16 December 2019 Culture

To be alive. That is the question

On 30 January, in Lisbon, as in many other cities of the world, debate takes place around the theme "Être vivant". It’s another edition of Nuit des Idées.

Noite das ideias

The idea was launched three years ago by the government of Emmanuel Macron and has already staked its place on the annual agenda. In 2020, 30 January is the night dedicated to fostering discussion, debate, and conversation – in summary, the exchange of ideas. And the motto for this year is “To be alive” (translated from the French Être vivant).

The Night of Ideas – an initiative from the French Institute of Portugal, in partnership with the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation – includes an inaugural conference by Manuel Sobrinho Simões, the Portuguese doctor and researcher, the Pessoa Prize winner in 2002 and nominated by the British journal The Patologist as the most influential pathologist worldwide in 2015.

This inaugural conference is followed by a series of speeches, dialogues and conversations among dozens of scientists, artists, intellectuals and others with leading roles in society. While dedicated to “To be alive”, three subthemes are set for exploration: “Citizen participation”; “Scientific research”; and, finally, “Morals and ethics”.

This night undergoes replication across various cities over five continents; each with its own programming but all under the banner of Être vivant. But just what is this “To be alive”? What is the role of our existence in the world? To what extent does this “To be alive” force us to engage in action? Is “To be alive” not also a form of acting and committing, endowing a meaning on our acts and even to our own existence?

These and other questions all undergo debate on the Nuit des Idées; 30 January, in the Gulbenkian Foundation. Entrance is free.