Books : reviews

Myron Kofman.
Edgar Morin: from big brother to fraternity.
Pluto Press. 1996

Edgar Morin is widely recognised as the doyen of French intellectuals and perceived among English language scholars to be the most promising thinker on the post-Marxist French left. In this volume Kofman articulates both the intellectual and cultural arguments of Morin’s work and engages themes such as the philosophical significance of New Physics, the relationship between man and machine, bio-ethics, chaos and ecology.

Morin’s achievements as an opponent of all kinds of determinism have helped shape French and European culture towards and through the collapse of Marxism. As the most self-referential French intellectual since Montaigne, his hostility to the notion of rigid, objective boundaries between disciplines and fields of scholarship and enquiry owes much to his insistence on the primacy of personal experience. A self-styled ‘poacher’ or smuggler across rigid ideological and intellectual divides, Morin’s enjoyment of his ‘contraband’ runs parallel in France with his status as an agnostic messiah.

This study of Morin’s work is the first to introduce his ideas to a wider English language readership.