Teilhard de Chardin
The PHENOMENON of MAN
Translated by Bernard Wall
(Selected by Jacques Severin Abbatucci)
You will find thereafter the text. of a compendium made from The Phenomenon of Man (Harper & Row, publish. New York 1975). The 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.
Scheme of "The Human Phenomenon" (Personnal interpretation - J.S. Abbatucci.)
INTRODUCTION BY SIR JULIAN HUXLEY
The Phenomenon of Mau is a very remarkable work by a very remarkable human being. In The Phenomenon of Man (Teilhard de Chardin) has effected a threefold synthesis-of the material and physical world with the world of mind and spirit; of the past with the future; and of variety with unity, the many with the one. ..
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 MATTERA. 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 MATTERA. 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
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 GROWTHA. 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 ENERGYA. 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.
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.
In a sense more remarkable than their multitude (and as important to keep in mind for future developments) is the solidarity due to their very genesis which unites the specks of this primordial dust of consciousness. That which perrmîts the growth of elementary freedoms is, essentially, I repeat, the growing synthesis of the molecules they subtend. And let me also repeat that this synthesis itself would never take place if the globe as a whole did not enfold within a closed surface the layers of its substance.
The initial quantum of consciousness contained in our terrestrial world is not formed merely of an aggregate of particles caught fortuitously in the same net. It represents a correlated mass of infinitesimal centers structurally bound together by the conditions of their origin and development.
Here again, but in a better defined field and on a higher level, we find the fundamental condition characteristic of primordial matter-the unity of plurality. The earth was probably born by accident ; but, in accordance with one of the most general laws of evolution, scarcely had this accident happened than it was immediately made use of and recast into something naturally directed. By the very mechanism of its birth, the film in which the "within" of the earth was concentrated and deepened emerges under our eyes in the form of an organic whole in which no element can any longer be separated from those surrounding it. Another "indivisible" has appeared at the heart of the great "indivisible" which is the universe. In truth, a pre-biosphere.
And this is the envelope which, taken in its'entirety, is to be our sole preoccupation from now on.
As we continue peering into the abysses of the past, we can see its colour changing.
From age to age it increases in intensity. Something is going to burst out upon the early earth, and this thing is Life.
BOOK TWO: LIFE
C H A P T E R I. The Advent of Life
The mineral world and the world of life seem two antithetical creations when viewed by a summary glance in their extreme forms and on the intermediary scale of our human organisms ; but to a deeper study, when we force our way right down to the microscopic level and beyond to the infinitesimal, or (which comes to the same thing) far back along the scale of time, they seem. quite otherwise-a single mass gradually melting in on itself.
At such depths all differences seem to become tenuous. For a long time we have known how impossible it is to draw a clear line between animal and plant on the unicellular level. Nor can we draw one (as we shall see later) between ' living' protoplasm and ' dead ' proteins on the level of the very big molecular accumulations. We still use the word ' dead ' for these latter unclassified substances, but have we not already come to the conclusion that they would be incomprehensible if they did not possess already, deep down in themselves, some sort of rudimentary psyche ?
So, in a sense, we can no more fix an absolute zero in time (as was once supposed) for the advent of life than for that of any other experimental reality.
Thus each thing extends itself and pushes its roots into the past, ever farther back, by that which makes it most itself Everything, in some extremely attenuated extension of itself, has existed from the very first. Nothing can be done in a direct way to counter this basic condition of our knowledge.
But to have realised and accepted once and for all that each new being has and must have a cosmic embryogenesis in no way invalidates the reality of its historic birth.
In every domain, when anything exceeds a certain measurement, it suddenly changes its aspect, condition or nature. The curve doubles back, the surface contracts to a point, the solid disintegrates, the liquid boils, the germ cell divides, intuition suddenly bursts on the piled up facts...Critical points have been reached, rungs on the ladder, involving a change of state-jumps of all sorts in the course of development. Henceforward this is the only way in which science can speak of a ' first instant'. But it is none the less a true way.
Through a duration to which we can give no definite measure but know to be immense, the earth, cool enough now to allow the formation on its surface of the chains; of molecules of the carbon type, was probably covered by a layer of water from which emerged the first traces of future continents.
...Then at a given moment, after a sufficient lapse of time, those same waters here and there must unquestionably have begun writhing with minute creatures. And from that initial proliferation stemmed the amazing profusion of organic matter whose matted complexity came to form the last (or rather the last but one) of the envelopes of our planet : the biosphere.
1. THE TRANSIT TO LIFE
Marvellous as it is, marvellous as it seems to us in its isolation among the other constructions of matter, the cell, like everything else in the world, cannot be understood (i.e. incorporated in a coherent system of the universe) unless we situate it on an evolutionary line between a past and a future. We have tumed a good deal of attention te, its development and its differentiations. It is on its origins, that is to say on its roots in the inorganic, that we must now focus our researches if we want to grasp the essence of its novelty.
Despite what experience has taught us in every other field, we have let ourselves become too much accustomed to thinking of the cell as an object without antecedents. Let us see what happens if we regard it and treat it (as we certainly should) as something at one and the same time both the outcome of long preparation and yet profoundly original, that is to say, as a thing that is born.
2. THE INITIAL MANIFESTATIONS OF LIPE
Hence as we get as near as we can tc, the threshold of life, it manifests itself to us simultaneous1y as microscopic and innumerable.
Once more, but now on the collective scale, we are faced with the frontier between the physical and the biological worlds. As long as we were dealing with churning atoms or molecules we could be content with the numerical laws of probability when working out the behaviour of matter. But from the moment when the monad acquires the dimensions and superior spontaneity of a cell, and tends to be individualized at the heart of a pleiad, a more complicated pattern appears in the stuff of the universe On two counts at least it would be inadequate and false to 1magine life, even taken in its granular stage, as a fortuitous and amorphous proliferation.
Firstly the initial mass of the cells must from the start have been inwardly subjected to a sort of inter-dependence which went beyond a mere mechanical adjustment, and was already a beginning of ' symbiosis ' or life-in-common. However tenuous it was, the first veil of organised matter spread over the earth could neither have established nor maintained itself without some network of influences and exchanges which made it a biologically cohesive whole. From its origin, the cellular nebula necessarily represented, despite its internal multiplicity, a sort of diffuse super-organism. Not merely a foam of lives but, to a certain extent, itself a living film. A simple reappearance, after all, in more advanced form and on a higher level of those much older conditions which we have already seen presiding over the birth and equilibrium of the first polymerised, substances on the surface of the early earth.
Secondly (and this is more surprising) the innumerable elements composing at the outset the living film of the earth do not seem to have been taken or collected exhaustively and haphazard. Their admission into this primordial envelope gives rather the impression of having been mysteriously guided by a previous selection or dichotomy. Biologists have noted that, according to the chemical group to which they belong, the molecules incorporated into living matter are all asymmetrical in the same way, that is to say if a pencil of polarised light is passed through them they all turn the plane of the beam in the same direction -either they are all right-rotating or all left-rotating according to the group taken. More remarkable still, all living creatures, from the humblest bacteria to man, contain exactly the saine complicated types of vitamins and enzymes, notwithstanding the great range of chemical forms possible; just as the higher mammals are all 'tritubercular' and walking vertebrates all four footed. Surely such similarity of living substance in dispositions which do not seem necessary suggests an early choice or sorting. This chemical uniformity of protoplasm at accidental points has been taken as proof that all existing organisms descend from a single ancestral group (the case of the crystal falling in the supersaturated solution). Without going as far as that, we may say that all it establishes is a certain initial cleavage (between right-rotating and left-rotating examples, for instance, whichever it may be) in the enormous mass of carbon matter at the threshold of life (instance of the discovery in n points atonce). In any event, it is not important. The interesting thing is that on either assumption the living world assumes the same curious appearance of a totality re-formed from a partial group : whatever may have been the complexity of its original impetus, it exhausts only a part of what might have been. Taken as a whole, the biosphere would thus represent only a simple branch within and above other less progressive or less fortunate profiferations of pre-life. And surely this amounts to saying that, considered globally, the appearance of the first cells gives rise to the same problems as do the origins of each of those later stems we call ' phyla '. The universe had already begun to ramify and it doubtless goes on ramifying indefmitely, even below the tree of life.
Seen from afar, elementary life looks like a variegated multitude of microscopic elements, a multitude great enough to envelop the earth, yet at the same time sufficiently interrelated and selected to form a structural whole of genetic solidarity.
3. THE SEASON OF LIFE
Now, the more complex organism become, the moreevident becomes their inherent kinship. It manifests itself in the absolute and universal uniformity of the basic cellular pattern, and it manifests itself, particularly in animals, in the identical solutions found for various problems of perception, nutrition and reproduction everywhere we find vascular and nervous systems, everywhere some form of blood, everywhere gonads and everywhere eyes. It continues in the similarity of the methods employed by units for collecting together in higher organisms and becoming 'socialized' and finally it shines clearly in the general laws of development (' ontogencsis ' and 'phylogencsis') which give to the living world, considered as a whole, the coherence of a single upthrust.
naturalists are becoming more and more convinced that the genesis of life on earth belongs to the category of absolutely unique events that, once happened, are never repeated.
For the earth is after all something more than a sort of huge breathing body. Admittedly it rises and falls, but more important is the fact that it must have begun at a certain moment ; that it is passing through a consecutive series of moving equilibria ; and that in all probability it is tending towards some final state. It has a birth, a development, and presumably a death ahead. Thus all around us, deeper than any pulsation that could be expressed in geological eras, we must suppose there to be a total process which is not of a periodic character defining the total evolution of the planet.
From this point of view-and it seems to me the right one - the 'cellular revolution ' would now be seen as a critical singular point, an unparalleled moment on the curve of telluric evolution the point of germination.
Life was born and propagates itself on the earth as a solitary pulsation. It is the propagation of that unique wave that we must now follow, right up to man and if possible beyond him.
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CHAPTER II. The Expansion of life
1. THE ELEMENTAL MOVEMENTS OF LIFEA. Reproduction
At the base of the entire process whereby the envelope of the biosphere spreads its web over the face of the earth stands the mechanism of reproduction which is typical of life. In itsel£ cell division seems to be due to the simple need of the living particle to find a remedyfor its molecular fragility and for the structural difficulties involved in continued growth.
At first sight reproduction appears as a simple process thought up by nature to ensure the permanence of theunstable in the case of these vast molecular edifices.
p. 105 - Every volume, however great, succumbs to the effects of geometrical progression, and this is not a pure extrapolation of the mind. In its ability to double itself and to go on doubling itself without let or hindrance, life possesses a force of expansion as invincible as that of a body that dilates or vaporises.
p. 106 - And then, so it seems, so as to enlarge the breach thus made by its first inroads in the ramparts of the unorganised world, life discovered the wonderful process of conjugation. Simultaneously we find coming into play the endless permutations and combinations of 'characters' so dear to modern geneticists. Instead of simply radiating from each centre in process of division, the rays of life now anastomose-exchanging and varying their respective riches. We no more dream of being astonished at this prodigious invention than at the discoveries of fire, bread or writing. Yet what chances and what fumblings-and what endless ages therefore-were necessary before this fundamental discovery from which we have sprung was matured. And how much longer still before it found its complement and natural fulfillment in the no less revolutionary innovation of 'association'.
p. 107 - We still seem to be able to see all the stages of this still unfinished march of nature towards the unification or synthesis of the ever-increasing products of living reproduction. - At the bottom we find the simple aggregate, as in bacteria and the lower fungi. One stage higher comes the colony of attached cells, not yet centralised, though distinct specialisation has begun, as with the higher vegetable forms and the bryozoa. Higher still is the metazoan cell of cells, in which by a prodigious critical transformation an autonomous centre is established (as though by excessive shrinking) over the organised group of living particles. And still farther on, to round off the list, at the present limit of our experience and of life's experiments, comes society-that mysterious association of free metazoans in which (with varying success) the formation of hyper-complex units by ' mega-synthesis seems to be being attempted.
