You will find thereafter the text. of some quotations extracted from "L'Activation de l'Energie" translated by René Hague under the title "Activation of energy"- (Harvest Book, publish. New York 1975). These quotations are only reflecting the choice of the reader (J.S. Abbatucci) and must be taken as an invitation to read the book in its entirety.
The Moment of Choice
The Atomism of Spirit
The Rise of the Other
Universalization and Union
The Analysis of Life
Outline of a Dialectic of Spirit
The Place of Technology in a General Biology of Mankind
On the Nature of the Phenomenon of Human Society
The Psychological Conditions of the Unification of Man
A Phenomenon of Counter-Evolution in Human Biology
The Sense of the Species in Man
The Evolution of Responsibility in the World
A Clarification: Reflections on Two Converse Forms of Spirit
The Zest for Living
The Spiritual Energy of Suffering
A Mental Threshold Across Our Path: From Cosmos to Cosmogenesis
Reflections on the Scientific Probability and the Religious Consequences of an Ultra-Human
The Convergence of the Universe
The Transformation and Continuation in Man of the Mechanisrn of Evolution
A Major Problem for Anthropology
The Reflection of Energy
Reflections on the Compression of Mankind
On Looking at a Cyclotron
The Energy of Evolution
The Stuff of the Universe
The Activation of Human Energy
The Death-Barrier and Co-Reflection
p. 24 - On either side of the middle zone of the world on the scale of which our humanity is busy and active, objects, as presented to our experience, are arranged in two natural series of size &endash; either indefinitely growing larger, or indefinitely growing smaller: towards the nebulae, or towards the atoms. Above lies the immense, below lies the infinitesimal. Since all time man has been vaguely conscious of being imprisoned in this limitless framework: so much so, that after an initial moment of bewilderment we now feel almost at home in between microns and light-years, in the new world of modem physics. What, however, still remains much less familiar to our minds is the strangeness, as yet hardly disclosed, of the two abysses between which we float. In a famous passage, Pascal imagined within a cheese mite another universe containing other mites. We are now finding ourselves obliged to think on lines that contradict this idea of a space that expands or contracts and yet retains the same characteristics. just as the brilliance of light and the forms of life are transformed in the eyes of an observer moving along a terrestrial meridian, or descending into the depths of the ocean - so, and even much more radically, we must conceive the universe as changing shape if we try in our minds to change our position either towards the uppermost, or towards the lowest, of its two extreme zones.
p. 26 - Let us now withdraw our attention from the immense and the infinitesimal, and turn to another scene, apparently of a dif-ferent order. Leaving atoms and nebulae, let us take a look, in the vicinity of our own middle latitude, at living matter.
Armed with ever more subtle and powerful instruments provided by science, biology is constantly pressing home its attacks on this object, so close to us and at the same time so extraordi-nary, which is our own flesh. Chemical analyses and syntheses of incredible delicacy; every sort of trituration, under the influence of the 'dead' or 'living' reagents which today make up the weaponry of research; finally, direct observation under the microscope, with magnifications thathave now suddenly just risen from two thousand diameters to a hundred thousand - this is not the place to enumerate the exciting results to which these investigations, still hardly begun, are leading. What, on the other hand, does matter in this connexion, is to note that, dominating the vast corpus of experimental data already accumulated by biophysics and biochemistry, one general fact is emerging, which is more important for our intelligence than any particular fact.By this I mean the incredible complexity of organic beings.
p. 29 - Let us, then, bring together and combine the two facts to which this preliminary essay has introduced us. On the one hand, as we began by noting, the stuff of things is transformed - there is a change in its properties - when we follow its main axis in space and either climb up towards extremely great or descend towards extremely small magnitudes. On the other hand, as we have just pointed out, there is a second way in which bodies can oscillate between the infinitesimal and the immense. While they are capable of becoming extremely small or extremely big, they can also follow another axis which runs athwart the first, and so become either ultra-simple or ultra complicated in their internal structure. We observed, further, that the high forms of complexity appear in the zone of living substances.
p. 30 - As we were saying, a new dimensional zone brings with it new properties. Once the special domain or special compartment of the ultra-synthetic is recognized in the universe, life no longer comes as an explosion into the scientific picture of the real. It simply fills up what would, without it, remain a gaping void in our outlook. Life is the property that is peculiar to large organized numbers, it is the specific effect of matter carried to an extreme degree of internal structuration, and as such it falls smoothly into the position of an expected phenomenon. Following on the immense and the infinitesimal, the large complex (since it does in fact exist) cannot but have its own proper character. What that is, we shall now see.
We have just seen that, under the operation of this structural formula (which may be read in either direction at will), the universe expands at a point half-way between the infinitesimal and the immense. At its equator it swells out in a layer sui generis, on which the distance between two points is no longer measurable in size but in degrees of organization - or, which comes to the same thing, of psychism.
p. 32 - A qualitative scale (but involving a qualitative factor that is still measurable) running across the quantitative scale of cosmic particles. Such is the overall shape assumed by the real around us.
This first view, taken as a 'still', is obviously no more than an instantaneous, infinitesimal, section of the phenomenon we are trying to picture to ourselves. Whether it is a question of atoms, of stars, or of living beings, every natural series immediately and irresistibly makes itself felt, for minds like ours that are awake to the sense of the evolutionary, as a trail of movement.
Our first fundamental relationship (i.e. (1) above) takes this form if we transpose it to the only scientifically real setting of a space that is indissolubly linked with time.
And it is here, I believe, that the light definitely bursts through.
In the 'common-sense' view and even, too often, in that of a certain sort of scientist, the universe is still divided into two water-tight compartments: the domain of matter and the domain of life; the atomic world of molecules and the cellular world of plants and animals.
Now, it is precisely the surface we imagine as separating these two worlds which begins to disappear for us when we apply relationship (2) -just as does the shimmering meniscus between the liquid and the gaseous portions of a body that lias reached its point of vaporization.
Beyond the albumens and proteins, but still a long way this side of cells, there are (as we discover every day more unmistakably) certain extremely large particles. From the external, chemical, point of view, we find it of absorbing interest to consider these new objects. Have we, however, given sufficient thought:to the fact that if these particles are hyper-complex the reason, necessarily and correlatively, is that they are hyper-centred, and that in consequence they hold a germ of consciousness? Below life, then, there is pre-life. We have the molecular branch and the cellular branch of matter: these two segments, hitherto, treated as divergent or heterogeneous, are now tending to come closer together as we examine them. From. end to end they run on in line. And at this point there appears a single curve which expresses the progress of one and the same physico-biological process: noogenesis.
p. 35 - In the case of human molecules considered in isolation, no positive result emerges from this inquiry. This is a point on which I have made my position clear elsewhere. For the last twenty thousand years during which we have known it (for that is all) there appears to have been no appreciable change either in the structure or in the functioning of the brain of Homo sapiens. When, however, we leave aside the individual and turn to the collectivity of man, something new comes to light.
At this moment we have an earth spreading far and wide before us; but its geographically limited surface is being visibly compressed beneath the swelling multitude of a population whose pressure upon itself is continually being increased, not nearly so much by its numerical growth as by the multiplication of inter-connexions of all kinds and the amazing speeding-up of their development. We look at this vast spectacle without understanding it - we are miles from even dreaming that it can have anything in common with the organic processes of life. 'Social relationships', we think, 'an accidental and ephemeral phenomenon: superficial modifications that can be reversed. Once brains have been developed, of course, they change no more. There can be no comparison with collective structures, which are incessantly destroying and replacing one another'.
Habitually we still refuse to sec in human civiliza-tion anr thing more than a monotonous series of reversible oscillations.
But is this in fact true? Let us rather weigh up the changes that are taking place, and try to determine the nature and the significance of their successive appearance.
A first result of the 'mass-setting' which mankind is gradually undergoing at this moment is that every one of us, taken in isolation, is becœùng less and less materially selfsufficient. A series of new needs, which it would be puerile and anti-biological to regard as superfluous and affificial, is continually making itself felt in us. It is no longer possible for us to live and develop without an increasing supply of rubber, of metals, oil, electricity and energy of all sorts. No individual could henceforth manage to produce his daily bread on his own. Mankind is more and more taking the form of an organism that possesses a physiology and, in the current phrase, a common 'metabolism~. We may, if we please, say that these ties are superficial, and that we will loose them, if we wish. Meanwhile, they are growing firmer every day, under the combined action of all the forces that surround us; and history shows that, as a whole, their network (woven under the influence of irreversible cosmic factors) bas never ceased to draw tighter.
p. 37 - Henceforth man is less capable than ever before of thinking alone. We have only to consider the series of our modem concepts in science, philosophy and religion, and it will be obvious that the more general and fruitful any one of these notions is proving, the more it, too, is tending to assume the form of a collective entity: we can, it is true, individually cover one angle of it, we can make a portion of it our own and develop it, but it rests in fact on a vault of mutually buttressed thoughts. The idea of the electron or the quantum, or the cosmic ray - the idea of the cell or of heredity - the idea of humanity or even the idea of God -no single individual can claim these as his preserve or dominate them in such things, what is already thinking, just as what is already working, through man and above man, is again mankind. And it is inconceivable, in virtue of the very way in which the phenomenon works, that the movement initiated should not continue in the same direction, tomorrow as today, becoming more pronounced and increasing in speed.
p. 38 - From all this we can draw only one conclusion, that the quantity of activity and consciousness contained in mankind, taken as a whole, is greater than the mere sum of individual activity and consciousness. Progress in complexity is making itself felt in a deepening of centricity. It is not simply a sum, but synthesis. And this is precisely what we were justified in expecting, if, in the domain of the social, the forward march of universal moleculization is indeed being continued (as my thesis maintained) to a point beyond our present brains.
Until man, we may say that nature was working to con-struct 'the unit or grain of thought'. It would now seem undeniable that, obeying the laws of some gigantic hyperchemistry, we are now being launched towards 'edifices made up of grains of thought', towards 'a thought made up of thoughts'- travelling ever deeper into the abyss of the infinitely complex.
The synthesis of man - a magnificent enterprise, but at the same time, we must be careful to note, a long and delicate operation; and (like all life's other efforts) it can succeed only through innumerable tentative gropings and after much suffering. In the case of hearts and brains, much more than in that of atoms, we must remember that not every form of combination can be good. For one human stem that has succeeded in forcing the threshold of reflection, how many milions of other 'phyla' are there which have come to grief! Thus the problem which faces modern man, economically and socially (since, irrespective of his wishes, synthesis is his destiny), is to discover which of the various possible forms of collectivization open to him is the good form, in other words the form that most directly prolongs the psychogenesis (or noogenesis) from which he emerged. Man must avoid the blind alleys and faid where the issue of evolution lies ahead.
p. 39 - Granting that, we then have the problem of determining, in an initial approximation, the higher term, still to come, towards which we are being led by the transformation in which, in common with the world, we are involved. We can see it (for any other picture would contradict the law of moleculization) only as a state of unanimity: such a state, however, that in it each grain of thought, now taken to the extreme limit of its individual consciousness, will simply be the incommunicable, partial, elementary expression of a total consciousness which is common to the whole earth, and specific to the earth: a spirit of the earth.
p. 42 - The more the centuries succeed one another, as I recalled earlier, the more men are forced against one another on our round planet, and so assume the form of elements within a unit of a higher order, now undergoing concentration. This great process of synthesis has its reaction in the intimate domain of our personal activities. Hitherto (except for the vague instinct that causes them to reproduce their kind) men were able to try at all costs to forget death by engrossing themselves in the cares and joys of an existence to which a definite limit was set. If we consider the matter, we shall find that it is this loophole which is gradually tending to close up for us. At the same time as mankind is forming one single body in space, it is necessarily, in step with that process, doing the same thing in time. The idea of a total human work to be accomplished is surely the inevitable corollary to a totalized mankind. As a consequence of this, a radical modification is insidiously altering the balance of our activities. Without realizing it, every man is becoming accustomed to fear, to entertain ambitions, to breathe in an atmosphere of universality -as though his sole support were the global success of mankind that lies ahead. Thus the bulkhead collapses which seemed to isolate our human 'career' from that of our descendants. The centre of gravity of our most tangible interests is shifted as though to an infinite distance ahead. Thereby, too, not only does the prospect of a death of man begin to fill our horizon: there is the farther threat and horror of a death of mankind.
Superficially, this would appear to be no more than a change of scale; but here again it is precisely a change that had necessarily to be made (as in the case of all the other properties of the infinitesimal, the immense and the complex) if what we were looking for was to become unmistakably clear. We experience no immediate shock at the idea of annihilation applied to a single grain of thought; or if we do, it comes from so nice a process of introspection that we may well be doubtful about the value of our evidence. On the other hand, when the same idea is extended to the planetary dimensions of the 'noosphere' we immediately recognize that it wipes out simultaneously the whole of the world's past and the whole of its present so completely that we have no alternative but to reject it. In a universe which, through the way in which it functions, is continually concentrating the vital interests of its elements on a collective term to be attained ahead, the whole structure collapses if that upper term is found to be precarious or non-existent. Thus, in step with the progress of hominization, a need for the absolute is born in man and grows more pronounced. If nothing of what we create (or even more, if all that is best in what we create) does not win through the disintegrations of matter, then evolution, struck at its very heart by self-disgust, automatically comes to a halt in a meaningless universe.
p. 43 - Life - and so reflection - and so foresight - and so, the demand for super-life. These four terms are linked together in a biological chain, and they increase simultaneously. In consequence what the future presages for us is neither volatilization nor senescence. The possibilities, therefore, that confront Our minds are greatly narrowed. No term can be appropriate to the growing series of molecules which is not, by its nature, positive and a maximum. This means that in one way or another we are able to escape the decrepitude of the star that holds us. Beyond the spirit of the earth, something greater, more complex and more fully centred than mankind is looming up before us.
p. 44 - As I was saying, the conjunction of thinking stellar units would allow moleculization to get off to a fresh start; the end of the process would be postponed to a higher stage. However, while the problem of death would momentarily have been dismissed, it would reappear at this higher degree of complexity with even greater urgency. And it is precisely this shadow of a death (even were it still thousands of millions of years away) that we must now and for ever banish from our horizon, if we are to be able to continue to act ever more consciously.
What way out, then, can we find?
The more I study these prospects the more I am convinced that the only way in which the spirit of the earth can , is by disappearing in depth through excess of centration upon itself - whether it does this alone or with the support of other spirits it has met during its journeying. When observed in its external mechanism of complication, it is possible that the moleculization of matter may come up against some higher value which it cannot exceed (as, for example, a moving mass cannot exceed the speed of light). In any case, this moleculization -an eddy of improbability within a current whose over-all tendency is to bring bodies back to their most simple states - undoubtedly cannot be continued indefinitely: is not the network it weaves made up of the 'perishable'? By contrast, if it is observed in its internal aspect (that is to say, the rise of consciousness), the process appears to know no limiting-value to its developments. Every reflective act, by its nature, initiates a higher form of reflection (so that there is no point at which the continuity of the chain can be broken); but what is more, as we have just seen, the very faculty of thought demands, if it is not to be stifled, the existence of a completely free atmosphere ahead of it.
We can draw but one conclusion from this evolutionary conflict between the without (which is limited) and the within (which knows no limit) of the noosphere: that we must foresee an internal break between the two aspects of the phenomenon. We are forced to conceive that beyond a certain critical value, centration can in some way or other continue independently of the physico-chemical synthesis that was necessary, in a first phase, for its initiation: the centre throwing off its original shell of complication.
Can it break away like this?
It can-but on one condition: that we presuppose at the extreme limit of the axis of the syntheses and of time, the existence of a centre of the second species-not emerging and moved -but a centre, already emerged and actively moving, of universal convergence. As soon as we recognize such a centre, Which I shall call Omega, it becomes reasonable to conclude that the grains of consciousness produced evolutively by noogenesis (once the 'human' point of reflection has been passed) fall into a new field of attraction: the pull is exercised on the basic foundation of the grains, and it now acts not only on the complexity of their structure but directly on their centre, independently of the structure.
p. 46 - From this point of view, what we have called 'moleculization' is thus seen to be a more complicated but at the same time more radical process than we thought. In a first stage (up to hominization) there is a succession of fragile units, suspended over the void that lies behind them: there is a rising centration, but no true centre as yet perfected in nature. In a second stage (after hominization) there is a mixed state; there is a continued progress of external.complexity and beneath this the universe, which henceforth carries grains of thought, begins to be inverted upon itself - like a cone that has reached its apex. An intangible physics of centres succeeds the tangible physics of centration. Lastly, in a third and final phase, there is the complete turning back of spirit (now collectively centred) upon an interior pole of consistence and total unification: hyper-centration following upon centration.
Escape in depth (through the centre), or, which comes to the same thing, ecstasis.
If we look at it in this way, which is an accurate expression of Christian faith and hope, we see that all sorts of difficulties are readily solved.
...we discover in what perfect form it becomes possible, without falling into absurdity or the unthinkable, to conceive for our beings the natural and irreversible term of their aggregation: seeing it not simply as a polycentric mankind, arrested at the 'colony' stage, but as a mankind totalized, more perfectly than any known living being, under the influence of a single higher soul -not collectivized man, but super-personalized man.
p. 47 - On an earth that is in process of irresistible compression, we see that the great problem for man is coming to be to find out how to control in himself the inevitable but supremely dangerous work of the forces of unification.
...how can we come together in such a way as to free ourselves? In virtue of the laws of moleculization, the problem obviously consists in finding the way of grouping ourselves together not 'tangentially', in the nexus of anextrinsic activity or func-tion, but 'radially', centre to centre; how to associate in such a way as, by synthesis, to stimulate deep within ourselves a progress that is directly centric in nature. In other words, what we have to do is to love one another - because love is equally by definition the name we give to 'inter-centric' actions. By its nature, love is the only synthesizing energy whose differentiating action can super-personalize us. But just how can one ever contrive to love a multitude? If we set the two words side by side, love and multitude, surely they enclose a contradiction?
The antinomy provides its own solution as soon as we see that in a centre of our own centres it is possible for us to meet together.
What makes collectivity so monstrous is that, being by nature multiple, it bas no thinking mind, no heart, no face which we can fasten on to through the depths of our being. For all that 'society' may stifle us in its countless arms, it can still not reach us in the core of our beings or bring us closer together. Mankind, so extolled for the last two centu-ries, has been brought to a halt at the collective, which is now a terrifying Moloch. We can neither love it, nor love one another within it. That is why instead of fulfilling us, it mechanizes us. Once, however, the warm glow of one and the same common soul lights up in each element of the human throng, distinct from. each and yet the same in each: then, in this personalizing centre, itself endowed with supreme personality, as each par-ticle strives to fulfil itself it finds itself flung upon all the others. We were saying earlier that a redoubtable affinity, neutralized by great numbers, still lies dormant in the human mass. We now see that under the rays of Omega it must undoubtedly one day waken into activity, no longer rendered powerless but this time multiplied by the plurality of spiritual particles.
p. 48 - The salvation of the spirit of the earth (which is the only thing that really matters to us) is seen to depend upon the developments - now recognized as possible - of a close affective relationship, cosmic in dimensions.
And with this discovery we find that the question moves into a different context. Our having become intellectually aware, when confronted with the plurality of man, of the fact that we represent structurally the natural continuation of the atoms, transposes the problem of cosmogenesis into an interior domain. By themselves the most amazing advances of science and technology are no more than a preparation and a beginning. When all is said and done, the future of the world depends entirely upon the emergence in us of a moral conciousness of the atom, culminating in the appearance of a universal love.
Without our noticing it, a disturbing gap is constantly widening between our moral life and the new conditions created by the progress of the world. This does not mean, of course, that as a result of the hard work of the great religions we have not already succeeded in determining certain definite axes of justice and holiness. Nevertheless, however admirable and progressive these codes of interior perfection may be, they generally have the defect of having been developed, and of being kept alive, outside the perspectives of a universe in evolution. From this stems the obstinate conflict between science and religion; and from. this, above all, the slowness of Christianity itself to transpose its precepts and counsels to the dimensions of a mankind which has become conscious of the historic vastness, and the collective potentialities or demands, of its development.
In the course of this last section I would like to give some idea of how the most traditional human moral system takes on a new form, new coherence and urgency - how smoothly it is integrated, and so becomes dominant in the great body of cosmic energies, once man, in regulating his behaviour, leaves behind the individualist position 'of the monad' and resolutely adopts, in judgment and action, the point of view of the atom. The idea, developed above, of a spiritualizing moleculization of matter does more than throw light on the stuff of the universe, in its internal structure. The same shaft of light correspondingly brings out, in their main lines, a whole new philosophy of life, a whole new ethical system, and a whole new mysticism.
a. Philosophy of Life
With the increase in his consciousness of his collective strength and duration, man experiences an exactly proportionate increase in his need to find a tangible objective for his activities. Why, he asks, are we born in chains, bound in the fetters of toil? Why do we have to search ever further afield? Why slave away in our quest? Why continue to build? Why even continue to reproduce our kind? A man does not need to have lived very long to realize how insistently this question con-fronts even the most humble folk at this moment - how it affects more and more of us, so that it is now becoming acute. The agony of being alive is increasing in intensity in us, given new force and super-stimulated by the recent revelation we have been given of time and space. Now, it is this anxious uncertainty about the meaning and value of existence that the notion of noogenesis enables us to dispel. As soon as we realize that there is an organic relationship between our busyness as elements and the success of the world that bears us - as soon as a God awaits us in his own person at the top of the tower that, held up by him, we can build if we unite - then, indeed, we find the impulse to live, the essential joy of living.
p. 50 - With Omega, it is a supreme goal and a supreme attraction that rise up, to animate and direct human endeavour. And, as a sub-sidiary consequence, there are three other reputedly insoluble problems that vanish from our horizon.
First, the problem of evil. Whether it be physical or moral, evil repels us only in so far as it appears to be useless or gratuitous. Suffering and sin are the expression of the delays, the mistakes, the 'pain and labour', which are necessary in terms of energetics for the synthesis of spirit: they become intelligible and acceptable in so far as they appear as the condition of evolution and the price to be paid for it. Provided the peak is actually there and the game is worth the candle what mountaineer is surprised or complains at having to be injured as he climbs, or even at having to risk a fatal fall? Taken as static facts and in isolation, pain and perversity are meaningless. Taken as dynamic factors, in a system that is fluid and feeling its way, they are both vindicated and transfigured.
Secondly, the problem of inequality. If the universe culminated in mankind, in the form of isolated or divergent conscious minds, nothing could console a man for not possessing the health, the qualities, or the social opportunities accorded to others more fortunate than he. In such a universe, the more the 'have-nots' or the failures reflected clearly on their inferiority, the more they would be justified in experiencing a mounting fury for levelling-down and destruction directed against their misfortune and against the 'haves'. Here again, there is a complete transformation if, however unequal they may be in strength and status, the different thinking elements; of the earth form but one single convergent mass, destined to find communion and equality in a final triumph. When the attack is in full swing, does any soldier dream of envying his commander at the head of the assault wave?
