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Teilhard de Chardin

The PHENOMENON of MAN

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Translated by Bernard Wall

Contents

INTRODUCTION BY SIR JULIAN HUXLEY

PREFACE

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

In the first place, it deals with man solely as a phenomenon. The pages which follow do not attempt to give an explanation of the world, but only an introduction to such an explanation. Put quite simply, what I have tried to do is this ; I have chosen man as the centre, and around him I have tried to establish a coherent order between antecedents and consequents. I have not tried to discover a system of ontological and causal relations between the elements of the universel but only an exprimental law of re-currence which would express their successive appearance in time.

p. 30 - Like the meridians as they approach the poles, science, philosophy and religion are bound to converge as they draw nearer to the whole. I say "converge" advisedly, but without merging, and without ceasing, to the very end, to assail the real from different angles and on different planes.

........

In the specific instance of the present Essay, I think it important to point out that two basic assomptions go hand in hand to support and govern every development of the theme. The first is the primacy accorded to the psychic and to thought in the stuff of the universel and the second is the "biological" value attributed to the social fact around us.

FOREWORD: Seeing

p. 31 - This work may be summed up as an attempt to see and to make others see what happens to man, and what conclusions are forced upon us, when he is placed fairly and squarely within the frame-work of phenomenon and appearance.

Why should we want to see, and why in particular should we single out man as our object?

Seeing. We might say that the whole of life lies in that verb---if not ultimately, at least essentially. Fuller being is closer union : such is the kernel and conclusion of this book. But let us empha-sise the point : union increases only through an increase in con-sciousness, that is to say in vision.

p. 34 - Man is unable to see himself entirely unrelated to mankind, neither is he able to see mankind unrelated to life, nor life unrelated to the universe.

Thence stems the basic plan of this work : Pre-Life ; Life; Thought- three events sketching in the past and determining for the future (Survival!) a single and continuing trajectory, the curve of the phenomenon of man.

The phenomenon of man - I stress this.

This phrase is not chosen at random, but for three reasons.

First to assert that man, in nature, is a genuine fact falling (at least partially) within the scope of the requirements and methods of science ;

Secondly, to make plain that of all the facts offered to our knowledge, none is more extraordinary or more illuminating ;

Thirdly, to stress the special character of the Essay I am presenting.

p.35 - The time has come to realise that an interpretation of the universe - even a positive one - remains unsatisfying unless it covers the interior as well as the exterior pf things ; mind as well as matter. The true physics is that which will, one day, achieve the inclusion of man in his wholeness in a coherent picture of the world.

p. 36 - In such a vision man is seen not as a static centre of the world - as he for long believed himself to be - but as the axis and leading shoot of evolution, which is something much finer.

BOOK ONE: BEFORE LIFE CAME

CHAPTER I. The Stuff of the Universe

p. 39 - To push anything back into the past is equivalent to reducing it to its simplest element. Traced as far as possible in the direction of their origins, the last fibres of the human aggregate are lost to view and are merged in our eyes with the very stuff of the universe.

I. ELEMENTAL MATTER

p. 40 - Observed from this special angle, and considered at the outset in its elemental state (by which 1 mean at any moment, at any point, and in any volume), the stuff of tangible things reveals itself with increasing insistance as radically particulate yet essen-tially related, and lastly, prodigiously active.

Plurality, unity, energy : the three faces of matter.

A. Plurality

p. 41 - When we probe beyond a certain degree of depth and dilution, the familiar properties of our bodies - light, colour, warmth, impenetrability, etc. - lose their meaning.

Indeed our sensory experience turns out to be a floating con-densation on a swarm of the undefinable. Bewildering in its multiplicity and its minuteness, the substratum of the tangible universe is in an unending state of disintegration as it goes down-ward.

B. Unity

p. 41 - On the other hand the more we split and pulverise matter artificially, the more insistently it proclaims its fundamental unity. In its most imperfect form, but the simplest to imagine, this unity reveals itself in the astonishing similarity of the elements.

It is almost as if the stuff of which all stuff is made were reducible in the end to some simple and unique kind of substance.

p. 41- 42 - Thus the unity of homogeneity. To the cosmic corpuscles we should find it natural to attribute an individual radius of action as limited as their dimensions. We find, on the contrary, that each of them can only be defined by virtue of its influence on all around it. Whatever space we suppose il to be in, each cosmic element radiates in it and entirely fills it.

