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Philippe Kourilsky

Science and Democracy

A researcher at the CNRS, former director of the Institut Pasteur, Philippe Kourilsky is professor emeritus at the Collège de France and a member of the French Academy of Sciences. He is notably the author of Les Artisans de l’hérédité and La Science en partage, two best-selling, major scientific works.

Philippe Kourilsky writes here as a citizen and as a scientist. With this book, his aim is to analyze the “democratic” phenomenon as a living organism whose wholeness is threatened: what are its mechanisms of defense and survival? How can they be activated in an environment that is as dangerous and unstable as ours?

Just about everywhere in the world democracy is losing ground or being corrupted: some so-called democratic countries are rotting from corruption, others are leaning toward dictatorships while maintaining an electoral process, becoming what is called “democratures.” Is democracy condemned to disappear in a more or less short amount of time?

Applying concepts of robustness and complexity, central to biology, Philippe Kourilsky identifies the defects of democracy, enabling the reader to understand the current crisis: defects of altruism which establishes the duty of solidarity, of discussion that enables participation in democratic life, effectiveness without which there is no well-being… Then he opens the paths for the rejuvenation of our political system, within which science and education play essential roles.