42] [43]

Other comments on race, have also proven controversial, especially his belief that political policy should take into account supposed racial differences:

Nature has made a race of workers, the Chinese race, who have wonderful manual dexterity and almost no sense of honor... A race of tillers of the soil, the Negro; treat him with kindness and humanity, and all will be as it should; a race of masters and soldiers, the European race. Reduce this noble race to working in the ergastulum like Negroes and Chinese, and they rebel... But the life at which our workers rebel would make a Chinese or a fellah happy, as they are not military creatures in the least. Let each one do what he is made for, and all will be well. [44]

This passage, among others, was cited by Aimé Césaire in his Discourse on Colonialism, as evidence of the alleged hypocrisy of Western humanism and its "sordidly racist" conception of the rights of man. [45]

Republican racism

During the arising of racism theories around Europe and specifically in France—French Republic (1870–1940)—Renan had an important influence on the matter. He was a defender of people's self-determination concept, [46] but on the other hand was in fact convinced of a "racial hierarchy of peoples" that he said was "established". [47] Discursively, he subordinated the principle of self-determination of peoples to a racial hierarchy, [48] i.e. he supported the colonialist expansion and the racist view of the Third Republic because he believed the French to be hierarchically superior (in a racial matter) to the African nations. [49] This subtle racism, called by Gilles Manceron "Republican racism" [50] was common in France during the Third Republic, and was also a well-known defensing discourse in politics. Supporters of colonialism used the concept of cultural superiority, and described themselves as "protectors of civilization" to justify their colonial actions and territorial expansion.