We add : collective unity . The innumerable foci which share a given volume of matter are not therefore independent of each other. Something holds them together. Far from behaving as a mere inert receptacle, the space filled by their multitude operates upon it like an active centre of direction and transmission in which their plurality is organised. We do not get what we call matter as a result of the simple aggregation and juxtaposition of atoms. For that, a mysterious identity must absorb and cement them, an influence at which our mind rebels in bewilderment at first but which in the end it must perforce accept.

We mean the sphere above the centres and enveloping them.

Throughout these pages, in each new phase of anthropogenesis, we shall find ourselves faced by the unimaginable reality of collective bonds, and we shall have to struggle with them without ceasing until we succeed in recognising and defining their true nature. Here in the beginning it is sufficient to include them all under the empirical name given by science to their common initial principle, namely energy.

C. Energy

Under this name, which conveys the experience of effort with which we are familiar in ourselves, physics has introduced the precise formulation of a capacity for action or, more exactly, for interaction. Energy is the measure of that which passes front one atom to another in the course of their transformations. A unifying power, then, but also, because the atom appears to become enriched or exhausted in the course of the exchange, the expression of structure.

Under this name, which conveys the experience of effort with which we are familiar in ourselves, physics has introduced the precise formulation of a capacity for action or, more exactly, for interaction. Energy is the measure of that which passes front one atom to another in the course of their transformations. A unifying power, then, but also, because the atom appears to become enriched or exhausted in the course of the exchange, the expression of structure.

From the aspect of energy, renewed by radio-active phenomena, material corpuscles may now be treated as transient reservoirs of concentrated power. Though never found in a state of purity, but always more or less granulated (even in light) energy nowadays represents for science the most primitive form of universal stuff.

 

2. TOTAL MATTER
A. The System

p. 43 - The history of consciousness and its place in the world remain incomprehensible to anyone who has not seen first of all that the cosmos in which man finds himself caught up constitutes, by reason of the unimpeachable wholeness of its whole, a system, a totum and a quantum : a system by its plurality, a totum by its unity, a quantum by its energy .

B. The Totum

p. 45 - The stuff of the universe, woven in a single piece according to one and the same system, but never repeating itself from one point to another, represent a single figure. Structurally, it forms a Whole.

C. The Quantum

p. 46 - For the whole, because it exists, must express itself in global capacity for action (energy ) of which we find the partial resultant in each of us.

3. THE EVOLUTION OF MATTER
A. The Appearance

p. 48 - This fundamental discovery that all bodies owe their origin to arrangements of single initial corpuscular type is the beacon that lights the history of the universe to our eyes. In its own way, matter obeyed from the beginning that great law of biology to which we shall have to recur time and time again, the law of 'complexification'.

p. 49 - ...the only point of real importance that concerns us here (is) that from its most distant formulations matter reveals itself to us in a state of genesis or becoming ...First of all, to begin with a critical phase, that of granulation , which abruptly and once and for all gave birth to the constituents of the atom ...Next, at least from the molecular level, of going on additively by a process of growing complexity.

p. 50 - The stars are laboratories in which the evolution of matter proceeds in the direction of large molecules...

B. The Numerical Laws

p. 51 - Every synthesis costs something...What is gained on one side is lost on the other....the universe does reveal itself as a closed quantum, within which nothing progresses except by exchange of what was given in the beginning.

p. 52 - Little by little, the improbable combinations that they represent become broken down again into more simple components, which fall back and are disaggregated in the shape-lessness of probable distributions

CHAPTER II. The Within of Things

I. EXISTENCE

p. 56 - Properly observed, even if only in one spot, a phenomenon necessarily has an omnipresent value and roots by reason of the fundamental unity of the world.

Whither does this rule lead us if we apply it to the instance of human 'self - knowledge' ?

'Consciousness is completely evident only in man' we are tempted to say, ' therefore it is an isolated instance of no interest to science.'

' Consciousness is evident in man,' we must continue, correcting ourselves, ' therefore, half-seen in this one flash of light, it has a cosmic extension, and as such is surrounded by an aura of indefinite spatial and temporal extensions.'

The conclusion is pregnant with consequences, and yet I cannot see how, by sound analogy with all the rest of science, we can escape from it.

