Complex Thought 101

By: sean@metaintegral.com

In my first year of graduate studies, I took a course co-taught by Sean Kelly and Alfonso Montuori that focused on the evolution of consciousness, planetary culture, and complexity. Ken Wilber’s writings were among the required readings. It was in this course that I encountered the work of French philosopher and sociologist Edgar Morin. We read his Homeland Earth, which had been translated by Sean and in many ways occupies a place in Morin’s corpus similar to Wilber’s A Brief History of Everything.

I was immediately engaged and excited by the integrative approach of Morin, which echoed Wilber’s in important ways and complemented it in others. What made the course really stand out was that both Sean and Alfonso were long-time students of his work and had a personal relationship with Morin. As a result they were able to provide a very rich context for engaging Morin’s writings. This was especially noteworthy in that the vast majority of Morin’s work – including his six-volume magnum opus La Méthode – has yet to be fully translated into English.

So imagine my frustration to discover a powerful integral thinker whose work was largely inaccessible to me due to being unavailable in English. Thus, over the years, as additional books of Morin have been translated into English I have picked them up immediately. One of the things that I have consistently appreciated about reading Morin’s writings is the way it transports me into forms of complex thinking that feel uniquely integral and at the same time are distinct from the integral thinking that occurs for me in reading Wilber’s work. Morin’s Complex Thought provides me with the experience of a similar but different form of integral consciousness than the one I’m used to via Integral Theory.

As a result, for years I’ve wanted to find a way to introduce Morin to the larger integral community; thereby enriching the integral landscape of discourse and practice. This year’s Integral Theory Conference felt like the perfect moment. So it is with real excitement that Morin will deliver our Saturday keynote. I feel this is a watershed moment for the development of Integral Theory as it begins to engage other streams of integral thought.

To support members of the integral community to become more familiar with Morin, I asked Alfonso Montuori to author an overview of Morin. So enjoy this great introduction to an important contemporary integral figure:

Complex Thought: An Overview of Edgar Morin’s Intellectual Journey