The last part of this book will bc particularly devoted to this last and highest form of aggregation, in which the self-organising effort of matter culminates perhaps in society as capable of reflection. Here we must confine ourselves to pointing out that association, considered at all its levels, is not a sporadic or accidental appearance in the animal kingdom. On the contrary, it represents one of the most universal and constant expedients (and thus one of the mostsignificant) used by life in its expansion. Two of its advantages are immediately obvious. Thanks to it, living substance is able to build itself up in sufficient bulk to escape innumerable external obstacles (capillary attraction, osmotic pressure, chemical variation of the medium, etc.) which paralyse the microscopic organisms. In biology, as in navigation, a certain size is physically necessary for certain movements. Thanks to it again, the organism (here too because of its increased volume) is able to find room inside itself to lodge the countless'mechanisms added successively in the course of its différentiation.
F. Controlled Additivity
p. 108 - There seems to be no lack of examples, in the course of biological evolution, of transformations acting horizontally by pure crossing of characters. One example is the mutationwe call Mendelian. But when we look deeper and more generally we see that the rejuvenations made possible by each reproduction achieve something more than mere substitution. They add, one to the other, and their sum increases in a pre-determined direction. Dispositions are accentuated, organs are adjusted or supplemented. We get diversification, the growing specialisation of factors forming a single genealogical sequence-in other words, the apparition of the line as a natural unit distinct from the individual. This law of controlled complication, the mature stage of the process in which we get first the micro-molecule then the megamolecule and finally the first cells, is known to as orthogenesis.
Orthogenesis is the dynamic and only complete form of heredity. The word conceals deep and real springs of cosmic extent. We shall find this out little by little, but meanwhile one point already stands out clearly at the present stage of our inquiry Without orthogenesis life would only have spread ; with it there is an ascent of life that is invincible.
A COROLLARY: THE WAYS OF LIFE
p. 109 - Life advances by mass effects, by dint of multitudes flung into action without apparent plan. Milliards of germs and millions of adults jostling, shoving and devouring one another, fight for elbow room and for the best and largest living space. Despite all the waste and ferocity, all the mystery and scandal it involves, there is, as we inust be fair and admit, a great deal of biological efficiency in the struggle for life. In the course of this implacable contest between masses of living substance in irresistible expansion, the individual unit is undeniably tried to the limits of its strength and resources. 'Survival of the fittest by natural selection' is not a meaningless expression, provided it is not taken to imply either a final ideal or a final explanation.
But it is not the individual unit that seems to count for most in the phenomenon. What we find within the struggle to live is something deeper than a series of duels ; it is a conflict of chances. By reckless self-reproduction life takes its precautions against mishap. It increase its chances of survival and at the same time multiplies its chances of progress.
p. 110 - Once more, this time on the plane of animate particles, we find the fundamental technique of groping, the specific and invincible weapon of all expanding multitudes. This groping strangely combines the blind fantasy of large numbers with the precise orientation of a specific target. It would be a n-tistake to see it as mere chance. Groping is directed chance. It means pervading everything so as to try everything, and trying everything so as to find everything. Surely in the last resort it is precisely to develop this procedure (always increasing in size and cost in proportion as it spreads) that nature has had recourse to profusion.
To accumulate characters in stable and colierent aggregates, life has to be very clever indeed. Not only has it to invent the machine but, like an engineer, so design it that it occupies the minimum space and is simple and resifient. And this implies and involves, as regards the structure of organisms (particularly the Iiigher ones), a property which must never be forgotten.What can be put together can be taken apart.
At an early stage of their discoveries biologists were surprised and fascinated by the fact that living beings, however perfect (or even more perfect) their spontaneity, were always decomposable into an endless chain of closed mechanisms. From this they thought they could deduce universal materialism. But they overlooked the essential. difference between a natural whole and the elements into which it is analysed.
By its very construction, it is true, every organism is always and inevitably reducible into its component parts. But it by no means follows that the sum of the parts is the saine as the whole, or that, in the whole, some specifically new value may not emerge. That what is "free" even in man, can be broken down into determinisins, is no proof that the world is not based on freedom-as indeed 1 maintain that it is. It is simply the result of ingenuity-a triumph of ingenuity-on the part of life.
p. 111 - Groping profusion ; constructive ingenuity ; indifference towards whatever is not future and totality ;-these are the three headings under which life rises up by virtue of its elementary mechanisms. There is also a fourth heading which embraces them all - that of a global unity.
2. THE RAMIFICATIONS OF THE LIVING MASS
p. 113 - Considered as a whole, life's advances go hand in hand with segmentation. As life expands, it slits spontaneously into large, natural, hierarchical units. It ramifies. And the moment has come to study this ramification, a particular phenomenon as essential to large animate masses as mitotic division was to cells.
A number of different factors contribute to drawing up or accentuating the branches of life. Again, I shall reduce them to three : A. Aggregates of growth, giving birth to ' phyla.' B. Florescence (or disjunctions) of maturity, periodically producing 'verticils'. C. Effects of distance : the elimination (from view) of the 'peduncles '.
A. Aggregates of Growth
p. 113 - ...under the influence of various causes (such as the native parallelism of elementary orthogenesis, the attraction and mutual adjustment of lines, the selective influence of the environment and so on) the fibres of a living mass in the process of diversification tend to draw together, to bind, following a restricted number of dominant directions
p. 114 - In the beginning this concentration of forms round, a few privileged axes is indistinct and indefinite ; it involves a mere increase, in certain sectors, of the number or density of the lines. Then gradually the movement takes shape. True nervures become visible, though without breaking up the limb of the leaf in which they appear. At tbis stage the fibres may still partially escape from the network which is trying to contain them. From nervure to nervure, they may still touch one another, anastomose, or cross one another. The zoologist would say that the group is stifi at the racial stage. And at this point there takes place what may be called the final aggregation or final separation (àccording to the point of view we take). For, having reached a certain degree of mutual cohesion, the lines isolate themselves in a closed sheaf that can no longer be penetrated by neighbouring sheaves. From now on, their association, the 'bundle', will evolve on its own, autonomously. The species has become individualised. The phylum has been born.
B. The Flourishing of Maturity
p. 115 - Lastly what serves not only to define the phylum, but also to classify it without ambiguity as one of the natural units of the world, is 'its power and singular law of autonomous development'. If we say that it behaves 'like a living thing' this is no mere figure of speech ; in its own way it grows and flourishes.
p. 118 - A new phylum appears, grows, and spreads out above the branch on which it was born though without necessarily stiffing or exhausting it. And se, the process continues. Perhaps a third branch germinates on the second, and yet a fourth on the third-always provided the branches are on the right path and the general equilibriun-1 of the biosphere is favourable.
C. Effects of Distance
p. 119 - But this gives only a theoretical representation of what happens. For the process to be seen as it really is, we should reqwre a terrestrial witness simultaneously present through the whole of duration, and the very idea is monstrous. In reality, the ment of life can only be apprehended by us from the standpoint of a short instant, that is through an immense layer of lapsed me. What is granted to our experience and which subsequently constitutes the 'phenomenon ' is thus not the evolutionary ~movement in itself ; it is this movement corrected according to its alteration by the effects of distance. How does this alteration show itself ? Quite simply through the accentuation (rapidly increasing with the distance) of the fan-structure deriving from the phyletic radiations of life. This happens, moreover, in two different ways ; first by exaggeration of the apparent dispersion of the phyla and subsequently by the apparent suppression of the
p. 121 - It is the saine in every doinain : when anything really new begins to germinate around us, we cannot distinguish it-for the very good reason that it could only be recognised in the light o what it is going to be. Yet, if, when it has reached full growth we look back tc, find its starting point, we only find that thc starting point itself is now hidden from our view, destroyed o forgotten. Close as they are te, us, where are the first Greeks and Romans ? Where are the first shuttles, chariots or hearth-stones ? And where, even after the shortest lapse of time, are the firs motor-cars, aeroplanes or cinemas ? In biology, in civilisation, ir hguistics, as in all tbings, time, like a draughtsman with ar eraser, rubs out every weak linc in the drawing of life. By a mechanism whose detail in each individual case seems avoidablc and accidental, but which, taken over a wide range, expresses -. fundamental condition of our knowledge, embryos, peduncle and all early stages of growth fade and vanish as they recede intc e past. Except for the fixed maxima, the consolidated achievements, nothing,neither trace nor testimony, subsists of what has gone before. In other words, the terminal enlargements of the fans are only prolonged i,to the present by their survivors or their fossils;
p. 122 - The destructiveness of the past, superimposed on the constructiveness of growth, enables us in the light of science to distinguish and make a diagram of the ramifications of the tree of life.
3. THE TREE OF LIPEA. The Main Lines
B. The Dimensions
C. The Evidence
p. 139 - Thenceforward we can go on for years arguing about the way in which the enormous orginisni could have come into being. As we look closer at the bewildering coniplexity of the inechanisni, our brains begin to reel. How are we to reconcile this persistent growth with the deteriiiiiiisni of the molecules, the blind play of the chroinosonies, the apparent incapacity to transmit individual acquisitions by generation ? How, in other words, are we to reconcile the external, ' finalist 'evolution of phenotypes with the internal, mechanistic evolution of genotypes ? Though we take it apart, we still cannot understand how the machine works. This may well be, but the machine is meanwhile standing in front of us ; and it works all the same. Because chemistry is still floundering over the formation of granites, should we dispute the fact that the continents become more granitic year by year ?
p. 140 - Like all things in a universe in which time is definitely estabhshed as a fourth dimension, life is, and only can be, a reality of evolutionary nature and dimension. Physically and historically it corresponds with a function X which determines the position of every living thing in space, in duration and in form.
This is the fundamental fact which requires an explanation but the evidence for it is henceforward above all verification, as well as being immune from any subsequent contradiction by experience.
At this degree of generalisation, it may bc said that the problem of transformism no longer exists. The question is settled once and for all. To shake our belief now in the reality of biogenesis, it would bc necessary to uproot the tree of life and undermine the entire structure of the world.
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CHAPTER III. Demeter
p. 141 - Throughout the foregoing chapter we spoke of growth to express life's way of proceeding. We were even able to go sortie way toward-s recognising the principle behind this impetus which seemed to us linked up with the phenomenon of controlled additivity. By a continuous accumulation of properties (whatever the exact hereditary mechanism involved) life acts like a snowball. It piles characters upon characters in its protoplasm. It becomes more and more complex. But, taken as a whole, what is the meaning of this movement of expansion ? Is it like the confined and functional explosion of the internal combustion engine ? Or is it a disorderly release of energy in all directions like the blast of a high explosive ?
