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Edgar Morin
Edgar Nahoum

(1921-07-08) 8 July 1921 (age 102)
Paris, France
Alma materUniversity of Paris
Notable workLa méthode (1977–2004, 6 vols.)
SchoolContinental philosophy
Constructivist epistemology[1]
InstitutionsCNRS, École des hautes études en sciences sociales (EHESS)
Main interests
Complexity theory[2][3]
Notable ideas
Complex thought[4] Chaosmos[5]
Criticism of structuralism[6]
Criticism of Ludwig von Bertalanffy's systems theory[7] autos (auto-(geno-pheno)-eco-re-organization)[8]

Edgar Morin (/mɔːˈræn/; French: [ɛdɡaʁ mɔʁɛ̃]; born Edgar Nahoum; 8 July 1921) is a French philosopher and sociologist of the theory of information who has been recognized for his work on complexity and "complex thought" (pensée complexe),[15] and for his scholarly contributions to such diverse fields as media studies, politics, sociology, visual anthropology, ecology, education, and systems biology. He holds two bachelors, one in history and geography and one in law,[16] and never did a Ph.D.[16] Though less well known in the anglophone world 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.

During his academic career he was primarily associated with the École des hautes études en sciences sociales (EHESS) in Paris.


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At the beginning of the 20th century, Morin's family migrated from the Ottoman city of Salonica (Thessaloniki) to Marseille[17] and later to Paris, where Edgar was born. He is of Judeo-Spanish (Sefardi) origin.[18]

When the Germans invaded France in 1940, Morin assisted refugees and joined the French Resistance.[19] As a member of the French Resistance he adopted the pseudonym Morin, which he continues to use. He joined the French Communist Party in 1941.

In 1945, Morin married Violette Chapellaubeau and they lived in Landau, where he served as a lieutenant in the French Occupation army in Germany.

In 1946, he returned to Paris and gave up his military career to pursue his activities with the Communist Party. Due to his critical posture, his relationship with the party gradually deteriorated until he was expelled in 1951 after he published an article in L'Observateur politique, économique et littéraire. In the same year, he was admitted to the National Center of Scientific Research (CNRS).

Morin founded and directed the magazine Arguments [fr] (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.

Edgar Morin at a colloquium in Rio de Janeiro, 1972.

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 Georges Friedmann brought him and 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.[20]

Also in 1960 Morin and Jean Rouch coauthored the film Chronique d'un été, an early example of cinéma vérité and direct cinema.

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 the incumbent professor of philosophy, 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 coauthoring Mai 68: La brèche with Cornelius Castoriadis and Claude Lefort.[21]

In 1969, Morin spent a year at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies in La Jolla, California. Jonas Salk invited him under the recommendation of Jacques Monod and John Hunt, with the sole imposed condition of learning. It was there, in this "breeding ground for Nobel Prizes" that he familiarized himself with systems theory. He read Henri Laborit, James Watson, Stéphane Lupasco, Bronowski, and was introduced to the thought of Gregory Bateson and the "new problematic in ecology".[22]

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. Also that year, he made a trip to Iran with Dariush Shayegan.

Following a meeting at a music festival in Fez, Morocco, in 2009, Morin became close with sociology professor Sabah Abouessalam. The couple married in 2012.[23] He collaborated with her on the text, L'homme est faible devant la femme (Presses de la Renaissance, 2013), and in 2020 on Changeons de voie - Les leçons du coronavirus (Denoël, 2020).

Recognition, honours and legacy

Morin did not embrace the French postmodern or poststructuralist movements, instead pursuing his own research agenda. As a result, US academics did not transport his theories into disciplinary discourses in same fashion as they did Foucault's, Derrida's and Galinon-Mélénec's. However, Morin's work spans scholarly and popular literature, and he has appeared on the cover of multiple publications including Sciences Humaines[24] and a special issue of Le Monde.[25]

In addition to being the UNESCO Chair of Complex Thought, Morin is known as a founder of transdisciplinarity. As of 2013 he holds honorary doctorates in a variety of social science fields from 21 universities: Messina, Geneva, Milan, Bergamo, Thessaloniki, La Paz, Odense, Perugia, Cosenza, Palermo, Nuevo León, Université Laval in Québec, Brussels, Barcelona, Guadalajara, Valencia, Vera Cruz, Santiago, the Catholic University of Porto Alegre, the Universidade Federal do Rio Grande do Norte, and Candido Mendes University in Rio de Janeiro.[26]

Several academic institutions have been named in his honour, with research centres based on his transdisciplinary methods and philosophy. These include:transdisciplinary methods and philosophy.[26][27]

Morin is the subject of several biographies as well as documentary films and TV shows. His work has been influential in southern Europe, Latin America, Francophone Africa, and more recently China and Japan.[27]

His 100th birthday in 2021 was celebrated in France, Italy, and Latin America, and several collections of essays were published in his honour.[27]

Morin was elevated to the dignity of Knight Grand Cross of the Legion of Honour, in the Honours List of Bastille Day 2021 by French President Macron.[27]

Works (selection)