It is impossible to deny that, deep within ourselves, an 'interior appears at the heart of beings, as it were seen through a rent. This is enough to ensure that, in one degree or another, this 'interior' should obtrude itself as existing everywhere in nature front all time. Since the stuff of the universe has an inner aspect at one point of itself, there is necessarily a double aspect to its structure, that is to say in every region of space and time - in the same way, for instance, as it is granular : co-extensivewith their Without, there is a Within of things.

...primitive matter is something more than the particulate swarming so marvellousely analysed by modern physics.

 

2. THE QUALITATIVE LAWS OF GROWTH
A. First Observation

p. 58 - Considered in its pre-vital state, the within of things, whose reality even in the nascent forms of matter we have just admitted, must not be thought of as forming a continuous film, but as assuming the same granulation as matter itself.

B. Second Observation

p. 59 - Virtually homogenous among themselves in the beginning, the elements of consciousness, exactly as the elements of matter which they subtend, complicate and differentiate their nature, little by little, with the passage of duration. From this point of view and considered solely from the experimental aspect, consciousness reveals itself as a cosmic property of variable size subject to a global transformation.

c. Third Observation

Finally, let us take from two different regions of this spectrum two particles of consciousness that are at unlike stages of evolution. As we have seen, there corresponds to each of them, by construction, a certain definite material grouping of which they form the within. Let us compare these two external groupings the one with the other and ask ourselves how they are arranged with regard to each other and with regard to the portion of consciousness that each of them encloses.

The answer comes at once.

Whatever instance we may think of, we may be sure that every time a richer and better organized structure will correspond to the more developed consciousness.

The simplest form of protoplasm is already a substance of unheard-of complexity. This complexity increases in geometrical progression as we pass from the protozoon higher and higher up the scale of the metazoa. And so it is for all the rest always and everywhere.

The degree of concentration of a consciousness varies in inverse ratio to the simplicity of the material compound lined by it. Or again : a consciousness is that much more perfected according as it fines a richer and better organized material edifice.

Spiritual perfection (or conscious 'centreity ') and material synthesis (or complexity) are but the two aspects or connected parts of one and same phenomenon

p. 61 - In sum, all the rest of this essay will be nothing but the story of the struggle in the universe between the unified multiple and the unorganised multitude : the application throughout of the great law of complexity and consciousness .

3. SPIRITUAL ENERGY
A. The Problem of the Two Energies

p. 62 - To connect the two energies, of the body and of the soul, in a coherent manner : science has provisionnaly decided to ignore the question.

p. 63 - Without the slightest doubt there is something through which material and spiritual energy hold together and are complementary. In last analysis, somehow or other , there must be a single energy operating in the world.

B. A Line of Solution

p. 64 - To avoid a fundamental dualism, at once impossible and anti-scientific, and in the same time to safeguard the natural complexity of the stuff of the universe, I accordingly propose the following as a basis...

p. 65 - We shall assume that, essentially, all energy is psychic in nature; but add that in each particular element this fundamental energy is divided into two distinct component : a tengential energy which links the element with all others of the same order... and a radial energy which draws it towards ever greater complexity and centricity - in other words forwards.

C H A P T E R III. The Earth in its Early Stages

p. 67 - Some thousands millions of years ago, not, it would appear, regular process of astral evolution, but as the result of some unbelievable accident (a brush with another star ? an internal upheaval ?) a fragment of matter composed of particularly stable atoms was detached from the surface of the sun. Without breaking the bonds attaching it to the rest, and just at the right from the mother-star to receive a moderate radiation, this fragment began to condense, to roll itself up, to take shape. Containing within its globe and orbit the future of man, another heavenly body -a planet this time- had been born.

So far our eyes have been straying over the unlimited layers in which the stuff of the universe is deployed.

From now on let us concentrate our attention on this diminutive, obscure but fascinating object which had just appeared. It is the only place in the world in which we are so far able to study the evolution of matter in its ultimate phases, and as far as ourselves.