Finally, the problem of the individual and society. Is the in-dividual for society, or society for the individual ? - an ex-asperating question, constantly being dinned into our cars: and a bloody question, too, the inspiration at this very moment of a merciless crusade between the opposed forces of Marxism and the democracies. At the same time, it is, basically, a nonexistent question if only we can apprehend, in its reality and mechanism, the great phenomenon of noogenesis that is taking place around us. In a universe that is in course of centration (provided the centration be carried out in the right way) the individual and the collectivity never cease to reinforce and complete one another. The more the individual on his side associates himself in an appropriate way with other individuals, the more, as an effect of synthesis, does he enter deeper into his own being, become conscious of himself, and in consequence personalize himself. And the more the collectivity on its side concentrates itself, in an appropriate way, upon elements for whose fuller personalization it is itself responsible, the more, again, is it 'humanized' and per-sonalized, and the more does it allow Omega point to be divined. The two terms are equally essential: they are inseparable. When the limit is reached, it is true - at the moment, that is, when the supreme conjunction is effected -the last step will be taken from the element towards the whole. It is the whole that will have the last word. In the final analysis (or rather 'in the final synthesis') we may say, therefore, that ultimately the person is for the whole, and not the whole for the human person. The reason for this, however, is that at the final moment the whole itself has become person.
Since the preaching of the Gospel it was possible to believe that man had at last found a definitive and exhaustive expres-sion of inner rectitude, and in consequence of salvation. 'Love one another': it seemed as though all that was finest in morality must have reached its peak and be summed up in that precept once and for all. Today, however, after twenty centuries of experience, it would seem that we have acquired nothing from the Gospel formula. As the years go by not only does mankind seem to be as divided against itself as ever; but, what is more, a new ideal, the ideal of conquering force, has continually, for the last two generations, been increasing in strength and mesmeric power, in opposition to doctrines of gentleness and humanity.
p. 53 - From the point of view of noogenesis, in the first place, it is perfectly clear that if, all together, our cosmic destiny is to become one, then the fundamental and operative law of our activity is to encourage this synthesis by associating more closely. The 'Lord's precept' does not disappear under the harsh light of modern criticism: rather does it leave the domain of sentiment, to become the leading instrument of evolution. 'It leaves the world of dreams, to enter into the system of universal energies and essential laws'. We saw, did we not, that a love is the only milieu in which the stuff of the universe can find equilibrium. and consistence at the peak of its complication and centration.
Among fixed and extrinsically associated monads, it may well be that the supreme virtue consists in easing mutual friction. It is a completely different story in the case of incomplete elements that cannot exist fully except by drawing closer to-gether. For such particles, sympathy becomes the driving impulse to force all obstacles and open up every issue that can lead to unity. From the moment man discovers that, as an atom, he has a responsibility towards a mankind and is in solidarity with a mankind in which he is personally fulfilled, he possesses more than a motive and a driving force for loving 'his neighbour'. There is something much more: there opens out wide before him an unlimited domain of tangible operation into which he can introduce the things he feels. He has the whole vast battlefield of the earth in which to release, to expend and continually to rejuvenate the passion that animates him. To have to fight, to be able to fight, throughout our life, in order to create what we love! An astonishing fulfilment indeed, in which force, purified of violence, emerges from gentleness and loving-kindness, as their climax.
No moral system can hold together without religion. Or, to put it more precisely, no moral system can live without developing a nimbus of worship. The measure of an ethics is its ability to flower in mysticism. From this point of view, dynamized charity is without a rival.
p. 54 - ... since the construction, the maintenance and further advancement of human unity is in fact the operation and continuation of the whole play of universal forces, the man in question ...is soon guided to an ascent to the reasoned sense of a basic solidarity with the whole of life and the whole of matter in motion.
Finally, because this vast system, convergent by nature, holds together only through its impulse towards some supreme pole of synthesis, the thinking atom definitively becomes submerged in the omnipresence and omni-action of a supreme consciousness.
Sense of man; then sense of the earth; and finally sense of an Omega: three progressive stages of one and the same illumina-tion.
p. 55 - More or less consciously (and however convinced we may be that life has a meaning) we all experience in ourselves the saddening feeling of the fragmentation and insignificance of our own lives. With the dawn of every new day, the same obligations confront us; their monotony is heartbreaking, their multiplicity exhausts us, their apparent futility discourages us. Dispersion, routine, and above all boredom - if only we could feel that we were doing something really worth-while.
Now, it is in fact this very dust-cloud of ourselves which is illuminated and animated under the influence of Omega. At a lower level of consciousness (as long, that is, as we are un-aware of our condition and function as individual atoms) we can never do more than one thing or another thing, with one part or another of our body or of our soul. We are eating, or thinking, or working, or loving; and nothing of all that we do, taken in isolation, satisfies us, because nothing seems to be important. On the other hand, at a higher stage of initiation (Once, that is, we have appreciated the relationship that links the spiritualization of the world to its complication) this multiplicity, without ceasing to be just what it is, is resolved into something new and unique: and into that new thing there flow together, as they acquire value, all the results (no matter how trifling they may be) of our efforts, and all that colours (in however intimate and private a way) our activity. At this high level a transcendent form of action begins to emerge, which embraces and fuses together, in one and the same illumination, the whole medley of things which, seen from lower down, appear to us to conflict with and neutralize one another. all that we know under the different names of activity and passivity, renunciation and possession, understanding and love. The truth is that if a man's vision can extend beyond the immense and the infinitesimal almost into the complex, a way of acting opens up for him which has the power to synthesize and transfigure every other form of activity: by that I mean the specific act of experiencing and advancing, in and around himself - through the whole expanse and the whole depth of the real - the unification of the universe upon its deep-seated centre, with the consciousness of that unification it acquires as a consequence: the total and totalizing act (if I may so call it, for I can find no other name) of omegalization.
And it is this that leads us directly, in 'bliss-as-atoms, to the high peaks of worship.
Already, in the social and biological field, the fact of our recognizing that, as a result of the properties of love, the universe becomes personalized as it concentrates, was enabling us to avoid both fragmentation through individualization and mechanization through collectivism. Now, in the domain of mys-ticism, the same light shows us the channel between two equally dangerous reefs. Ever since man, in becoming man, started on his quest for unity, he has constantly oscillated, in his visions, in his ascesis, or in his dreams, between a cult of the spirit which made him. jettison matter and a cult of matter which made him deny spirit: omegalization allows us to pass between this Scylla and Charybdis of rarefaction or the quagmire. Detachment now comes not through a severance but through a traversing and a sublimation; and spiritualization not by negation of the multiple or an escape from it, but by emergence. This is the via tertia that opens up before us as soon as spirit is no longer the opposite extreme but the higher pole of matter in course of super-centration. It is not a cautious and neutral middle course, but the bold, higher road, in which the values and properties of the two other roads are combined and correct one another.
From this, as a final summary, I draw the following conclusion. To have become conscious of our condition as 'atoms patient of synthesis' is not merely to have attained a new vision of the general relationship which links matter to, thought, and thought to God. It is in addition, and by that very fact, to redefine the line followed by the immutable axis of holiness.
A neo-spirituality for a neo-spirit, in a universe whose convergent nature has been recognized.
Peking, 13 September 1941
p. 67 - Scientifically speaking, everything in the world behaves as though the stuff of the universe (whose properties change, we know, in the two spatial directions of the infinitesimal and the immense) were able similarly to vary (in this case, in time) in a third direction, that of the complex: life being simply the 'specific effect' attaching to extreme complexities. So long as a cosmic particle contains no more than some thousands of arranged atoms, it still appears to be dead. But if this 'corpuscular figure' rises to several tens of thousands, it begins to be animate (as in the case of the viruses). In the cell and, beyond it, among the higher living beings, the mere number of chemical elements involved in the organism (without taking into account their built-up, combinations) leaps to astronomical values. This evident variation of life as a direct function of synthesized large numbers can readily be explained if we admit that the more matter is organized, the more it is centred (and, in consequence, the more 'conscious' it is). In the case of simple, or relatively simple, particles the centration is low and the psychism, is accordingly imperceptible, By contrast, in the case of high complexities, the centre gains in depth and concentrates, as an effect of organization: and thereby, too, the phenomena of introspection and spontaneity appear and become more marked. From this point of view, consciousness would appear to be a physical property linked simultaneous1y to the centration and complication of matter upon itself. Thus, depending on the side from which we look at evolution, we would see it either (from. outside) as a chemical arch-synthesis or (from. inside) as a 'noogenesis'
Bearing that in mind, let us confine our attention to man.
Considered individually, man is, both quantitatively and qualitatively, the most highly complicated of cosmic particles, and in consequence the most fully centred; by that very fact, again, he is the most conscious. But this is not the whole story. Man can never be apprehended in the state of an isolated particle. He is essentially multitude; he is increasing multitude; and above all, thanks to his astonishing power of physical and psychic inter-fertilization, he is organizable multitude. We are so accustomed to this spectacle of the plu-rality of thinking molecules that we never dream of finding it astonishing. Nevertheless, may it not have a profound signifi-cance? Why, for example, should we not conceive that, in conformity with the whole history of past life, it represents the possibility and contains the potentiality of a further, trans-human, synthesis of organic matter? We habitually look on the human individual as a closed unit, lost in the gregarious throng of other units, equally locked in on themselves. May he not, rather, be the element, not yet impregnated, of a natural whole still in the course of organization?
The very first time we meet it, the idea of a super-human or-ganism seems fantastic. We are so thoroughly used to refusing to admit that anything could exist in nature higher than ourselves! Nevertheless, if, instead of rejecting a priori what upsets the accustomed routine of our thinking (and in particular the dimensional limits within which we think), we are willing to entertain it, and then begin to examine it more deeply, it is surprising what order and clarity is introduced into our outlook on the universe by a hypothesis that at first seemed crazy.
The first thing we find is that the actual flow of evolution, which, against all probability, was assumed to have come to a halt on earth with the appearance of man, resumes its normal course. If the terrestrial grains of thought can still combine among themselves, man is no longer an inexplicable deadend in the cosmic process of noogenesis: in him, and through him, the rise of consciousness is continuing beyond man himself.
Secondly, the rise of number all around us loses its disquieting and senseless appearance. Crushed together on the earth's restricted surface, we were looking anxiously for a field in which to expand. We can now see that that field does not lie in the direction of an escape in space, but can be found in the form of an internal harmonizing in which the multiplication of the other ceases to be a threat and becomes a support, a solace, and a hope for the fulfilment of each individual. By divergence, the multitude can only become a greater evil; -on the other hand, by unification upon itself it is effortlessly and limitlessly resolved. We were trying to escape through the circumference: it is only through the axis (by convergence, that is) that we can be released from tension.
The third thing to be transfigured is the spectre of rising collectivization. judging the future of man from the example of the insects and from certain modern experiments on totalitarian lines, we had grounds for believing that we were caught up in an irresistible mechanism of depersonalization. But if it is indeed the law of 'centration by synthesis' that continues to operate in us through the advances and under the cloak of human socialization, then we should be reassured. Assuming that an ultra-human synthesis is really being produced, then (provided it be properly carried out - and I shall show how that can be done) it can only end, from physical and biological necessity, in causing the appearance of a further degree of organization, and therefore of consciousness, and therefore, again, of freedom. Whatever may have been the shortcomings or deviations of our first attempts at association, we are hazarding nothing in surrendering ourselves actively and intelligently to the invasion of the forces of collectivization. They are not, in fact, working to mechanize us but to supercentre and so super-personalize us.
p. 70 - In this direction, everything depends on the aptitude we can reasonably assume in mankind for developing among its members an appropriate form of 'universal love'.
Love is power of producing inter-centric relationship. It is present, therefore (at least in a rudimentary state), in all the natural centres, living and pre-living, which make up the world; and it represents, too, the most Profound, most direct, and most creative form of inter-action that it is possible to conceive between those centres. Love, in fact, is the expression and the agent of universal synthesis.
p.71 - Love, again, is centric power. Thus, like a light whose spectrum is continually enriched by new, more brilliant and warmer lines, it constantly varies with the perfection of the centres from which it emanates. Man is the only known element of the universe in which noogenesis has advanced far enough to allow the appearance of a closed centre, reflected upon itself; and in him, therefore, we can appreciate that the ,synthesizing properties of love operate under exceptional conditions and with exceptional effectiveness and clarity. While infra-human beings can converge and associate only in a diffuse common action, at the level of thought it is the psychic nuclei themselves that come out into the open and begin to unite. Organization of imperfectly centred elements gives way to direct synthesis of centres. From this results the extraordinary totality and fullness of vital contact - and from this, in consequence, in conformity with the synthesizing mechanism of the rise of consciousness, the extraordinary growth of personality that can any day be observed in the particular and limited case of a great human affection.
p. 73 - The discovery of time
From whichever end we now tackle the problem of man, the influence inevitably makes itself felt of a mental revolution which, without our suspecting it, is making us radically different from preceding generations, separated from us by less than two hundred years. When, towards the end of the eighteenth century, the ideas of evolution and progress began to come to the fore - often in over-simplified and naive forms - it was possible to believe (as some still do) that it was no more than the infatuation of natural scientists with an ephemeral hypothesis. Today the notion of duration has covered the whole horizon spanned by the mind of man: physics, sociology, philosophy, religion - all the branches of knowledge are now impregnated by this subtle essence. In fact, the limited and the static have disappeared from our outlook, and we are already thinking only in terms of space-time. It is not a question of 'hypothesis', indeed! The only way in which we can interpret such an event is to recognize that, like children awakening to a sense of depth and relief, we have just collectively arrived at the perception of a new dimension. As a direct accompaniment of this, a world of new possibilities is opening up, not only for the speculative constructions of our reason but even more (and this is the important point) for the development of human energy.
Until now, one might say, men were living both dispersed and at the same time closed in on themselves, like passengers in a ship who have met by chance below decks with no idea of its mobile character and its motion. They could, accordingly, think of nothing to do on the earth that brought them together but to quarrel or amuse themselves. And now, by chance, or rather as a normal effect of growing older, we have just opened our eyes. The boldest of us have found their way to the deck. They have seen the vessel that was carrying us along. They have marked the creaming of her bow wave. They have realized that there are boilers to be stoked and a wheel to be manned. And most important of all, they have seen the clouds floating overhead, they have savoured the sweet scent of the Western Isles, over the curve of the horizon: it ceases to be the restless human to-and-fro on the same spot, it is no longer a drifting - it is the voyage.
p. 74 - Another mankind must inevitably emerge from this vision, one of which we have as yet no idea, but one which I believe I can already feel stirring through the old mankind, whenever the chances of life bring me into contact with another man whom. however alien he may be to me by nationality, class, race or religion, 1 find closer to me than a brother, because he, too, has seen the ship and he, too, feels that we are steaming ahead.
The sense of a common venture, and in consequence of a common destiny: the sense of an evolution in common that we can see with ever increasing clarity to be a genesis (and even a 'noogenesis'): what forms of action, hitherto impossible to realize - what forms of association, hitherto utopian - what revelation from on high, hitherto misunderstood, may we not anticipate in the special richness of this new milieu and in its special curvature! If charity has so far failed to reign upon earth, may not the reason be simply that in order to establish itself it was necessary for the earth first to have become conscious of its spiritual cohesion and convergence? If we are to be able to love one another must we not first effect a change of plane?
Everything, in short, locks and knits together in our outlook provided the rising warmth of a sense of man can be distinguished, by certain signs, beneath the fever from which the world is suffering at this moment. This warmth is evidence of a coming together, a concentration, and in consequence of an ultra-centration of the earth's thinking molecules, and it enables us to recognize that the psychic synthesis of the universe is continuing to be effected through the human mass. That being so. there is undoubtedly no longer anything that should alarm us either in the increased pressure of number or in the growing bonds of collectivization: because, in this instance, the irresistible rise of the other all around us, and its intrusion even into our individual lives, is without any possible doubt the expression and the measure of our own ascent into the personal.
Peking 20 January 1942
p. 99 - INTRODUCTION
In spite of all the theoretical objections that would seek to discourage the belief, our minds remain invincibly persuaded that a certain very simple fundamental rule lies hidden beneath the overpowering multiplicity of events and beings: to discover and formulate this rule, we believe, would make the universe intelligible in the totality of its development.
The instinctive tenacity with which man's thought tries to reduce the world to unity, combined with the fact that all the efforts hazarded in this direction by the greatest philosophers, one after another (Aristotle, Spinoza, Leffiniz, Hegel, Spencer), coincide in following this line, surely this is in itself an indication that the problem is patient of solution? Carried, then, on the shoulders of our predecessors and, at the same time, in a better position than they were to perceive the mechanism of a universe whose structure and dimensions modem science is beginning to form an idea of, are we not bothjustified and well placed to resume their attempts, if only, at least, in order to take one more forward step?
I believe that we are: and that is why 1 am so bold as to offer here, in the form of a series of linked propositions, an essay in universal explanation - not an a priori geometric synthesis starting from some definition of 'being', but an experiential law of recurrence which can be checked in the phenomenal field and can appropriately be extrapolated into the totality of space and time.
It is not an abstract metaphysics, but a realist ultraphysics of union.
1. Centres and centro-complexity
p. 101 -
1. As the foundation for the whole edifice of propositions that follow we have an intuition and two observations:
a. The intuition: In the swarming multiplicity of living elements (Monocellular and polycellular) which make up the biosphere, we find an authentic continuation of the granular (atomic, molecular) structure of the universe. In consequence, if the human body is restored to its position in the cosmic corpuscular series, it is simply a 'super-molecule': once we see it in this light, we are in the happy position of being able to distinguish in that super-molecule, the properties, in a 'magnified' state, of every molecule.
b. The observations: Man, the final product of planetary evolution, is both supremely complex in his physico-chemical organization (measured by the brain), and at the same time, viewed in his psychism, supremely free and conscious.
2.. Taken in sequence, these three primary evidential data immediately bring out the three following derived data:
a. At every degree of size and complexity, cosmic particles or grains are not simply, as physics has recognized, centres of universal dynamic radiation: all of them, in addition (rather like man), have and represent a small 'within' (however diffuse or even fragmentary it may be; cf. section 8), in which is reflected, at a more or less rudimentary stage, a particular representation of the world: in relation to themselves they are psychic centres - and. at the same time they are infinitesimal psychic centres of the universe. In other words, consciousness is a universal molecular property; and the molecular state of the world is a manifestation of the pluralized state of some potentiality of universal consciousness.
b. Consciousness increases and grows deeper throughout the series of cosmic units, in proportion with the organized cornplexity of those units. While it is completely imperceptible to our observational methods below an atomic complexity of the order of 10 to the power 5 (the virus),' it can be plainly detected when we reach that of the cell (10 to the power 10); but it enters into its major developments only in the brains of large mammals (10 to the power 20), in other words when we have atomic groupings astronomic in order.
c. From this it follows that the most essential, the most significant, characteristic of any of the units whose association makes up the universe, is distinguished in those units by a certain degree of interiority - that is to say of centricity (soul), which is itself a function of a certain degree of complexity (body, and, more particularly, brain). This coefficient of centrocomplexity (or, which comes to the same thing, of consciousness) is the true absolute measure of being in the beings that surround us. That, and that alone, can be the basis for a truly natural classification of the elements of the universe.
p. 110 - Such, at this very moment, is the situation of the cosmos that surrounds us. Mankind, the leading wave of a universe which becomes luminous as (under the influence of complication) it contracts upon itself, encloses within its moving circle the still formless future of things, the secret of the final syntheses. What will emerge from this still fluid nucleus of the world? If our law of recurrence is correct, what can be distinguished on the horizon is nothing but, and nothing less than, a continual increase of organization and of centricity - and this time on the scale not of the particle but of the sphere: the accelerated impetus of an earth in which preoccupation with production for the sake of well-being will have given way to the passion for the discovery for the sake of fuller being - the super-personalization of a super-humanity that has become super-conscious of itself in the increasing light of Omega.
III. OMEGA POINT
18. If the law of centro-complexity is extended indefinitely backwards along the axis of past aeons, it affords us a glimpse of progressively more diffuse zones, in which more and more fragmentary elements of consciousness float in a state of more and more unorganized heterogeneity. In this direction there is no lower limit to 'recurrence' .... There is an indefinitely continued widening of the lower surface of the cone. On the other hand, if it is carried in the opposite direction, that is, into the future, the extrapolation of the series defines a peak. The existence of a cosmic Omega point became apparent to us .... from the moment when our minds had to accept the evidence that the universe was psychically convergent. We must now be at pains to determine the properties of this supreme focus point of evolution.
19. Genetically speaking (that is, when observed from the position we occupy in space-time), Omega appears to us fundamentally as the centre which is defined by the final concentration upon itself of the noosphere - and indirectly, therefore, of all the isospheres that precede it. In Omega, then, a maximum complexity, cosmic in extent, coincides with a maximum cosmic centricity.
20. In itself, the idea that the universe is moving towards some form of final unity has haunted the minds of all the philosophers; and there is nothing new in the idea. What gives the notion of centro-complexity its originality and fruitfulness is that it imposes on the term of cosmic synthesis, in virtue of its very structure, a series of positive determinants; the effect of these is to bring home to us its existence in terms not only of intellectual apprehension but also of action. Indeed, if Omega, as revealed to us by our law of recurrence, is to satisfy the conditions attached to its position and function, we can readily appreciate that it must present itself to us when we examine it, as at the same time: personal - individual - already partially actual - and also partially transcendent.
21. That, first, it is personal goes without saying; since it is centricity that makes beings personal and Omega is supremely centred.
22. Secondly, individual: in other words distinct from (which does not mean cut off from) the lower personal centres which it super-centres (a very different thing from confusing together) as it associates them in its unity (...). Omega possesses an ego proper to itself and distinct from ours. This results from the mechanism of a centrogenesis which, at every degree, allows the higher centres to emerge only if they respect, and even complete, the centric plurality of the elements on which their complexity is built (...).
23. It is partially actual, too - that is to say, it is already capable of acting upon us as an object that is present. Omega, in the form that the evolutionary structure of the world demands for it, is much more than the 'real' image which is destined to take shape in the future at the focus point of the convergent universe. It is as a source of light that it acts. Is it not Omega that causes to spring up and maintains here and now the fascicle of radial ties (...)? And is it not Omega again, as we shall see later, whose love, felt at this moment (for there is no love except in the present), is the only agent that can polarize the collectivity of man without mechanizing it?
24. Finally, it is partially transcendent, which means that it is partially independent of the evolution that culminates in it. If Omega were not in some way emancipated from the conditions of time and space, it could neither be present for us - nor (since it would itself be completely subject to inexorable entropy) could it be the basis for the hopes of irreversibility without which centrogenesis, from man onwards, would cease to function (...). Thus it is through one aspect of itself, different from that in which we see it take shape, that it has been emerging since all time above a world from which, seen from another angle, it is nevertheless in process of emerging. And it is precisely in the meeting of these two halves of itself (the emerged and the emergent) that uni- versal unification, in the form of a 'bi-polar' union, moves towards its completion.
