I have never been able to separate Edgar from Morin. I met him in 1980 when I began to translate La Méthode (Method) while working on my PhD Thesis (which relates Morin’s complex thought system with feminist theory). I was invited to his home, where we talked about his work and he immediately invited me to dinner on the very same night. It was there that I met the sadly missed José Vidal Beneyto, a close friend of Edgar. After that, we have met on many occasions and have always brought work and personal life together. In his epistemological proposals Morin poses the inseparability of subject and object, in his private life the union of the theoretical and personal.
Due to his theoretical-personal concerns, Edgar Morin is and has been a journalist, sociologist, political scientist and epistemologist. His prolific work has been translated into multiple languages, from Japanese, Chinese and Korean languages to more closely related languages like Spanish, Catalan or Portuguese. He has been awarded the title of doctor honoris causa by several universities including the University of Valencia, which he has visited numerous times.
On this occasion I am accompanied by Rosa Iniesta –Morinian musicologist who wishes to act as photographer–. First, the interview: Edgar Morin is lucid, relaxed and energetic, his voice is calm; his strong hands never stop moving. Then he takes us out to dine at Marché des Enfants Rouges. Edgar Morin is in good health at 88 years of age. He has had a liver disorder since he was 40, but knows how to take care of himself. He is tremendously active –we’ve had to wait several months to conduct the interview: in August he was in the Amazon, then Egypt, Italy… When in Paris he receives constant visits, from all over the world, so he’s now considering spending a few months away –perhaps in Cuernavaca, perhaps in Cartagena de Indias- where it will be easier to write up his penultimate project.
His work La Méthode (Method) can be analyzed as an example of trans-disciplinary research that has not broken away from the original project, a complex anthropology. Its scope covers physics, biology, sociology, politics and epistemology in an attempt to sketch what humans are. Thus, he establishes complex knowledge of humanity, which reconnects, weaves together, all dimensions or aspects, currently disjointed and compartmentalized, of human reality: physical, biological, psychological, social, anthropological, mythological, economic, sociological and historical.
The idea of a fundamental anthropology emerged in L’homme et la mort (Humanity and death), in 1951, in which he proposed considering history specifically in the context of its human reality and man in the context of historic reality, and he called it genetic anthropology. What were his key theories at that time?
Perhaps this is why you sought transdisciplinary academic training, was it?
What was your other theoretical foundation?
In other words, your theoretical bases were transdisciplinarity and dialectical…
So, right from the beginning, you felt the need to reunite separate areas of knowledge.
Regarding the International Symposium on «The Unity of Man», organized in 1972, you had set up a research centre devoted to fundamental anthropology, which also entailed the biological dimension of man. What resulted from that project?
What was your contribution to this symposium?
Are you saying the gap between animal and human decreased?
Anthropology has sought uniformity hidden behind diversity: given the array of customs, you had to find some universals. How did you reconcile the local and the global?
In your early writings you speak of «man», why do you now prefer to use the term «human»?
You say in the preface to the latest edition of La Méthode (Method) that your task was to rethink the problem of knowledge from new conceptual possibilities. Are these conceptual innovations the dialogic and recursive loop?
Regarding biological reductionism and cultural reductionism you propose La vie de la vie (The life of life), through a dialogical analysis, the innate/acquired loop. How do you see such indissolubility?
Why, since Introduction à une politique de l’homme (Introduction to a politics of humanity), is your anthropological project linked to politics? How did the idea of anthropolitics arise?
Does that mean to say you did not abandon any of your left-wing ideals?
Recently you said that you were abandoning the notion of revolution in favour of metamorphosis.
And what are you concerned about nowadays?
| © M. Lorenzo|
«Human beings are horrified by death but, at the same time, come closer to it for religious or other reasons, the second paradox arises because human beings think they can have a life after death»
«The treasure of human unity is its diversity and the wealth of human diversity is its unity. It never ceases to amaze me that this idea, which seems so obvious to me, is so difficult to assimilate»
«There was a reductionism in Marx. I longed for politics that showed a better understanding of the human and social reality and understood better the transformations of the twentieth century»
«In the world there are thousands of creative initiatives. Thousand of aspirations that show we want another world, another life. My idea is that you first need to know such aspirations, reconnect them, we must be aware that at any given moment many reforms are initiated. We must restructure everything»