That there is an evolution of one sort or another is now, as I have said, common ground among scientists. Whether or not that evolution is directed is another question. Asked whether life is going anywhere at the end of its transformations, nine biologists out of ten will today say no, even passionately. They will say : ' It is abundantly clear to every eye that organic matter is in a state of continual metamorphosis, and even that this metamorphosîs brings it with dîne towards more and more improbable forms. But what scale can we find to assess the absolute or even relative value of these fragile constructions ? By what right, for instance, can we say that a mammal, or even man, is more advanced, more perfect, than a bee or a rose ? To some extent we can arrange beings in increasingly wide circles according to the distance in time which separatésthem from the,initial cell. But, once a certain degrec of differentiation has been reached, we can no longer find any scientific grounds for preferring one of these laborious products of nature to another. They arc different solutions-but each equivalent to the next. One spoke of the wheel is as good as any other ; no one of the fines appears to lead anywhere in particular.'
Science in its development -and even, as 1 shall show, mankind in its march- is marking time at this moment, because men's minds are reluctant to recognise that evolution has a precise orientation and a privileged axis. Weakened by this fundamental. doubt, the forces of research are scattered, and there is no determination to build the earth.
Leaving aside all anthropocentrism and anthropomorphism, 1 believe 1 can see a direction and a line of progress for life, a line and a direction which are in fact so well marked that I am convinced their reality will bc universally admitted by the science of tomorrow. And 1 want here to make the reader understand why.
I. ARIADNE'S THREAD
p. 143 - The essence of the real, 1 said, could well be represented by the 'interiority ' contained by the universe at a given moment. In that case evolution would ,fundamentafly be nothing else than the continual growth of this ' psychic ' or 'radial' energy, in the course of duration, beneath and within the mechanical energy I called 'tangential', which is practically constant on the scale of our observations ... And what, I asked, is the particular co-efficient which empirically expresses the relationship between the radial and tangential energies of the world in the course of their respective developments ? Obviously arrangement, the arrangement whose successive advances are inwardly reinforced, as we can see, by a continual expansion and deepening ofconsciousness.
So, let us attempt to classify living beings by their degree of 'cerebralisation'. What happens ? An order appears - the very order we wanted -
p. 145 - Not only does the arrangement of animal forms according to their degree of cerebralisation correspon axactly to the classification of systemetic biology, but it also confers on the tree of life a sharpness of feature, an impetus, which is incontestably the hall-mark of truth. Such coherence-and, let me add, such ease, inexhaustible fidelity and evocative power in this coherence-could not be the result of chance.
p. 146 - Among the infinite modalities in which the complication of life is dispersed, the differentiation of nervous tissue stands out, as theory would lead us to expect, as a significant transformation. It provides a direction ; and therefore it proves that evolution has a direction.
We began by saying that, among living creatures, the brain was the sign and measure of consciousness. We have now added that, among living creatures, the brain is continually perfecting itself with time, so much so that a given quality of brain appears essentially linked with a given phase of duration.
Since, in its totality and throughout the length of each stem, the natural history of living creatures amounts on the exterior to the gradual establishment of a vast nervous system, it therefore corresponds on the interior to the installation of a psychic state coextensive with the earth.
2. THE RISE OF CONSCIOUSNESS
p. 148 - . We have no longer the crawling 'sine' curve, but the spiral which springs upward as it turns. From one zoological layer to another, something is carried over: it grows, jerkily, but ceaselessly and in a constant direction. And this ' something ' is what is most physically essential in the planet we live on.
With the birth of the first albuminoids, the essence of the terrestrial phenomenon shifted in a decisive way to become concentrated in that seerningly negligible thickness, the biosphere. The axis of geogenesis is now extended in biogenesis, which in the end will express itself in psychogenesis.
From an inward point of view, constantly confirmed by ever-increasing harmonies, the different objects of science become visible in proper perspective and in their true proportions. We see life at the head, with all physics subordinate to it. And at the heart of life, explaining its progression, the impetus of a rise of consclousness.
The number of bones, shape of teeth, ornamentation of the integument-all these ' visible characters' form merely the outward garment round something deeper which supports it.
From the biosphere to the species is nothing but an immense ramification of psychism seeking for itself through different forins. That is where Ariadne's thread leads us if we follow it to the end.
p. 152 - Now that, beneath the historically increasing intricacy of forms and organs, we have discovered the irreversible increase, not only in quantity but also in quality, of brains (and therefore consciousness) we are forced to realise that an event of another ordera - a metamorphosis- was inevitably awaited to wind up this long period of synthesis in the course of geological time. We must now turn our attention to the first symptoms of this great terrestrial phenomenon which ends up in man.
3. THE APPROACH OF TIME
p. 153 - To detect what at this moment is maturing in the womb of the universal mother, let us make use of the index which we have henceforward at our disposal. Life is the rise of consciousness, we have agreed. If it is to progress still further it can only be because, here and there, the internal energy is secretly rising up under the mantle of the flowering earth. Here and there, within nervous systems, psychic tension is doubtless increasing. Physicists and doctors use delicate instruments on bodies : let us do likewise, applying our ' thermometer' of consciousness to this somnolent nature. In what region of the biosphere in the Pliocene period is there a sign of rising temperature ? Of course we must look at heads.
p. 154 - In spite of the disdain with which we sometimes regard 'a mere question of size ', it is undeniable that certain qualities, by the veryfact that they are linked to a material syrithesis, are only capable of being manifested above certain quantities. The superior psychic levels demand physically big brains.
p. 159 - What makes the primates so interesting and important to biology is, in the first place, that they represent a phylum of pure and direct cerebralisation.
p. 160 - Hence this first conclusion that if the mammals forni a dominant branch, the dominant branch of the tree of life, the primates (i.e. the cerebro-manuals) are its leading shoot, and the anthropoids are the bud in which this shoot ends up. Thenceforward, it may be added, it is easy to decide where to look in all the biosphere to see signs of what is to be expected. We already knew that everywhere the active phyletic Enes grow warm with consciousness towards the summit. But in one well-marked region at the heart of the mammals, where the most powerful brains ever made by nature are to be found, they become red hot. And right at the heart of that glow burns a point of incandescence.
We must iiot lose sight of that fine' crimsoned by the dawn. After thousands of years rising below the horizon, a flame bures forth at a strictly localised point.
Thought is born.
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CHAPTER I. The Birth of Thought
p. 163 - Man, as science is able to reconstruct him today, is an animal like the others -so little separable anatomically from the anthropoids that the modem classifications made by zoologists return to the position of Linnaeus and include him with them in the same super-family, the hominidae. Yet, to judge by the biological results of his advent, is he not in reality something altogether different ?
Morphologicafly the leap was extremely slight, yet it was the concomitant of an incredible commotion among the spheres of life -there lies the whole human paradox ; and there, in the same breath, is the evidence that science, in its present-day reconstructions of the world, neglects an essential factor, or rather, an entire dimension of the universe.
p. 164 - This book has been leading us towards a colierent and expressive interpretation of the earth as it appears today, I want to show now, in this part devoted to thought, that, to give man his natural position in the world of experience, it is necessary and sufficient to consider the within as well as the without of things. This method has already enabled us to appreciate the grandeur and the direction of the movemerit of life ; and this method will serve once again to reconcile in our eyes the insignificance and the supreme importance of the phenomenon of man in an order that harmoniously re-descends on life and matter.
Between the last strata of the Pliocene period, in which man is absent, and the next, in which the geologist is dumbfounded to find the first chipped flints, what has happened ? And what is thetrue measure of this leap ?
I. THE THRESHOLD OF REFLECTIONA.The Threshold of the Element: the Hominisation of the Individual
p. 164 - As a matter of fact the maiority of ' scientists ' would tend to contest the validity of such a breach of continuity. So much has been said, and is still said, about the intelligence of animals.
p.165 - From our experimental point of view, reflection is, as the word indicates, the power acquired by a consciousness to turn in upon itself, to take possession of itself as of an object endowed with its own particular consistence and value : no longer merely to know, but to know oneself ; no longer merely to know, but to know that one knows. ["Non plus seulement connaître, mais se connaître; non plus seulement savoir, mais savoir que l'on sait".]
By this individualisation of himself in the depths of himself, the living element, which heretofore had been spread out and divided over a diffuse circle of perceptions and activites, was constituted for the first time as a centre in the form of a point at which all the impressions and experiences knit tliemselves together and fuse into a unity that is conscious of its own organisation.
Now the consequences of such a transformation are immense, visible as clearly in nature as any of the facts recorded by physics or astronomy. The being who is the object of his own reflection, in consequence of that very doubling back upon himself, becomes in a flash able to raise himself into a new sphere. In reality, another world is born. Abstraction, logic, reasoned choice and inventions, mathematics, art, calculation of space and time, anxieties and dreams of love -all these activities of inner life are nothing else than the effervescence of the newly-formed centre as it explodes onto itsel£
Adnnittedly the animal knows. But it cannot know that it knows : that is quite certain.
p. 166 - In consequence it is denied access to a whole domain of reafity in which we can move freely. We are separated by a chasm -or a threshold which it cannot cross. Because we are reflective we are not only different but quite other. It is not merely a matter of change of degree, but of a change of nature, resulting from a change of state.
Life, eing an ascent of consciousness, could not continue to, advance indefinitely along its line without transforming itself in depth. It had, we said, like all growing realities in the world, to become different so as to remain itsel£ Here, in the accession to the power of reflection, emerges (more clearly recognisable than in the obscure primordial psychism of the first cells) the particular and critical form of transformation in which this surcreation or rebirth consisted for it. And at the same moment we find the whole curve of biogenesis reappearing summed up and clarified in this singular point.
p. 167 - From the moment we regard evolution as primarily psychical transformation, we see there is not one instinct in nature, but a multitude of forms of instincts each corresponding to a particular solution of the problem of life. The 'psychical' make-up of an insect is not and cannot be that of a vertebrate ; nor can the instinct of a squirrel be that of a cat or an elephant : this in virtue of the position of each on the tree of life.
By the fact itsel£ in this variety, we begin to see legitimately a relief stand out and a gradation formed. If instinct is a variable dimension, the instincts will not only be different ; they constitute beneath their complexity, a growing system. They form as a whole a kind of fan-like structure...
p; 168 -If the story of life is no more than a movement of consciousness veiled by morphology, it is inevitable that, towards the summit of the series, in the proxirnity of man, the ' psychical ' make-ups seern to reach the borders of intelligence.
By the end of the Tertiary era, the psychical temperature in the cellular world had been rising for more than 5oo million years. From branch to branch, from layer to layer, we have seen how nervous systems followed pari passu the process of increased complication and concentration. Finally, with the primates, an instrument was fashioned so remarkably supple and rich that the step immediately following could not take place without the whole animal psychism being as it were recast and consolidated on itsel£ Now this movement did not stop, for there was nothing in the structure of the organism to prevent it advancing. When the anthropoid, so to speak, bad been brought' mentally' to boiling point some further calories were added. Or, when the anthropoid had almost reached the summit of the cone, a final effort took place along the axis. No more was needed for the whole inner equihbrium to be upset. What was previously only a centered surface became a center. By a tiny 'tangential' increase, the 'radial' was turned back on itself and so to speak took an infinite leap forward.