25. So defined in its nature and properties, Omega in very truth stands radiant in the heaven of the future as that which provides the momentum for centrogenesis and serves to make it completely total. Drawn by its magnetism and formed in its image, the elementary cosmic centres are constituted and grow deeper in the matrix of their complexity. Moreover, gathered up by Omega, these same centres enter into* immortality from the very moment when they become eu-centric (that is. personal) and so structurally capable of entering into contact, centre to centre, with its supreme consistence (...).
p. 115 - 27. The laws of union. From one extreme to the other of evolution, as we have defined it, everything in the universe moves in the direction of unification: but this it does with a train of concrete modifications which correct or give particular accuracy to the theoretical ideas of union we might entertain.
a. In the first place, union (true, physical union) creates. Where there is complete disunity in the stuff of the cosmos (at an infinite distance from Omega), there is nothing. And when consciousness takes a step or a leap ahead (the appearance of life through association of fragments of centres, deepening of phyletic centres, emergence of reflective centres, birth of mankind, dawn of Omega) this progress is invariably linked with an increase of union. It is not, of course, that the coming together and ordered arrangement of the centres are by themselves sufficient to increase the world's being; there can be no doubt, however, that they succeed in doing so under the influence of the radiation of Omega.
b. Secondly, union differentiates. By that I mean that by reason of their association under the influence of a centre higher in order (n+ 1), the centres of the order n do not tend to become blurred and confused together: on the contrary, their own nature is reinforced: just Eke the working parts of a mechanism which can be adjusted to one another only if they are constructed in a large number of exactly determined shapes. Such are the multiple cells that make up a metazoon, and such again the nervous fibres of a brain, and the various members of an insect colony. Organization not only presupposes but also produces the complexity upon which its unity flowers. This is a fact of universal experience.
c. In consequence, union, when operating in the eu-centric domain of the reflective. personalizes. Since personalization is a creative differentiation (is creative differentiation), this third law of union does no more than sum up, link together and clarify the other two. It does this not only in the sense that the grain of thought emerges from the perfect centration on itself of complexity, but in the further sense that through centre-to-centre (that is, personal) aggregation with other grains of thought, it is super-personalized. Such again' as experience shows, is indeed the result on our human consciousness of unanimity. Whether it is a matter of a team, or of a pair of lovers, or, even more, of a mystic absorbed in divine contemplation, the psychological result is invariably the same. Far from tending to be confused together, the reflective centres intensify their ego the more, the more they concentrate together. They become progressively more super-centred as they come closer to one another in their convergence on Omega This, I insist, is a fact of experience: and at the same time a simple re-affirmation of the law of centro-complexity.
28. The evolution of the personal. 'Union personalizes.' Expressed in this new form, the principle of centrogenesis enables us to formulate, in its most intimate essence, the nature of cosmic evolution. Earlier (...), we started by defining it as the 'transition from a lower to a higher state of centro-complexity~. We can now put it in words that are both clearer and more profound and simply call it 'a cosmic process of personalization'.
Indeed, whether we consider the initial appearance of living centres from their disconnected segments, or follow, within the phyletic centres, the gradual isolation of the nuclear within the peripheral, or observe the reflective transition of the nucleus to personal eu-centrism, - or whether, finally, we extrapolate the effects on man of hominization - the direction and significance of the movement we note remain identically the same. Throughout time (of which, just like centro-complexity, it can serve to provide an absolute measure) the personal - considered quantitatively no less than qualitatively - is continually on the upgrade in the universe.
p. 118 - From this point of view there is nothing disturbing in the irresistible concentration that forces us, more and more, mutually to penetrate one another on the closed surface of our planet. It is no more than a manifestation, vaster than the others, of the cosmic forces that have always been at work to unify and give profundity to the world by making it more complex.
29. The function of love. It is clear that the forces of love occupy a dominant position in a world whose formula is 'towards personalization through union' - since love is precisely the bond that brings persons together and unites them.
This, indeed, is confirmed by observation.
Strictly speaking, love does not as yet exist in the zones of the pre-living and the non-reflective, since the centres are are only imperfectly centred. Nevertheless there can be no doubt that it is something in the way of love that is adumbrated and grows as a result, of the mutual affinity which causes the particles to adhere to one another and maintains their unity during their convergent advance. In any case, the least one can say is that, through the critical threshold of reflection, the transformation undergone by this vague inter-sympathy between the first atoms or the first living beings, as it becomes hominized, is a transformation into love. In the case of sexuality, of the family, and of the race, the transition is apparent. For a careful observer, however, the phenomenon extends much further. For the last two thousand years there has been much talk (though it often raises a smile) about a love of human kind. Is it not finally such a love that, logically and in fact, is now rising and taking distinct shape on our horizon? As soon as men have woken to explicit consciousness of the evolution that carries them along, and begin as one man to fix their eyes on one and the same thing ahead of them, are they not, by that very fact, beginning to love one another?
In truth, the rise in warmth on the surface of the contracting noosphere is not confined to a small group of specially favoured associations, but extends to the whole of inter-human relationships. And, with that, we find love emerging into the fullness of its cosmic function. To the psychologist and the moralist love is simply a 'passion'. To those who, following Plato, look in the very structure of beings for the explanation of its ubiquity, its intensity, and its mobility, love appears as the higher and purified form of a universal interior attractive power.
In a universe whose structure is centro-complex, love is essentially nothing other than the energy proper to cosmogenesis.
That is why, alone of all the world's energies, love displays the power of carrying cosmic personalization, the fruit of centrogenesis, right to its term. Union, we were saying, personalizes. We must never forget, however, that this is on one condition: that the centres it associates must come together not in some indeterminate way (whether by compulsion or indirectly) but spontaneously, centre-to-centre: in other words, by mutual love.
p. 120 - In short, only love, by virtue of its specific and unique power of 'personalizing complexes'. can achieve the miracle of super-humanizing man through and by means of the forces of collectivization; and, in a still more decisive phase, only love can open for man the door to Omega.
30. Physical energy and psychic energy. ....
The behaviour of these two energies (physical and psychic) is so completely different, and their phenomenal manifestations are so completely irreducible, that we might believe they derive from two entirely independent ways of explaining the world. Nevertheless, since they both carry through their evolution in the same universe, in the same temporal dimension, there must surely be some hidden relationship which links them together in their development.
p. 126 -
33. Are there other spheres ? At the psychological root of all the difficulties that men of science still raise against a spiritual interpretation of the world, there certainly lies an acute sense of the cruel lack of proportion between physical energy and psychic energy within the universe. Whether we consider the infinitesimal quantities of cosmic matter, motion and heat involved in the whole body of biological operations - or whether we concentrate our attention on the haphazard way in which the solar system (and, in consequence, organic matter) seems to have been formed -a sort of conviction seems to overwhelm the mind: the conviction of man's insignificance in the presence of the rest of nature. How can one have the courage to look in the direction of life for an explanation of things, when everything proclaims so unmistakably that life is no more than a local, momentary, accident - an unforeseeable by-product of evolution ?
The considerations outlined in this essay will, I hope. have helped the reader to break the spell of this false evidence. The notion of centro-complexity provides us with a sure criterion by which to judge, in their 'absolute magnitude', the cosmic value of beings, and in consequence objectively to establish the primacy of spirit: but it does even more -it explains to us (through the links it discloses both between quality and quantity, and between finality and chance, (....) why consciousness, this unique essence of things, can appear in the history of the world only in the form of a rarity and an accident, without thereby being an accessory or an incident.
To complete our rescue from the vertigo induced by our own insignificance, and at the same time in order to drive right home the explanatory power of centrology, I cannot do better than to conclude by recalling this fact: in spite of the extraordinary coincidence of chances (two stars in collision) which the birth of planets presupposes, there is no proof that the same chance has not been at work, or may not still occur on more than one occasion in the immensities of time and space: there is no proof, in consequence, that in conformity still with some law of large numbers many obscure stars, many earths besides our own, may not already be scattered, or may not still be expected, among the galaxies.
In this hypothesis, which has positive likelihood on its side, the phenomenon of life and more particularly the phenomenon of man lose something of their disturbing loneness. And at the same time it is the vistas of centrogenesis that are fantastically magnified, without distortion, to a further order. Indeed, if there have been, if there are, if there are going to be, n earths in the universe, then what we have earlier called 'spheres', 'isospheres', and 'noospheres' no longer embraces the whole but applies only to an isolated element (a mega-particle) of the total phenomenon. With centro-complexity dealing not simply, now, with grains of thought upon a single planet but with as many noospheres as there will be thinking planets in the firmament, the process of personalization takes on a decisively cosmic aspect. It is almost more than our minds can dare to face.
The law of recurrence, however, remains the same. And there can still be only one single Omega.
13 December 1944
p. 132 - I. THE PROBLEM
Nothing in the world around us is more obvious than the existence - indeed, the fact - of life: and nevertheless nothing is more elusive, more difficult to pin down, than this same life when we try to handle it by the general methods of science. As experienced in ourselves, and as it seems to develop in the course of time, the living being is consciousness, freedom, and finality. As soon, however, as we try to look at it under the microscope, or to submit it to instruments of measurement, all that we can distinguish even in the very depths of this same living being is a pyramid of associated chances and interwoven mechanisms, without apparently a single crevice in which to accommodate the intervention of the conscious and guiding action of the least free factor. In the eyes of the modem biologist, the orthogenesis of living groups tends to be reduced to a random interaction of chromosomic encounters, and the most spontaneous animal seems to be no more than a 'sumtotal of assembled reflexes'. Thus the whole phenomenon of consciousness, when submitted to scientific investigation, gives the impression of dissolving and melting away, like an illusion. in the uniform flood of a universal determinism: as well might one try to grasp a rainbow.
II. A GENERAL ANSWER
Many biologists, baffled by this singular capacity that life displays of dissolving into non-life, believe that they are now forced to jettison it, as a pseudo-reality and a mirage. Surely, however, this is simply because their eyes are still closed to the fundamental and mutually opposed operation of synthesis and analysis in the general structure of the universe. In every field, the mere organic combination of a number of elements inevitably brings about the emergence in nature of something completely new (something 'higher'). Conversely, the suppression of a combination, no matter what it be, causes something to disappear. Seen under too great a magnification, the finest of paintings is reduced to shapeless blotches, the purest curve to divergent strokes, the most regular of phenomena to disordered turbulence, the most continuous movement to jerks. Bearing that in mind we can hardly wonder that under the solvent, 'occulting', influence of analysis the living being, in turn, is reabsorbed into unconsciousness, chance and determinisms, while all the rest all, I mean, that is specifically living - slips through the mesh of the filter. The analogy between the two cases is too obvious to allow any doubt. In both the 'trick" is certainly the same.
It would be naïve, therefore, to believe that if we are to solve the matter-life antinomy each of the two must be sacrificed to the other. All we have to dot in fact, is to establish an acceptable structural relationship between the two opposed terms, which will explain how there can, by synthesis, be an ascent from one to the other and, reciprocally, a descent by analysis.
There we have the whole problem.
III. THE EMERGENCE OF LIFE
Reduced to its essence, the scientific problem of life may be expressed as follows.
Having admitted the two major laws of the conservation and dissipation of energy (to which physics may be reduced), the problem we have is to superimpose upon them, without contradiction, a third universal law (in which the whole of biology is summed up), that of the organization of energy. In the language of the atom, science tells us, cosmic evolution represents, for the indestructible grains of energy which make up the universe, the transition from an initial heterogeneous distribution (improbable, but nevertheless without order) to a final homogeneous (that is to say the more probable) distribution. How are we to conceive that in the course of this process, at once conservative and entropic, a portion of the grains of energy is gradually withdrawn, in such a way as, for a time, to build up the organic associations, progressively more improbable, which living beings constitute? and this in such a way, again, that beneath the biological arrangement so produced the physico-chemical arrangement be respected, so that at any moment it may again be revealed by analysis?
Let us see what we can do to solve this problem.
In order to do so, it is not, I believe, necessary to modify the starting point accepted by modem atomic science, which is the initial existence of a mass of granular energy, distributed in a way which is at once without order and improbable; all we have to do is slightly (but even so decisively) re-touch the picture which is normally drawn of the primordial grain of energy itsel£ Hitherto this elementary grain has always been regarded as without any vestige either of consciousness or of freedom. Supposing, however,we define it as possessing the three following properties:
i. A rudimentary 'within' (or immanence).
2. A radius and effective angle (both as narrow as you please) of self-determination.
3. A psychic polarization, producing a fundamental tendency to associate with other particles in such a way as to form with them progressively more complex units: the effect of this complexity being (in virtue of a primordial and essential property of cosmic being) to increase simultaneously the degree of immanence in the particle which develops it, and its possibilities of choice.
It will be noted that, initially at least, this threefold correction in no way alters the universe of the physicists.
What happens is that on the one hand, in virtue ofthe play of large numbers, the orderless multitude of elementary consciousnesses, taken as one mass, behaves exactly as though it were devoid of any 'within'; in other words it develops exactly the same over-all determinisms as those produced by the primordial granular energy of the physicists.
On the other hand, the radius of choice allowed to each elementary particle can be drawn short enough to remain within the sphere of indeterminacy recognized by the most extreme determinist science as a specific attribute of the infinitesimal. To put it in another way, the 'creation' of energy involved in the choice (what we may call in this context 'choice-energy' or 'choice-quantum') can be conceived as being of an order of magnitude so small that it has no appreciable effect on the sum total of universal energy.
At the starting point, then, there is no measurable change in the conditions of the universe. With time, however, the effects produced by the three corrections we have applied will gradually make themselves felt. Initially, the play of chance which shuffles the grains of energy continues unaltered; but once two particles of appropriate psychic affinity happen to brush against one another within their 'radius of choice' (and in its effective angle), then, exercising choice, they will fasten on to one another. And so a movement is triggered off which nothing can then halt. Gradually, step by step, an organic heterogeneity develops around this first nucleus of improbability; it extends itself -always, it is true, at the whim of chance, but constantly in a definite direction: the direction of a continually increasing complication and unification. It is a phenomenon that would be inconceivable if the particles were completely 'inanimate', but is perfectly intelligible if they are both rudimentarily free and polarized.
Now let us consider a little more closely how the double play of determinisms and of chance is respected around and within the growing nuclei of complexity and consciousness, and how it adapts itself to them. In this context, three observations are called for, and they must be carefully understood.
During the building up of organic complexes, there is no necessity for the quantity of 'choice-energy' to increase with the degree of consciousness. A greater variety and a wider radius of indeternunacy become apparent as one rises higher up the scale of beings. but neither the one nor the other is ever obtained except through the amplifying action ofmechanisms which Oust as industrial servo-motors do) make it possible to produce, from an extremely small initial impulse, effects as exact as they are powerful. There is nothing therefore to forbid the notion that 'choice-energy' represents an invariable cosmic quantum - the same in the atom and the human brain. This, when the whole question has been weighed up, would explain the paradoxical, fact that freedom can grow indefinitely in the universe without producing any appreciable increase in the output of universal energy. In short, the development of life does not interfere with the release of the material energy of the cosmos. because it can ultimately be reduced to a series of infinitesimal arrangements, each one of which calls for only an infinitesimal impulse - and all this within a fringe of indeterminacy which molecular physics itself recognizes in material reactions."
As, under the influence of a growing complexity, the 'radius of choice' increases and opens up to a wider angle, so the cosmic organic centres exercise a continually more effective control over the chance in which they are adrift; but it is always only with the chances they make use of that they gradually build up the fabric of their finality. This explains two things: first, the localization of the phenomenon of life in the narrow confines of time and space; and secondly, the enormous part played in biological evolution by tentative probing. Traces of this can be seen everywhere in nature (think of all the trial and error, all the oddities, all the uselessness, all the setbacks, in the zoological world), and in the mechanism that is still at work at the very core of our spirituality (recognizable even in the birth and maturing of our loftiest concepts). In truth, if we study it carefully, all life, and all thought, is simply the seizing and organizing of chance.
p. 137 - If, then, we take an over-all view of the cosmic process of vitalization on the earth, we must distinguish absolutely two principal phases in the phenomenon.
During a first phase, the grains of consciousness arrange themselves spontaneously in mechanisms, in such a way as to construct the selector-switches and amplifiers (the 'servomotors') required to widen the 'angle and radius of choice' around psychic centres: the consciousness of these latter, moreover, increasing in direct ratio with their field of action. At this stage, since the elementary consciousness is still too imperfectly centred, one can join. up with another only superficially, in some external common function; thus their association can as yet result in producing no more than a syn-ergy (the most finished example of which is the human brain).
During a later phase, on the other hand, which starts with man, the psychic nuclei are sufficiently centred to be able to come into direct contact and communication, that is to say from one consciousness to another; in consequence a new sphere of complexity and a new form of energy are introduced into nature:
- the sphere of syn-psychic arrangements and associations (which are not simply a grouping together of activities, but one of souls); of these, so far as we can see at present, a planetized mankind would appear to be the highest term.
- and then, to control this immanent network of 'intercentric' operations, spiritual energy : the energy of sympathy and attractive power in which, to some degree, there is a continuation of the play of chance and the materializing effects of large numbers. It is an energy, however, whose law is no longer conservation in dissipation but an intensification that increases until the complete organization of the 'centrified' portion of the world in the unity of the 'focus-point Ornega': this latter is the ultimate source of the impulse that drives the initial dust of the cosmos in the upward, improbable, direction of higher complexes.
It is conceivable that at the term of this evolution (at the death, that is, of each individual man, and at the death of mankind) the hominized essence of man may be released from, and continue to subsist outside of, the machinery of physical energies within which it developed-for those energies, far from representing the fibres from which consciousness is born, are on the contrary no more than a veil which provides a statistical integument for the interplay of conscious centres. We should note, moreover, that this escape of spirit or its volatilization outside matter can ultimately be reduced to no more than the disappearance of a group of 'points or quanta of indeterminacy' in the cosmos; it cannot therefore produce any perceptible repercussion on the general behaviour of universal determinism.
A world such as we have just been envisaging satisfactorily meets the conditions of the problem of life and matter in the form we expressed it in. While such a world possesses immanence. the power of choice, and finality, both in its totality and in its most elementary terms, nevertheless it displays these properties only in virtue of an infinite number of chances and mechanisms which are imperceptibly selected and associated: thus scientific analysis can break it down completely without meeting the least measurable vestige or intervention of consciousness, freedom, or finality.
This answers our original question.
Here we should note (and this is well worth while) the close kinship that links together two intellectual attitudes to the problem of life that are considered to be irreconcilable. In spite of the apparent paradox, the man who believes in the creation of fixed species and denies the evolution of life on the ground that if it is examined in detail over very short periods of time it can be reduced to stable segments, falls into exactly the same sort of mistake as the materialist evolutionist who denies consciousness and freedom on the ground that the living being can be broken down into a system of elementary mechanisms. In both cases we can detect file effects of the same 'analytical illusion' - in one it materializes spirit, in the other it immobilizes movement. For all the difference in the consequences, the principle behind the mistake is the same. If we restore 'the effect of synthesis', then the two contradictory points of view immediately combine in the perspective of a vitalist evolutionism - the only evolutionism that embraces the whole of the Phenomenon of life considered at all its levels simultaneously.
Peking 10 june 1945
I - First Stage : The Phenemenon of Man, and the Existence of a Transcendent God
p. 144 - So far as our experience extends, it is in the individual human organism that the law of complexity and consciousness culminates at this moment in the world. Now, even if (through the appearance of the phenomenon of reflection) it does momentarily so culminate, everything goes to show that it has not reached its term at this point. Is there not in fact, beyond the isolated brain, a still higher possible complex: by that I mean a sort of 'brain' of associated brains ? And, if we look at the problem carefully, is it not in this direction that the continually more unified mass of mankind is evolving organically, under the irresistible influence of a cluster of geographic, ethnic, economic and spiritual factors? From this point of view, the natural evolution of the biosphere is not only continued in what I have called the noosphere, but assumes in it a strictly convergent form which, towards its peak, produces a point Of maturation (Or of collective reflection).
If we now turn to this apex of the cone of terrestrial evolution and examine it, we shall see in it two groups of remarkable and contradictory properties.
In the first place, it is unique, and therefore final. Unless we are to imagine (a thing that is supremely improbable) that our noosphere may one day come into contact with other sidereal noospheres, collectively reflective mankind confronts nothing but itself In these circumstances, it is impossible to conceive a further complexification which would determine a higher consciousness. Our law of recurrence automatically ceases to operate.
At the same time, however, this apex can be seen to bear within it a fundamental demand for irreversibility. In the case of an isolated human consciousness, really close introspection will already detect the radical incompatibility of 'total death' and 'reflective action'; this grows more pronounced and becomes glaringly obvious in the case of a collective, disinterested, human effort - and in consequence it tends to attain its maximum in a mankind that has become fully conscious both of the vast burden of its toil and of the value of its achievements.
It follows from this that, precisely in virtue of the process that draws him along, man sees himself drifting towards a final position in which :
a. organically, he cannot go further (even collectively) in complexity, nor therefore in consciousness;
b. psychically, he cannot accept the possibility of retreat;
c. and cosmically, he cannot even remain where he is, since in our 'entropic' universe, to cease to advance is to fall back.
This can mean only one thing, that when the curve of the phenomenon of man reaches this ultra-critical point of maturation, it breaks through the phenomenal system of the cosmos, and asserts the existence, ahead and beyond, of some 'extra-cosmic' pole : in this is integrally gathered into one and definitely consolidated all the reflective incommunicability that has successively been formed in the universe (and more particularly on earth) during the course of evolution.
Seen as we ascend, from our side of things, the peak of the evolutionary cone (Omega point) stands out at first on the horizon as a centre of purely immanent convergence: mankind totally reflected on itself On closer examination it is evident that if this centre is to hold together it presupposes behind it, and deeper than it, a transcendent - a divine - nucleus.
II. Second Stage : Evolutionary Creation and the Expectation of a Revelation
God (the transcendent aspect of Omega), in the first rough picture we form of him when we follow the road on which we set out, is seen to be, in short, not simply a hyper-centre but at the same time necessarily an auto-centre. Since through at least one, and that the most central, part of himself, he is transcendent (that is, independent of evolution), it means that in virtue of this centre of himself he subsists in himself, independently of time and space. This is as much as to say that, as experienced by us, he behaves as an ultra-centre of convergence which is not simply potential but eminently actual.
In consequence, it is the humano-cosmic phenomenon which, by reaction, is profoundly modified in our eyes. Initially, we could only see in it (or we could not but see in it) an autonomous spontaneous movement producing a rise of consciousness. We now find that this flux is a tide produced by the action of a supreme star. If the multiple is unified, it is ultimately because it is subject to a pull.
p. 147 - And it is at this point, at the heart of the phenomenon of man, that the problem of Christianity makes itself felt and demands our attention. Historically, starting with the Man-Christ, a phylum of religious thought appeared in the human mass, and its presence has never ceased to have an ever wider and deeper influence on the development of the noosphere. Nowhere, outside this remarkable current of consciousness, has the idea of God and the deliberate act of worship attained such clarity, such richness, such coherence and such flexibility. And all this has been sustained and fostered by the conviction of responding to an inspiration, a revelation, from on high. At the source of this mystical 'vortex' which possesses such remarkable vitality, should we not recognize the creative flux at its maximum intensity - the spark leaping the gap between God and the universe through a personal milieu? The word, in fact, that we were justified in expecting.