Let us have a look at the earth in its early stages, so fresh yet charged with latent powers, as it balances in the chasms of the past

I. THE WITHOUT

p. 68 - What arouses the physicist's interest in this globe -new-born, it would seem, by a stroke of chance in the cosmic mass- is the presence of composite chemical bodies not to be observed any-where else. At the extreme temperature occurring in the stars, matter can only survive in its most dissociated states. Only simple bodies exist on these incandescent stars. On the earth this simplicity of the elements still obtains at the periphery, in the more or less ionized gases of the atmosphere and the stratosphere and, probably, far below, in the metals of the 'barysphere'. But between these two extremes comes a long series of complex substances, harboured and produced only by stars that have 'gone out'. Arranged in successive zones, they demonstrate from the start the powers of synthesis contained in the universe. First the siliceous zone, preparing the solid crust of the planet. Next the zone of water and carbonic acid, enclosing the silicates in an unstable, mobile and penetrating envelope.

In other words we have the barysphere, lithosphere, hydro-sphere, atmosphere and stratosphere.

This fundamental composition may have varied and become elaborated in detail, but by and large it can be said to have established itself from the beginning. And it is from it that geochemistry develops progressively in two different directions.

A. The Crystallizing World

p. 69 - In one direction, much the more common, terrestrial energy has tended from the outset to be given off and liberated. Silicates, water, carbon dioxide -these essential oxides were formed by burning up and neutralizing (alone or in association with other simple bodies) the affinities of their elements.

The mineral world is a much more supple and mobile world dm could be imagined by the science of the ancients. Vaguely analogous to the metamorphoses of living creatures, there occurs in the most solid rocks, as we now know, perpetual transformation of a mineral species.

But it is a world relatively poor in compounds, because of the narrow limit to the internal architecture of its elements. Accord-ing to latest estimates, we have round only a few hundred silicates in nature.

Looking at them ' biologically ' we may say it is the characteristic of minerals (as of so many other organisms that have become incurable fixed) to have chosen a road which closed them prematurely in upon themselves. By their innate structure the molecules are unfitted for growth. To develop beyond a certain size they have in a way to get out of themselves, to have recourse to a trick of purely external association, whereby the atoms are finked together without true combination or union. Sometimes we find them in strings as in jade, sometimes in planes as in mica, and sometimes in a solid quincunx as in garnet.

In this way, by simple juxtaposition of atoms or relatively simple atomic groups in geometrical patterns, regular aggregates may be produced whose level of composition is often very high, but they correspond to no properly centered units ; they are an indefinitely extended mosaic of small elements-such as we know to be the structure of a crystal, which, thanks to X-rays, can now be photographed. And such is the organization, simple and stable, which the condensed matter around us has by and large perforce adopted from its origins.

Considered in the mass, the earth is veiled in geometry as far back as we can see. It crystallizes.

But not completely.

B. The Polymerising World

p. 71- There is good reason to think that around our nascent planet, .... there was the outline of a special envelope, the anthesis, we might say, of the first four : the temperature zone of polymerisation, in which water, ammonia and carbon dioxyde were already floating in the rays of the sun. To ignore that tenuous film would be to deprive the infant earth of its most essential adornment. For, as we shall see, it is in this that the ' within of the earth ' was soon to be gradually concentrated (if we hold to what I have already said).

 

2. THE WITHIN

p.71- 72 - When I speak of the 'within ' of the earth, I do not of course mean those material depths in which -a few miles beneath our feet- lurks one of the most vexations mysteries of science : the chemical nature and the exact physical condition of the internal regions of the globe. The 'within' is used here, as in the preceding chapter, to denote the 'psychic' face of that portion of the stuff of the cosmos enclosed from the beginning of time within the narrow scope of the early earth. In that fragment of sidereal matter which has just been isolated, as in every other part of the universe the exterior world must inevitably be lined at every point with an interior one. This we have shown already. Only here the conditions have changed. Matter no longer spreads out beneath our eyes in diffuse and undefinable layers. It coils up round itself in a closed volume. How will its 'inner' layer react to such involution?

First let it be noted that, by the very fact of the individualization of our planet, a certain mass of elementary consciousness was originally imprisoned in the matter of earth. Some scientists have felt obliged to invest some interstellar germs with the power of fecundating cooling stars. This hypothesis disfigures, without explaining, the wonderful phenomenon of life, with its noble corollary, the phenomenon of man. It is in fact quite useless. Why should we turn to space to look for a fecundating principle for the earth -which is incomprehensible in any case ? By its initial chemical composition, the early earth is itself, and in its totality, the incredibly complex germ we are seeking. Congenitally, if I may use the word, it already carried pre-life within it, and this, moreover, in definite quantity. The whole question is to define how, from this primitive and essentially elastic quantum, all the rest has emerged.

