Writer, social Anthropologist and philosopher Edgar Morin is one of France’s leading thinkers. He developed a method for engaging with complexity: as reality, as knowledge and as a contemporary challenge.
Edgar Morin, whose given name was Edgar Nahoum, was born in Paris on July 8th, 1921. The Spanish War of 1936 marked his first political engagement. In 1942 he joined the Resistance, both as a Communist and as a Gaullist in the Movement of Resistance of Prisoners and Deportees (the MRPGD, which became MNPGD under Mitterrand). During the Resistance he took the pseudonym Morin. He broke away from the Communist Party in 1948 and was expelled from it in 1951. During the war he earned a degree in History and Geography, along with a degree in Law. After the Liberation he published his first book, L’An Zéro de l’Allemagne (Germany Year Zero) and then got involved in journalism, notably creating the magazine Arguments in 1956.
Edgar Morin joined the CNRS in 1950 and was primarily interested in phenomena considered minor at the time. He published Le Cinéma ou l’Homme Imaginaire in 1956, Commune en France: La métamorphose de Plodémet in 1965 and La Rumeur d’Orléans in 1969.
In 1970 he became Director of Research at the CNRS. At the end of that decade he developed what he defined in 1982 as “complex thought” and began writing his major work, The Method, which was published in six volumes between 1977 and 2004.
His extensive body of work is characterized by a concern for knowledge that is neither constrained nor easily categorized, capable of grasping the complexity of reality and of observing the particular while situating it within the greater whole. We need to understand the nature of being human, Morin says. However, first we must realize that “the treasure of human unity is human diversity and that the treasure of human diversity is human unity”. He offers his thinking about education in La tête bien faite : repenser la réforme, réformer la pensée (1999), Relier les connaissances (1999). His book Seven Complex Lessons in Education for the Future (2000) has been translated into many languages.
Edgar Morin has concentrated on developing a method that can meet the challenge of the complexity of modern knowledge, and can reform politics and thought in order to overcome the current global crisis. Many of his works – California Journal (1970); the six volumes of The Method (1977-2004), Pour sortir du XXème siècle (1981), Penser l’Europe (1987), Vidal and His Family (1989), Homeland Earth (1993), La complexité humaine (1994), Pour entrer dans le XXIe siècle (2004); La Voie: pour l’avenir de l’humanité (2011); Enseigner à vivre. Manifeste pour changer l’éducation (2014); and Au péril des idées (2014) have been translated into many languages, including Arabic, Chinese, English, German, Greek, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Polish, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish, Swedish and Turkish.
His latest publications are Changeons de voie: Les leçons du coronavirus (avec la collaboration de Sabah Abouessalam, 2020) and L’entrée dans l’ère écologique (2020).
Morin has been co-director of the journals Arguments and Communications, Director of Research at the CNRS, and co-director of the Centre d’Études Transdisciplinaires (Sociology, Anthropology, Politics) at the École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales (1973-1989.) He chaired the European Agency for Culture (UNESCO) and presides over the Association pour la Pensée Complexe.
He is Doctor honoris causa of more than 30 universities throughout the world (Europe, Brazil, Mexico, Bolivia, etc.) in fields as diverse as Psychology, Political Science, Sociology, Anthropology, and Educational Sciences.
Recognized today as a major thinker on a global scale, he is now committed to reflecting on globalization and confronting the ecological struggle.