It is, in very truth, a crucial choice, and one upon which everything else depends. just, indeed, as our refusal to appreciate the organic value of the fact of society would (in the first stage of this dialectic) remove any reason for our believing in an ultra-human continuation of evolution, so here again our
p. 155 - Hitherto, in our anticipations of fuller-being we had proceeded entirely by the way of reason, our successive intuitions remaining within the scientific framework of 'hypothesis'. As soon, however, as we admit the reality of a reply coming from on high, we in some way enter the order of certainty. This, however, comes about only through a mechanism not of mere subject-to-object confrontation but of contact between two centres of consciousness: it is an act no longer of cognition but of recognition: the whole complex inter-action of two beings who freely open themselves to one another and give themselves ~ the emergence, under the influence of grace, of theological faith.
Once we have recognized the fact of the Incarnation (not, I repeat, by the way of pure inference but by acceptance of an affirmation received from on high), then we are in a position again to return to what is more known and so see more deeply into the nature of the Christian phenomenon: not just the teaching Church, now, but the living Church: the seed of super-vitalization planted at the heart of the noosphere by the appearance in history of Jcsus Christ: not a parasitic organism, duplicating or distorting the evolutionary cone of man, but an even more interior cone, impregnating, taking possession of, and gradually uplifting the rising mass of the world, and converging concentrically towards the same apex.
This takes us in conclusion, by a final ascent to the less known, to a last and supreme definition of Omega point: the centre, at once one and Complex, in which, bound together by the person of Christ, may be seen enclosed one within the other (One might say) three progressively deeper centres: on the outside, the immanent ('natural') apex of the humano-cosmic cone; further in, at the middle, the immanent ('supernatural') apex of the 'ecclesial' or Christic cone; and finally, at the innermost heart, the transcendent~ triune, and divine centre: The complete Pleroma coming together under the mediating action of Christ-Omega.
p.155 - Man has entered the age of industry, and this brings with it socialization. Let us examine the significance of this great fact which is inaugurating a new era.
Should we see in it a sort of dead weight bearing down on the shoulders of mankind, crushing it beneath the mass of processes it has discovered, something that calls to mind the gigantic phenomena of animal forms, the infinitely prolonged tusks of the great elephants, the huge shells which the molluscs build around themselves, to name only a couple?
Or, so far from being a parasitic adjunct, a meaningless step, may not the fact of industrial development have a profound significance; may there not be beneath it a biological reality which can serve as a signpost to our minds?
It is this reality that I hope to bring out by showing that the progress of industry is not accidental but constitutes an event that can entail the most far-reaching spiritual consequences.
For our starting point, let us go a long way back. If we are to understand the place of technical skills in human society, we must begin with the general progress of the world's evolution. We may look on this evolution as a development of life that includes a progressive rise of consciousness; consciousness for which, before it became reflective, the way was paved by the 'interiority' of things: things have a small-scale 'within'.
The rise of consciousness can be explained by a very simple and very clear law which I call the law of complexity and consciousness. It is necessary to emphasize the relationship between organic complexity and consciousness. For a long time there seemed to be an irreconcilable opposition between life and matter. It used to seem impossible to build a bridge between physics and biology, but a deeper appreciation of their relationship is now tending to eliminate that impossibility.
p. 156 - Why should we not apply the same idea to life, as follows: supposing we divide the world into two parts - on one side, matter which has no roots in mass consciousness, and on the other side the living being. Would we not be justified then in saying, 'But - interiority, the rudiment of consciousness, exists everywhere; it is only that if the particle is extremely simple, the consciousness is so small that we cannot perceive it; if there is an increase in complexity, this consciousness comes out into the open and we have the world of life'?
p. 157 - Along the line of evolution or of the rise of consciousness, the most advanced term is man. It is in his brain that the two foci attain their obvious maximum of complexity, in that organ where thousands of millions of cells are grouped in such a way as to constitute a transmitting and receiving and coordinating centre of which we can form only a very imperfect idea. Can nature show us, outside the human brain, a quantity of organic matter contained in a smaller volume? Hardly! But can there possibly be anything more complex outside the individual man?
p. 158 - From the sociological point of view, mankind is not an aggregation, but forms a structural whole. The more closely science studies the problem of man, the more he seems to have appeared in the same way as the other species, in the form of a cluster of types all extremely close to one another. While, however, in the case of the other species, the different modalities of the form that has just come into being tend to diverge, man's behaviour, by reason of his high degree of psychism., is quite different. What happens is that at the level of man, the cluster folds in on itself around the planet, so that mankind forms a bulb-shaped fascicle in which individual leaves are recognizable. Numbers of potential species appear within this mass, continually forming a whole whose closing-in on itself produces a completely determined structure. The fact that man represents the system produced by the closing-up of all the leaves, would bring about another cluster. This is one reason for recognizing the natural element in the social phenomenon.
p. 158-159 - When we think about means of communication, we notice most of all their commercial side; but the psychological side is much more important, and brings with it far-reaching effects.
This cerebroid system, discussed by Julian Huxley, presents enormous differences in comparison with an individual brain, inasmuch as the latter is governed by a thinking ego; but it is nevertheless true that we would be mistaken in regarding the totality of human brains as forming no more than an added sum. There is something more: these united brains build up a sort of dome, from which each brain can see, with the assistance of the others, what would escape it if it had to rely solely on its own field of vision. The view so obtained goes beyond. anything the individual can compass, nor can he exhaust it.
p. 160 -In quantity and intensity, I said: is it beyond the bounds of possibility that we should one day succeed in constructing certain instruments capable of recording the rays emitted by thinking brains, and channelling the whole of the energy of these highly charged brains in a given direction? From the psychic point of view the earth would seem to be becoming progressively hotter, continually even more incandescent. If we consider not its harmony but its general intensity, the earth has never been through a phase to equal the present.
We can appreciate, too, that this human energy is rising in quality. 1 am thinking of the phenomenon of the generalization of research among men. A century ago it was a practically unknown avocation. Today a large number of men have been enthralled by the daemon of discovery, and 'observation domes'- incomplete as yet- are being built which work together and develop common views. Here we have energy properly qualified as spiritual.
From this emerges a very simple idea: through man evolution is making a fresh bound. At this moment it is like those devices in which a first rocket is launched and then a second fires and continues the movement. That, when we look at the whole body of evolutionary phenomena, is how nature acts. It reached the point of producing man, while at the same time providing, through other launching pads, for the use of other energies. And now the phenomenon seems to be starting again towards a new rise of spirit.
If, through technology, evolution is making a fresh bound, at the same time it is becoming reflective. HuxIey has said that man is evolution become conscious of itself. Evolution has now to make its own choice. So long as true freedom did not exist life seemed to grope its way forward; now that man has become conscious, reflective, and responsible for the dispositions on which the rest of the process is based, a direction must be found: life can no longer proceed at random ~ technology brings with it the inescapable necessity of an ideology.
p. 162 - Two ideologies now confront one another: a materialist ideology which defines its meaning as follows: organization is everything; in other words only the first of our two foci is truly important and real; the focus of consciousness is secondary. This view, which would appear basically to be that of marxism, seems to me completely inadequate as a solution of the problem. It does not determine the direction to be followed: maximum organization is not a direction, it is not necessarily the road towards the optimum. If everything is put into organization, the individual feels that he is jeopardizing something that is essential. To confide the whole problem of man to organization is to lead us to a total, inevitable, death, for the more complex the arrangement the more unstable and reversible it becomes. The individual man can advance only in an irreversible direction, for otherwise he loses his zest for action; and that is the supreme criterion by which technology must be judged.
The other, the ideology of the spirit, asserts: of the two foci$ it is the spiritual which is the more important and controls the other. From this point of view there is a complete change: we now have a means of judging the goodness or badness of arrangements. The individual is protected in the midst of technology because his focus of consciousness is still clearly recognized; life is safe, because while it is true that the focus of complexity is unstable, the other focus centres upon itself and acquires irreversibility.
This spiritual view must be pushed to its extreme limit. It is here that Christianity intervenes with a contribution of extreme value. It is, in fact, a spiritual ideology which offers a divine centre at once emerged and immersed; by its immersion this centre is in continuous contact with energy. The more one reflects on the deep harmony which the idea of incarnation displays with the relationships disclosed by the other phenomena, the more one becomes convinced that Christianity meets all the conditions necessary for it to become the religion of progress.
These conclusions are a complete confirmation of the relationship bctween technology and consciousness, the impact of technology being such as to make us develop powers of a grander order - of a spiritual order - and to force us to make up our minds on the question of a religion.
16 January 1947
p. 171 - If there is one event that is insidiously and irresistibly engrossing our thoughts, adding every day a further complication, it is undoubtedly that of the unification of man. All around us the tide of the world's economic, political and psychic socialization is continually invading, and even submerging, the life of even the humblest.
What exactly does this strange and disturbing phenomenon represent and what is its purpose?
For a long time we could believe (we preferred to believe) that in mankind's increasing aggregation upon itself nothing was going on except a superficial adjustment of the thinking units in relation to one another, a process that would have no difficulty in finding its correct equilibrium.
Today, however, as a result of a more accurate survey of time and space, another idea is forming in our minds: that beneath the veil of the phenomenon of society, a fundamental drift of the universe towards ever more organized states may well be making itself felt: it is no longer the mere spatial movement of the earth (Galileo's) but the continuation, overhead, of an involution of the universe upon itself, an involution that first produced each one of us individually and is now collectively carrying on in the direction of the future its advance towards complexity and interiorization.
p. 179 - The world, our terrestrial world, is more and more irresistibly assuming before our eyes the form of a gigantic and gigantically complicated engine, ready for every sort of operation and every sort of conquest; but it will be able to function as such on only one condition: this is that if we are to get its mechanism under way, we must find and burn exactly the type and quality of fuel that suits it. In other words, if man's earth is still undecided today in its movement - if there is a danger that tomorrow it may come to a halt - this is simply for lack of a vision of sufficient width, a vision commensurate with the vastness and variety of the effort that has to be produced.
In these circumstances, mankind must in future devote an increasing part, the major part, of its attention - without, of course, neglecting material technology, but in an effort that goes hand in hand with its progress - to the maintenance and development of its psychic energies (the indispensable animating forces behind physical energy in a universe that has become a thinking universe); it must concentrate on the exploration and exploitation of its true, and truly noble, cosmic 'libido'.
That is why, in conclusion, I urge you to the quest for a faith that will truly serve as a driving force for the world, to pave the way for that faith and to distil its essence: nor must I forget to remind you that nowhere can the elements, the seed, or even the initial realization of that faith be found more distinctly (quite apart from any consideration of dogma, and simply from the point of view of psychology) than in a properly understood Christianity: Christianity, let me emphasize, which, more vigorously and realistically than any other spiritual current in sight, never ceases to persist practically alone in the world - in preserving and sharpening its ardent vision of a universe that is not impersonal and closed, but opens out, beyond the future, upon a divine centre.
p. 183 - By this phrase 'existential fear' I do not mean simply the fear that is accidentally experienced by this or that particularly timid individual man when he is confronted by material or social dangers which his life holds in store for him. Taking the words in a much wider and deeper sense, I use them here to designate the anguish not so much 'metaphysical' (as the expression goes) as 'cosmic' and biological, that may possess every man who is sensible enough - or rash enough - to try to locate and sound the abysses of the world around him.
This is a point which cannot be emphasized too repeatedly and forcibly. Within a universe that is in a state of genesis, what is being initiated by the intellectual phenomenon of reflection is not only a revolutionary change in the very mechanism of evolution (the appearance of foresight and invention); it is also a dangerous twofold moral crisis. In the first place it is undoubtedly a crisis of emancipation, stemming from the birth of freedom; but at the same time it is a crisis of panic, akin to the psychological shock of being suddenly woken in the middle of the night.
p. 185 - a. Fear in confrontation with Matter
It is, rightly enough, through the staggering vastness of its dimensions that the universe deals us the first and most violent shock that tends to overwhelm us. Of old, when the earth was still believed to be stationed at the centre of a small number of spheres revolving in a perfectly stable and well-ordered fashion around it, the starry heavens could still be contemplated with serene admiration. But since the whole of this fine system was robbed of its centre in our eyes, was expanded and flung explosively into space - since we began to reckon in thousands of light-years and in galaxies - since, too, at the other extreme from astronomical magnitudes, the immense has reappeared, for our better equipped vision, in the incomprehensible swarming of the infinitesimal - since all this opening of our eyes, the feeling of our absolute insignificance and the dismay that accompanies it are continually becoming more pronounced. Pascal's two abysses, now more accurately sounded, and complicated by two others which that great seer could not, in the seventeenth century, as yet distinguish: the abyss of number, a terrifying flood-tide all around us of bodies and particles; and the abyss of time, an endless axis around which are carried out the coilings and uncoilings of space ... Is there anything left of ourselves - or, rather, how can we fail to feel that we are simply annihilated, wiped out - in the midst of these enormous magnitudes and this vast multitude? It is without any doubt, as each one of us knows by experience, by the shadow of its ever growing immensity that the cosmos first introduces anxiety into the modem soul. Soon, however, this initial cause for spiritual unease is reinforced by another, even more subtle and dangerous: and this one derives from the way in which the cosmos presents itself to our experience as 'a scaled system'.
Sealed, I repeat. That the world should be so large and so multitudinous' that we can have the distressing feeling of vanishing in it, is already serious enough. But it would be much worse if we could feel not only that, because of our insignificance, we were lost in this ocean for a first time, but that we were lost again for a second time because we were hermetically scaled inside it. And is not that exactly what is now happening? Until the dawn of the present era, one could say that man still had the illusion of living 'in the open air' in a universe that was penetrable and transparent. At that time there was no hard and fast boundary, and all sorts of exchanges were possible between the here below and the beyond, between heaven and earth, between relative and absolute. Might one not expect to meet a genie or a god on the high peaks, in the bowels of the earth or at the antipodes? Then, with the rise of science, we saw the gradual spreading over everything of a sort of membrane that our knowledge could not penetrate. We met the radical impossibility, as a dimensional fact, for our experience, of emerging from time and space: the impossibility, as a historic fact (whether in biology or in physics), of finding in any direction the end of a fibre of reality ~ except, perhaps, by getting back to a natural zero at which the universe vanishes in its entirety, instantaneously, without leaving a single trace. The impossibility, as a psychic fact, for our mind (an impossibility which repeated setbacks daily make more likely) of entering phenomenally into direct contact with any person or thing whatsoever of the trans-human or super-human order.
p. 188 - b. Fear in confrontation with the human
We may well believe that, just as the contemplation of the heavens, so the sight of the inhabited earth had, for our fathers, something harnfless or even comforting in it. Some thousands of years of history - some millions of living beings ~ no cause, surely, for feeling so hopelessly lost. But now, in the mercilessly increasing light of reflection, we find that a profound change is distorting for us the face of the social world, even when we approach it from its most civilized side. Among men at least, we used to think, it would be possible to keep things in proportion, even within a universe of such disproportionate dimensions. Clarity and individuality would be ours, in this refuge built by our own efforts. Instead of this, we now find - certain horrifying aspects imperceptibly creeping in beneath the features that seemed to us the most familiar -that the human mass, in its turn, is beginning to take on a strange and disturbing aspect. In its turn, too, we can see it becoming disfigured. And in the end we can again recognize in it the three cosmic characteristics that our minds find so terrifying, of immensity, opacity and aggressive impersonality.
p. 194 -
In short, while it is inevitable that the appearance of reflection shall immediately produce a wind of fear and anguish at the heart of an orderless or divergent plurality - within that same plurality, once it is recognized as convergent, it is equally inevitable that with the awakening of thought a breath of peace shall pass over the world. This is for the simple and profound reason that in a universe which 'gathers itself together', the other, however terrifying it may be in the ever more penetrating eyes of our consciousness, ceases to frighten us - and rightly so - since from being alien and hostile, it becomes patient of union. With the retreat in the other of exteriority and distance, it ceases, I repeat, to terrify us. But, what is much more welcome, its very vastness tends to make it eminently attractive and lovable. For ultimately, the more immense the layers of the multiple, the more inevitable and all-embracing the flood that brings us together is seen to be - and the deeper promises to be the central intensity into which the irresistible whirlpool of things is sucking us. The universe was dark, icy and blind; now it, lights up, becomes warm, and is animated. As though by magic, our terror of matter and man is transformed, is reversed, into peace and assurance - and even (for the man who knows the bliss of realizing that if a centre of cosmic attraction is to be personalizing, it must itself possess its own super-personality) into existential love. At last we have emerged from the labyrinth.We have escaped from our agony. We are made free. And all this because the world has a heart.
It is, then, with this metamorphosis, this interior reversal, before me, that 1 shall turn back to the line of reasoning I was putting forward a moment ago, and conclude as follows:
Given the two theoretically possible ways of looking at the reality that surrounds us - one leading most assuredly to asphyxiation and paralysis through fear - the other, on the contrary, spontaneously engendering the zest for living and the impetus for action - then, I maintain, no hesitation can be allowed between two such interpretations of the universe. And this does not apply simply to the moralist or the philosopher, but to the biologist, too, and the physicist. The organo-psychic convergence of the world is not possible or desirable only by reason of the peace of mind it brings us. just as much as the oxygen that tangibly fills our lungs, it must be regarded as objectively and scientifically true: true, because it alone is capable of producing a livable atmosphere for our consciousness; and because it alone is, in a word, livable (as we should have noticed earlier) by reason of the homogeneity in the structure of the cosmos. For, if (as is proved by the phenomenon of man) our universe tends unmistakably, through each and all of its elements, to find its equilibrium at a higher level in the 'centric', there is no way in which the process could continue and culminate except within a system that is completely centred, in its totality, upon itself
Paris 2.6 January 1949
p. 207- Physicists and astronomers are gradually making us familiar with the notion of modalities (dynamic or tensorial) that structurally affect the totality of space and time. There is much talk nowadays of a curved universe, or of an explosive universe. But why not rather of a self-arranging universe - and one that arranges itself, I mean, not simply in the geometric and indefinite way in which a crystal does so, but in the organic and centred ('synergic') way proper to the chemical, cellular and zoological particles of which we ourselves form a part ? As yet, it is true, there is only one point in the universe -our earth - at which we can appreciate such a drift of the stuff of the cosmos towards states that are continually more complicated physically and more interiorized psychically. Nevertheless, however restricted that field may be, how can we fail to recognize that the phenomenon is developing within it with a deep-rootedness, a regularity, and a power which is evidence of a general - not to say a dominating - propensity of the universe around us? If matter is left to itself, in a sufficient mass and for a sufficient length of time, and in suitable conditions of temperature and pressure, it always in the end, through the effect of chance and large numbers, becomes vitalized: as though by statistical necessity it found in this supremely improbable direction the only higher form of equilibrium that could satisfy it. This can only mean that, to judge by our own planetary mesh, the universe may legitimately be regarded, in its totality, as an immense system which is organico-psychically converging upon itself
p. 209 - There are, then, three major zones in the arrangement of the elements of the world, and therefore in their degree of consciousness. But there are in consequence three zones, too, in the possible non-arrangement or derangement of the same elements, that is to say in the individuation and aggravation of cosmic evil: the zone of purely material disintegration - the zone of suffering - the zone of wrong-doing. And, most important of all, there are, finally, three zones in the solidarity produced by the stream of universal convergence: the lower zone of physico-chemical interdependence between inanimate bodies; the zones of 'symbiotic' relationships between living beings: and finally the higher zone of the reflective interaction of free agents.
From this point of view, and as a rough initial description, we may say that the evolution of responsibility is simply one particular aspect of cosmogenesis. Or to put it more exactly, it is cosmogenesis itself observed and measured not (as we customarily do) by the degree of organic complexity or psychic charge, but by the degree of constantly increasing inter-influence within a multitude which is progressively concentrated upon itself in a convergent medium.
p. 213 - Within the static Nature of Aristotle or Plato, a certain ontological exclusiveness which was inevitably retained between matter and spirit, had the continual effect of encouraging the use of abstract or iuridical terms to express the relations between beings that existed in the field of the psyche. One world for bodies, and another world for souls. There are still any number of people to whom it comes as a shock if we speak of the physical reality of a mental phenomenon, or of the essentially biological nature of social or moral laws. It is precisely here that the newly opened up vision of a world in a state of evolution intervenes irresistibly, to release us from this sort of flat, hard and fast, dividing of things intellectually into compartments. Within what is now seen to be not merely a cosmos, but a cosmogenesis - crossing the successive thresholds of materialization, vitalization, and reflection - one and the same energy circulates, one and the same solidarity is built up. Without becoming materialized (in the pejorative and philosophical meaning of the world), but by following the opposite road of spiritualization, everything throughout the entire universe passes into the ultra-physical. Everything, mark you - and, in consequence, this applies as much to the effects of solidarity as it does to all the rest.
p. 214 - Here, indeed, if I am not mistaken, lies the radical transformation (not an objective but a subjective transformation) which is at this moment being effected in the way in which we have hitherto been able to become conscious of our responsibilities as men. It is not simply that the radius of our influence over others is suddenly increasing so rapidly that even the most superficial and self-centred of us are beginning to have to take it really seriously; what is more, mankind's social ordering of itself has acquired an evolutionary value, and in consequence the very stuff of this peripheral activity exercised by our being - to judge from the inexorably determined character of the effects it produces - is assuming for us an impressive consistence.
So long as we thought that all we were confronted with was a set of rules (to be respected or disregarded) more or less arbitrarily decreed by man for the use of other men, we could believe that some escape from them or some violation of them was still possible. As soon, however, as we realize with excitement that socialization is gradually enclosing us in a network not of conventions but of organic bonds, we begin mentally to appreciate the true greatness and gravity of man's condition.
One can always, you see, reach a compromise with the juridical and so rub along together; but thwart the organic, and there can be no pardon.
Paris, 5 June 1950 - Psyché, July-August 1951
p. 234 - Years ago, when Lucretius and Epicurus were looking for something that would explain the coming together and entangling of their rain of 'hooked' atoms, and start it off, they introduced an obliquity of motion into the drops as they fell: a 'clinamen' they called it, or 'bias'.
In a more modem form we meet the same problem again when we are confronted by a universe that is clearly going through a process of complexification. If you have a cosmic stuff that is perfectly indifferent, then, however great the number of occasions envisaged, it is inconceivable that the play of chances may produce even the shortest linear progression in arrangement. Why is it, then, that right back to the furthest point at which matter concentrates and compresses upon itself - why is that, historically, it has persisted for tens of millions of years in introducing order into itself? In other words, how are we to justify this priority that has unswervingly been accorded, in a vast sector of things and throughout geological eras, to the improbable over the probable, to order over disorder, to life over death?