Outwardly, almost nothing in the organs had changed. But in depth, a great revolution had taken place : consciousness was now leaping and boiling in a space of super-sensory relationships and representations ; and simultàneously consciousness was capable of perceiving itself in the concentrated simplicity of its faculties. And all this happened for the first time.
p; 172 - It is only at this point that we can fully see the nature of the transit to reflection. In the first place it involved a change of state ; then, by this very fact, the beginning of another kind of life -precisely that interior fife of which 1 have spoken above.
Similarly the reflective psychic centre, once turned in upon itself, can only subsist by means of a double movement which is in reality one and the sanie. It centres itself further on itself by penetration into a new space, and at the saine time it centres the rest of the world around itself by the establishment of an ever more coherent and better organised perspective in the realities which surround it.
We are not deahng with an immutably fixed focus but with a vortex which grows deeper as it sucks up the fluid at the heurt of which it was born. The ego only persists by becoming ever more itself, in the measure in which it makes everything else itself. So man becomes a person in and through personalisation.
p. 173 - With the advent of the power of reflection (an essentially elemental property, at any rate to begin with) everything is changed, and we now perceive that under the more striking reafity of the collective transformations a secret progress has been going on parallel to individualisation.
B.The Threshold of the Phylum: the Hominisation of the Species
p. 174 - We thus reach the personalisation of the individual by the 'hominisation' of the whole group.
p. 176 - because we realise correlatively the organic value of every social construction, we feel aIready more inclined to treat it as a subject of science, hence to respect it.
On the other hand, from the very fact that the fibres of the hunian phylum appear surrouncted by their psychic sheath, we can begin to understand the extraordinary, power of agglutination and coalescence that they show. Which brings us at the same time on the track of the fundamental discovery with which our study of the phenomenon of man is to culminate-the convergence of the spirit.
p. 178 - Under the free and ingenious effort of successive intelligences, something (even in the absence of any measurable variation of brain or cranium) irreversibly accumulates, accordîng to afl the evidence, and is transmitted, at least collectively by means of education, down the course of ages. The point here is that this ' something ' - construction of matter or construction of beauty, systeins of thought or systems of action - ends up always by translating itself into an augmentation of consciousness, and consciousness in its turn, as we now know, is nothing less than the substance and heart of life in process of evolution.
...the individual accession to reflection-science has grounds for recognising another phenomenon of a reflective nature co-extensive with the whole of mankind. Here as elsewhere in the universe, the whole shows itself to be greater than the simple sum. of the elements of which, it is formed. The hurnan individual does not exhaust in himself the vital potentialities of his race. But following each strand known to anthropology and sociology, we meet with a stream whereby a continuing and transmissible tradition of reflection is established and allowed to increase. So from individual men there springs the human reality ; from human phylogenesis, the human stem.'
p. 180 - To this grand process of sublimation it is fitting to apply with all its force the word hominisation. Hominisation can be accepted in the first place as the individual and instantaneous leap, from instinct to thought, but it is also, in a wider sense, the progressive phyletic spiritualisation in human civilisation of all the forces contained in the animal world.
Thus we are led-afier having considered the element and pictured the species -to contemplate the earth in its totality.
C. The Threshold of the Terrestrial Planet : The Noosphere
p. 183 - With hominisation, in spite of the insignificance of the anatomical leap, we have the begining of a new age. The earth 'gets a new skin'. Better still, it finds its soul.
This sudden deluge of cerebralisation, this biological invasion of a new animal type which gradually eliminates or subjects all forms of life that are not human, this irresistible tide of fields and factories, this immense and growing edifice of matter and ideas-all these signs that we look at, for days on end -to proclaim that there has been a change on the earth and a change of planetary magnitude.
There can indeed be no doubt that, to an imaginary geologist coming one day far in the future to inspect our fossilised globe, the most astounding of the revolutions undergone by the earth would be that which took place at the beginning of what has so rightly been called the psychozoic era. And even today, to a Martian capable of analysing sidereal radiations psychically less than physically, the first characteristic of our planet would be, not the blue of the seas or the green of the forests, but the phosphorescence of thought.
p. 184 - The greatest revelation open to science today is to perceive that everything precious, active and progressive originally contained in that cosmic fragments from which our world emerged, is now concentrated in a 'crowning' noosphere.
2. THE ORIGINAL FORMS
p. 184 - Man came silently into the world.
For a century or so, the scientific problem of the origin of man has been under discussion, and a swelling team of research workers has been digging feverishly into the past to discover the initial point of hominisation, and yet I cannot find a more expressive formula than this to sum up all our prehistoric knowledge. The more we find of fossil human remains and the better we understand their anatomic features and their succession in geological time, the more evident it becomes, by an unceasing convergence of all signs and proofs, that the human ' species', however unique the ontological position that reflection gave it, did not, at the moment of its advent, make any sweeping change in nature. Whether we consider the species in its environment, in the morphology of its stem, or in the global structure of its group, we see it emerge phyletically exactly like any other species.
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CllAPTER Il. The Deployment of the Noosphere
I. THE RAMIFYING PHASE OF THE PRE-HOMINIDS
2. THE GROUP OF THE NEANDERTRALOIDS
3. THE Homo Sapiens COMPLEX
p. 201 - at any rate, one thing is certain and admitted by everybody. The man we find on the face of the earth at the end of the Quaternary period is already modern man - and in every way.
p. 202 - Among the Neanderthaloids, as we have seen, a psychic advance was manifest, shown amongst other signs by the présence in the caves of the first graves. Even to the more brutal Neanderthals, everyone is prepared to grant the flame of a genume intelligence. Most of it, however, seems to have been used up in the sheer effort to survive and reproduce. If there was any left over, we see no signs of it or fail to recognise them. What went on in the minds of those distant cousins of ours? We have no idea. But in the age of the reindeer, with homo sapiens, it is a defmitely liberated thought which explodes, still warm, on te, the walls of the caves. Within them, these new-comers brought art, an art still naturalistic but prodigiously accomphshed.
p. 203 - We could make inistakes in interpreting in modern terms the prints of hands, the bewitched bisons, and the fertility symbols which give expression to the preoccupation and religion of an Aurignacian or a Magdalenian man. Where we could not be mistaken is in perceiving in the artists of those distant ages a power of observation, a love of fantasy, and a joy in creation (manifest as much in the perfection of movement and outline as in the spontancous play of chiselled ornament) -these flowers of a consciousness not mercly reflecting upon itself, but rejoicing in so doing.
And when we compare him to ourselves, his brain is already perfect, so perfect that since that time there seems to bave been no measurable variation' or increased perfection in the organic instrument of our thought.
Are we to say, then, that the evolution in man ceased with the end of the Quaternary era ?
Not at all. But, without prejudice to what may still be developing slowly and secretly in the depths of the nervous system, evolution has since that date overtly overflowed its anatomical modalities to spread, or perhaps even to transplant its main thrust into the zones of psychic spontaneity both individual and collective.
4. THE NEOLITHIC METAMORPROSIS
p. 204 - The Neolithic age, disdained by pre-historians because it is too young, neglected by historians because its phases cannot be exactly dated, was nevertheless a critical age and one of solemn importance among all the epochs of the past, for in it Civilisation was born.
p; 205 - First of all come the incessant advances of multiplication. With the rapidly growing number of individuals the available land diminished. The groups pressed against one another. As a result migrations were on a smaller scale. The problern. now was how to get the most out of ever more diminishing land, and we can well imagine that under pressure of this necessity the idea was born of conserving and reproducing on the spot what had hitherto been sought for and pursued far and wide. Agriculture and stock-breeding, the husbandman and the herdsman, replaced mere gathering and hunting.
From that fundamental change all the rest followed. In the growing agglornerations the complex of rights and duties began to appear, leading to the invention of all sorts of communal and juridical structures whose vestiges we can still sce today in the shadow of the great civilisations among the least progressive populations of the world. In regard to property, morals and marriage,every possible social form seems to have been tried.
Simultaneously, in the more stable and more densely populated environnient created by the first farms, the need and the taste for research were stimulated and became more methodical. It was a marvellous period of investigation and invention when, in the unequalled freshness of a new beginning, the eternal. groping of life burst out in conscious reflection. Everything possible seems to have been attempted in this extraordinary period : the selection and empirical improvement of fruits, cereals, live-stock ; the science of pottery ; and weaving. Very soon followed the first elements of pictographic writing, and soon the first beginnings of metallurgy.
Then, in virtue of all this, consolidated on itself and better equipped for conquest, mankind could fling its final waves in the assault on those positions which had not yet fallen to it. Henceforward it was in the full flush of expansion. It was in fact at the dawn of the Neolithic age that man reached America (passing through an Alaska free of ice and perhaps by other ways) there to start again-on new material and at the cost of new efforts-his patient work of installation and domestication. Among them were many hunters and fishers still living a more or less Palaeolithic fife despite their pottery and polished stone. But beside them were genuine tillers of the soil -the maize eaters. And at the same time, no doubt, another layer began to spread whose long trail is still marked by the presence of banana trees, mango trees and coconut palms-the fabulous adventure across the Pacific.
p. 206 - Since the age of the reindeer the peoples had been fittle by fittle finding their definitive place, even in matters of detail. Between them exchanges increased in the commerce of objects and the transmission of ideas. Traditions became organised and a collective memory was developed. Slender and granular as this firsl membrane might be, the noosphere there and then began to close in upon itself-and to encircle the earth.
5. THE PROLONGATIONS OF THE NEOLITHIC AGE AND THE RISE OF THE WEST
p. 208 - From Neolithic times onwards the influence of psychical factors begins to outweigh-and by far-the variations of ever-dwindling somatic factors. And henceforward the foreground is taken up by the two series of effects we announced above when describing the main lines of hominisation - (i) the apparition above the genealogical verticils of political and cultural units ; a complex scale of groupings which, on the multiple planes of geographical distribution, economic links, religious beliefs and social institutions, have proved capable, after submerging ' the race ', of reacting between themselves in every proportion ; and simultaneously (ii) the manifestation -between these branches of a new kind-of the forces of coalescence (anastomoses, confluences) liberated in each one by the individualisation of psychological sheath, or more precisely of an axis -a whole conjugated play of divergences and convergences.
There is no need for me to emphasise the reality, diversity and continual germination of human collective unities, at any rate potentially divergent ; such as the birth, multiplication and evolution of nations, states and civilisations. We see the spectacle on every hand, its vicissitudes fill the annals of the peoples. But there is one tbing that must not be forgotten if we want to enter into and appreciate the drama. However hominised the events, the history of mankind in this rationalised form really does prolong -though in its own way and degree- the organic movements of life. It is still natural history through the phenomena of social ramification that it relates.
