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Edgar Morin

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Edgar Morin

Edgar Morin
Born Edgar Nahoum
(1921-07-08) 8 July 1921
Paris, France
Nationality French
Occupation Philosopher

Edgar Morin (French: ; born Edgar Nahoum in Paris on July 8, 1921) is a French philosopher and sociologist who has been internationally recognized for his work on complexity and "complex thought," and his scholarly contributions to such diverse fields as media studies, politics, sociology, visual anthropology, ecology, education, systems biology, and beyond. He holds degrees in history, economics, and law. Though less well known in the United States due to the limited availability of English translations of his over 60 books, Morin is renowned in the French speaking world, Europe, and Latin America.

In addition to being the UNESCO Chair of Complex Thought, he is known as a founder of transdisciplinarity and is the holder of a diverse array of honorary doctorates in a variety of social science fields from no less than 21 universities(Messina, Geneva, Milan, Bergamo, Thessaloniki, La Paz, Odense, Perugia, Cosenza, Palermo, Nuevo León, Université de Laval à Québec, Brussels, Barcelona, Guadalajara, Valencia, Vera Cruz, Santiago, the Catholic University of Porto Alegre, the Universidade Federal do Rio Grande do Norte, Candido Mendes University (Rio de Janeiro))[1]

The University of Messina in Sicily, Ricardo Palma University in Lima, and the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (CNRS), the prestigious French National Research Center in Paris, have established research centers based on his transdisciplinary methods and philosophy.[2] In addition, a university was established recently in Mexico based on his work, Multiversidad Mundo Real Edgar Morin.

He did not embrace the French postmodern or poststructuralist movements and instead pursued his own research agenda. As a result, US academics did not transport his theories into disciplinary discourses in same fashion as they did Foucault and Derrida, and he did not slide into the heredities of traditional academic disciplines in the 1980s and 1990s. His work spans scholarly and popular literature, and he has graced the cover of multiple publications including Sciences Humaines and a special issue of Le Monde.


At the beginning of the 20th century, Morin's family migrated from the Greek city of Salonica (Thessaloniki) to Marseille[3] and later to Paris, where Edgar was born. He is of Judeo-Spanish (Sefardi) origin.

When the Germans invaded France in 1940, Edgar assisted refugees and joined the French Resistance.[4] As a member of the French Resistance he adopted the pseudonym Morin, which he would use for the rest of his life. He joined the French Communist Party in 1941.

Morin founded and directed the magazine Arguments (1954–1962). In 1959 his book Autocritique was published. The book was a sustained reflection on his adherence to, and subsequent exit from, the Communist party focusing on the dangers of ideology and self-deception.

In 1960, Morin travelled extensively in Latin America, visiting Brazil, Chile, Bolivia, Peru and Mexico.He returned to France where he published L'Esprit du Temps', a work on popular culture.

That same year, French sociologist Roland Barthes together to create a Centre for the Study of Mass Communication that, after several name-changes, became the Edgar Morin Centre of the EHESS, Paris.[5]

Beginning in 1965, Morin became involved in a large multidisciplinary project, financed by the Délégation Générale à la Recherche Scientifique et Technologique in Plozévet.

In 1968, Morin replaced Henri Lefebvre at the University of Nanterre. He became involved in the student revolts that began to emerge in France. In May 1968, he wrote a series of articles for Le Monde that tried to understand what he called "The Student Commune." He followed the student revolt closely and wrote a second series of articles in Le Monde called "The Revolution without a Face," as well as co-authoring Mai 68: La brèche with Cornelius Castoriadis and Claude Lefort.[6]

In 1969, Morin spent a year at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies in La Jolla, California.

In 1983, he published De la nature de l’URSS, which deepened his analysis of Soviet communism and anticipated the Perestroika of Mikhail Gorbachev.

In 2002, Morin participated in the creation of the International Ethical, Scientific and Political Collegium. In this year, he also had a trip to Iran with Dariush Shayegan.

