“One of the most interesting thoughts in the world today,” says Jean Viard

This Saturday, March 26, we received on franceinfo* sociologist and thinker Edgar Morin, soon to be 101 years old, who publishes a manifesto: Let’s wake up! Edgar Morin is one of the sociologist Jean Viard’s peers and mentors, who every weekend helps us reflect on social problems.

Edgar Morin, outraged at the return of war in Europe, this war in Ukraine, also of modern concerns, in the face of climate change, identity resurfaces. Hence the importance according to him of thinking of the world as a whole, which according to him has become too rare.

“We are in a world of experts and specialists, each of whom sees only a small part of the problems, isolated from each other, whereas the intellectual is characterized by posing the fundamental problems, and which arise at some point in history. And in this case, possibly to take sides. “

Edgar Morin, sociologist and philosopher

at france info

franceinfo: Gain height, take time in a world that spins at full speed and in seizures and starts, often violently. Why is this so important?

John Viard: Edgar Morin, I’ve actually known him for a very long time. I have been working with him for 40 years. I was his student, I did my thesis with him, I edited about fifteen of his books, and I meet him from time to time. I think that’s one of the most interesting thoughts in the world today, because we’re both trained to keep things separate. Then there is the economy. Economy is numbers, it does not take into account symbols, emotions.

Take Ukraine, it is clear that there are very paradoxical questions. We have decreed that the market, trade could regulate the world, for 50 years, we have done so, and we say: and politics, and power relations, and identity crises, and the traumatic memory of communism, all that we remove. , we trade. It is not possible because the world is both trade, war, love, memory, violence. And it is an excellent example of a weakening of thought under the weight of traders. And then we come to an unmanageable situation. Everything was complex. We did not think so. Life is complexity. And that’s what’s exciting.

In Edgar Morin, there are two researchers, one who is basically a field sociologist, who worked in Germany in 1946, Rumor of Orleans, (book by Egard Morin about a political and media affair in 1969, editor’s note) etc. He takes hot topics and tries to pick them out to see what lies behind them. This is the heart of his sociology.

But little by little, since the 1970s, he embarked on his great book about The method(masterpiece by Edgar Morin, consisting of six volumes, described by the author as an encyclopaedic in the etymological sense, editor’s note), a book on this complex thought to try to fight against a world that we are cutting up. It’s very clear at Sciences Po, for example, you have students, they have an hour on agriculture, an hour on hunting, etc., but we’re not trying to get them to do theses or a synthetic tank. We give them knowledge that they can use, but no more than that.

So that’s Edgar Morin’s big problem. How will you think about global warming if you have not integrated the war? We can see that everything is connected: our car brands, our energy, our techniques, all of a sudden everything is disorganized on the planet at the moment, because we have built a totally interconnected world. I would say that it is becoming almost impossible to wage war in that world, otherwise it will cause explosions, that is what is happening not only for the unfortunate Ukrainians, but for the whole planet.

How do you explain that the place of intellectuals has been reduced in recent years, and how does this specifically affect the behavior of our world?

The place of the intellectuals has been reduced, but moreover, as it has been the place of the left, because the left wing has historically been an alliance of intellectuals and circles who own nothing, as we often say, that is, the working world, peasants. And then the court was the owners: the owners, the financiers, the priests, the institutions. Of course, I schematize a lot. And so basically the debate of ideas differed, little by little, politics from it. There are only a number, but when I started publishing 40 years ago, essays sold an average of 1,600 copies. Today, it is estimated that there are 700 copies. That means we actually read less. Politicians consult us less.

Basically, the intellectual movement continues on the one hand, and then politics has become a polling policy, a numbers policy. We measure, they know how to measure, but how do they lead society, how do they create desire? I would say that we have somewhat lost the sense of political desire that causes people to abstain, and somewhere I understand them well.

* Interview with Edgar Morin of March 26, 2022 on france info by Jules de Kiss

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