Pierre Teilhard de Chardin
The Phenomenon of Man
Collins Sons&Co.,Ltd. 1959


29 Preface
If this book is to be properly understood, it must be read not as a work on metaphysics, still less as a sort of theological essay, but purely and simply as a scientific treaties. The title itself indicates that. This book deals with man solely as a phenomenon; but it also deals with the whole phenomenon on of man...

The pages which follow do not attempt to give an explanation of the world, but only an introduction to such an explanation. Put quite simply, what I have tried to do is this; I have chosen man as the centre, and around him I have tried to establish a coherent order between antecedants and consequents. I have not tried to discover the system of ontological and causal relations between the elements of the universe, but only an experimental law of recurrence which would express their successive appearance in time.

Beyond these first purely scientific reflections, there is obviously ample room for farther-reaching speculations of the philosopher and theologian. Of set purpose, I have at all times carefully avoided venturing into that field of the essence of being. At most I am confident that, on the plane of experience, I have identified with some accuracy the combined movement towards unity, and have marked the places where philosophical and religious thinkers, in pursuing the matter further, would be entitled, for reasons of a higher order, to look for breaches of continuity.

181 The noosphere: ...the human phylum is not like any other. The specific orthogenesis of the primates (urging them to increasing cerebralisation) coincides with the axial orthogenesis of organised matter (urging all living things towards a higher consciousness) man, appearing at the heart of the primates, flourishes on the leading shoot of zoological evolution.

182 Geologists have long agreed in admitting the zonal composition of our planet. We have already spoken of the barysphere, central and metallic, surrounded by the rocky lithosphere that in turn is surrounded by the fluid layers of the hydrosphere and the atmosphere. Science has rightly become accustomed to add another to these four concentric layers, the living membrane composed of the fauna and flora of the globe, the biosphere, an envelope as definitely universal as the other „spheres“ and even more definitely individualised than them. The recognition and isolation of a new era of evolution, the era of noogenesis, obliges us to distinguish yet another membrane in the majestic assembly of telluric layers. Outside and above the biosphere there is the noosphere.

257 There can be no doubt of it: the great human machine is designed to work and must work - by producing a super-abundance of mind.

254 Chapter Two: Beyond the Collective; the Hyper-personal

257 The Convergence of the Person and the Omegapoint
Unlike the primitives who gave a face to every moving thing, or the early Greeks who defined all the aspects and forces of nature, modern man is obsessed by the need to depersonalise (or impersonalise) all that he most admires. There are two reasons for this tendency, the first is analysis, that marvellous instrument of scientific research to which we owe all our advances but which, breaking down synthesis after synthesis, leaving us confronted with a pile of dismantled machinery, and evanescent particles. The second reason lies in the discovery of the sidereal world, so vast that it seems to do away with all proportion between our own being and the Dimensions of the cosmos around us. Only one reality seems to survive and be capable of succeeding and spanning the infinitesimal and the immense: energy - that floating universal entity from which all emerges and into which all fall back as into an ocean; energy, the new spirit; the new God. So, at the world's Omega, as at its Alpha, lies the impersonal.

Yet if we try to pursue the logic and coherence of facts to the very end, we seem to be led to the precisely opposite view by the notion of space-time and evolution. Evolution is an ascent towards consciousness. That is no longer contested even by the most materialistic, or at all events by the most agnostic of humanitarians.

Therefore it should culminate forwards in some sort of supreme consciousness. - the illuminating involution of the being upon itself? It would manifestly be an error to extend the curve of harmonisation in the direction of a state of diffusion.

It is only in the direction of hyper-reflection - that is to say, hyper-personalisation - that thought can extrapolate itself. Otherwise how could it garner our conquests which are all made in the field of what is reflected? At first sight we are disconcerted by the association of an Ego with what is the All.
The utter disproportion of the two terms seems flagrant, almost laughable. That is because we have not sufficiently meditated upon the threefold property possessed by every consciousness: (i) of centring everything partially upon itself; (ii) of being able to centre itself upon itself constantly; and (iii) of being brought more by this very super- concentration into associations with all the other centres surrounding it.

Are we not at every instant living the experience of a universe whose immensity, by the play of our senses and our reason, is gathered up more and more simply in each one of us? And in the establishment now proceeding through science and the philosophies of a collective human Weltanschauung in which everyone of us co-operates and participates, are we not experiencing the first symptoms of an aggregation of a still higher order, the birth of some single centre from the convergent beams of millions of elementary centres dispersed over the surface of the thinking earth?

All our difficulties and repulsion is as regards the opposition between the All and the Person would be dissipated if only we understood that, by structure, the noosphere (and more generally the world) represent a whole that is not only closed but also centred. Because it contains and engenders consciousness, space-time is necessarily of a convergent nature. Accordingly its enormous layers, followed in the right direction, must somewhere ahead becoming involuted to a point which we might call Omega, which fuses and consumes them integrally in itself. However immense the sphere of the world may be, it only exists and is finally perceptible in the direction in which ist radii meet - even if this were beyond time and space altogether. Better still: the more immense this sphere the richer and deeper and hence the more conscious is the point at which the „volume of being“ that it embraces is concentrated; because the mind, seen from outside, is essentially the power of synthesis and organisation.

260 Seen from this point of view, the universe, without losing any of its immensity and thus without suffering any anthropomorphism, begins to take shape: since to think it, undergo it and make it act, it is beyond our souls that we must look, not the other way round. In the perspective of a noogenesis, time and space become truly humanised - or rather super-humanised. Far from being mutually exclusive, the Universe and Personal (that is to say, the „centered“) grow in the same direction and culminate simultaneously in each other. It is therefore a mistake to look for the extension of our being or of the noosphere in the Impersonal. The Future-Universal could not be anything else but the Hyper-Personal at the Omega Point.

272 Thus from the grains of thought forming the veritable and indestructible atoms of its stuff, the universe - a well-defined universe in the outcome - goes on building itself above our heads in the inverse direction of matter which vanishes. The universe is a collector and a conservator, not of mechanical energy, as we supposed, but of persons. All around us, one by one, like a continual exhalation, „souls“ break away, carrying upwards there incommunicable load of consciousness. One by one, yet not in isolation. Since, for each of them, by the very nature of Omega, there can only be one possible point of definitive emersion - that point at which, under the synthesising action of personalising union, the noosphere (furling its elements upon themselves as it too furls upon itself) will reach collectively its point of convergence - at the „end of the world“.

Beobachtung Dritter Ordnung

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