The more deeply one studies this problem, the more one is convinced (by reference to what happens in the depths of our reflective ego) that the fundamental polarity required to initiate and advance the cosmic phenomenon of vitalization is by nature, and in its dimensions, psychic. This means that it is this polarity, in the threefold form of 'a will to survive', turning into a 'will to live fully', itself then included in a 'will to superlive' - it is this, and nothing less than this, which rises up in each one of us, unmasking its features, one might say, in the hominized state.
p. 138 - In a world which has become conscious of its own self and provides its own motive force, what is most vitally necessary to the thinking earth is a faith - and a great faith - and ever more faith.
To know that we are not prisoners.
To know that there is a way out, that there is air, and light, and love, somewhere, beyond the reach of all death.
To know this, to know that it is neither an illusion nor a fairy story.
- That, if we are not to perish smothered in the very stuff of our being, is what we must at all costs secure.
And it is there that we find what I may well be so bold as to call the evolutionary role of religions.
p. 242 - This, however, is not all. What is carried along by the various currents of faith that are still active on the earth, working in their incommunicable core, is no longer only the irreplaceable elements of a certain complete image of the universe. Very much more even than fragments of vision, it is experiences of contact with a supreme Inexpressible which they preserve and pass on. It is as though, from the final issue which evolution demands and towards which it hastens, a certain influx came down to illuminate and give warmth to our lives: a true 'trans-cosmic' radiation for which the organisms that have appeared in succession throughout the course of history would seem to be precisely the naturally provided receivers.
Beneath its apparent naiveté, this is an extraordinarily daring outlook; and, if it is justified, its effect is profoundly to re-cast the whole theory of the zest for life and its maintenance in the world.
To preserve and increase on earth the 'pressure of evolution' it is vitally important, I pointed out, that through the mutual buttressing provided by the reflection of religious ideas a progressively more real and more magnetic God be seen by us to stand out at the higher pole of horninization. We now find another condition of cosmic animation and another possibility in it. It is that sustained and guided by the tradition of the great human mystical systems, along the road of contemplation and prayer, we succeed in entering directly into receptive communication with the very source of all interior drive.
The vital charge of the world, maintained not simply by physiological artifices or by rational discovery of some objective or ideal, bringing with it - but poured directly into the depths of our being, in its higher, immediate, and most heightened form - love, as an effect of 'grace' and 'revelation'.
The zest for life: the central and favoured ligament, indeed, in which can be seen, within the economy of a supremely organic universe, a supremely intimate bond between mysticism, research, and biology.
Paris, November 1950
Written on the occasion of a lecture given, for the Congres Universel des Croyants, at the home of M. de Saint-Martin, Place des Vosges, 9 December 1950
p. 247 - Consider the total suffering of the whole earth at every moment. If only we were able to gather up this formidable magnitude, to gauge its volume, to weigh, count, analyse it - what an astronomic mass, what a terrifying total! And from physical torture to moral agonies, how subtle a range of shades of misery! And if only, too, through the medium of some conductivity suddenly established between bodies and souls, all the pain were mixed with all the joy of the world, who can say on which side the balance would settle, on that of pain or that of joy?
Yes, the more man becomes man, the more deeply engrained and the more serious - in his flesh, in his nerves, in his mind - becomes the problem of evil: evil that has to be understood, and evil that has to be borne.
A sounder view of the universe in which we are caught up, it is true, is now by way of providing us with the beginning of an answer to this problem. We are realizing that within the vast process of arrangement from which life emerges, every success is necessarily paid for by a large percentage of failures. One cannot progress in being without paying a mysterious tribute of tears, blood, and sin. It is hardly surprising, then, if all around us some shadows grow more dense at the same time as the light grows brighter: for, when we see it from this angle, suffering in all its forms and all its degrees is (at least to some extent) no more than a natural consequence of the, movement by which we were brought into being.
p. 249 - An overplus of spirit born from a deficiency of matter.
Here, indeed, is the miracle, continually renewed for the last two thousand years, of a possible Christification of suffering.
0 Marguerite, my sister, while I, given body and soul to the positive forces of the universe, was wandering over continents and oceans, my whole being passionately taken up in watching the rise of all the earth's tints and shades, you lay motionless, stretched out on your bed of sickness; silently, deep within yourself, you were transforming into light the world's most grievous shadows.
In the eyes of the Creator, which of us, tell me, which of us will have had the better part?
Paris, 8 January 1950. Preface by Père Teilhard to Monique Givelet's life of his sister, Marguerite-Marie. (Ed. du Seuil, Paris, 1959)
p. 253 - It is only natural that we should be engrossed by our concern to respond to the special factors and problems that are introduced into our field of vision and action by an almost explosive development of science, technology and sociology; but it has this consequence, that we are not trying hard enough to get clear of the turmoil in which we are involved and so find out whether we can distinguish and define the general shape and the over-all direction and, most of all, the underlying generating cause of, the remarkable cyclone that has suddenly blown up and in less than a century secured its grip on mankind - and is now carrying us along, powerless to resist.
What I hope to do here is to add my contribution to this effort to extricate ourselves and see more clearly what is happening, by pointing out the most unusual, and determining, influence exerted on the behaviour of modem man by the very recent (or at any rate as yet incomplete) awakening of our minds to the perception of a world that is in a state of operating an organic shift upon itself.
This involves a mental transition from cosmos to cosmogenesis.
p. 256 - Well into the nineteenth century, man could still, on the whole, tell himself (without reacting to what was physically .contradictory in this concept) that it was only the living being that was born, grew, died, within a matter that was always identical with itself - that only in connexion with the living could we speak of its age.
Now, however, we find that for every modem mind (and the more modem the mind, the truer this is) there has emerged, never to disappear, the consciousness - there has been born the sense - of a universal, absolutely specific movement, in virtue of which the totality of things is shifting, integrally and as one whole, from top to bottom, not simply within space and time, but in a (hyper-Einsteinian) space-time whose special bias is to introduce an ever higher degree of arrangement into that which moves within it.
It is what I have often called a movement of 'complexity-consciousness', or of 'corpusculization', or of 'centration', or 'interiorization'; inasmuch as the arrangement it produces rises up in the direction of groupings that are at once more astronomically complicated, more physically organic, and more psychologically free from determinism.
It is not a relative movement, we must note, but a true absolute movement, inasmuch as it advances towards a state that is definable in relation to itself.
Finally, it is not a movement of oscillation, nor is it simply an onward flow; it is a true genesis, inasmuch as in virtue of its structure -subject to a suitable working out of chances and free options -it grows additively in only one possible direction: that of an ultra-consciousness which, in the context of our planetary experience, can be expressed in terms of the ultra-human.
It is, I am convinced, in the ever more habitual and general perception of this global physico-psychic convergence (hitherto completely unsuspected) that there lies the essence of the modern notion (so often ill-defined) of evolution; but, what is even more, here we have the most sensational threshold crossed by man's consciousness in the million years for which it has been reflecting upon itself on the surface of the earth.
p. 261 - In other words, however dispersed and seriated they may be in their birth, both chronologically and spatially, as a result of the process of evolution, the particles in a cosmogenetic: universe all possess the property of being infinitesimally co-extensive with the totality of time and space.While they are all positioned, some more, some less. out of centre in the general system which is undergoing centration, each one plays, in relation to the whole, the part of a partial and incommunicable centre; and the convergence of the cosmos makes itself specifically apparent in the tendency which these countless elementary centres display to close up, to come together and, as we shall see. to reinforce one another in a universal supercentre of things.
p. 262 - As a result, therefore, of the ever more rapidly increasing influence of a collective reflection, what lies ahead of us, beyond a wide fringe of the ultra-human, is nothing less than entry into a final centre in which the human, through concentration, succeeds in forming one with some trans-human.
And here, in a new form, we are once again faced by the whole problem of God.
A new aspect of God : The Universal Christ
Hitherto, a God of cosmos (that is, a creator of the 'efficient' type) was apparently all that was needed for our emotional and intellectual satisfaction. Henceforth (and it is here without any doubt that we should look for the underlying source of the modern religious uneasiness of mind) nothing but a God of cosmogenesis - that is a creator of the 'animating' type - can come up to the full measure of our capacity for worship.
We must, of course, in the first place and as a matter of cosmic necessity, at all costs retain the primordial transcendence of this new evolutive God, who rises up at the heart of the old maker-God; for, if he had not pre-emerged from the world, how could he be for the world an issue and a consummation lying ahead? It is, nevertheless, equally important to look more deeply into his immanent character, to appreciate it with wonder and delight - or even more important, since it is precisely in this immanence that the new vision of God we look for consists.
In a system of convergent cosmogenesis, to create is for God to unite. To unite, to form one with something, is to be immersed in it; but to be immersed (in the plural) is to become a particle within it. And to become a particle in a world whose arrangement statistically entails disorder (and mechanically calls for effort) is to plunge into error and suffering, in order to overcome them.
And thus it is that there gradually emerges a remarkable and fruitful connexion between theology and Christology.
We may well say that, in spite of the spirit (or even the letter) of the writings of St Paul and St John, until recent times the Egure of Christ as Saviour and his function as such retained, in current dogmatic formulation, something of the arbitrary, the juridical and the accidental. Why the Incamation? Why the Cross? Affectively and from the pastoral point of view, the Christian economy was seen to be perfectly viable and efficient. Intellectually speaking, however, it was presented more as an arbitrary series of chance events than as an organically linked process. And this was a great loss to mysticism.
It is here, then, to make good this lack of ontological coherence (and, in consequence, of spiritual grip), that there intervenes the discovery of a type of universe in which, on the one hand, as we have just seen, God cannot appear as prime mover (ahead) without first becoming incarnate and without redeeming - in other words without our seeing that he becomes Christfited; and in which, by way of complement, Christ can no longer 'justify' man except by that same act super-creating the entire universe.
p. 266 - Formerly we had no suspicion even that the world could move as one whole, in relation to itself Now that we see that it is in motion, we realize that this movement cannot develop fully (that is, that it would lose its momentum) if we were not in the fortunate position of being able, and being obliged, to experience it, outside and beyond any anthropomorphism, as a supreme Someone.
Love of evolution: a phrase that was meaningless a mere fifty years ago: and yet an expression of the only psychic factor capable, it would seem, of carrying to its term the effort of planetary self-arrangement on which depends the cosmic success of mankind.
p. 267 - Conclusion. The perception of cosmogenesis: the particular and specific effect of cosmogenesis.
A new vision of the universe calls for a new form of worship and a new method of action.
Here we have the inner turning point, and a particularly sharp one it is, to which the general development of history has now brought us.
There are many who do not yet feel that this major psychological change of direction is a threat to the peaceful equilibrium in which they are quite content; or else they tend, if they are aware of it, to minimize it by attributing no more than a purely ideological or cognoscitive value to the phenomenon that is taking place. 'In fact,' they say, 'since the act of seeing the world more scientifically does no more than bring out a state of affairs that existed for a very long time already, without in any way modifying it, there is surely every reason to regard this act of which you make such a fuss, as superficial and secondary in relation to the underlying evolution (if indeed there be such a thing) of the universe.'
As a counter to this intellectual lack of commitment, I cannot, for my part, conclude the foregoing observations without re-affirming the specifically 'organic' nature of the mental transformation whose vicissitudes and effects on ourselves we can follow here and now in our own case. For if we admit (as we must indeed do if we are not to deny the very fact of cosmogenesis) that the initial step of reflection (from which the human zoological type emerged) represents an event whose substance is strictly biological - then how can we deny that same quality to the crossing of a characteristic threshold, in the course of time, by man's reflective power as it develops its system of mutual reinforcement? Particularly if the psychological crossing of this threshold is indeed accompanied by (- an infallible criterion of organicity -) a marked leap in the technicosocial complexification of the noosphere?
A well-known tactical device employed by the fixists when they are driven into a corner, is to claim that even if fife was formerly plastic and subject to transformation, since man this biogenesis has in any case been completely arrested. It is useless, too, in order to prove to them the contrary, to try to make them see that in the present manifest non-arrangement of the human mass can be seen, biologically, the potentiality and the imminence of some higher state of organization and con~ sciousness.
In these circumstances, is it not interesting to note that by the recording deep within ourselves of an undeniable evolutionary shock, we are obliged to accept the direct evidence of an absolute drift of the universe in the direction of an increasing unity and interiority?
So we find the reality of a cosmogenesis established by the very self-perception of this cosmogenesis.
It is, indeed, a remarkable and specially favoured phase of a movement whose crucial step, at a given moment, consists in becoming conscious of - and taking responsibility for - itself.
Paris 15 March 1951.
p. 291 - It is unmistakably apparent (as all of us can see) that at this moment we are irretrievably involved in a rapidly accelerating process of human totalization Under the combined force of the multiplication (in numbers) and expansion (in radius of influence) of human individuals on the surface of the globe, the noosphere has for the last century shown signs of a sudden organic compression upon itself and compenetration. This is without any doubt the most massive and the most central of the events the earth has experienced in our day.
Now that life has placed us in this critical situation, how arc we going to react to the test?
So long as we adhere to the cautious traditional concept and continue to say that mankind has come to a dead end, the compression and the consequent concretion of the human mass can be seen by us only as a ridiculous constraint or even evil: as ridiculous, in truth, as cramming passengers into a railway carriage. (Note : A state, let me add, that is totalized but not totalitarian.) That is why we are so often horrified, or terrified, by the modern world: a machine for destroying the individual or mechanizing him.
If, on the other hand, as suggested by the indications mentioned above of a collective rise of reflection on earth, we admit that the hypersocialization from which we are suffering is nothing but an ultra-vitalization (by ultra-arrangement) of the human mass which is forced gradually to shift its position in a convergent universe - we shall react quite differently.
In that case, while the process loses none of its peril or unpleasantness, it is completely transfigured. It takes on a meaning. And we see how we can effectively collaborate in its success.
I must, however, emphasize that if this is to come about, we must make up our minds and get down to work, quickly, immediately.
For, if it is really true that an ultra-human can be distinguished ahead of us, to be attained by ultra-evolution, it is equally true that this ultra-evolution, operating henceforth in a reflective medium, can only be (at least in its most seminal and central axis) an auto- or self-evolution: in other words, it must be a consciously arid passionately willed deliberate act. If the totalizanon of the noosphere is to be biologically successful, it cannot be simply instinctive and passive. It looks to us for an active and immediate collaboration, for a vigorous drive, based on conviction and hope. For evolution will not mark time,
Do we see or do we not see, admit or refuse to admit, that as an effect of complexification and arrangement life is coming to rise more and more rapidly on earth, within a convergent universe? That is the precise point upon which mankind is obliged to divide itself (as, indeed, we can sec for ourselves it is actually doing) into two irreconcilably conflicting blocs.
And, we can confidently predict, only that portion of mankind which has made the correct choice Will survive - and super-live.
p. 293 - In order to verify the hypothesis of an explosive cosmos, the physicists have recently brought into operation a giant telescope, designed to reveal the existence of ever more distant galaxies and allow us to study their behaviour.
If the preceding considerations are correct, surely the most urgent task confronting the genius of man at this moment is to conceive and undertake the construction of another 'Palomar' - but this one would be designed to bring out not an expansion of the universe in space but a psychogenic concentration of the universe upon itself: and this by magnification and analysis of the phenomenon of man.
It is a story, this time, not of a sufficiently large mirror and sufficiently sensitive photographic plates: it is a matter of bringing together a large enough number of minds that are sufficiently open and in tune with influences of the cosmic order to perceive, record and amplify a movement of the noosphere in relation to itself.
Such an enterprise, it is evident, can profitably be undertaken only after a very considerable preliminary work of discussion and tentative inquiry conducted by expert physicists and bioiogists.'°
Even so, it would seem possible here and now to enumerate some main lines along which the problem may be attacked.
i. From what I have already said, the ideal method of scientifically establishing the phenomenon of a convergence of the universe would be to be able, by some technique, at every moment to measure directly the psychic charge (or temperature) of mankind - in other words, the degree or gradient of its reflection upon itself. This is an operation that is as yet hardly conceivable, but will not, perhaps, baffle the physics of tomorrow. Meanwhile, using a more descriptive method, may there not really be a way, for a scientifically alert observer, of detecting around us the signs of an ultra-evolution (we might say 'a wind of reflection') in a whole series of psychic phenomena, still incompletely identified and yet patient of statistical study? For example, the general rise, at this very moment, in the most advanced areas of human thought, of a certain distress or, on the contrary, of a certain excited anticipation - both specifically connected with the gradual awakening in us of die consciousness that the universe is not only in movement but is carrying us with it.
ii. In the absence of, or marginal to, these direct but as yet ill-explored proofs of a human drift towards some ultra-human, a vast field of indirect verification leading to the same result is indisputably open to us; it lies in the direction of a deeper analysis of the structure of the noosphere. One of the first tasks of the commission appointed to bring out and keep under observation the symptoms of a psychogenic convergence of the universe, would certainly be to design and forward the construction of certain characteristic curves (cf. above), which would express in terms of absolute value the chronological division of the levels crossed by life in order to become hominized, and by mankind in order to become planetized: a curve of speciation (or cerebration); a curve of expansion; a curve of population; a curve of planetary compression, etc. There can be little doubt but that such graphs would make abundantly clear to everyone the evidence of a process, at once qualitative and quantitative, of cosmic arrangement, whose explosive behaviour rules out the hypothesis that the movement into which we arc born is now slowing down, and still less coming to a halt.
iii. In consequence, we might say that at this moment, as in the time of Galileo, what we most urgently need in order to appreciate the convergence of the universe is much less new facts (there are enough and even embarrassingly more than enough of these in every quarter) than a new way of looking at the facts and accepting them.
A new way of seeing, combined with a new way of acting that is what we need.
From this we can draw but one conclusion, that the speculative effort of the new Palomar of which we are now dreaming cannot be conceived apart from an accompanying practical effort to readjust, within a universe that is recognized as convergent, the whole range of human values.
The admission that we have emerged from and are enveloped in a universal flux of centrifying complexification does not, indeed, have as its sole consequence the introduction of more meaning and coherence into the total fabric of our present experience than any former way of looking at things. More than any other, this new view, we must add, gives an orientation and an unlooked-for excitement to our need to act, at the very moment when we were beginning to be in two minds about the future.
We must recognize, then, the vital importance of a collective quest of discovery and invention no longer inspired solely by a vague delight in knowledge and power, but by the duty and the clearly-defined hope of gaining control (and so making use) of the fundamental driving forces of evolution.
And with this, the urgent need for a generalized eugenics (radical no less than individual) directed, beyond all concern with economic or nutritional problems, towards a biological maturing of the human type and of the biosphere.
Simultaneously, too, the necessity of drawing up as soon as possible the main lines of a spiritual energetics devoted to the study of the conditions under which the human zest for auto-evolution and ultra-evolution - which at the moment is dissipated in any number of different forms of faith and love may be in a position to form a compact group (*), to safeguard itself and to intensify - to meet the requirements, and through the influence of, the new regime we have just entered: that of a world in a reflective state of self-transformation.
Here we have a complete programme: in it, a momentary initial effort definitively to establish in men's minds the appreciation of a convergence of the universe, is gradually transformed into another and more constructive task, one that is capable of almost indefinite possible developments: it is the practical effort of industriously furthering this convergence, in our terrestrial sector, until it attains the term or centre (whatever it may be) of its fulfilment.(**)
Unpublished, Capetown, 23 July 1951
(*). Sexual attraction; religious forces; the sense of man, based now not on the notion of. common origin (a centre of divergence) but on the idea of some consummation lying ahead.
(**). This centre of complete reflection coinciding with what mysticism has since all time called the revelation of God.
Written for Huxley'
p. 299- Nobody today has any serious doubt that, speaking in terms of anatomy and psyche, man appeared towards the end of the Tertiary as a function of the general process of zoological evolution. However, since that initial emergence, has man continued, and does he still continue, to move and change organically in relation to himself? In other words, does man represent a threshold, or on the contrary a ceiling, in the progress of biogenesis?
It is curious to note the reaction of professional scientists when confronted by this fundamental question (which, nevertheless, is still so seldom explicitly formulated); they either evade it, on the ground that it lies outside their competence, or they rake a completely opposite line, and adopting the 'common sense' attitude of the man in the street, decide that after all there is every possibility that man has reached a zoological dead end of evolution. For, they say, echoing a commonplace of moralists and writers, 'As long as we have known man, he has always been the same; or, if mankind is changing it is no longer doing so, as life does, in an organic field, but solely on a cultural and technical plane. Which is a completely different matter.'
At the root of this hesitancy, or even persistent refusal, on the part of anthropologists to recognize a biological value, properly so called, in human progress, there lies, to my mind, a strange forgetfulness of what one might call the general law of transformation of physical processes in nature.
Theoretically, for a geometrician who deals with pure variables, any magnitude (length, volume, density, number, temperature, speed) may increase or decrease indefinitely, in accordance with a constant formula. However, physics teaches us that in the concrete realization of things it is quite a different story. Just as a river whose flow constantly changes as it makes its way to the sea, so any real transformation you care to study - because it depends on a complex cluster of interdependent factors - inevitably changes its form (or even its state) as it proceeds, as a result of the unequal increase in the different variables it includes. The physicists quote as an example the rapid increase in mass which occurs at very great speeds, until it makes any further acceleration impossible; or again (to take a case to which I shall be returning later) the ultimate transformation into airborne flight of the progressively accelerated motion of an aircraft along the runway.
What I hope briefly to make clear in this essay is how, when we are prepared to apply this general effect of differential increase to the particular case of the development of life, the zoological process of evolution does not weaken or even fade out at the level of man (as is so persistently maintained); on the contrary, it is unmistakably continued and even intensified in man.
The movement is there all the time, and the evidence stares us in the face - and yet we do not recognize it.
How, in the first place, as the appearance of man becomes imminent, the progress of biogenesis, without the least slackening of speed, so changes its aspect as to seem to us unrecognizable at first; and how, secondly, once the new mechanism of evolution has been distinguished all around us, there is a sudden metamorphosis, a sudden vivification, of the way in which it was until then still possible for us to look at the present and the future of mankind.
These arc two points with which I shall deal in turn.
However little one may, by conviction or temperament, be 'Darwinist', it is impossible to deny the immense part (at least in the first stages of the phenomenon) played by chance effects in the appearance and intensification of life within our universe,
'Given a very large number of elements taken in a state simultaneously of agitation and compression (or, which comes to the same thing, of agitation and multiplication), experience teaches us that such a system tends intrinsically and automatically to develop its arrangement additively to an ever more marked degree: subject to the condition that, for some reason, certain types of arrangement can be considered as specially favoured. For once such a type of association has been effected by chance at one point for the first time (as an effect of the tentative gropings of large numbers and of agitation), then this 'initial atom of arrangement" tends (through the selective influence of compression, that is, of competition) to take advantage of new chances and so grow and intensify in the favourable direction and this continues indefinitely.'
Such is the first rough picture we can draw of the process of evolution, in its elementary and primordial essence.
Let us start from this approximate definition and try to press it further home - to approximate rather more closely to an accurate picture. We have just spoken of 'specially favoured arrangements'. What precisely should we understand by this expression - on which everything depends?