Between animal branches or phyla of low 'psychical' endowment, reactions are limited to competition and eventually to elimination. The stronger supplants the weaker and ends by stifling it. The only exceptions to this brutal, almost mechanical law of substitution are those (mostly functional) associations of 'symbiosis ' inferior organisms -or with the most socialised insects, the enslavement of one group by another.
p. 209 - With man (at all events with Post-Neolithic man) simple elimination tends to become exceptional, or at all events secondary. However brutal the conquest, the suppression is always accompanied by some degree of assimilation. Even when partially absorbed, the vanquished still reacts on the victor so, as to transforni him. There is, as the geologists call the process,endomorphosis-especially in the case of a peaceful cultural invasion, and yet still more with populations, equally resistant and active, which interpenetrate slowly under prolonged tension.What happens then is mutual permeation of the psychisms cornbined with a remarkable and significant interfecundity. Under this two-fold influence, veritable biological combinations are established and fixed which shuffle and blend ethnic traditions at the same time as cerebral genes. Formerly, on the tree of life we had a mere tangle of stems ; now over the whole domain of Homo sapiens we have synthesis.
But of course we do not fuid this everywhere to the same extent.
Because of the haphazard configuration of continents on the earth, some regions are more favourable than others for the concourse and mixing of races-extended archipelagoes, junctions of valleys, vast cultivable plains, particularly, irrigated by a great river. In such privileged places there has been a natural tendency ever since the installation of settled life for the human mass to concentrate, to fuse, and for its temperature to rise. Whence the no doubt ' congenital ' appearance on the Neolithic layer of certain foci of attraction and organisation, the prelude and presage of some new and superior state for the noosphere. Five of these foci, of varying remoteness in the past, can easily be picked out-Central America, with its Maya civilisation ; the South Seas, with Polynesian civilisation ; the basin of Yellow River, with Chinese civilisation ; the valleys of the Ganges and the Indus, with Indian civilisation ; and lastly the Nile Valley and Mesopotamia with Egyptian and Sumerian civilistion...
p. 211 - Then step by step we are driven nearer te, the more western zones of the world -to the Euphrates, the Nile, the Mediterranean- where an exceptional concurrence of places and peoples was, in the course of a few thousand, years, to produce that happy blend, thanks to which reason could be harnessed to facts and religion to action. And this without losing any of their upward thrust -in fact quite the contrary. Mesopotamia, Egypt, Greece -with Rome soon to be added- and above all the niysterious judaeo-Christian ferment which gave Europe its spiritual form. But 1 shall be coming back to that at the end of this book.
It is easy for the pessimist to reduce this extraordinary period to a number of civilisations which bave fallen into ruins one after the other. Is it not far more scientific: to recognise, yet once again, beneath these successive oscillations, the great spiral of hfe : thrusting up, irreversibly, in relays, following the master-fine of its evolution ? Susa, Memphis and Athens can crurnble. An ever more highly organised consciousness; of the universe is passed from hand to hand, and glows steadily brighter.
p. 212 - Later on, when 1 come to speak of the current planetisation of the noosphere, 1 shall try to restore to the other fragments of mankind the great and essential part reserved for them in the expected plenitude of the earth. At this point of our investigation, we would be allowing sentiment to falsify the facts if we failed to recognise that during historic time the principal axis of anthropogenesis has passed through the West. It is in this ardent zone of growth and universal recasting that all that goes to make man today bas been discovered, or at any rate must have been rediscovered. For even that which had long been known elsewhere only took on its definitive human value in beconuing incorporated in the system of European ideas and activities. It is not in any way naïve to hail as a great event the discovery by Columbus of America.
In truth, a neo-humanity has been germinating round the Mediterranean during the last six thousand years, and precisely at this moment it bas falished absorbing the last vestiges of the Neolithic mosaic; thus starts the budding of another layer on the noosphere, and the densest of all.
The proof of this lies in the fact that from one end of the world to the other, all the peoples, to remain human or to become more so, are inexorably led to formulate the hopes and problems of the modem earth in the very same terms in which the West has formulated them.
CHAPTER III. The Modern Earth
p. 214 - We are, at this very moment, passing through a change of age.
The age of industry ; the age of oil, electricity and the atom ; the age of the machine, of huge collectivities and of science -the future will decide what is the best name to describe the era we are entering. The word matters little. What does matter is that we sbould be told that, at the cost of what we are enduring, life is taking a step, and a decisive step, in us and in our environment. After the long maturation that has been steadily going on during the apparent immobility of the agricultural centuries, the hour has come at last, characterised by the birth pangs inevitable in another change of state. There were the first men -those who witnessed our origin. There are others who will witness the great scenes of the end. To us, in our brief span of life, falls the honour and good fortune of coinciding with a critical change of the noosphere.
p. 215 - In these confused and restless zones in which present blends with future in a world of upheaval, we stand face to face with all the grandeur, the unprecendented grandeur, of the phenoinenon of man. Here if anywhere, now if ever, have we, more legitimately than any of our predecessors, the right to think that we can measure the importance and detect the direction of the process of hominisation.
What has made us in four or five gencrations so different from our forebears (in spite of all that may bc said), so anibitious too, and so worried, is not merely that we have discovered and mastered other forces of nature. In final analysis it is, if I am not mistaken, that we have become conscious of the movement which is carrying us along, and have thereby realised the forniidable problenis set us by this reflective exercise of the human effort.
I. THE DISCOVERY OF EVOLUTIONA. The Perception of Space-time
p. 218 - It was only in the middle of the nineteenth century, again under the influence of biology, that the light dawned at last, revealing the irreversible coherence of all that exists. First the concatenations of life and, soon after, those of matter. The least: molecule is, in nature and in position, a function of the whole sidereal process, and the least of the protozoa is structurally so knit into the web of life that its existence cannot be hypothetically annihilated without ipsofacto undoing the whole network of the biosphere.
The distribution, succession and solidarity of objects are born.from their concrescence in a common genesis. Time and space are organically joined again so as to weave, together, the stuff of the universe.
p. 219 - One after the other all the fields of human knowledge have been shaken and carried away by the same under-water current in the direction of the study of some dévelopment.
Is evolution a theory, a system or a hypothesis? It is much more: it is a general condition to, which all theories, all hypotheses, all systems must bow and which they must satisfy henceforward if they are to be thinkable and true. Evolution is a light illuminating all facts, a curve that all lines must follow.
What makes and classifies a 'modern' man (and a whole host of our contemporaries is iiot yet 'modern' in this sense) is having become capable of seeing in terms not of space and time alone, but also of duration, or -it comes to the same thing- of biological space-time ; and above all having become incapable of seeing anything otherwise -anything- not even himself.
B. The Envelopment in Duration
Obviously man could not see evolution all around him without feeling to some extent carried along by it himsel£
p. 220 - We are not only set adrift and carried away in the current of life by the material surface of our being ; but, like a subtle fluid, space-time first drowns our bodies and then penetrates to our soul ; it fills it and impregnates it ; it blends itself with the soul's potentialities to such an extent that soon the soul no longer knows how to distinguish space-time from its own thoughts. To those who, can use their eyes notbing, not even at the surrunit of our being, can escape this flux any longer, because it is only definable in increase of consciousness. The very act by which the fine edge of our minds penetrates the absolute is a phenomenon, as it were, of emergence. In short, first recognised only at a single point, then perforce extended to the whole inorganic and organic volume of matter, evolution is now, whether we like it or not, gaining the psychic zones of the world and transferring to the spiritual constructions of life not only the cosmic stuff but also the cosmic ' primacy ' hitherto reserved by science to the tangled whirlwind of the ancient ' ether'.
p. 221 - How indeed could we incorporate thought into the organic flux of space-time without being forced to grant it the first place in the processus ? How could we imagine a cosmogencsis reaching right up to mind without being thereby confronted with a noogenesis ?
Thus we see not only thought as participating in evolution s an anomaly or as an epiplienomenon ; but evolution as so educible to and identifiable with a progress towards thought that the movement of our souls expresses and measures the very stages of progress of evolution itsel£ Man discovers that he is nothing else than evolution become conscious of itse!f, to borrow Julian Huxley's striking expression. It seems to me that our modern minds (because and inasmuch as they are modern) will never find rest until they settle down to this view. On this summit and on this suminit alone are repose and fflumi-nation waiting for us.
c. The Illumination
p. 221 - The consciousness of each of us is evolution looking at itself and reflecting upon itself.
With that very simple view, destined, as 1 suppose, to become as instinctive and familiar to our descendants as the discovery of a third dimension in space is to a baby, a new hght -inexhaustibly harinonious- bursts upon the world, radiating from ourselves.
Step by step, from the early earth onwards, we have followed going upwards the successive advances of consciousness in matter undergoing organisation. Having reached the peak, we can now turn round and, looking downwards, take in the pattern of the whole. And this second check is decisive, the harmony is perfect. From any other point of view, there is always a 'snag': something clashes, for there is no natural place no genetic place -for human thought in the landscape. Whereas here, from top to bottom, from our souls and including our souls, the lines stretch in both directions, untwisted and unbroken. From top to bottom, a triple unity persists and develops : unity of structure, unity of mechanism and unity of movement.
p. 222 - a. Unity of structure. ' Verticils ' and ' fannings out '.
On every scale, this is the pattern we sce on the tree of life.We found it again at the origins of mankind and of the principal human waves. We have seen it with our own eyes today in the complex ramifications of nations and races. And now, with an eye rendered more sensitive by training, we shall be able to discern the same pattern again in forms which are more and more immaterial and near.
Our habit is to divide up our human world into compartments of different sorts of ' realities natural and artificial, physical and moral, organic and juridical, for instance.
In a space-time, legitimately and perforce extended to include the movements of the mind within us, the frontiers between these pairs of opposites tend to vanish. Is there after all such a great difference from the point of view of the expansion of life between a vertebrate either spreading its limbs or equipping them with feathers, and an aviator soaring on wings with which he has had the ingenuity to provide hiniself ? In what way is the ineluctable play of the energies of the heart less physically real than the principle of universal attraction ? And, conventional and impermanent as they may seem on the surface, what are the intricacles of our social forms, if not an effort to isolate little by little what are one day to become the structural laws of the noosphere ? In their essence, and provided they keep their vital connection with the current that wells up from the depths of the past, are not the artificial, the moral and the juridical simply the hominised versions of the natural, the physical and the organic?
The social phenomenon is the cultnination and not the attenuation of the biological phenomenon.
p. 223 - b. Unity of mechanism. ' Groping ' and ' invention '.
Mutation reappears undeniably at the origin of the ramifications of institutions and ideas which interlace to form human society. Everywhere around us it is constantly cropping up, and precisely under the two forms that biology has divined and between which it hesitates : on the one hand we have mutations narrowly limited round a single focus ; on the other ' mass mutations 'in which whole blocks of mankind are swept along as by a flood. Here, however, because the phenomenon takes place in ourselves with its procedure in full view, we cannot be mistaken : we clan see that in interpreting the progressive leaps of life in an active and finalist way we are not in error.
p. 224 - For if our ' artificial ' constructions are really nothing but the legitimate sequel to our phylogenesis, invention also -this revolutionary act from which the creations of our thought emerge one after the other -can legitimately be regarded as an extension in reflective form of the obscure mechanism whereby each new form. has always gerrninated on the trunk of life.
And so, here again, we find that light reflected on itself, glancing off and in a flash descending to the lowest frontiers of the past.
c. Unity of movement. 'The rise and expansion of consciousness.'
Man is not the centre of the universe as once we thought in our simplicity, but sometbing much more wonderful -the arrow pointing the way to the final unification of the world in terms of life. Man alone constitutes the last-born, the freshest, the most complicated, the most subtle of all the successive layers of life.
p. 225 - As I have already had occasion to say, we do not yet know how characters are formed, accumulated and transmitted in the secret recesses of the germ cells.