Archives and memorabilia


Works in English translation

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  1. Ernest Renan. "What is a Nation?", 1882; cf. Chaim Gans, The Limits of Nationalism, Cambridge University Press, 2003, p. 11.
  2. "Notes & Obituary Notes"  . Popular Science Monthly . Vol. 42. December 1892. ISSN   0161-7370 via Wikisource.
  3. 1 2 Römer, Thomas (11 October 2012). Homage to Ernest Renan: Renan’s historical and critical exegesis of the Bible (Speech). Symposium. Amphithéâtre Marguerite de Navarre-Marcelin Berthelot: Collège de France . Retrieved 10 December 2018.
  4. Kaufmann, Alfred (1924). "Renan: The Man," The Catholic Historical Review, Vol. 10, No. 3, pp. 388-398.
  5. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 Wikisource-logo.svg One or more of the preceding sentences incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain : Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Renan, Ernest". Encyclopædia Britannica . 23 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. pp. 93–95.
  6. Loth, Joseph (1892). "Renan au Collège de Tréguier," Annales de Bretagne8 (1), pp. 124-9.
  7. Galand, René (1959). L'Âme Celtique de Renan. Presses Universitaires de France.
  8. 1 2 3 Theiss, Will. "The Pale Galilean: Ernest Renan, Jesus, and Modern History", Marginalia, Los Angeles Review of Books, March 16, 2018
  9. Wright, Terence R. (1994). "The Letter and the Spirit: Deconstructing Renan's "Life of Jesus" and the Assumptions of Modernity," Religion & Literature, Vol. 26, No. 2, pp. 55-71.
  10. Pitt, Alan (2000). "The Cultural Impact of Science in France: Ernest Renan and the Vie de Jésus," The Historical Journal, Vol. 43, No. 1, pp. 79-101.
  11. Hammerton, J.A. (1937). Outline of Great Books, New York: Wise & Co., p. 998.
  12. As of this writing, WorldCat reports 115 different editions of the book in 1426 different libraries.
  13. Baird, William (1992). History of New Testament Research: From Deism to Tubingen. Augsburg: Fortress Press, p. 382.
  14. 1 2 3 4 Susannah Heschel (2008). The Aryan Jesus: christian theologians and the Bible in Nazi Germany. Princeton University Press. p. 34–. ISBN   978-0-691-12531-2 . Retrieved 31 May 2013.
  15. Chadbourne, Richard M. (1968). Ernest Renan. New York: Twayne Publishers, p. 68.
  16. "Renan's 'Vie de Jesus'," The Dublin Review2, January/April 1864, pp. 386-419.
  17. Jules Théodose Loyson Une prétendue Vie de Jésus, ou M. Ernest Renan, historien, philosophe et poëte (Paris, Douniol, 1863)
  18. Cochin, Augustin (1863). Quelques mots sur la Vie de Jésus de M. Ernest Renan . Paris: Douniol.
  19. Instruction pastorale de Monseigneur l'évêque de Nîmes au clergé de son diocèse contre un ouvrage intitulé "Vie de Jésus" par Ernest Renan (1863)
  20. Several of the books of Henri-Joseph Crelier have polemical titles naming Renan.
  21. Azurmendi, Joxe . Historia, arraza, nazioa . Donostia: Elkar, 2014. ISBN   978-84-9027-297-8
  22. "Inventing national identity". June 1999.
  23. Lee, David C. J. (1996). Ernest Renan. Ardent Media. pp. 97–99.
  24. Lee, David C. J. (1996). Ernest Renan. Ardent Media. p. 96.
  25. Noronha-DiVanna, Isabel (2010). Writing History in the Third Republic. Cambridge Scholars Publishing. p. 70.
  26. Singley, Carol J. (2003). "Race, culture, nation: Edith Wharton and Ernest Renan". Twentieth Century Literature. 49 (1): 32.
  27. Brown, Richard (1988). James Joyce and Sexuality. Cambridge University Press. p. 130.
  28. The Doctrine of Fascism by Benito Mussolini Complete text of the essay "Dottrina" (Doctrines).
  29. Ernest Renan à Tréguier
  30. Catalogue, Ernest Renan (1823–1892) un Celte en Orient, Musée d’Art et d’histoire, Musée de Bretagne, 1992, Ville de Saint-Brieuc, Ville de Rennes.
  31. Olender, Maurice (1992). The Languages of Paradise: Race, Religion, and Philology in the Nineteenth Century. Harvard University Press.
  32. Susannah Heschel (2008). The Aryan Jesus: christian theologians and the Bible in Nazi Germany. Princeton University Press. p. 30–. ISBN   978-0-691-12531-2 . Retrieved 31 May 2013.
  33. "I am therefore the first to recognize that the Semitic race, compared to the Indo-European race, truly represents an inferior combination of human nature."—Arvidsson, Stefan (2006). Aryan Idols: Indo-European Mythology as Ideology and Science. University of Chicago Press, p. 107.
  34. "The Racial Motif in Renan's Attitude to Jews and Judaism", in: S. Almog (ed.), Antisemitism Through the Ages, Oxford, 1988, pp. 255–278.
  35. Anti-Semitism, by Gotthard Deutsch, Jewish Encyclopedia
  36. Azurmendi, Joxe (2014). Historia, arraza, nazioa. Donostia: Elkar. pp.177-86. ISBN   978-84-9027-297-8
  37. Le Judaïsme comme Race et comme Religion: Conférence faite au Cercle Saint-Simon. Paris: Calmann Lévy, 1883.
  38. Mian, Aristide (1945-46). "Renan on War and Peace," The American Scholar, Vol. 15, No. 1, pp. 90-96.
  39. Antichrist. London: Walter Scott, Ltd., 1900, pp. 126-127.
  40. Rose, Paul Lawrence (2013). "Renan versus Gobineau: Semitism and Antisemitism, Ancient Races and Modern Liberal Nations". History of European Ideas. 39 (4): 528–540.
  41. Gidley, Ben (2011). "On the Nation and the 'Jewish People'". Ethnic and Racial Studies. 35 (4): 782–783. doi:10.1080/01419870.2011.643817.
  42. Trawny, Peter (2015). "Heidegger, "World Judaism," and Modernity". Gatherings: The Heidegger Circle Annual. 5: 1–20.
  43. Graetz, Michael (1996). The Jews in Nineteenth-century France: From the French Revolution to the Alliance Israélite Universelle. Stanford University Press. p. 212.
  44. From Ernest Renan, "La Reforme Intellectuelle et Morale". Paris: Calmann-Levy, 1929.
  45. Césaire, Aimé (2000). Discourse on Colonialism , Joan Pinkham, trans. New York: Monthly Review Press, pp. 37–8.
  46. "What is a Nation?" In: The Poetry of the Celtic Races, and Other Essays. London: The Walter Scott Publishing Co., 1896, pp. 61-83.
  47. Preface to The Future of Science. London: Chapman & Hall, 1891.
  48. The Future of Science. London: Chapman & Hall, 1891.
  49. Manceron, Gilles (2005). Marianne et les Colonies: Une Introduction à l'Histoire Coloniale de la France. Editions La Découverte.
  50. Manceron (2005).
  51. Renan considers the problem of a rational transformation by High Priest Antistius of the practice of human sacrifice into "a more humane, spiritual, and scientific form." See Brieux and Contemporary French Society, by William H. Scheifley, 408. Accessed 27 Feb. 2014

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