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Edgar Morin: Seven Complex Lessons in Education

Humanities/Social Sciences

Thematic Area
Community Development, Development studies, Political science (international relations, international governance), Sociology and Philosophy

This video contains a monologue by the Philosopher and Sociologist Edgar Morin, well known for his “complex thought”.
In this video, Morin presents some relevant ideas.
The scientific disciplines introduced in modern universities in the 19th century enabled significant progress. However, they limit knowledge because they are separated from each other. This separation prevents us from addressing global challenges.
Errors and illusions taint our knowledge. It is easy to detect the errors and misconceptions of the past, but it is not easy to catch those of the present.
All knowledge is a translation of reality. It is important to contextualize it not just geographically but also historically.
We must learn what being human means. We have a double identity: a biological one and a human one. A human being is both “homo sapiens” and “homo demens” because he is capable of reasoning and madness. A human being has been said “homo faber” because he devises tools, but he also has a spiritual and mythological life. A human being has also been defined as “homo economicus” due to his own interests, but there are many disinterested activities. There is the “homo ludens”, which is the one who plays. Life can be defined as a double polarity between prose and poetry. One role of education is to explain that people must develop their capacity to enjoy life poetically. Learning to live means learning to live poetically.
There is a profound human unity that leads to great diversity.
Everybody knows that the future is uncertain not just for each individual but also for the planet. What is crucial is that the sciences teach us that all our knowledge contains uncertainties and the present is not immobile.
The first important maxim is “expect the unexpected”. The second important point is that all the decisions we might take both personally and politically are nothing but wagers. Once we have this awareness, we can monitor our actions and modify our strategy, taking events into account to transform them.

Points of Strength
The clarity of Morin’s speech is relevant. He proposes sharp concepts that should be transmitted to the new generations, who will need to tackle global challenges now more than ever. Morin’s enthusiasm is also enticing.