How could we doubt this when we see them. directly before us, through all the channels of ' tradition ', stored up irreversibly in the highest form of life accessible to our experience -I mean the collective memory and intelligence of the human biota? Ever under the influence of our tendency to disparage the 'artificial' we are apt to regard these social functions -tradition, education and upbringing- as pale images, almost parodies, of what takes place in the natural formation of species. If the noosphere is not an illusion, is it not much more exact to recognise in these communications and exchanges of ideas the higher form, in which they come to be fixed in us, of the less supple modes of biological enrichments by additivity?
2. THE PROBLEM OF ACTION
p. 226 - Hence we were not saying enough when evolution, by becoming conscious of itself in the depths of ourselves, only needs to look at itself in the mirror to perceive itself in all its depths and to decipher itself. In addition it becomes free to dispose of itself -it can give itself or refuse itself. Not only do we read in our slightest acts the secret of its proceedings but for an elementary part we hold it in our hands, responsible for its past to its future.
Is this grandeur or servitude? Therein lies the whole problem of action.
A. Modern Disquiet
p. 227 - It cannot bc denied that, in a primordial form, human anxiety is bound up with the very advent of reflection and is thus as old as man himself. Nor do 1 think that anyone can seriously doubt the fact that, under the influence of reflection undergoing socialisation, the men of today are particularly uneasy, more so than at any other moment of history. Conscious or not, anguish -a fundamental anguish of being -despite our smiles, strikes in the depths of all our hearts and is the undertone of all our conversations. This does not mean that its cause is clearly recognised -far from it. Something threatens us, something is more than ever lacking, but without our being able to say exactly what.
In the first and most widespread degree, the ' malady of space-time ' manifests itself as a rule by a feeling of futility, of being crushed by the enormities of the cosmos. The enormity of space is the most tangible and thus the most frightening aspect.
Enormity of duration -sometimes having the effect of an abyss on those few who are able to see it, and at other times more usually (on those whose sight is poor), the despairing effect of stability and monotony. Events that follow one another in a circle, vague pathways which intertwine, leading nowhere.
p. 228 - An ocean in which we seem to dissolve all the more irresistibly the more lucidly alive we are... Malady of multitude and immensity ...
To overcome this first form of its uneasiness, 1 believe that the modem world has no choice but to proceed unhesitatingly right to the end of its intuition.
p. 229 - In truth, half our present uneasiness would be turned into happiness if we could once make up our minds to accept the facts and place the essence and the measure of our modern cosmogonies within a noogenesis. Along this axis no doubt is possible. The universe has always been in motion and at this moment continues to be in motion. But will it still be in motion tomorrow ?
Tomorrow ? But who can guarantee us a tomorrow anyway ? And without the assurance that this tomorrow exists, can we really go on living, we to whom has been given - perhaps for the first time in the whole story of the universe - the terrible gift of foresight ?
Now what should the future be like in order to give us the strengtli or even the joy to accept the prospect of it and bear its weight ?
To come to grips with the problem and see if there is a remedy, let us examine the whole situation.
B. The Requirements of the Future
p. 230 - There was a time too, almost within living memory, when the workers and the disinherited accepted without reflection the lot which kept them in servitude to the remainder of society.
Yet when the first spark of thought appeared upon the earth, life found it had brought into the world a power capable of criticising it and judging it. This formidable risk which long lay dormant, but whose dangers burst out with our first awakening to the idea of evolution. Like sons who have grown up, like workers who have become 'conscious', we are discovering that something is developing in the world by means of us, perhaps at our expense. And what is more serious still is that we have become aware that, in the great game that is being played, we are the players as well as being the cards and the stakes. Nothing can go on if we leave the table. Nelther can any power force us to remain. Is the game worth the candle, or are we simply its dupes? This question has hardly been formulated as yet in man's heart, accustomed for hundreds of centuries to toe the line; it is a question, however, whose mere murmur, already audible, infallibly predicts future rumblings. The last century witnessed the first systematic strikes in industry ; the next wifi surely not pass without the threat of strikes in the noosphere.
Under our modern disquiet, what is forming and growing is nothing less than an organic crisis in evolution.
...we should be assured the space and the chances to fulfil ourselves, that is to say, to progress till we arrive (directly or indirectly, individually or collectively) at the utmost limits of ourselves.
p. 232 - Even on stacks of material energy, even under the spur of immediate fear or desire, without the taste for life, mankind would soon stop inventing and constructing for a work it knew to be doomed inadvance.
c. The Dilemma and the Choice
p. 233 - Either nature is closed to our demands for futurity, in which case thought, the fruit of millions of years of effort, is stifled, still-born in a self-abortive and absurd universe. Or else an opening exists -that of the super-soul above our souls ; but in that case the way out, if we are to agree to embark on it, must open out freely onto limitless psychic spaces in a universe to which we can unhesitatingly entrust ourselves.
To determine man's choice, in his famous wager, Pascal loaded the dice with the lure of boundless gain. Here, when one of the alternatives is weighted with logic and, in a sense, by the promise of a whole world, can we still speak of a simple game of chance ? Have we the right to hesitate ?
The world is too big a concern for that. To bring us into existence it has from the beginning juggled miraculously with too many improbabilities for there to be any risk whatever in committing ourselves further and following it right to the end. If it undertook the task, it is because it can finish it, following the same methods and with the same infallibility with which it began.
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CHAPTER I. The Collective Issue
p. 237 - When man has realised that he carries the world's fortune in himself and that a limitless future stretches before him in which he cannot founder, his first reflex often leads him along the dangerous course of seeking fulfilment in isolation.
...some innate instinct, justified by reflection, inclines us to think that to give ourselves full scope we must break away as far as possible from the crowd of others. Is it not in our aloofness from our fellows, or alternatively in their subjection to ourselves, that we will find that ' utmost limit of ourselves ' which is our dedared goal ?
To be more alone so as to increase one's being.
I. THE CONFLUENCE OF THOUGHTA. Forced Coalescence
p. 239 - . By their very nature, and at every level of complexity, the elements of the world are able to influence and mutually to penetrate each other by their within, so as to combine their ' radial energies' in ' bundles '.
The geometrical limitation of a star closed, like a gigantic molecule, upon itsel£ We have already regarded this as a necessary feature at the origin of the first synthesis and polymerisations on the early earth. Implictly, without our having to say so, it has constantly sustained all the différentiations and all the progress of the biosphere. But what are we to say of its function in the noosphere ?
What would have become of humanity if, by some remote chance, it had been free to spread indefinitely on an unlimited surface, that is to say left only to the devices of its internal affinities ? Something unimaginable, certainly something altogether different from the modern world. Perhaps even nothing at all, when we think of the extreme importance of the role played in its development by the forces of compression.
p. 240 - Originally and for centuries there was no serious obstacle to, the human waves expanding over the surface of the globe ; probably this is one of the reasons explaining the slowness of their social evolution. Then, from. the Neolithic age onwards, these waves began, as we have seen, to recoil upon themselves. All available space being occupied, the occupiers had to pack in tighter. That is how, step by step, through the simple multiplying effect of generations, we have come to constitute, as we do at present, an almost solid mass of hominised substance.
Now, to the degree that-under the effect of this pressure and thanks to their psychic permeability-the human elements infiltrated more and more into each other, their minds (mysterious coincidence) were mutually stimulated by proximity. And as though dilated upon themselves, they each extended little by little the radius of their influence upon this earth which, by the same token, shrank steadily. What in fact do we see happening in the modern paroxysm ? It has been stated over and over again. Through the discovery yesterday of the railway, the motor car and the aeroplane, the physical influence of each man, formerly restricted to a few miles, now extends to hundreds of leagues or more. Better still : thanks to the prodigious biological event represented by the discovery of electro-magnetic waves, each individual finds himself henceforth (actively and passively) simultaneously present, over land and sea, in every corner of the earth.
Thus, not only through the constant increase in the numbers of its members, but also through the continual augmentation of their area of individual activity, mankind-forced to develop as it is in a confined area-has found itself relentlessly subjected to an intense pressure, a self-accentuating pressure, because each advance in it caused a corresponding expansion in each element.
That is one of the first facts to keep in mind, or we shall vitiate our picture of the future of the world.
Undeniably, quite apart from any hypothesis, the external play of cosmic forces, when combined with the nature-so prone to coalesce-of our thinking souls, operates towards a concentration of the energies of consciousness ; and so powerful is his effort that it even succeeds in subjugating the very constructions of phylogenesis-but we shall be coming to that presently.
b. Coalescence of the Branches. Twice already-once in developing the theory and once in outlining the historic phases of anthroogenesis-1 called attention to the curious property, peculiar to human lines of descent, of coming; into contact and mixing with each other, notably by means of their psychic sheath and social nstitutions. The moment has now come to make a general survey of the phenomenon and discover its ultimate significance.
What at first sight intrigues the naturalist when lie tries to see the hominids-not merely in themselves, as anthropologists usually do, but in comparison with other animal forms--is the extraordinary elasticity of their zoological group. Outwardly n man, the anatomical differentiation of a primitive type pursues its course as everywhere in evolution. By genetic effects mutations are produced. By climatic and geographical influences, varieties and races come into existence. Somatically speaking, the ' fanning-out ' is present continually in formation and perfectly recognisable. Yet the remarkable thing is that its divergent ranches no longer succeed in separating. Under conditions of distribution which in any other initial phylum would have led long ago to the break up into different species, the human verticil as it spreads out remains entire, like a gigantic leaf whose veins, however distinct, remain always joined in a common tissue. With man we find indefinite interfecundation on every level, the blending of genes, anastomoses of races in civilisaions or political bodies. Zoologically speaking, mankind offers us the unique spectacle of a ' species ' capable of achieving something in which all previous species had failed. It has succeeded, not only in becoming cosmopolitan, but in stretching a single organised membrane over the earth without breaking it.
p.243 - Anthropologically, ethnically, socially, morally, we understand nothing about man and can make no valid forecasts of his future, so long as we fail to see that, in his case, 'ramification' (in so far as it still persists) works only with the aim -and under higher forms- of agglomeration and convergence. Formation of verticils, selection, struggle for life -henceforward these are secondary functions, subordinate in man to a task of cohesion, a furling back upon itself of a 'bundle' of potential species around the surface of the earth, a completely new mode of phylogenesis.
The coalescence of elements and the coalescence of stems, the spherical geometry of the earth and psychical curvature of the mind harmonising to counterbalance the individual and collective forces of dispersion in the world and to impose unification -there at last we find the spring and secret of hominisation.
But why should there be unification in the world and what purpose does it serve ?
To see the answer to this ultimate question, we have only to put side by side the two equations which have been gradually formulating themselves from the moment we began trying to situate the phenomenon of man in the world.
Evolution= Rise of consciousness,
Rise of consciousness= Union effected.
The general gathering together in which, by correlated actions of the without and the within of the earth, the totality of thinking units and thinking forces are engaged -the aggregation in a single block of a mankind whose fragments weld together and interpenetrate before our eyes in spite of (indeed in proportion to) their efforts to separate -all this becomes intelligible from top to bottom as soon as we perceive it as the natural culmination of a cosmic processus of organisation which has never varied since those remote ages when our planet was young.
p. 244 - Really 1 can see no coherent, and therefore scientific, way of grouping this immense succession of facts but as a gigantic psycho-biological operation, a sort of mega-synthesis, the 'super arrangement' to which all the thinking elements of the earth find themselves today individually and collectively subject.
