This weekend, LCI ran the following headline: "MUTATION - The British Prime Minister warned on Saturday that the spread of the Delta variant in his country was "very worrying", raising fears that the lifting of the latest anti-Covid restrictions would be delayed. The use of the word "mutation" has a strong impact, in reality and also in our imagination, as science-fiction authors have well understood: we think of the X-Men film series.
A mutation is a sudden and radical change, rather than a gradual transition. It is a rapid and profound transformation, the intensity of whose impact we perceive, without realizing or seeing all that is happening and the scope of its effects.
Clearly, talking about our world in crisis in terms of change and mutation makes sense. But more than a change outside ourselves, is it not a metamorphosis and mutation of each of us?
"Viruses mutate, they adapt and transform themselves to continue living. Why not us? ". This question runs through the book Mutation, l'aventure humaine ne fait que commencer1, published a few days ago. We know the author, Nathanaël Wallenhorst, a teacher-researcher at the UCO, and an expert on the Anthropocene, this new geological period marked by the dominant impact of human activities on ecosystems and the cause of global warming.
In fact, the question is about a mutation of humanity plunged into an odyssey2 of the living. During the last four centuries of Western history, the disconnect between humanity and nature has "given free rein to all kinds of abuse", as the anthropologist Claude Lévi-Strauss pointed out in 1962 (Anthropologie structurale, 1962). The mutation that we must undergo is to radically end this disconnect. To do this, Nathanaël Wallenhorst proposes "a model that is capable of thinking about mutation in the Anthropocene", a model that he calls "the human adventure" and which he outlines in three components. Firstly, it is necessary to bring under control the capacity for destruction of which man is capable and which manifests itself in limitless economic logics. Secondly, there is the recognition of our common belonging to life which is always "exchange, circulation, sharing". "The sharing of life-giving food" implies a logic of responsibility for all. Thirdly, let us acknowledge that we coexist before existing: we must "think together the living and its environment, the organism and its biotope", in a logic of hospitality.
This human adventure has the flavour of an odyssey, with journeys and learning experiences. This is why the mutation and the human adventure underway invite us to think in a radically renewed way about education in the Anthropocene era, to educate in order to think about reality and what we do, to educate in order to learn the language of the earth and the love of the world, amor mundi as Hannah Arendt called it.
1- Nathanaël Wallenhorst, Mutation. L'aventure humaine ne fait que commencer, Le Pommier, June 2021.
2- François Prouteau, Odyssée pour une Terre habitable, Le Pommier, October 2021.