In the classic formulations of 'Darwinian transformism', this nice point is generally expressed as 'the survival of the fittest'. To my mind, however, the phrase is unfortunate and unsatisfactory, and for two reasons.
In the first place, because it is too vague and lends itself to no precise standard of measurement.
And secondly, because by expressing a purely relative superiority among arrangements, it does not bring out that factor in the rise of life which, going beyond the effects of competition, gives unmistakable evidence of an exuberant tendency to expand and of a sense of absolute advance.
Supposing, on the other hand, we substitute 'most complex' in our formula, for fittest (*)., In other words supposing we admit that, under the tentative play of chance, the Weltstoff behaves, by nature, as though by preference it fell into those forms of arrangement which are at the same time the richest, the most closely associated, and the most fully centred.
(*) I say, 'complex' advisedly, and not 'complicated': because, as we all know, an organism (whether natural or artificial) is to be perfect, it must combine with the plurality and differentiation of its parts, a maximum of lightness ad simplicity. Side by side with the complication which makes a thing unwieldy, there is useful (or centred) complexity: and here we are concerned only with the latter.
Let us look at the consequences and the advantages of this change of variable.
In the first place, we find, now that we have thought of it, hat we at last possess the absolute parameter that is essential to us if we are to follow and scientifically appreciate the movements of life. For after all, historically, the biosphere did not spread out like a spot of oil simply through morphological diversification in every direction on the surface of the earth. On the :ontrary, along each of its rays (and more particularly along a vcry small number of principal axes) it has continually been increasing from age to age the number of useful components in its constructions: and it has never ceased, either, to secure in them the maximum of perfection and co-ordination (the phenomena of cephalization and cerebration). As an explanation and, still more as a standard of measurement) of this so clearly oriented (or polarized) trend, to speak of 'the greatest capacity or survival in the organisms' is quite useless. On the other hand, the situation is clarified and can be seen with accuracy if we envisage, as the basis of cosmic physics, the existence of a sort of second entropy (or anti-entropy) which, as an effect of chances that are seized, draws a portion of matter in the direction of continually higher forms of structurization and centration.
By the introduction into biogenesis of the notion (or principle) of greatest complexity, let me emphasize, the general situation of life in the universe can be seen accurately in terms of energetics. At the same time, and further, another valuable piece of evidence is disclosed: and it is precisely the one that could be of most service to us in understanding what happens to evolution starting with man.
I referred earlier to the fruitful impact upon modern physics of the observation and admission of the fact that the acceleration of the real speeds of bodies was productive of mass.
In biology, a further fact (at once so glaring, so simple, and nevertheless as yet so little understood) cannot fail before very long to be equally revolutionary: I mean the fact that the organic complexity of beings (the true parameter, we have just seen, of evolution) cannot increase concretely without producing, at its core, a rapidly increasing quantity of indetermination and psychism. By its very nature, as the cosmic stuff's power of self-arrangement is realized more fully, so there tends to be a gradual interiorization of its driving force and the methods it uses. As a universal experience of things teaches us, the increasing complexification of matter, while in its origins principally the effect of chance, is gradually shot through and loaded with 'choice'. When the process first appears, in monocellular beings, it is forcibly imposed or automatic; but among highly cerebralized beings it tends irreversibly to become one of active preference.
We must, therefore, admit that an important correction must be applied to our first idea that once the movement producing the arrangement of matter has been initiated by the play of chance, it can and must continue to develop as it is indefinitely that it must 'snowball',
'Indefinitely': not precisely (cf. below, in the conclusion, the possibility in the future of a higher focus-point of ultra- humanization).
'As it is': most certainly not.
Just like the aircraft I spoke of at the beginning, which gradually lifts its rail and finally takes off as it gains speed - so evolution, from being initially selective, cannot but make itself elective in higher living beings, as a direct effect of complexity: until the time comes when, with the appearance of the faculty of thought, it reflects definitively upon itself and so 'takes off' and suddenly opens out into planned invention (technology) and higher co-consciousness (civilization).
And it is here, if! am not mistaken, that the true nature of the phenomenon of man becomes apparent in its full grandeur and simplicity.
p.304 - A better understanding of the degree to which time introduces change into the process of evolution, enables us to realize that the organizing forces of life do not become weaker in man nor superficial; on the contrary, through his industrialization and collectivization, they become interiorized and reinforce one another. From the moment we appreciate that fact, a radical transformation is clearly effected in the traditional, classic, view of a mankind that has biologically come to a halt.
A new form of complexifleation (arrangement sought from within) replaces the old type of evolution (in which arrangement was imposed ab extra). The artificial takes over from the natural and continues it. The social takes on the value of the ultra-organic.
As a result of this single transformation, as though by magic, our eyes are opened and we see a world that might have seemed to us permanently stabilized stir into movement.
Everything starts anew; everything is in movement; every- thing continues, in a higher way, to evolve with even more vigour. And thereby everything in the heartbreaking multi- plicity of man in which we could have thought we were lost, falls into a coherent pattern.
In the first place, we recognize the continued activity in and around us of the primordial forces of large numbers, of agitation and compression, which since all time have unceasingly nourished and impelled ahead, in its full extension and at all its degrees, the mass of vitalized matter. Without tentative gropings, and without failures, without death and without planetary compression, man, as a human being, would have remained stationary. This is a grim condition that could have humiliated and repelled us so long as we thought that we had come to a halt; but we now suddenly realize that it simply expresses the depth, the vigour, and the continuity of the cosmic current to which we belong.
Secondly, at last we see the emergence as a scientific fact of a generalized and optimistic sense of history.
The sense of history-
In spite of all the enormous efforts of learning and synthesis that have recently been devoted to obtaining a better understanding of the rise and decline of cities and peoples, we may well say that no truly coherent and constructive interpretation has yet been given of the successive stages and over-all behaviour of the phenomenon of man. Even for minds as acute and powerful as Spengler and Toynbee, history is reduced essentially to a periodic function, without beginning or end, whereas the problem in understanding man is to discover some basic current beneath the superficial cultural oscillations. Moreover, to make matters worse, even for the most up to date historians, the human, taken as a whole, seems to constitute in the heart of things no more than a juridical microcosm, tossed to and fro, and closed. And yet the whole problem raised by modern science is how to include it, genetically and organically, in the domains of physics and biology.
Let us try to improve on this, taking as our guide our 'evolutionary parameter of complexity'. And in order to do so, let us for the time being leave aside details of empires, of wars and cultures, and concentrate directly on the main part of the phenomenon, which is the major, and most remarkable, process of totalization: for, to an observer at a sufficient height to have a commanding view, it is to this process that is reduced, and in that process is harmonized, the combined play of all human activities, reacting on one another for nearly a million years.
In itself, the reality of the fact is blatantly obvious: so much so, that here again we might say that our eyes are dazzled by the truth.
As mankind lives longer, not only does it increase numerically and spread out geographically; but, what is more, economically, politically, and mentally it is daily more thoroughly pounded together and intermixed and more closely bound into one. We can see connexions of all sorts continually - and in geometric progression - multiplying and intensifying between each human individual and all the others on the surface of the globe.
Until quite recent times, it would seem that man was not unduly concerned about these symptoms of social concretion' and of society's grip on the individual: the reason being, that the phenomenon, whether an enslavement or a benefit, could be taken, like sunshine or rain, for a constant condition or magnitude, long representing an established order.
In less than two centuries, however (that is, since the simultaneous birth of science, industry and research), it has become clear, on the contrary, that the process of social consolidation, slowly set in motion in the course of several thousands of years, is suddenly beginning to come out into the open in its full vigour and to enter its phase of rapid acceleration. One would have to be blind today not to notice this. Under the combined influence of a number of fundamental cosmic conditions (the closed surface of the earth, the proliferation of living substance, the expansive power of reflective psychism and its coalescence upon itself) mankind is henceforth inexorably fated - by the very operation of its countless individual preferences - ever more rapidly and ever more fully to complexify and coalesce upon itself.
Faced with this factual situation, many minds, even with scientific training behind them, arc still disconcerted by what seems to them to be a dangerous crisis (if not a retrogression or self-destruction) of evolution: evolution, through the mechanizing affect of large numbers, re-absorbing and destroying the individual centres of autonomy and reflection which, through the tentative gropings of large numbers, it had so patiently produced.
That is the great feat of today: that we may founder in the multitude.
However, once we have become familiar with the notion of the 'parameter of complexity' and its application, we cannot fail to see, on the contrary, that what we have to deal with in the totalizing trend we fmd so disturbing is not some antagonistic or parasitic by-product of evolution but a direct super-effect.
We cannot possibly, it is true, fail to be struck by the fact that the rise of the collective and of mass-man is accompanied by a first wave of slavery, of levelling-down, of ugliness and disaster.
But, looking further, beneath the froth of this wave we cannot fail to be aware of a fantastic increase in the flexibility and speed of inter-communication -of organization and penetrative power of research, of efficiency and forcefulness in action -and, finally, of breadth and depth in our view of the world around us.
It is a remarkable leap forward (involving, indeed, a change of order) in arrangement - one that is accompanied by another, no less remarkable, whether it be in the reduction of chance in the world (planned and co-operative invention) or in the biological interiorization of consciousness (all the individual reflective particles of the earth being impelled to associate planetarily in one single reflective system).
By this twofold evidence, in truth (the combined increase of complexity and consciousness), we are obliged to recognize that the progressive and irresistible technico-cultural unification now being effected in mankind is an event whose nature is specifically organic; and that in it the general process of cosmic biogenesis can not only still be distinguished but is attaining, in the field of our experience, a supreme degree of its development.
It is not only that in man, as Julian Huxley has said, evolution becomes conscious (that is, reflectively inventive); what is more, by the gathering together and concentration of all its forces and all its strands, from being divergent it is becoming convergent.
Such, reduced to a single word, would appear to be the full and authentic lesson of history: and also, maybe, the greatest discovery ever bequeathed to the natural sciences since that other discovery of the existence of an evolution.
In man, and starting with man, we have a folding back and a general convergence upon itself (both in its mechanism and in its products) of evolution's most axial nucleus.
If the scientific reality of this massive phenomenon (as massive, in truth, as, at the other extreme of things, the expansion of the universe) were to be definitively confirmed, a great light would certainly dawn over the world of tomorrow.
Intellectually at first, we would begin to understand once and for all what is going on all around us on earth at this moment. This zoological proliferation of mankind in which the phyla, continually being born from the prolonged activity of speciation, never cease to involute upon one another without ever succeeding in separating; this appearance of collective organisms (for the circulation of food-supplies and of ideas, for the promotion of discovery and its additive progress), in which, so disconcertingly (because in some way cxteriorizcd and taken to a planetary scale) we meet again the fundamental processes which have for long been recognized in animate organisms by anatomy and physiology - all this confused and disturbing medley of relationships and differences between the living and the human, is readily explained once we have found, to lead us from one domain into the other, the law of transposition and of transformation.
But above all, affectively-hominization, instead of spreading out at random (as we had at first thought) would be given a direction; and in consequence we would awake scientifically to the idea that in the form of some critical point of ultra-hominizalion (or of complete and final reflection), some issue to - that is, some justification of- life may well be waiting for us at the term of existence: because, physically and biologically, the process is convergent!
And in consequence the zest for action, the impetus to action, would be re-born and re-bound in our hearts in step with the ever greater evolutionary effect we have to make in order to ensure the progress of a complexity whose burden becomes progressively heavier to bear.
This, we must never forget, is the dynamic condition essential to survival for a biogenesis that has definitively passed in us from the state of passively experienced evolution to the state of auto.- or self-evolution.
Unpublished 19 November 1951
P. 328 - In us, and around us, under the continued influence of hominization, the wave has just crossed the equator and suddenly entered into another hemisphere; and there, if it is to continue its advance, it must necessarily force itself into closer contact in a new climate.
In a mankind that has reached saturation point on the planet, a neo-socialization of compression is coming to replace the palaeo-socialization of expansion whose various vicissitudes fill - often so uselessly - our history books.
This is, indeed, a massive event. For, in step with the gaining of preponderance by the phenomena of convergence in anthropogenesis, it is collective reflection that is beginning to grow vertically in the noosphere, while at the same time there rises over our horizon the hitherto hidden pole of a unification, both organic and mental, into which we are henceforth 'falling' at a constantly accelerating speed.
It seems to me inevitable that in the near future our scientific attention must be continually more attracted, even fascinated, by this extreme evolutionary point of our 'forward dive': the more so that it seems possible here and now to distinguish, as we shall be seeing, some of its essential characteristics or fundamental properties.
However, before we embark on this nice question of the upper limits of the phenomenon of man, I must first explain how, from the point of view I am adopting, we meet and how we can solve the problem in energetics presented by a recon ciliation of the inexorable laws of thermodynamics with the appearance and development on earth of reflection.
p. 329 - What still makes contact between physics and biology impossible and in consequence delays the incorporation of the latter in the former inside a generalized physics is ultimately a problem of energy.
On the one hand, we have in physics a matter which slides irresistibly, following the line of least resistance, in the direction of the most probable forms of distribution. And on the other hand, we have in biology the same matter drifting (no less irresistibly but in this case in a sort of'greater effort for survival) towards ever more improbable, because ever more complex, forms of arrangement.
In order to solve this fundamental contradiction between physical entropy and biological 'orthogenesis' the nineteenth century vitalists; had tried to develop the notion of certain (measurable) forces peculiar to organic substances: a position that was soon to become untenable, both experimentally and theoretically, inasmuch as it involved the co-existence of two independent energetics in the same universe: one for what was called inert matter, and the other for vitalized matter.
In our own day the too few scientists who have the courage to face the problem squarely seem to be looking for a way out of their difficulties, and a compensation for them, by emphasizing the fact that life, when studied right down to its ultimate strands, is seen experientially to obey the laws of thermodynamics; and, moreover, that this same life represents quantitatively only an insignificant event in the totality of the universe.
Surely, however, this answer evades the very basis of the problem while at the same time improperly minimizing its data.
It is undeniable, indeed, that life occupies an incredibly small volume of time and space in the field of our experience. It is undeniable, too, that it is born and develops in the very heart of the flood of entropy, precisely as an eddy - as the effect of a counter-current.
If, on the other hand, we do no more than study the case of the earth, we cannot dismiss this further series of evident facts:
a. First, that the eddies of life within entropy appear as soon as and wherever the chances allow it (the planetary birth of life).
b. Secondly, once these eddies have appeared, they grow more pronounced in their manifestations as intensely as they possibly can (the planetary reflection of life).
c. Finally, the phenomenon of the vitalization of large molecules, which we find so astonishing, is itself no more than the continuation of the moleculization of atoms, and ultinsately of the atomization of energy - that is, of a process that affects, and defines, the universe in the totality of its substance and history.
In fact, if we are graphically to express the energetic situation of the universe as it is presented objectively to our experience, it would appear that we must envisage a system (figure 1) in which, running at right angles to the axis OX of increasing entropy, a second axis OY expresses a remarkable fact: that, in order to pass entropically from an initial state of 'tension' to a final state of 'release of tension', cosmic energy is obliged, in its totality, to follow a curve which runs through the complex (atomization, moleculization, vitalization, reflection). Along this curve it develops arrangement before it ultimately discards its arrangement in conformity with the laws of less effort and greater probability.
This means that in order to incorporate life (and, in a more general way, all the phenomena of corpusculization) a general energetics must necessarily be built up not on the single axis of entropy, but on two conjugate axes, one of greater probability, and the other of greater complexity.
The whole problem, then, depends upon deciding:
a. On the one hand, whether the ascent of the curve abc along O Y, towards the more complex, is or is not a mere momentary by-effect of the general downward trend of the world in the direction OX towards greater probabilities.
b. And on the ocher hand (if the answer has to be negative) whether, when the curve in question has reached its highest point b of maximum arrangement it does in fact again descend integrally towards the axis OX; or whether, on the contrary, when it reaches that point b it does not undergo some specific transformation.
At first sight, this group of related questions would appear to be impatient of experimental handling, and to depend upon each individual's intellectual preferences - or his philosophy.
I hope to show here that they are open to a scientific attack, provided that we are alive to the 'demand for irreversibility' that is inherent in the very nature of the evolutionary phenomenon of reflection.
p. 332 - From the foregoing analysis of energetics, it emerges that in any case the evolutionary complexification and arrangement of matter (or, which comes to the same thing, the interiorization, followed by the reflection, of energy) appear to us experientially as a cosmic process just as determined, in its own way, as the entropy on which they are grafted. Along the axis OY, it is just as though as a result of the controlled play of chances the elementary indetermination of the physicists necessarily accumulated and expanded within special structures (progressively larger and more fully living particles) until it ultimately assumed the form of 'reflective choice'. And, once that peak has been attained, we cannot say (very much the opposite, in fact) that determinism tends to disappear from the rest of the operation. However 'free' man feels (or believes) himself to be, he cannot escape the need (at once economic and mental) which forces him individually and collectively, to reflect - and therefore to reflect himself- ever more and more. Because he has once begun to think, because he thinks, it is now to some extent impossible for him to stop thinking continually more and more.
While this is true, it does not, even so, prevent the generating movement of our curve abc (figure 1) from being profoundly modified starring from its initial point of hominization, in the form or nature of the inevitability with which it continues.
For in man, while evolution becomes both self-conscious and (at least in its main axis) self-operative, at the same time it automatically develops the power to foresee its own future.
This is all that is needed to disclose, over and above the questions of structures and processes which were hitherto sufficient to cover the economy of nature, the formidable problem of the impetus of evolution : here we have a new type of biological problem which is silently making itself felt in our hearts as a preliminary to predominating tomorrow over the other more general problem (itself also becoming more important in our world) of at last building up an energetics of man.
We must try to understand this important event correctly, starting with a particular, and particularly obvious, case.
In the domain of large industrial enterprises (than which few could be less idealistic) the theoreticians of productivity have finally come to appreciate that the production of a factory is functionally dependent on the enthusiasm the workers bring to the execution of their work. Similarly, then, and on a scale whose gravity and scope is incomparably higher, we are obliged to recognize that, from the moment when mankind begins to appear to our experience not as a state that is reached but as a work that has to be done - one whose completion depends ultimately on the ingenuity and tenacity with which we pursue it - from that moment we must recognize that the future of man depends much more on a certain passion for hard work than on a certain wealth of material resources.
As I have often written (and as, it would be no exaggeration to say, everyone can see), the mankind of tomorrow, though standing on mountains of iron, of coal, of uranium, of wheat, would do no more than 'tick over', if, by some mischance,- there should be a weakening of its zest not simply for subsisting and surviving but for super-living.
If it is not to fall short of its natural maximum of convergence and reflection (and the attainment of this requires of us that we pursue it with all our strength) hominized evolution must hence- forth include in its determinism, over and above the economic vis a tergo (or 'push') the 'pull' of some powerful magnetic force, psychic in nature.
There, bluntly expressed in terms of relentless forces, we have the present energetic situation of the human mass.
But then - in what direction are we to look for, in what form are we to conceive, and by what general conditions are we to define the object or objective that is capable of arousing and fostering the magnetic pull which has become essential for the realization of our evolutionary possibilities?
In this connexion, two things (at the least) seem to me to be clearly dictated by an elementary psychological analysis: they both concern the nature of the mysterious point b, the peak of the cosmic curve of 'evolutionary arrangement' as represented diagrammatically in our figure 1.
1. First of all, now that man has (by reflection) become conscious of the future towards which the convergence of the noosphere is drawing him, he must, if he is not to feel a radical distaste of action, be able to say to himself this: that when he arrives at b, he is going, in some way, to escape the re-descent, towards the unarranged and the more probable, of the eddy of improbability within which he appeared and for whose ascent he now finds himself responsible. If it is not to smother itself, evolution, now that it has become reflective, cannot be conceived as proceeding within a 'cyclic or closed universe': it is incompatible with the hypothesis of a total death.
"FIGURE 2. Graphical representation of the energetics of evolution (closer approximation).
2. Secondly, if man is not simply to be rescued from his disgust at the prospect of exerting his active powers to the maximum but is to be given a positive zest for so doing (as he must be), then, again, now that he has developed the sense of his ultra-evolution, he must be able to hope that if he does ultimately escape this re-descent he will do so not just as a survivor from a catastrophe but as the victor in a battle: in other words, that he will do so in a fulfilment of- as a paroxysmal climax to - all that he holds at the heart of his being of what is most essential, that is, most 'reflective'.
These two conditions are satisfied simultaneously if the peak of the curve corresponds not only to a culminating point in which 'the differential disappears' but also (i) to a point of bifurcation and inflexion, from which a branch bd (figure 2) breaks away, rising exponentially, or (2), which comes to the same thing, corresponds to a higher critical point of planetary reflection beyond which we can distinguish nothing more, but beyond which, also, we can say that the universe still continue,though with other dimentions that we are as yet unable to represent.
Thus, as I promised, recognition of the irreversible character of reflection enables us to some degree to fill out the picture we can give ourselves of the relationship between life and entropy.
Broadly speaking, it is perfectly true to say that life appears in the universe simply as an effect of the play of probabilities.
Ultimately, however, it becomes clear that if the same life is studied in its 'reflective' form, it must, in order to be able to function, be conscious of its power to make the play of probabilities serve its own purposes, thereby escaping from the death towards which it would have been driven by a blind determinism.
From this point of view, it is now absolutely impossible to regard reflective psychism, within the cosmos, as a mere transitory superstructure. When life has become self-conscious, it manifests itself to our experience as self-evolving: but, further, it must necessarily be self-consistent, this essential self-consistence itself being, in its turn, explicable in two ways:
a. either because it is born exclusively from the confluence of reflective particles reflecting on one another,
b. or (and more probably) because it calls for and discloses the existence of a supreme centre - not simply potential, but real - of cosmic convergence.
p. 336 - The substance of the various considerations presented above may be reduced to the following points.
1. Taken in its origin in each human element, reflection (or the transition, for a being, from the conscious to the self-conscious state) corresponds to a critical point separating the two species of life from one another.
2. Once reflective life has been initiated elementarily within individuals (continuing the movement of non-reflective life and transposing it into a new domain) it never ceases to diversify and intensify, following a collective process which is closely linked to the technico-cultural convergence of man.
3. At the term of this process of ultra-reflection (operating on a limited planetary 'quantum') a pole of maximum convergence can be distinguished. As a result of the demands for irreversibility which are inherent in reflective life, this pole cannot be regarded as a transitory state (or 'flash'), but must be seen as a higher critical point (of reflection) beyond which the evolutionary curve of complexity-consciousness emerges, so far as our experience is concerned, from space and time.
4. Ultimately then, from the point of view of energetics, it is just as though the universe continued its development not just along a single axis but along two conjugate axes: one (entropy) of greater probability -the other (life) of greater complexity. Consciousness (in conformity with the requirements of thermo- dynamics) develops throughout as a function of entropy, but ultimately escapes 'dis-organization', as a specific effect of reflection, either as a separate energy 'of the second species' or as an interiorized fraction of the common energy.
5. This amounts to saying that in order completely to cover the evolutionary economy of the universe (including life) a third principle, the principle of the reflection of energy, must be added to and associated with the two that are already accepted, the principles of the conservation and of the dissipation of energy.