Ribbon bar Country Honour
France Grand Cross of the National Order of the Legion of Honour
France Grand officier of the National Order of Merit
France Commander of the Ordre des Arts et des Lettres
Portugal Gran Cross of the Military Order of Saint James of the Sword
Morocco Commander of the Order of Intellectual Merit
Spain Officier of the Order of Civil Merit

See also


  1. ^ Daniel Bougnoux and Bastien Engelbach, "Entretien avec Edgar Morin (2) : Science et philosophie",, 10 April 2008.
  2. ^ a b Jennifer Wells, Complexity and Sustainability, Routledge, 2012, p. 134.
  3. ^ Steven Vertovec (ed.), Routledge International Handbook of Diversity Studies, Routledge, 2014, p. 373.
  4. ^ Edgar Morin, "On Complexity"
  5. ^ Edgar Morin, Restricted complexity, general complexity, 2005.
  6. ^ François Dosse, History of Structuralism: The sign sets, 1967-present, Volume 2, University of Minnesota Press, 1997, p. 449.
  7. ^ Sacha Kagan, Art and Sustainability: Connecting Patterns for a Culture of Complexity, transcript Verlag, 2014, p. 171.
  8. ^ Morin, Edgar (1992). "From the concept of system to the paradigm of complexity". Journal of Social and Evolutionary Systems. 15 (4): 371–385. doi:10.1016/1061-7361(92)90024-8.
  9. ^ "Edgar Morin, Mes philosophes
  10. ^ Brigitte Chamak, "Le Groupe des Dix"
  11. ^ a b c "Edgar Morin, Mes philosophes[permanent dead link]
  12. ^ "Edgar Morin, Mes philosophes [1][permanent dead link],
  13. ^ Morin, Edgar (1997-12-30). "An encyclopaedic spirit". Radical Philosophy. Archived from the original on 2008-06-11. Retrieved 2008-04-03.
  14. ^ Julian Bourg (ed.), After the Deluge: New Perspectives on the Intellectual and Cultural History of Postwar France, Lexington Books, 2004, p. 113.
  15. ^ For instance, see Moser, Keith 2018. Rethinking the Essence of Human and Other-Than-Human Communication in the Anthropocene Epoch: A Biosemiotic Interpretation of Edgar Morin’s “Complex Thought”. Humanities 7(2): 57.
  16. ^ a b Edgar Morin ou l'éloge de la pensée complexe, CNRS Le Journal .
  17. ^ Edgar Morin, Véronique Nahoum-Grappe, Haïm Vidal Sephiha (1989), Vidal et les siens, Paris: Seuil.
  18. ^ Morin, Edgar (2009). Vidal and His Family: From Salonica to Paris: The Story of a Sephardic Family in the Twentieth Century. Translated by Cowell, Deborah; Montuori, Alfonso. Sussex Academic Press. ISBN 978-1-84519-274-7.
  19. ^ Morin, Edgar; Boukhardi, Sophie (January 2004). "Talking to Edgar Morin: Defining dialogue". UNESCO: The New Courier: 8–11.
  20. ^ "Centre Edgar-Morin". iiac. Archived from the original on October 23, 2009. Retrieved 2010-01-23.
  21. ^ Van Herpen, Marcel. "PARIS MAY '68 AND PROVO AMSTERDAM '65" (PDF). p. 19. Retrieved 2010-01-23.
  22. ^ "Penser avec Edgar Morin, Lire La Méthode", Robin Fortin, Presses de l'Université Laval.
  23. ^ Catherine Goillau, « L'humanisme selon Edgar Morin », Le Point Références No. 64, July–August 2016, « La Grèce est ses dieux, une leçon de tolérance? Les textes fondamentaux», p. 108 (in French)
  24. ^ Sciences Humaines
  25. ^ Le Monde
  26. ^ a b Montuori, Alfonso (June 2013). "COMPLEX THOUGHT: An Overview of Edgar Morin's Intellectual Journey". MetaIntegral Foundation. Resource Paper.
  27. ^ a b c d Heath-Carpentier, A. (2022). The Challenge of Complexity: Essays by Edgar Morin. Liverpool University Press. p. 12. ISBN 978-1-78284-761-8. Retrieved 4 August 2023.
  28. ^ "Home page". Multiversidad Mundo Real Edgar Morin (in Spanish). Retrieved 4 August 2023.
  29. ^ Morin, Edgar (2005). Introduction à la pensée complexe (in French). Paris: Seuil. ISBN 978-2-7578-4200-3. OCLC 61693808.
  30. ^ ""Le monde d'après", selon Edgar Morin". (in French). 12 June 2020.
  31. ^ Eugène Berg (July–August 2020). "L'entrée dans l'ère écologique d'Edgar Morin". (in French)..
  32. ^ Morin, Edgar (2007). "Restricted Complexity, General Complexity". In Gershenson, C.; D. Aerts; B. Edmonds (eds.). Worldviews, Science, and Us: Philosophy and Complexity. Singapore: World Scientific. pp. 5–29. arXiv:cs/0610049. doi:10.1142/9789812707420_0002. ISBN 978-981-270-548-8. S2CID 13171097.