Mega-synthesis in the tangential, and therefore and thereby a leap forward of the radial energies along the principal axis of evolution : ever more complexity and thus ever more consciousness.
The outcome of the world, the gates of the future, the entry into the super-human -these are not thrown open to a few of the privileged nor to one chosen people to the exclusion of all others. They will open only to an advance of all together, in a direction in which all together' can join and find completion in a spiritual renovation of the earth, a renovation whose physical degree of reality we must now consider and whose outline we must make clearer.
2.THE SPIRIT OF THE EARTHA. Mankind
p. 245 - In the eyes of the 'prophets ' of the eighteenth century, the world appeared really as no more than a jumble of confused and loose relationships ; and the divination of a behever was required to feel the beating heart of that sort of embryo. Now, less than two hundred years later, here we are penetrating (though hardly conscious of the fact) into the reality, at any rate the material reality, of what our fathers expected..In the course of a few generations all sorts of economic and cultural links have been forged around us and they are multiplying in geometric progression. Nowadays, over and above the bread which to simple Neolithic man symbolised food, each man demands his daily ration of iron, copper and cotton, of electricity, oil and radium, of discoveries, of the cinema and of international news. It is no longer a simple field, however big, but the whole earth which is required to nourish each one of us.
p. 249 (note) - One might say that, by virtue of human reflection (both individual and collective), evolution, overflowingthe physico-chemical organisation of bodies, turns back upon itself and thereby reinforces itself with a new organising power vastly concentric to the first -the cognitive organisation of the universe. To think 'the world' (as physics is beginning to realise) is not merely to register it but to confer upon it a form of unity it would otherwise (i.e. without being thought) be without.
p. 251 - We are faced with a harmonised collectivity of consciousnesses equivalent to a sort of super-consciousness. The idea is that of the earth not only becoming covered by myriads of grains of thought, but becoming enclosed in a single thinking envelope so as to form, functionally, no more than a single vast grain of thought on the sidereal scale, the plurality of individual reflections grouping themselves together and reinforcing one another in the act of a single unanimous reflection.
p. 252 - This is the general form in which, by analogy and in symmetry with the past, we are led scientifically to envisage the future of mankind, without whom no terrestrial issue is open to the terrestrial demands of our action.
To the common sense of the 'man in the street' ...perspectives such as these will seem highly improbable. But to a mind become familiar with the fantastic dimensions of the universe they will, on the contrary, seem. quite natural, because they are simply proportionate with the astronomical immensities.
...Peoples and civilisations reached such a degree either of frontier contact or econorriic interdependence or psychic communion that they could no longer develop save by interpenetration of one another.
p. 253 - When we consider the increasing compression of elements at the heart of a free energy which is also relentlessly increasing, how can we fail to see in this two-fold phenomenon the two perennial symptoms of a leap forward of the 'radial' -that is to say, of a new step in the genesis of mind ?
A new domain of psychical expansion-that is what we lack And it is staring us in the face if we would only raise our heads to look at it.
Peace through conquest, work in joy. These are waiting for us beyond the line where empires are set up against other empires, in an interior totalisation of the world upon itself, in the unanimous construction of a spirit of the earth.
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CHAPTER II. Beyond the Collective: the Hyper-Personal
p. 254 - A Feeling to be overcome : Discouragement
Even when the intellectual difficulties of the mind in conceiving the collective and visualising spacetime have been overcome,we are left with another and perhaps a still more serious form of hesitation which is bound up with the incoherent aspect presented by the world of men today.
...That Utopia must be abandoned as soon as possible and there is no more to be said...
p. 255 - Should we now start wringing our hands because, less than two centuries after glimpsing a higher state, modern man is still at loggerheads with himself ? Once again we have got things out of focus. To have understood the immensity around us, behind us, and in front of us is already a first step. But if to this perception of depth another perception, that of slowness, be not added, we must realise that the transposition of values remains incomplete and that it can beget for our gaze nothing but an impossible world. Each dimension has its proper rhythm. Planetary movement involves planetary majesty. Would not humanity seem to us altogether static if, behind its history, there were not the endless stretch of its prehistory ?
Similarly, and despite an almost explosive acceleration of noogenesis at our level, we cannot expect to see the earth transform itself under our eyes in the space of a generation. Let us keep calm and take heart.
p. 257 - There can be no doubt of it : the great human machine is designed to work and must work -by producing a super-abundance of mind. If it does not work, or rather if it produces only matter, this means that it has gone into reverse.
Is it not possible that in our theories and in our acts we have neglected to give due place to the person and the forces of personalisation ?
I. THE CONVERGENCE OF THE PERSON AND THE OMEGA POINTA. The Personal Universe
p. 258 - Under the influence of such impressions [of materialism] it looks as though we have lost both respect for the person and understanding of his true nature.
We have seen and admitted that evolution is an ascent towards consciousness. That is no longer contested even by the most materialistic, or at all events by the most agnostic of humanitarians. Therefore it should culminate forwards in some sort of supreme consciousness. -it is only in the direction of hyper-reflection -that is to say, hyper-personalisation-that thought can extrapolate itself.
p. 259 - All our difficulties and repulsions as regards the opposition between the All and the Person would be dissipated if only we understood that, by structure, the noosphere (and more generally the world) represent a whole that is not only closed but also centred. Because it contains and engenders consciousness, spacetime is necessarily of a convergent nature. Accordingly its enormous layers, followed in the right direction, must somewhere ahead become involuted to a point which we might call Omega, which fuses and consumes them integrally in itself. However immense the sphere of the world may be, it only exists and is finally perceptible in the directions in which its radii meet-even if this were beyond time and space altogether. Better still : the more immense this sphere, the richer and deeper and hence the more conscious is the point at which the ' volume of being ' that it embraces is concentrated ; because the mind, seen from our side, is essentially the power of synthesis and organisation.
p. 260 - Seen from this point of view, the universe, without losing any of its immensity and thus without suffering any anthropomorphism, begins to take shape : since to think it, undergo it and make it act, it is beyond our souls that we must look, not the other way round. In the perspective of a noogenesis, time and space become truly humanised -or rather super-humanised. Far from being mutually exclusive, the Universal and Personal (that is to say, the ' centred ') grow in the same direction and culminate simultaneously in each other.
B. The Personalising Universe
p. 261 - What passes from each of us into the mass of humanity by means of invention education and diffusion of all sorts is admittedly of vital importance.
Our works ? But even in the interest of life in general, what is the work of works for man if not to establish, in and by each one of us, an absolutely original centre in which the universe reflects itself in a unique and inimitable way ? And those centres are our very selves and personalities. The very centre of our consciousness, deeper than all its radii ; that is the essence which 0mega, if it is to be truly Omega, must reclaim. And this essence is obviously no thing of which we can dispossess ourselves for the be others as we might give away a coat or pass on a torch. For we are the very flame of that torch. To communicate itself, my ego must subsist through abandoning itself or the gift will fade away. The conclusion is inevitable that the concentration of a conscious universe would be unthinkable if it did not reassemble in itself all consciousnesses as well as all the conscious ; each particular consciousness remaining conscious of itself at the end of the operation, and even (this must absolutely be understood) each particular consciousness becoming still more itself and thus more clearly distinct from others the closer it gets to them in Omega.
p. 262 - The exaltation, not merely the conservation, of elements by convergence : what, after all, could be more simple, and more thoroughly in keeping with all we know?
In any domain -whether it be the cells of a body, the members of a society or the elements of a spiritual synthesis -union differentiates. In every organised whole, the parts perfect themselves and fulfil themselves.
...following the confluent orbits of their centres, the grains of consciousness do not tend to lose their outlines and blend, but, on the contrary, to accentuate the depth and incommunicability of their egos. The more ' other ' they become in conjunction, the more they find themselves as 'self '. How could it bc otherwise since they are steeped in Omega? Could a centre dissolve? Or rather, would not its particular way of dissolving be to super centralise itself ?
...Thus, under the influence of these two factors -the essential immiscibility of consciousnesses, and the natural mechanism. Of all unification- the only fashion in which we could correctly express the final state of a world undergoing psychical concentration would bc as a system whose unity coincides with a "paroxysm of harmonised complexity. Thus it would be mistaken to represent Omega to ourselves simply as a centre born of the fusion of elements which it collects, or annihilating them in itself By its structure Omega, in its ultimate principle, can only be a distinct Centre radiating at the core of a system of centres ; a grouping in which personalisation of the All and personalisations of the elements reach their maximum, simultaneously and without merging, under the influence of a supremely autonomous focus of union.' That is the only picture which emerges when we try to apply the notion of collectivity with remorseless logic to a granular whole of thoughts.
p. 263 - To be fully ourselves it is in the opposite direction, in the direction of convergence with all the rest, that we must advance-towards the ' other '. The peak of ourselves, the acme of our originality, is not our individuality but our person ; and according to the evolutionary structure of the world, we can only find our person by uniting together. There is no mind without synthesis. The same law holds good from top to bottom. The true ego grows in inverse proportion to ' egoism '. Like the Omega which attracts it, the element only becomes personal when it universalises itself.
Since it is a question of achieving a synthesis of centres, it is centre to centre that they must make contact and not otherwise.
(Note) - Conversely, it only universalises itself properly in becoming super-personal. There is all the difference (and ambiguity) between the true and the false political or religious mysticisms. By the latter man is destroyed ; by the former he is fulfilled by ' becoming lost in the greater than himself'.
2. LOVE AS ENERGY
p. 264 - Considered in its full biological reality, love -that is to say, the affinity of being with being- is not peculiar to man. It is a general property of all life and as such it embraces, in its varieties and degrees, all the forms successively adopted by organised matter.
If there were no real internal propensity to unite, even at a prodigiously rudimentary level-indeed in the molecule itself-it would be physically impossible for love to appear higher up, with us in ' hominised ' form.
Driven by the forces of love, the fragments of the world seek each other so that the world may come to being.
p. 265 - Love alone is capable of uniting living beings in such a way as to complete and fulfi1 them, for it alone takes them and joins them by what is deepest in themselves.
p. 266 - A sense of the universe, a sense of the all, the nostalgia which seizes us when confronted by nature, beauty, music-these seem to be an expectation and awareness of a Great Presence. The ' mystics ' and their commentators apart, how has psychology been able so consistently to ignore this fundamental vibration whose ring can be heard by every practised ear at the basis, or rather at the summit, of every great emotion ? Resonance to the All -the keynote of pure poetry and pure religion.
p. 267 - But, with this point made, how are we to, explain the appearance all around us of mounting repulsion and hatred ? If such a strong potentiality is besieging us from within and urging us to union, what is it waiting for to pass from potentiality to action ? Just this, no doubt : that we should overcome the 'anti-personalist' complex which paralyses us, and make up our minds to accept the possibility, indeed the reality, of some source of love and object of love at the summit of the world above our heads. So long as it absorbs or appears to absorb the person, collectivity kills the love that is trying to come to birth. As such collectivity is essentially unlovable. That is where philanthropic systems break down. Common sense is right. It is impossible to give oneself to an anonymous number. But if the universe ahead of us assumes a face and a heart, and so to speak personifies itself then in the atmosphere created by this focus the elemental attraction will immediately blossom. Then, no doubt, under the heightened pressure of an infolding world, theformidable energies of attraction, still dormant between human molecules, will burst forth.
