Fernand Dumont, sociologist, philosopher, theologian and poet (b at Montmorency, Que., June 24, 1927; d at Québec, May 1, 1997). Dumont is considered one of the most prominent intellectuals Quebec has ever produced. An interdisciplinary scholar concerned with the fate of culture and the place of humanity in modern society, he successfully reconciled the dissimilar forces driving his efforts as a teacher striving to impart knowledge; as a researcher seeking to build a consistent, diversified body of work; as a leading scientist aware of the importance of collaboration; and as an intellectual committed to earthly politics while bearing witness to his Christian faith.
Born to a working-class family of modest means, he never forgot the culture of his popular roots and viewed his entry into the realm of intellectual culture through classical and academic studies as a sort of "emigration." This perspective on culture influenced his theoretical works, in which he conceived of culture in terms of both memory and distance, writing that, without culture, man would become immersed in the monotony of his present actions, never achieving the distance necessary to create a past or a future. Dumont was also an attentive and critical analyst of the evolution of Quebec society.
After completing a master's degree at Université Laval's faculty of social sciences, he obtained a doctorate in sociology in 1967 from the Sorbonne in Paris. Appointed professor in 1955 at U. Laval, he spent most of his career there, earning a second doctoral degree in 1987 in theology. His many achievements include the founding, with Jean-Charles Falardeau and Yves Martin, of Recherches sociographiques (1960), an interdisciplinary journal focusing on the study of Quebec and francophone Canada; chairing the Commission sur les laïcs et l'Église (1968-70); participation in the drafting of Quebec's cultural development policy (white paper) in 1978; and appointment as founding president of the Institut québécois de recherche sur la culture (1979-90).
Fernand Dumont was also a prolific author, with over 20 books and numerous articles and interviews published. His best-known works include Le lieu de l'Homme (1968), Les idéologies (1974), L'anthropologie en l'absence de l'homme (1981), Le sort de la culture (1987), L'institution de la théologie (1987), Genèse de la société québécoise (1993), Raisons communes (1995), Une foi partagée (1996), La part de l'ombre, Poèmes 1952-1955, and his memoirs, Récit d'une immigration (1997). He became an officer of the Ordre national du Québec in 1992.