Edgar Morin is probably one of the most important thinkers of our time. He is a sociologist, anthropologist and philosopher who transcends the boundaries of scientific disciplines and has set a new direction for science and research with his philosophy of complexity; at the same time, he is a contentious intellectual who is not afraid to make proposals for a humane planetary politics that could lead us out of the current polycrisis.
The Early Years
Edgar Morin was born Edgar Nahoum in Paris in 1921 to a family of Sephardic Jews from Thessaloniki. When he is ten years old, his mother dies - an event that will leave a deep mark on him. When Hitler invades France, he joins the Communist Party (KPF) and becomes involved in the Resistance. He adopted the code name Morin, which he kept as a pseudonym even after the war.
Scientific and Political Commitment after 1945
From 1949 onwards he became increasingly alienated from the Stalinist course of the KPF, and in 1951 he was expelled. He continued to be politically active, for example against the Algerian war.
After studying history, geography and law, he obtained a position as a sociologist at the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (CNRS) in 1950, one of the most important research institutions in the country. He worked on film, television and popular culture - topics that had hardly been researched at the time. In 1977 he became Research Director at the CNRS, a position he held until his retirement in 1993.
Theorist of Complexity
After spending time abroad in the 1960s in South America and California (Salk Institute for Biological Studies), Morin developed his anthropology: man as a bio-cultural being (Le Paradigme perdu : la nature humaine 1972, Engl: The Enigma of the Human) - a basis for his main philosophical work, the six volumes La Méthode [Engl: The Method] (1977-2004). This encyclopaedic work deals with nature, biology, knowledge and ideas, anthropology, and finally ethics and politics. Specific is his postulate of the complexity of all areas of nature and life, which one must do justice to with scientific complexity thinking.
Planetary Thinking - Anthropolitics
In his manifesto Terre-Patrie (1993, together with Anne-Brigitte Kern, Engl. Homeland Earth 1999) Edgar Morin develops his concept of a planetary politics. In view of the danger of humanity's self-destruction, it is necessary to develop the awareness of the togetherness of all people among themselves and of all people with the nature that surrounds them on our planet, the common Homeland Earth. The pedagogical implementation of these ideas can be found in the handbook Les septs savoirs nécessaires à l'éducation du futur (1999, Engl. The Seven Foundations of Knowledge for an Education of the Future, 2001).
Morin's pioneering thinking has long resonated widely in different parts of the world. Despite his advanced age, Edgar Morin continues to intervene in current affairs through newspaper interviews, the social media, essays and books, working tirelessly on the project of civilising civilisation. It is probably the joy of life, existence and active participation in the fate of our Homeland Earth that keeps him so young.