Philosophical development

According to Alfonso Montuori in "Edgar Morin: A partial introduction"
"The 5 volume Method is perhaps Morin’s culminating work, a remarkable and seemingly inexhaustible treasure trove of insights, reflection, and a real manual for those who are interested in broadening the nature of human inquiry. Drawing on cybernetics, information theory, systems theory, but also integrating all the work he has done before, from the work on imagination in his research on movies to his profound reflections on death, Method integrates Morin’s journey and provides the reader with an alternative to the traditional assumptions and method of inquiry of our time.".

See also

Literary Work


  • 1951, L’Homme et la mort
  • 1956, Le cinéma ou l'homme imaginaire
  • 1957, Les Stars
  • 1962, L'Esprit du temps
  • 1969, La Rumeur d’Orléans
  • 1967, Commune en France: La Métamorphose de Plodemet
  • La Méthode (6 volumes)
    • 1977, La Nature de la nature
    • 1980, La Vie de la vie
    • 1986, La Connaissance de la connaissance
    • 1991, Les Idées
    • 2001, L’Humanité de l’humanité
    • 2004, L'Éthique complexe
  • 1970, Journal de Californie
  • 1973, Le paradigme perdu: la nature humaine
  • 1981, Pour sortir du siècle XX
  • 1982, Science avec conscience
  • 1983, De la nature de l’URSS
  • 1988, Penser L'Europe
  • 1990, Introduction à la pensée complexe
  • 1993, Terre-patrie
  • 1994, Mes démons
  • 1994, La Complexité humaine
  • 1997, Comprendre la complexité dans les organisations de soins
  • 1999, L’Intelligence de la complexité
  • 1999, Relier les connaissances
  • 1999, La Tête bien faite
  • 2000, Les Sept savoirs nécessaires à l'éducation du futur
  • 2001, Journal de Plozévet, Bretagne
  • 2002, Pour une politique de civilisation
  • 2002, Dialogue sur la connaissance. Entretiens avec des lycéens
  • 2003, La Violence du monde
  • 2003, Éduquer pour l’ère planétaire, la pensée complexe comme méthode d’apprentissage dans l’erreur et l’incertitude humaine
  • 2003, Les Enfants du ciel: entre vide, lumière, matière
  • 2004, Pour Entrer dans le siècle XXI
  • 2006, Le Monde Moderne et La Question Juive
  • 2007, Vers l'abîme ?
  • 2007, Où va le monde ?
  • 2007, L'An I de l'ère écologique : la Terre dépend de l'homme qui dépend de la Terre, Paris, Éditions Tallandier ?
  • 2008, La Méthode, Seuil, Collection Opus (2 vol.) ?
  • 2008, Pour une politique de civilisation, Paris, éditions Arléa ?
  • 2011, La Voie. Pour l'avenir de l'humanité, Paris, Fayard


  • "The Noise and the Message". Telos 33 (Fall 1977). New York: Telos Press.


  • 2005, Restricted complexity, general complexity.[7]


  1. ^
  2. ^
  3. ^ Edgar Morin, Véronique Nahoum-Grappe, Haïm Vidal Sephiha (1989) "Vidal et les siens", Paris: Seuil, 317 pages.
  4. ^
  5. ^
  6. ^
  7. ^ Gershenson, C., D. Aerts, and B. Edmonds (Eds.). (2007). Worldviews, Science, and Us: Philosophy and Complexity. World Scientific, Singapore.

External links

  • The Persecution of Edgar Morin by Doug Ireland
  • An interview and short biography on Unesco's web site
  • (French) "La réalité semi-imaginaire de l'homme", chapitre conclusif du livre "Cinéma ou l'homme imaginaire" (1956), reproduit sur le site d'analyse L'oBservatoire (simple appareil).
  • A lecture in English
  • A Spanish language website
  • Interview with Edgar Morin
  • Edgar Morin: Seven Complex Lessons in Education
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