New York, 27 April 1952. Published in the
Revue des questions scientfiques,
20 October 1952
p. 341 - After thousands and thousands of years of slow expansion, the human species, ever increasing in numbers, has just suddenly entered a phase of compression. Along all their frontiers, the various population groups spread out over the globe have come into contact, and they are beginning to be ever more closely forced together on the surface of an earth that is every day becoming more restricted. And, unfortunately, the most directly perceptible result of this compression would appear to be, for our generation, a generally experienced agony - not to say a general worsening of our situation.
For, in short, is it not under the influence - always the same influence - of an extreme demographic pressure that a linked series of disorders and evils is making itself felt, threatening gradually to make the world uninhabitable for us?
This flood of sheer humanity which seeps up through every fissure, drowning all the best of us, and, in virtue of its very mass, one might say, escaping from the governance of selection -
This disappearance, so enervating both intellectually and physically, of solitude and of nature, in favour of the factory and the town -
This disagreeable closeness of intercourse, this continual friction between individuals who become more alien or even hostile to one another, the more numerous they are -
This mechanization of persons by enslavement to forms of work that are inevitably collectivized -
This complication, this burden, this increasing insecurity of daily life, which largely explains the extreme nervous tension (or even the disturbing neuroses) of our time-
Not to mention the increasing danger of contagious influences and the exhaustion of resources in an over-populated setting -
- And all this because there are too many of us in too little room.
The truth is, it is just like a train in the rush hour - the earth is coming to be a place on which we simply cannot breathe. And this asphyxiation explains the violent methods employed by nations and individuals in their attempt to break loose and to preserve, by isolation, their customs, their language and their country. A useless attempt, moreover, since passengers continue to pile into the railway carriage.
Instead of being exasperated by these nuisances from which all suffer, or waiting vaguely for things to settle down, would we not do better to ask ourselves whether, as a matter of solid experiential fact, there may not possibly be, first, a reassuring explanation of what is going on, and, secondly, an acceptable issue to it?
To answer this question is the purpose of these reflections.
A UNIVERSE THAT IS CLOSING IN
At first sight, what seems most alarming in the present excess of pressure upon the human layer is the sheer crude simplicity of the process that is taking place. We are witnessing the almost explosive proliferation of a part of the biosphere, which (through emergence into reflection) has suddenly been released from the rest of the living mass, and is now piling up, to the point of being crushed, on the closed surface of the earth: nothing could be less mysterious than this determinism and this geometric progression - and yet nothing could be more blind and more implacable.
Man in his thousands and thousands of millions - simply the equivalent of a gas tinder pressure.
That is what we are tempted to say.
And it is precisely that which we find so disheartening.
-However, is it really true that in the case of the over- population of our planet there is no special feature for the physicist, backed up by a biologist, to reckon with? Something new appears in a gaseous mass whose volume is reduced: the temperature rises. Similarly, when the human mass is continually more compressed, does not some significant effect make itself apparent which, if we knew how to look at it correctly. would teach us the true nature of the phenomenon and show us how it really behaves?
In order to characterize - and condemn - the age in which we live -we are only too ready to point to the rise of the masses, the intrusion of the machine mentality, the trend towards totalitarianism ... and heaven knows what else. But what is science's position in all this, and what use are we making of it?
A great deal has been written, for and against, about science - crediting it, as the case may be, with all the good things and all the bad things that happen to us. One more instance of the tree of good and evil. But how is it that, in the midst of this chorus of criticism and praise, no one thinks of going beyond the various planes of utilitarianism, of moral judgments, or of pure speculation, and pointing out a further fact: by that I mean, that, before being good or bad, the conquest of the world by man's intelligence is primarily and basically a phenomenon of an intensification of consciousness' closely linked with the historical progress of civilization. Precisely in so far as they are forced together, the thinking elements, which we all are, undoubtedly increase, under the influence of inter-reflection, their power of individual reflection. Brought together as one whole, they can understand what a single one of them in isolation could never have succeeded in understanding. That being so, surely in this perfectly clear case of a mankind that is being mentally ultra-humanized by self-compression, we meet again the same familiar linked couple of compression ->consciousness: the couple which (as a consequence of the arrangements inevitably produced by compression in an organic medium) has been controlling all the progress made by evolution since its beginning.
If that is indeed so, then we must henceforth, where at first we saw nothing but the brutal clamping in a vice of the human mass, recognize the sign of, the driving force behind, and the price to be paid for, a new forward leap achieved on the earth by the cosmic forces of psychogenesis from which we emerged towards the end of the Tertiary. After a simple reflection, co- reflection - that is to say, super-reflection.
Thereby, too, in the flash of illumination cast by this shaft of light a whole new prospect emerges: that of a world not suffocated by, but elevated by, its internal tension.
From this re-adjusted point of view, it is true, the force which is compressing us is even more implacable than we thought: since instead of there being simply a planet which is contracting, there is the entire universe concentrating in the depths of our being.
On the other hand, as we can readily appreciate, this vast energy, by showing itself to be cosmic in order, changes its nature and ceases to be a burden to us: since, precisely in so far as it forces us into closer spiritual contact, it can tomorrow become the most active factor in our true and final liberation.
Contrary to what happens so often in nature, the propagation of our species does not seem destined to regularize and limit itself automatically: for the most numerous the men are, the more their ingenuity protects them and incites them to multiply even more.
In such an event, and in order to escape the asphyxiation which threatens us, the remedies habitually proposed are: either a drastic restriction of reproduction, or, again (an ancient dream that is now, maybe, ceasing to be a dream?), a mass migration of human beings to some still uninhabited star.
But, with whatever skill such methods of decompression may be improved, surely their very nature is such that they are to some degree imaginary, precarious, and desperate. The idea, in particular, of a transplanetary swarm of migrants must undoubtedly be rejected as impossible to realize, simply from the fact that not a single visitor from another quarter of the heavens has ever come to find us.
To my mind (and providing, as I believe, that the world in which we live can be regarded as sufficiently coherent not automatically, when all is said and done, to suppress the life it engenders) we must look for the relief without which our zoological phylum cannot now survive, not in a eugenic reduction nor in an extra-terrestrial expansion of the human mass, but rather in what one might call 'an escape into time, through what lies ahead'.
Let me explain this important point.
Earlier, relying on the undisputed fact of the rise of science, I suggested the idea that there is a psychic trend in the universe - a trend that draws the human mass under pressure (and because it is under pressure) towards ever more reflective states of consciousness.
In virtue, we should note, of its convergent nature, such a movement, if it does in fact exist, necessarily determines, at a finite distance in the future, a critical point or peak of common encounter, which may be defined:
-either, in a first approximate definition, as an ultimate centre of co-reflection
-or, more completely, as a focus-point of 'conspiration' of the thinking monads,
since, by psychological necessity, it is impossible for us to think actively and completely with another without tending to identify ourselves affectively with that other.
With that clear in our minds, let us consider the extreme point of reflection and union thus determined by extrapolation into time of the generating lines of man.
Is it not evident, in the first place, that simply by the fact of its appearance on our horizon, such a pole of attraction, if we should succeed in distinguishing its rays, would have the power to initiate a general intensification of the forces of hominization throughout the whole of the thinking layer of the earth?
And secondly, is it not certain that, just as a crowd is restored to order and flows through peacefully once the gates that held it back are opened for it, so the multitude of men, once it is so polarized and activated in the very fibres of its being, would immediately be restored to harmony and calm simply by the force of the call that summons it to press on ahead?
'By the very fact that it introduces arrangement and energizes, convergence brings a release of tension.'
The more one thinks about this elementary truth, the more one is convinced that our thinking earth, subjected henceforth to a pressure which nothing would appear to be able to prevent from rising from within, is biologically confronted with the following dilemma:
- of either remaining psychologically in its state of disordered agitation: and of being crushed
- or of developing within itself a faith in the future precise enough and ardent enough, through very excess of compression upon itself, for it to emerge from the ordeal mentally and affectively made one.
New York, 18 January 1953
Published in Psyche, September 1953
In a way that is somehow paralleled by the dominance in the fields of pure thought of the ens of the metaphysicians, the energy of the physicist operates as something against which there is no appeal in the domain of experience: energy, the prime, multiform stuff of all phenomena; and energy, again, the standard by which is measured what is, or is not, achievable in practice.
'A priori', says the philosopher, 'only that can exist which is thinkable'.
'A priori', says the scientist, only that can appear which is in conformity with energy'.
On the strength of his energetics, the scientist, it is true, no more claims to explain (or foresee) the particular configuration assumed (or to be assumed) by the universe, than does the thinker on the authority of his ontology.
But the scientist, too, in his own way and on his own level, recognizes that he is capable of deciding, even in advance, under what conditions an event is possible -and in what general direction, once it has been initiated, the course of things must inevitably develop. And this, moreover, applies in all departments of the real; because, running through the rigorous laws of physiology and production, for example, the decrees of thermodynamics extend even into zones as apparently 'spirit- ual' as the psychology of the individual and of society.
Here, nevertheless (I mean in the case of the biological extension of energetics) we must take careful note of what happens.
While in metaphysics the notion of being can be defined with a precision that is geometric in type, energy, for its part, presents itself to the physicist as a magnitude that is still open to all sorts of possible corrections or improvements. No one has any doubt about its properties of conservation, transform- anon and dissipation. But in addition to this sharply defined and firmly established thermodynamic nucleus, should we not recognize in the Weltstcsff the presence of certain structural elements which, though negligible for physics and physical chemistry, take on a rapidly increasing importance in the ease of the extremely complex assemblies with which the biological sciences are concerned?
It is the reality of an additional term such as this that I would like to bring out here, in a brief study, notjust from a morpho- logical or qualitative point of view, but from that of energeties, of the great phenomenon of evolution: this being considered, moreover, not as one whole but exclusively in that part of it which is the most advanced and the most characteristic-by that I mean the social evolution of man, or, in the widest sense of the word, hominization.
When we hear people speaking of evolution the idea that comes naturally to our minds is that of the origin and transformation of living forms - that is, the idea of an operation which is essentially phyletic and divergent - based on ehromo- somie heredity - and maintained by the combined play of chance and selection. A 'transformism', corrected, of course, and improved by genetics, but nevertheless still essentially the transformism of the nineteenth century, with its fully homo- geneous mechanism extended to no more than a strictly limited field. Nine times out of ten that is the picture the word 'evolution' calls up for us.
We have only, however, to reflect for a moment to realize that it is something very different from, and something much more than, a mere 'genesis of animal species' that the phenomenon of evolution, both as an over-all process and in the forms it assumes, is now tending to become for science, and indeed has already become.
On the one hand, below 'living matter', that is, in the vast domain of the inorganic, physics is now disclosing to us a veritable genesis of 'simple bodies'. True, it is an 'a-phyletic' type of evolution, in which each particle is formed, coalesces or disintegrates on its own account (without yet, that is, going beyond the boundaries of an ontogenesis); but it is nevertheless a true evolution since, in one way or another,' we can henceforth be certain, atomic additivity exists from nuclear elements and electrons onwards.
On the other hand, right in the heart of the organic world an illuminating cleavage in our view of vitalization is in process of being effected at the level of the human. We are gradually coming to see that anthropogenesis is specifically distinct from the rest of biogenesis. Would it he a great mistake to see in the perception of this threshold and this leap one of the most decisive steps taken by modern scientific thought? After Galileo and Darwin man came to question, or even to cease to take seriously, the feeling he had always had until then of occupying a privileged position at the summit of nature. Was not anthropocentricisen a mere optical illusion, like geo- centricism? But now the whole breadth and depth of the phenomenon of man has been analysed more fully; the present rebound it is effecting has been appreciated; and there can be no doubt that our minds have come to realize that there is a distinction between 'man at the centre of a static cosmos' and 'man at the head of a universe in a state of complexification and interiorization'. For ultimately, when every allowance has been made for subjective effects of outlook, it is evident that man (and more particularly social man) behaves, objectively, like a life 'of the second species' in nature: a life that has acquired the faculty of foresight, of invention, and, by deliberate skill, of associating in an ever more marked process of planetary co- adjustment and co-reflection.
In these circumstances, a perfected form of evolution over- laying and incorporating the 'old' zoological evolution, which was mainly automatic, chromosomic and divergent, is making itself apparent in a reflective living medium: and it is a truly 'new' evolution, defined by the three properties:
a. of self-direction in arrangement (by invention)
b. of additive transmission of the acquired (by education)
c. and finally of convergence upon itself (by socialization and 'planetization').
Although there is not yet complete agreement on a number of secondary points, it is true to say that to all appearances, following this new line of thought, the decisive intellectual step has already been taken by the specialists in biology and in biogenesis. Of that practically nobody engaged in either has any doubt. Whether it be in the form of a derivative lateral branch, or on the contrary, in its main current, the cosmic energy of evolution, already remoulded for a first time in its passage from the mineral to the living, is transformed for a second time by entry into the domain of the reflective psyche. Biological evolution is not only prolonged, in the strict literal sense of the word, in the socialization of man: what is more, it noticeably lengthens the range of its inner attributes.
- And this produces a remarkable result, as yet insufficiently exploited by science: now that evolution has become in each one of us to some extent master of its movements and at the same time reflectively conscious of the forces which animate it, it offers itself to our minds as an object not only of external observation but of introspection.
Let us, then, as a first approach, make use of this sort of 'spectroscopy' of the energy of evolution 'from within'.
One of the most distinctive characteristics of living substance in action is undoubtedly the predominant importance assumed in it by the fact of being (or of not being) appropriately responsive to a stimulus and stimulated. Theoretically, the physicist may well be able to calculate (in calories, for example) the quantity of energy that Can usefully be employed by any animal at a given moment. But what quantity of this store of energy is going, in each case, to be effectively released - and in what direction - and at what speed? That is something we cannot determine without introducing a whole series of imponder- ables which are tied up with the psychism of the individual in question. The animal (one particular animal) behaves in an entirely different way, according to whether he has a full belly or is starving, is left in peace or hunted, and so on.
This means that, even in the case of very imperfectly cerebralized beings, no one who compared it with what happens in ourselves can have any doubt that, in order fully to express the dynamic state of a living mass, we must, as I pointed out at the beginning, use a formula that includes at least two terms: the first measuring in figures a certain thermo- dynamic magnitude, and the second expressing a certain capacity given to this energy of expending itself, more rapidly or less rapidly, in the direction ofsurvival, of multiplication, or of some super-arrangement of organic matter.
Precisely, no doubt, because it rests upon imponderables, this second term (which we shall here call 'activation') may well be neglected by bio-energetic specialists. Nevertheless two things are immediately apparent:
1. First, that throughout the animal series (from the protozoon to the most highly developed mammal) the operation of evolution has invariably consisted (for an approximately con- stant quantity of energy stored up in each cell) in progressively increasing and sensitizing to a higher degree die stimulation- area of organic beings.
2. And secondly, that in man, by harnessing forces that stein from the future, this general process of activation of living matter has entered a critical phase, characterized by an in- creasing predominance of the effects of fear or hope allied to the formidable gift of foresight.
Let us concentrate more particularly on the study of this second point, for in it can certainly be found the ultimate driving force of the mechanism of the new evolution.
For an over-all reserve of physical energy that is more or less equal to that of the animals of the same size around him, man displays an amazing power of acting as a leaven in the whole of his natural environment: and, to explain this unusual 'activity' of our species, we may rightly, as a start, emphasize the co- existence in die human individual of an extreme perfection of the nervous system and a sort of universality 0f knowledge - so that a very great number of objects and objectives are con- tinually being presented to a vibrant sensibility. This, indeed, is sufficient to cause a sharp increase in the importance of the part played by the effects of activation in the general balance sheet of human energy.
But what precisely would have been the value of this two- fold biological advance in the response of the subject to stimu- lus and the extension of the object, if man had in this respect resembled the other animals and his perception of time had continued to be restricted to a narrow fringe of duration ahead of him?5
Not only, needless to say, would the power to 'project', that is to say, to invent, never have been caused to develop in him; but, further, there would have been a radical difference, for his fundamental affectivity, in the degree of attractive power the world exerted on him.
With the magnetic pull of the future gradually replacing for us the mere effort to survive, we know how much larger a part is progressively coming to be played in our personal ideas and affections by the unfinished, the unexpected, the ideal.
In that case, is not what is happening in each one of us a miniature reproduction of what is happening in the whole species?
Let us look on the one hand at mankind as it might have been in its beginnings, in the Neolithic, for example; then, on the other hand, at mankind today; and then let us try to determine the relationship, in terms of energetic value, of the two.
The difference, expressed in thermodynamic units, between each of these two mankinds is obviously considerable: and it is due both to the sheer increase in numbers, and to the fantastic enlargement of the natural forces that have been tapped and hominized by collective technology in the course of the last thousands of years. If, however, we now look at it from the point of view of the 'activity' of the system, surely the leap is seen to be very much more vigorous and more significant? For we have to realize that what is holding, paradoxically cantilevered' on entropy, this vast mass of improbable arrangements constituted by twentieth-century man, is ultimately the awareness (still vague, but already infinitely more developed than in the Neolithic) that 'something' is waiting for us in the depths of time to come. No longer is there simply (as there is to all appearances in animal species) the sting of death to be avoided: there is the passion for outdis- tancing ourselves and reaching a peak we can glimpse through the clouds.
On this point, which physics itself cannot neglect, our own examination of our power to act gives us a categorical answer:
'Starting with man, the activation of energy necessary for the maintenance and furtherance of evolution is secured by a stimulus which proceeds from a focus-point of attraction lying continually higher and further ahead in time: which means that it gradually takes on the characteristics mid the dimensions of a faith'.
There we have a principle that must be borne in mind whenever we venture to speculate on the future of the human species.
As biologists come to see more clearly that the course of evolution is authentically (if not even axially) continued in the socialization of man, so they become more open to the tempta- tion to extrapolate into the future the curve of hominization.6 Judging from the past history of the earth and of life, what is going to happen to man in one million, or n million years?
In this order of ideas, it would obviously be infantile to try to give oneself any sort of positively determined picture of the shape of things. In no more than two or three centuries, what is going to be the state of our economic world, our political or our religious world? This is something it is utterly impossible to envisage. If the study of man's future is left to the imagina- tion it collapses into absurdity. On the other hand, entrusted to science, it becomes meaningful if we adopt a purely functional point of view and simply ask ourselves what conditions of energetics mankind must, from compulsive necessity and in every case, satisfy in order to continue to move ahead and possibly (should such a thing exist) reach the natural term of its development.
And it is here that the laws, outlined above, of a dynamics of evolution can be applied.
There is a first inescapable fact which in a general way dominates the whole problem of the 'human energy of evolution'. It is that the further the socialization of man progresses, the more the mass of physical energy absorbed by the operation tends rapidly to increase. In the quantity of heat or electricity expended, in the number and variety of the substances employed, the average consumption of each human individual is decisively coming to follow a sort of exponential curve moving towards the vertical. And since this staggering rise would seem, when all the factors are weighed, to represent not a wastage but what one might call a 'specific energy of totalization' of the human mass, there is no ground at all for thinking (all being well) that the curve is ever going to bend back and sink down again.
But if, by dynamic necessity, we find that we have to admit that for hominization to continue the thermodynamic force is bound continually to increase in the thinking envelope of the earth - and in geometric progression - then, in virtue of what we were saying earlier, it is even more urgently necessary for us to accept exactly the same conclusion in relation to the general activation of the system.
Thus we find, in fact, that we have reached the heart 0f the difficulties raised by the problem of knowing whether, and up to what point, it is physically lanctarily) possible for man to trains- or ultra-hominize himself.
There was a time when the chief danger threatening a biological future for man seemed to lie in the order of astron- omy. For some catastrophic reason (collision with another star, deterioration of the atmosphere, and so on) might not the earth prematurely disappoint our hopes?
Today we have ceased to worry on those lines. So slow, we now know, is the evolution of the solar system in comparison with the average duration of animal forms that a catastrophic clash between the two processes seems to be, absolutely speaking, improbable.
And while we men will not lack the time we need to complete our evolution, neither, in spite of certain pessimistic prophecies, is it any more probable that we will lack material energy. In his recent short book The Next Million Years' Charles Galton Darwin lucidly restated the paradoxical thesis that the economic prosperity of our generation, largely based on a destructive exploitation of the earth's resources, was no more than a flash in the pan. Once we have burnt our capital of coal and oil, accumulated with geological slowness in a few privileged zones of the earth, nothing, he believes, will enable us to maintain the way of life of which we are so proud - neither hydro-electric power, nor solar radiation, nor the paltry reserves of uranium scattered about the ancient continental masses. The golden age of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries will be followed once more by shortages, by the threat of famine and the necessity of cutting down the population.
While I am far from being as informed and competent in this field as the author, I cannot manage to take his terrifying prophecies very seriously. It is only twenty-five years since we began to consider the possibility of nuclear energy and, theoretically, our resources in that quarter are boun&ess. By analogy with what happened historically in the past in the case of steam and electricity, surely we may once again rely on the progress of a science whose inventive powers have been fantastically enlarged.
To my mind, what is our prime concern in connexion with the ultra-evolution of man is not to know how, for perhaps hundreds of thousands of years to come, we are going to feed an ever growing population and fuel machines that are becoming ever more complicated and voracious. It will be to discover how man can maintain and increase, without check, throughout these vast periods of time, a passionate will not only to subsist but to press on: as we said, without that will every physical or chemical force we dispose of would remain heartbreakingly idle in our hands.
When all is said and done, if hominized evolution is to be continued into the future without any loss of speed, an extraordinarily powerful field of stimulation is dynamically necessary - one that itself, as an absolute necessity,° pre- supposes the emergence sooner or later in our consciousness of an objective with a completely and inexhaustibly compelling magnetic power.
To reassure us about the thermodynamic future of the new evolution, a way out hasjust opened up for us in the direction of the atom. But, in what concerns the psycho-dynamic aspect of the operation, to what quarter are we to turn if we are to perceive at least the first rays of the star for which we are looking? Is the horizon completely clouded over in that quarter? Or cannot we, rather, distinguish a glimmer which is a continuation of what we spoke of at the beginning as a biological concentration of mankind upon itself?
There can be no doubt, we said then, provided that 'social- ization' is not arbitrarily divorced from 'speciation', that in the field of our experience man represents the single magnificent example to be found of a phylum which, instead of branching out, folds back its branches ever more closely - and of this the most immediately evident consequence is the rise in us of the phenomena of co-invention and co-consciousness.
We no longer find anything surprising in the present
manifestations and rate of progress of this great biological fact of human convergence, which we are at last beginning to face squarely as an object of science. On the other hand, are we paying sufficient attention to the unique possibility that this unique phenomenon offers us of correctly extrapolating in direction (and at the same time explaining dynamically) a continued forward advance of hominization?
