A “human” being: Edgar Morin

Edgar Morin on May 19, 2021

Behind his mischievous gaze and the moucharabieh with narrowed eyes, Edgar Morin opens his arms to life and welcomes his interlocutor in the complexity of his identity, eager for exchanges, mixing of ideas, cultural encounters and marks of benevolence. This lover of life has not finished surprising us. Born dead, as he keeps repeating – “Asphyxiated by the umbilical cord, it took the obstinacy of the gynecologist who slapped me for a long time so that I finally uttered a cry and escaped death” – he continues to live, with happiness.

” Who am I ? », He asks in his latest book, Lessons from a century of life * which has just been published for its 100th anniversary. He continues: “I answer: I am a human being. This is my noun. But I have several objectives, of varying importance depending on the circumstances; I am French, of Sephardic Jewish origin, partially Italian and Spanish, largely Mediterranean, cultural European, citizen of the world, child of the Motherland. “He will specify, a little later, in a great anthropological consciousness” the human species is biologically inside me. The lineage of mammals, vertebrates, animals, polycellulars is in me. “Edgar M. modestly refers to his multicultural identity to allow all humans to understand that” each has a complex identity, that is to say both one and plural. A way of accepting all humans as brothers in their unity and plurality.

Edgar “the undisciplined” plays with disciplines and doxas to tackle the complexity of the world through “transdisciplinarity” which constitutes his tool for reading the world. The CETSAP (Center for Transdisciplinary Studies, Sociology, Anthropology, Politics), which he founded in 1983 with Claude Lefort, has made it possible to decompartmentalize the disciplines. Beyond the multidisciplinary synthesis, necessary today, the trans-disciplinary offers everyone to adopt the codes and the language of other disciplines to intercommunicate. Edgar M. was the great architect of the dialogue between “hard” and “soft” sciences, biology and social sciences, in particular through his fundamental Paradigm lost** which proclaims that the key to culture is in our nature and the key to our nature is in culture.

It is with Human Ecology that I met Edgar Morin, that we made a journey together in this anthropological understanding of man and nature. His lost paradigm was already rich in the complexity of the human. I was then co-director of the International Certificate in Human Ecology at Bordeaux I University and, with him, we made exciting and fruitful transdisciplinary reflections on the concept of Society***, anthropic action, as well as in Châteauvallon with Gérard Paquet, around transgression and realistic utopias, then during the Edgar Morin days in Paris in 2008 at the House of metalworkers. Edgar M. has always been the driving force and animator of our reflections, a realistic visionary for enlightened foresight.

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“The year of my thirteenth birthday,” confides Edgar M. Lessons from a century of life *, contradictory revelations came to me which marked me forever: doubt and faith. Reading the Sylvestre Bonnard’s crime Anatole France, the “smiling skepticism” (as we said of this author) came over me as being My Truth. To the one of Crime and Punishment of Dostoyevsky, I discovered the struggle and the complementarity between faith and doubt. As with Pascal, even if my faith never had God for object, but human fraternity. I especially received from Dostoyevsky the messages of compassion and human complexity. »Reading nourished Edgar Morin, I suggest that his reading nourish you.

In this period of vacation, of suspended time, of reflection where we can more easily have time to read, I personally recommend the few fundamentals of reflection of Edgar Morin that I have just mentioned: for me first and foremost The Lost Paradigm: Human Nature ** ; but also the stars, Science with conscience ; Love, Poetry, Wisdom, the three evidences of life for Edgar Morin; My bets, my memory, a childhood, a life in Paris; and his essential autobiography, Memories come my way ****, more than a life, the novel of a human being, of a being to think about, if not of a “master to think”, Edgar Morin.

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* Lessons from a century of life, by Edgar Morin, Denoël, 2021; **The Lost Paradigm: Human Nature, by Edgar Morin, Seuil, 1973; ***Companies, with Edgar Morin, under the dir. by Philippe Brenot, l’Harmattan, 1989; My Paris, my memory, by Edgar Morin, Fayard, 2013; Love, Poetry, Wisdom, by Edgar Morin, Seuil, 1999; Memories come my way **** by Edgar Morin, Fayard, 2019;

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A “human” being: Edgar Morin


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