Renan's Avenir de la science: Dialogue for an Absent Christ

Although Renan's essay L'Avenir de la science (1848-49) may appear confused and repetitious when read as a linear argument, it conceals a dialogical structure anticipating the later Dialogues philosophique (1876) and the exchange between Graeco-Roman and Hebraic cultures central to his later histories of Christian thought. The dialogical mentality in Renan is related to his family background and the feminine influence on his personality that divides his philosophical loyalties between critical independence and moral and religious sentiment and explains his fascination with the mediatory role of Jesus in Christian teaching. The manuscripts of L'Avenir de la science reveal how the work in genesis assumed the form of a dialogue. A textual analysis of the essay shows that Renan bases his work on the paradigm of a Christian messianism in which, however, the unifying role of Christ is replaced by the unfulfilled dialogue of Renan's own religion of learning. (DCJL)

Lee, David C. J
Volume 1975-1976 Fall-Winter; 4(1-2): 67-88.