Since everything that converges must necessarily have, at a distance that may be greater or may be less, some place of meeting and confluence; and since mankind, on the other hand, disposes biologically of no more than a limited number ol thousands of millions of years for the completion of his evolution -for these two reasons we cannot avoid the con- clusion of envisaging, at souse finite distance ahead of us in time, the existence of an ultimate point or culminating peak of organic co-ordination, of intellectual co-reflection, and finally (step by step) of unanimity. And if such a point does exist, does it noi represent precisely, in just the form we want, the permaneni centre of stimulation, the impelling end that we still lack in order to satisfy the physical conditions required for a fulfilmeni of the human species?
Of this there can be no possible doubt.
And thus we find that the mystery of the energetics of hominization is cleared up and its fundamental mechanism is exposed.
'Convergent by nature, the new evolution functions by nourishing its increasing zest to evolve into a progressively more vivid consciousness of its actual convergence'.
This, it must be admitted, is a particularly elegant solution of the problem; but it is primarily a solution that finds a universal practical application at all times.
And this is because, in order to define at every moment (both in position and in its properties) the mysterious pole towards which we are gravitating through time, our faculty of though and of action disposes of a simple and certain rule of energetics: to know how constantly to direct ourselves - in what we choose, in what we build, in what we believe -along those lines in which the universe, through the opportunities it offers for the unification and union of its elements, displays a maximum activation.
Unpublished, New York
24 May 1953
p. 375- So, once again, I want to try to get more completely down to, and to express more fully, the ever elusive fundamentals of what I feel, of what I see and what I live. Once again, in the first place, because for some time it has seemed to me that I have succeeded in narrowing down more closely the ultimate essence of what envelops me, of what draws me along, of what I am. And once again, also, because at this further degree of the compression of things, there seems to me to be a leap produced in the coherence and simplicity - and so in the likelihood and appeal - of a certain structure of the world: a structure whose gradual discovery will have been the history, the strength and the joy of a life that is drawing to a close.
To the reason of the metaphysician it is 'being' (ens) which first appears in its widest general form, later to be dialectically differentiated, in the universe.
To the intuitive emotion of the mystic, it is the 'divine' that is immediately revealed, as a sort of common stock, in which, however, the multiplicity of things and their activity may well be lost.
For my innate 'materialism' (as I now clearly recognize) it was from a starting point in the tangible layers of the universe that, in my eyes, all reality was lit up and transfigured.
As an initial approach, the physicist sees the elementary stuff of the world as a flood of measurable physical energy, more, or less, corpuseulized in 'matter'.
The secret and the mainspring of my spiritual drive will have been to see that, underlying this outer envelope of the phenomenon (and yet in generic continuity with it) there stretched another domain. In this, which was no longer a domain of the tangential but of the centric, a second species of energy (not electro-thermodynamic but spiritual) radiated from a starting point in the first: arid this could be divided, in ascending order, into three successive zones of increasing interiorization.
- First, the zone of the human (or of the reflective).
- Secondly, the zone of the ultra-human (or of the co-reflective).
- Finally, the zone of the Christic (or of the pan-reflective).
In the course of three successive phases, one: and the same evolutionary flux extends to the full dimensions of the universe; and, by convergence upon itself, is personalized.
Without for once being concerned to respect any orthodoxy (whether scientific or religious) in the way I express myself - though at the same time in the consciousness that I am simply acting out of loyalty, carried to its extreme limit, to my two- fold vocation as a man and as a Christian: this is the astounding panorama that, simply by adjusting our vision to what we can all see, I would like to bring out for you with unmistakable clarity.
This is not a thesis, but a presentation -or, if you like, a summons. The summons of the traveller who has left the road and so by chance has arrived at a viewpoint from which everything is bathed in light, and calls out to his companions, 'Come and look!'
Governing the whole make-up of the universe, as it now finally presents itself to my experience at this moment, there stands a particular way of seeing the human. I say 'the human' and not 'man' advisedly in order to emphasize to what a degree, at this level of fundamental understanding, what most influences my vision when I look at mankind is not man's social concentration nor man as a zoological species but the perception (almost as a physico-chemical fact) of a certain extreme attained in its thinking element (as one might say, in its 'uranium') by the stuff of the universe.
At the level of scientific knowledge no less than at that of common sense, we all have an instinctive tendency to picture matter to ourselves as slackening, as losing tension, in a progression from the atom towards the molecular and the living; as though the Weltstoff, considered in its highest forms of arrangement, gradually lost some part of its primordial stability and cohesion.
Well, then, my view of the world has gradually been developed and has ultimately come to be fixed in direct opposition to this too widespread feeling of a cosmos that dissipates, or at any rate becomes more tenuous, as it becomes to all appearances progressively more fragile. By that I mean that my views changed as I accepted the evidence (which I had at first rejected) that our minds can divine a solution, at once general and genetic, of the universe, not in an entropic dissipation of energy nor in a rhythmic rise in atomic numbers, but rather in an inflexible trend inherent in corpusculized energy towards progressively higher states of conplexity-consciousness.
If the fantastic mass of granular energy which we see as having in the past formed the primitive substance of the cosmos is left to the play of chance and to itself for a sufficiently long time, it has a natural tendency to associate in groups and to concentrate upon itself (wherever it can, and as much as it can) in systems of the highest possible complexity and centricity: this 'centro-complexity', which soon becomes extremely marked, coinciding with the appearance of progressively more luminous centres of consciousness.
If we finally decide, in order to judge the direction and absolute value of the progress of cosmogenesis, to accept (as I did) the truth of this fundamental formula -and it can be verified more than amply - then two facts become apparent. First a remarkable identity can immediately be seen between the mechanisms that, at one extreme of things, produce the atom of hydrogen and, at the other, the 'molecule' of man: but, further, it becomes evident that, in the transition from one of these forms of particle to the other, there is effected a strengthening (and not a slackening) of the cosmic ties. For, from one of the two extremes in question to the other, the radial nucleus of consciousness never ceases to become individualized within its (peripheral) electro- or thermo-dynamic envelope, until it reaches the point of reflecting upon itself and, in consequence, of insisting, in order to subsist, on the awareness of being irreversible.
For a long time, just like everybody else, I came close to being bogged down in the antiquated habit of looking on man, in nature, either as an inexplicable and ephemeral anomaly - or as the product of a physico-chemical evolution strictly confined to our planet- or, again, as the result of some miraculous extra-cosmic intervention.
Now, on the other hand, that my eyes have been opened, I have come to understand that in the totality of itself, and at every point within itself, the Weltstoff tended to reflect upon itself -now, in other words, that I can no longer regard the terrestrial human except as the natural and local, and for the moment the most advanced, product of a trend that embraces the totality of matter, and time, and space: now that that is so, I can say that I have found my bearings, and I can now breathe freely, in the feeling, vindicated at last, of forming but one with all the rest.
Even if it is true, as I have just been saying, that the great opportunity in my life will have been that I was so situated existentially that the 'spirit' of the philosophers and theologians was seen by me as a direct extension of universal physico-chemism, I must nevertheless hasten to add that the discovery of this prime relationship would have been of no use to me if it had not automatically been accompanied by a further apparent fact: that, on earth, in mankind considered globally, the cosmic process of psychogenesis (contrary to what one is told) is far from being halted at this moment: we can only say that it is accelerating.
In order to recognize in the human the quintessence of the Weltstoff I had had to do no more than allow an innate understanding of energy and matter to develop in me to the full. In order to see that this same human, taken as one whole, formed but a single galaxy in process of concentration, I shall have had to do no more than re-interpret and arrange in sequence, expressed in the same terms and on the same natural scale, the two great facts, both unmistakably evident, of the combined rise we are now witnessing of science and society.
Let me explain.
In our interpretation of human civilization, we are still, rationally speaking, adopting an illogical position.
On the one hand we all see and know by experience that, technically and economically mankind is every day becoming more completely totahzed upon itself. But, we are at pains to add, this does not mean that this irresistible trend towards the more organic has the least specifically biological value.
On the other hand, at the same time each of us fully appreciates that in step with a progress in our material dispositions, our perception of the universe is rapidly increasing in depth and coherence. Even though, we are again careful to point out, this does not mean that this added knowledge contributes anything new and permanent to 'human nature'.
In other words, while explicitly recognizing that the complexity-rise-of-consciousness couple operates just as evidently in the human mass as it does in any other department of the real, we still refuse to recognize that in this particular case its appearance points to and signifies, as it does elsewhere, a movement that is cosmic in dimensions and value.
It was against this refusal to treat the facts on an equal footing that 1 rebelled; I refused to accept a divorce between 'natural' and 'artificial': and, further and even more important, I became alive to the sense of the creative, additive, and hereditary element in the common outlook (Weltanschauung) slowly developed in the mind of man by all forms of research: and so it was that in the end I was confirmed in the view I am now presenting.
Because we fail to relate ourselves to precise axes, and because, further, as we look at the curve of the phenomenon of man, we do not take in a sufficient length, we still, in a vague and sentimental way, discuss the notion of human perfectibility and the reality of of 'progress'. Now, in this field, we have only to apply appropriately the general parameter of complexity-consciousness for there to cease to be, I maintain, any remnant of doubt - for anyone whose eyes are opened. If you tell me that as time goes on man is getting 'better' or 'worse', I hardly know or care what the words mean. But if you tell me that mankind can be regarded, at this moment, as a species that is disintegrating or has reached its ceiling, then I deny it absolutely. And this for the very good reason that in virtue of the power and the actual method of operation of its technico-mental unification. twentieth-century mankind, so far from trailing behind or falling back, presents itself quite clearly to our experience as a system in the full vigour of co-reflection, which is exactly the same as saying of ultra-hominization.
In truth, the great new tidings of joy that has to be published abroad in these days, if we are to allay the anxieties of the thinking earth and galvanize its energies, is undoubtedly (and here we see an unexpected aspect of the ancient gospel) that the horrors of the totalization phase we have just entered are not the symptoms of an imminent death: rather are they the signs of a further folding-back upon itself, that is, of an ultra-vivification, of the stuff of the universe.
Happily for us, not only is mankind, considered experientially in its organic wholeness, still constantly in motion: what is more, unlike all the zoological species (divergent in type) which have preceded it, it is converging upon itself. And this irresistible biological folding-back (planetary in its scope and urgency) suggests to our minds the wild idea and the wild hope that perhaps there really does exist an ultimate centre of reflection (and hence of beatifying consummation) ahead of us, at the upper term of evolution.
Elsewhere I have told (in The Heart of Matter) how, when all is said and done, the great event of my life will have been the gradual identification in my spiritual heaven of two suns: one of these stars was the cosmic peak postulated by a generalized evolution of the convergent type; and the other was constituted by the risen Christ of the Christian faith. And I see nothing to add here to the psychological history of that conjunction.
On the other hand, what does belong to my present theme, is to emphasize, more forcibly today than ever before, the astonishing energetic properties of the divine Milieu which is generated in the utmost depths of human consciousness by this truly 'implosive' meeting between a rising flood of co- reflection and a second, descending, flood of revelation.
The final and complete reflection of the universe upon itself in a meeting between the above of heaven and the ahead of earth - in other words, proceeding from the same movement, a God who makes himself cosmic and an evolution which makes itself person.
What more do we need, and what better could we imagine in our dreams, than this lightning flash, for all our active potentialities and all our possibilities of worship to be simultaneously realized in the highest form, as they must be if we are to survive?
At last we are beginning to appreciate this. By the very fact that, in reflecting upon itself, cosmogenesis is coming more and more rapidly, starting with the human, to take on the characteristics of a self-evolution, every later advance of the universe in the direction of maximum complexity-consciousness henceforth requires that man feel himself to be interiorly supported by an ever more resolute will to press on: a will no ultimate prospect of a total death may intervene to discourage -but a will, on the contrary, which, from its very deepest roots, is spurred into action by an overpowering passion.
It is not in a dark (because closed) universe, nor in an ice-cold universe, nor in a merely lukewarm (because faceless) universe, that it is physically possible for the forces of co-reflection to remain alive and so reach their common pole.
But the open universe, the incandescent universe that our action demands if it is to function to the end - surely it is just that which the world of modem physics becomes for us, from the moment when, in Christic form, a real centre of irreversible personalization blazes out at the supreme pole of its concentra- tion?
Here, as always, no doubt, action entails reaction. It is impossible to think of Christ as 'evolver' without at the same time having to re-think the whole of Christo!ogy.
A functional completion of the one and the multiple takes the place of the creative paternalism we habitually envisaged. The twofold notion of statistical evil and evolutionary redemption correcting or completing the idea of catastrophic sin and reparatory expiation. The final parousia more akin to a maturing than to a destruction.
In return for a valorization and atomization of the stuff of things, a whole series of readjustments must be made, I am well aware (if we wish frankly to Christify evolution) in a number of representations or attitudes which seem to us to be definitively fixed in Christian dogma. In consequence, and by factual necessity, one might say that a hitherto unknown form of religion -one that no one could as yet have imagined or described for lack of a universe large enough and organic enough to contain it - is burgeoning in the heart of modem man, from a seed sown by the idea of evolution. God is no longer sought in an identification with things that annihilates personality, nor in an escape from things that de-humanizes man. God is attained (and this is infinitely more energizing and brings infinitely truer communion) by entry into the centre of the total sphere that embraces all things - a centre that itself is in process of formation.
Far from being shaken in my faith by such a revolution, it is with irrepressible hope that I welcome the inevitable rise of this new mysticism and anticipate its equally inevitable triumph.
For if in the end nothing, absolutely nothing, can prevent man from ultimately coming to rest in the form of belief that activates the cosmic forces of convergence in him to their maximum -then, indeed, we have the finest proof of the transcendence of Christianity. We see it in its remarkable and unique power to find within itself, and present to us at the very time we need it, what at this precise moment in history is absolutely indispensable to our nature if it is to develop its power to act and to worship to the full: and that is a Christ who can be and is commensurate with the universe, in other words a God - the God we look for - of evolution.
Unpublished, in sight of St Helena, on passage from
New York to the Cap; 14 July 1953
I. DEFINITION AND UNIQUE VALUE OF HUMAN ENERGY
By 'human energy' I shall mean here, as a first approach, the sum total of physico-chemical energies either simply incorporated in, or (at a higher degree of assimilation) cerebralized in, the human planetary mass at a given moment: the mass in question being considered in its linked totality, not only of its biological constituents, but also of its artificially constructed mechanisms.
Expressed in figures (which would be theoretically possible),this hominized quantity of energy would appear ridiculously small in comparison with the floods of thermodynamic power brought into operation by any other of the great phenomena of nature. On the other hand, considered qualitatively, it displays the power, by reason of its vast structural complexity, of creating within the universe a progressively deeper and wider centre of indetermination and information. So true is this that one could define the human (considered from the point of view of physics) as a unique domain of the world, in which cosmic energy is caught up in a sort of vortex of self-arrangement and so concentrates and differentiates itself 'exponentially'.
What, then, are the absolute importance and value of this process of humanization (or reflection) of energy, which as yet we find only on our earth, but which certainly represents a general and fundamental property of matter? Purely as a scientific problem, we cannot give too precise an answer. Nevertheless, without entering into any metaphysical considerations, it is surely unmistakably evident to our minds that if such a dynamic trend (from the non-arranged to the arranged) does exist in the universe, it must be a matter of supreme importance - as much to us as individuals, produced by that trend, as to the universe in which it originates - that the movement continue, and become more pronounced, and reach as perfect as possible a consummation in the future.
Let us try, then, to determine, in their most general form, the conditions that govern this continued existence and this fulfilment.
II. CONDITIONS GOVERNING THE INCREASE OP HUMAN ENERGY
In these days, when man is spurred on by a growing consciousness of forming part of the evolution which carries him with it, he cannot but ask himself, with ever increasing urgency and in ever clearer terms, what is his biological destiny: and it is only natural that his first concern should be to examine the soundness and the equipment of the vessel in which he is travelling.
We have ceased to worry about the threat of an earth that might suddenly be destroyed by collision with a star or that through continued cooling or poisonous infection or desiccation might gradually become uninhabitable. In comparison with the few paltry millions of years required (at the most) for the completion of the process of hominization, the rhythm of astronomical changes is so slow that we may reasonably dismiss, as affecting us, any deterioration of physico-chemical conditions within the solar system or even on the surface of the earth that carries us.
On the other hand it is fashionable nowadays, and not without reason, to emphasize the rapid diminution of the stocks of food and fuel miraculously made available to us by nature. For about the last two centuries, not only has there been a sudden, almost vertical, rise in the population of the globe; but, what is still more serious, each individual's requirements of an ever increasing number of different substances and forms of energy, are continually - as a direct result of the totalization upon itself of the human mass - rising at a fantastic rate. With such a pattern of consumption, how long have we before the coal and oil we use are exhausted, and not only those necessities but all sorts of substances which we already cannot go without if we are to remain alive -not to mention the chemical exhaustion or erosion of the soil? Only two or three hundred years more, we are warned, of this unbridled consumption and the flame of man will, quite simply, die down for lack of fuel.
Although I have no special competence in such matters, I must confess that I cannot manage to take so tragic a view of the danger of famine with which they threaten us. It is true enough, indeed, that in order to get started, the technical exploitation of the earth will, in a first phase, have called for a reckless consumption of the treasures of energy accumulated in the bowels of the continents, and in a form that can be used immediately, by hundreds of millions of years of epirogenesis and biogenesis. But, without being naively optimistic, may one not think that the 'atomic age' is no dream for a second phase? I mean that everything that has been happening in physics for some time gives us ground for hoping that it will be possible for all forms of energy to continue to be distributed indefinitely to our descendants, and even more generously than ever - because we shall most probably have learnt by then how to draw it directly from an inexhaustible source.
No, there is no serious danger of any lack of time, measuredthough it be in centuries, nor even (whatever may be said) of calories for our species as it presses on in its effort to reach the end (whatever it may be) of its evolution.
Physical resources will not fail us.
But what, on the other hand, about courage? What about drive? What about psychic resources? Shall we always have enough of these?
We are now, quite rightly, concerned about our material reserves. But may not that concern make us forget the role and cardinal importance in energetics of the phenomena of activation?
If a living (or even a non-living) substance is to release, to 'actuate'. its potentialities, it must, as we all know and feel, be appropriately capable of stimulation and be in fact stimulated.
Theoretically, the physicist can express in figures the quantity of energy that can be usefully employed by an animal at a given moment. But what proportion of this potential is going, in each case, to be brought effectively into action? and in what direction? and at what speed? That is something which it is quite impossible to determine without introducing a whole series of imponderables which are tied up with the psychism of the individual in question. The animal (one particular animal) behaves in an entirely different way, depending on whether it has a full belly or is starving, is left in peace or hunted, and so on.
Among the very lowest living beings, this response to stimulus of organic matter is to all intents and purposes indistinguishable from an elaborated system of physico-chemical reactions from which consciousness would appear to be excluded. At a higher level, however, with the appearance of nervous systems, the reality of an energizing function exercised by knowledge becomes evident. The activation of the living being - the more living it is, and in virtue of what is most living in it - calls ever more insistently, if it is to become effective, for the intervention of some fear, some repugnance or (most of all) for some attraction.
And it is here that we find, in its most specific modes of conditioning, the hidden mechanism of hominized energy.
As a result of his extreme cerebration, man is not only the most responsive to stimulation of any living being known to us; but he is also the only one for whom the stimulating impulse without which there can be no action, is not confined to the perception of an immediate end, but comes from a confrontation with the whole of the future.
Earlier, I raised the question of where man is to find not simply the time and the physical powers but above all the heart to carry through thoroughly and to the end the ever more demanding task of his co-reflection.
The answer to this question must be that everything ultimately depends on the degree of activating power in the properties (that is to say the more, or the less, attractive characteristics) which our faculty of foresight can recognize in the totality of time that lies ahead of us.
And this, unexpectedly but most logically, leads us, along lines of pure energetics, from a simple question of Darwinian survival to the ancient, and to all appearances so para-scientific problem of 'immortality'.
III. THE CONVERGENCE AND IRREVERSIBILITY OF HUMAN ENERGY
An open world? or a closed world?
A world that ultimately opens out into some fuller-life? or a world that in the end fails back, with its full weight?
It is becoming increasingly difficult for a true science of man (that is to say, an 'anthropology of movement') not to make a choice between the two terms of this dilemma, which is still left to professional metaphysicians and moralists. And the reason for this is that from the moment when man recognizes that he is in a state of evolution, he can no longer progress (as we have just seen) unless he develops in himself a deep-rooted, passionate zest for his own evolution: and there is the further reason dynamic drive instep within hominization, it cannot be of the closed type. Every law of energetics insists that it shall 'open out' ahead. But by what mystery can this be effected? By what inexplicable exception to the general conditions of irreversibility from which, it would appear, nothing in the universe can be dispensed?
Let us try to suggest how this may be, even if we cannot make it completely evident.
On several occasions earlier, I referred to the elects of co-reflection in which the biological value of the progress of human socialization is expressed: man who cannot think without his thought being involved in and combined additively with that of all other thinking beings.
Sometimes, it would seem, this process of coalescence is described and interpreted as the reduction of the consciousness of all to one natural equality, which gradually imposes uniformity on intelligences within a sort of 'common basis' at a mean level.
What is happening, however, is in fact something very different.
The recognition that in virtue of his very nature man tends to co-reflect himself, is precisely the admission that in evolving he converges upon himself. Now, to converge entails two things for human energy. The first is that it never ceases to intensify and differentiate, with the passage of time, through concentration upon itself. And the second is that it can distinguish, at a certain finite distance ahead of it, a peak'.
This can only mean that hominization, as witnessed by us in its operation, can only end (provided it wins through) in a paroxysm -and that can hardly be defined other than as a higher critical point of reflection - and of this again (precisely because it is critical) we are perfectly free to suppose that it might well be a point of escape from space and time: in other words that it may be exactly the issue which we found we must have if we are to have the heart to press on.
This, 1 realize, seems to leave us faced with the physical monstrosity of a human energy that is at the same time reversible (as an effect of entropy) inasmuch as it is energy, and irreversible (as required by activation) inasmuch as it is hominized.
However, it may well be, perhaps, that this contradiction is a warning to our minds that we must completely reverse the way in which we see things. We still persist in regarding the physical as constituting the 'true' phenomenon in the universe, and the psychic as a sort of epiphenomenon. However, as suspected (if I understand them correctly) by such coolly objective minds as Louis de Broglie and Léon Brillouin, surely, if we really wish to unify the real, we should completely reverse the values - that is, we should consider the whole of thermodynamics as an unstable and ephemeral by-effect of the concentration on itself of what we call 'consciousness' or 'spirit'.
- An interior energy of unification (true energy) gradually emerging, under the influence of organization, from the superficial system of actions and reactions that make up the physieo-chemical.
In other words, there is no longer just one type of energy in the world: there are two different energies - one axial, increasing, and irreversible, and the other peripheral or tangential, constant, and reversible: and these two energies are linked together in arrangement', but without nevertheless being able either to form a compound or directly to be transformed into one another, because they operate at different levels.
We may well wonder whether, if we refuse to accept such a duality (which is no dualism!) in the stuff of things, it is scientifically conceivable that a universe can function, from the moment when it reflects itself upon itself.
Unpublished, New York, 6 December 1953