XXX

To form an idea of the first phases of this evolution it will be enough to compare, stage by stage, on the one hand the general laws we have felt able to lay down for the development of spiritual energy, and on the other the physico-chemical conditions we have just acknowledged in the nascent earth. We have said that spiritual energy, by its very nature, increases in 'radial ' value, positively, absolutely, and without determinable limits, in step with the increasing chemical complexity of the elements of which it represents the inner lining. But the chemical complexity of the earth increases in conformity with the laws of thermo-dynamics in the particular, superficial zone in which its elements polymerize.

 

 

BOOK TWO: LIFE

C H A P T E R I. The Advent of Life

1. THE TRANSIT TO LIFE
A. Micro-organisms and Mega-molecules

B. A Forgotten Era

C. The Cellular Revolution

2. THE INITIAL MANIFESTATIONS OF LIPE

A. The Milieu

B. Smallness and Number

C. The Origin of Number

D. Inter-relationship and Shape

3. THE SEASON OF LIPE

CHAPTER II. The Expansion of life

1. THE ELEMENTAL MOVEMENTS OF LIFE
A. Reproduction

B. Multiplication

C. Renovation

D. Conjugation

E. Association

F. Controlled Additivity

A COROLLARY: THE WAYS OF LIFE

2. THE RAMIFICATIONS OF THE LIVING MASS

A. Aggregates of Growth

B. The Flourishing of Maturity

C. Effects of Distance

3. THE TREE OF LIPE

A. The Main Lines

B. The Dimensions

C. The Evidence

CHAPTER III. Demeter

I. ARIADNE'S THREAD

2. THE RISE OF CONSCIOUSNESS

3. THE APPROACH OF TIME

BOOK THREE: THOUGHT

CHAPTER I. The Birth of Thought

I. THE THRESHOLD OF REFLECTION
A.The Threshold of the Element: the Hominisation of the Individual

B.The Threshold of the Phylum: the Hominisation of the Species

C. The Threshold of the Terrestrial Planet : The Noosphere

2. THE ORIGINAL FORMS

CllAPTER Il. The Deployment of the Noosphere

I. THE RAMIFYING PHASE OF THE PRE-HOMINIDS

2. THE CROUP OF THE NEANDERTRALOIDS

3. THE Homo Sapiens COMPLEX

4. THE NEOLITHIC METAMORPROSIS

5. THE PROLONGATIONS OF THE NEOLITHIC AGE AND THE RISE OF THE WEST

 

CHAPTER III. The Modern Earth

I. THE DISCOVERY OF EVOLUTION
A. The Perception of Space-time

B. The Envelopment in Duration

c. The Illumination

2. THE PROBLEM OF ACTION

A. Modern Disquiet

B. The Requirements of the Future

c. The Dilemma and the Choice

BOOK FOUR: SURVIVAL

CHAPTER I. The Collective Issue

I. THE CONFLUENCE OF THOUGHT
A. Forced Coalescence

B. Mega-Synthesis

2.THE SPIRIT OF THE EARTH

A. Mankind

B. Science

C. Unanimity

CHAPTER II. Beyond the Collective: the Hyper-Personal

I.THE CONVERGENCE OF THE PERSON AND THE OMEGA POINT
A.The Personal Uiverse

B.The Personaling Universe

2.LOVE AS ENERGY

3.THE ATTRIBUTES OF THE OMEGA POINT

 

CIIAPTER III. The UltimateEarth

1.PROGNOSTICS TO BE SET ASIDE

2.THE APPROACHES

A.The Organisation of Research

B.The Discovery of the Human Object

C.The Conjunction of Science and Religion

3.THE ULTIMATE

EPILOGUE: The Christian Phenomenon

I.AXES OF BELIEF

2.EXISTENCE-VALUE

3.POWER OF GROWTH

POSTSCRIPT:

The Essence of the Phenomenon of Man

I.A WORLD IN INVOLUTION

2.THE FIRST APPEARANCE OF MAN

3.THE SOCIAL PHENOMENON

APPENDIX:

Some Remarks on the Place and Part of Evil
in a World in Evolution