For the failure that threatens us to be turned into success, for the concurrence of human monads to come about, it is necessary and sufficient for us that we should extend our science to its farthest limits and recognise and accept (as being necessary to close and balance space-time)not only some vague future existence, but also, as I must now stress, the radiation as a present reality of that mysterious centre of our centres which I have called Omega.
3. THE ATTRIBUTES OF THE OMEGA POINT
p. 268 - It is beginning to see that there is definitely more in the molecule than in the atom, more in the cell than in the molecule, more in society than in the individual, and more in mathematical construction than in calculations and theorems. We are now inclined to admit that at each further degree of combination something which is irreducible to isolated elements emerges in a new order. And with this admission, consciousness, life and thought are on the threshold of acquiring a right to existence in terms of science. But science is nevertheless still far from recognising that this something has a particular value of independence and solidity. For, born of an incredible concourse of chances on a precariously assembled edifice, and failing to create any measurable increase of energy by their advent, are not these 'creatures of synthesis' from the experimental point of view, the most beautiful as well as the most fragile of things ? How could they anticipate or survive the ephemeral union of particles on which their souls have alighted ? So in the end, in spite of a half-hearted conversion to spiritual views, it is still on the elementary side -that is, towards matter infinitely diluted- that physics and biology look to find the eternal and the Great Stability.
In conformity with this state of mind the idea that some Soul of souls should be developing at the summit of the world is not as strange as might be thought from the present-day views of human reason. After all, is there any other way in which our thought can generalise the Principle of Emergence?
p. 269 - Expressed in terms of internal energy, the cosmic function of Omega consists in initiating and maintaining within its radius the unanimity of the world's 'reflective' particles. But how could it exercise this action were it not in some sort loving and lovable at this very moment ?
Neither an ideal centre, nor a potential centre could possibly suffice. A present and real noosphere goes with a real and present centre. To be supremely attractive, Omega must be supremely present.
p. 271 - If by its very nature it did not escape from the time and space which it gathers together, it would not be Omega.
Autonomy, actuality, irreversibility, and thus finally transcendence are the four attributes of Omega.
Contrary to the appearances still admitted by physics, the Great Stability is not at the bottom in the infra-elementary sphere, but at the top in the ultra-synthetic sphere. It is thus entirely by its tangential envelope that the world goes on dissipating itself in a chance way into matter. By its radial nucleus it finds its shape and its natural consistency in gravitating against the tide of probability towards a divine focus of mind which draws it onward.
Thus something in the cosmos escapes from entropy, and does so more and more.
During immense periods in the course of evolution, the radial, obscurely stirred up by the action of the Prime Mover ahead, was only able to express itself, in diffuse aggregates, in animal consciousness. And at that stage, not being able, above them, to attach themselves to a support whose order of simplicity was greater than their own, the nuclei were hardly formed before they began to disaggregate. But as soon as, through reflection, a type of unity appeared no longer closed or even centred, but punctiform, the sublime physics of centres came into play. When they became centres, and therefore persons, the elements could at last begin to react, directly as such, to the personalising action of the centre of centres. When consciousness broke through the critical surface of hominisation, it really passed from, divergence to convergence and changed, so to speak, both hemisphere and pole. Below that critical 'equator' lay the relapse into multiplicity ; above it, the plunge into growing and irreversible unification.
By death, in the animal, the radial is reabsorbed into the tangential, while in man it escapes and is liberated from it. It escapes from entropy by turning back to Omega : the homisation of death itself.
p. 272 - Thus from the grains of thought forming the veritable and indestructible atoms of its stuff, the universe-a well-defined universe in the outcome-goes on building itself above our beads in the inverse direction of matter which vanishes. The universe is a collector and conservator, not of mechanical energy, as we supposed, but of persons. All round us, one by one, like a continual exhalation, 'souls' break away, carrying upwards their incommunicable load of consciousness. One by one, yet not in isolation. Since, for each of them, by the very nature of Omega, there can only be one possible point of definitive emersion-that point at which, under the synthesising action of personalising union, the noosphere (furling its elements upon themselves as it too furls upon itself) will reach collectively its point of convergence -at the 'end of the world'.
CIIAPTER III. The UltimateEarth
p. 273 - ...we now see ahead of us a psychical centre of universal drift, transcending time and space and thus essentially extra-planetary, to sustain and equilibrate the surge of consciousnesses.
The idea is that of noogenesis ascending irreversibly towards Omega through the strictly limited cycle of a geogenesis. At a given moment in the future, under some influence exerted by one or the other of these curves or of both together, it is inevitable that the two branches should separate. However convergent it be, evolution cannot attain to fulfilment on earth except through a point of dissociation.
With this we are introduced to a fantastic and inevitable event which now begins to take shape in our perspective, the event which comes nearer with every day that passes : the end of all life on our globe, the death of the planet, the ultimate phase of the phenomenon of man.
No one would dare to picture to himself what the noosphere will be like in its final guise, no one, that is, who has glimpsed however faintly the incredible potential of unexpectedness accumulated in the spirit of the earth. The end of the world defies imagination.
1. PROGNOSTICS TO BE SET ASIDE
p. 275 - ...apart from the cosmic mishaps that lie in wait for us, what will happen in the living layer of the earth ? With age andincreasing complication, we are ever more threatened by internal dangers at the core of both the biosphere and the noosphere. Onslaughts of microbes, organic counter-evolutions, sterility, war, revolution -there are so many ways of coming to an end. Yet perhaps anything would be better than a long drawn-out senility.
...And yet, on the strength of all we learn from past evolution, I feel entitled to say that we have nothing whatever to fear from these manifold disasters in so far as they imply the idea of premature accident or failure. However possible they may be in theory, we have higher reasons for being sure that they will not happen.
p. 276 - In its present state, the world would be unintelligible and the presence in it of reflection would be incomprehensible, unless we supposed there to be a secret complicity between the infinite and the infinitesimal to warm, nourish and sustain to the very end-by dint of chance, contingencies and the exercise of free choice-the consciousness that has emerged between the two. It is upon this complicity that we must depend. Man is irreplaceable. Therefore, however improbable it might seem, he must reach the goal, not necessarily, doubtless, but infallibly.
What we should expect is not a halt in any shape or form, but an ultimate progress coming at its biologically appointed hour ; a maturation and a paroxysm leading ever higher into the Improbable from which we have sprung.
p; 277 - ...compared with the zoological layers which preceded it...mankind is so young that it could almost be called newborn. On the other hand, to judge from the rapid developments of thought in the short period of a few dozen centuries, this youth bears within it the indications and the promises of an entirely new biological cycle. Thus in all probability, between our modern earth and the ultimate earth, there stretches an immense period, characterised not by a slowing-down but a speeding up and by the definitive florescence of the forces of evolution along the line of the human shoot.
Assuming success-which is the only acceptable assumption -under what form and along what lines can we imagine progress developing during this period ?
In the first place, in a collective and spiritual form. We have noticed that, since man's advent, there has been a certain slowing down of the passive and somatic transformations of the organism in favour of the conscious and active metamorphoses of the individual absorbed in society. We find the artificial carrying on the work of the natural ; and the transmission of an oral or written culture being superimposed on genetic forms of heredity
A.The Organisation of Research
p. 278 - It may well be that in its individual capacities and penetration our brain has reached its organic limits. But the movement does not stop there. From west to east, evolution is henceforth occupied elsewhere, in a richer and more complex domain, constructing, with all minds joined together, mind. Beyond all nations and races, the inevitable taking-as-a-whole of mankind has already begun.
We can envisage a world whose constantly increasing 'leisure' and heightened interest would find their vital issue in fathoming everything, trying everything, extending everything.
B.The Discovery of the Human Object
p. 281 - From this point of view, if we are going towards a human era of science, it will be eminently an of human science. Man, the knowing subject, will perceive at last that man, 'the object of knowledge', is the key to the whole science of nature.
...at the end of its analyses, physics is no longer sure whether what is left in its hands is pure energy or, on the contrary, thought. At the end of its constructions, biology, if it takes its discoveries to their logical conclusion, finds itself forced to acknowledge the assemblage of thinking beings as the present terminal form of evolutio.
p. 282 - So far we have certainly allowed our race to develop at random, and we have given too little thought to the question of what medical and moral factors must replace the crude forces of natural selection should we suppress them. In the course of the coming centuries is indispensable that a nobly human form of eugenics, on a standard worthy of our personalities, should be discovered and developed. Eugenics applied to individuals leads to eugenics applied to society
p. 283 - We need and are irresistibly being led to create, by means of and beyond all physics, all biology and all psychology, a science of human energetics.
C.The Conjunction of Science and Religion
p. 283 - To outward appearance, the modem world was born of an anti-religious movement: man becoming self-sufficient and reason supplanting belie£ Our generation and the two that preceded it have heard little but talk of the conflict between science and faith ; indeed it seemed at one moment a foregone conclusion that the former was destined to take the place of the latter.
But, as the tension is prolonged, the conflict visibly seems to need to be resolved in terms of an entirely different form. of equilibrium -not in elimination, nor duality, but in synthesis. After close on two centuries of passionate struggles, neither science nor faith bas succeeded in discrediting its adversary. On the contrary, it becomes obvious that neither can develop normally without the other. And the reason is simple : the same life animates both.
p. 284 - In short, as soon as science outgrows the analytic investigations which constitute its lower and preliminary stages, and passes on to synthesis -synthesis which naturally culminates in the realisation of some superior state of humanity- it is at once led to foresee and place its stakes on the future and on the all. And with that it out-distances itself and emerges, in terms of option and adoration.
p. 285 - Religion and science are the two conjugated faces or phases of one and the same complete act of knowledge-the only one which can embrace the past and future of evolution so as to contemplate, measure and fulfil them.
p; 285 - Always pushing forward in the three directions we have just indicated, and taking advantage of the immense duration it has still to live, mankind has enormous possibilities before it.
Since the threshold of reflection, we have entered into an entirely new field of evolution -thanks to the astonishing properties of 'artifice' which separate the instrument from the organ and enable one and the same creature to intensify and vary the modalities of its action indefinitely without losing anything of its freedom ; and thanks to the prodigious power of thought to bring together and combine in a single conscious effort all the human particles. In fact, though the study of the past may give us some idea of the resources of organised matter in its dispersed state, we have as yet no idea of the possible magnitude of its 'noospheric' effects. We are confronted with human vibrations resounding by the million &endash;a whole layer of consciousness exerting simultaneous pressure upon the future and the collected and hoarded produce of a million years of thought. Have we ever tried to form an idea of what such magnitude represent ?
p. 286 - Over and above the intellectual value of isolated human units, there are thus grounds for recognising a collective exaltation (by mutual support or reverberation) when those units are suitably arranged. It would be difficult to say whether there are any Aristotles, Platos or St.Augustines now on earth (how could it be proved : on the other hand why not?) But what is clear is that, each supporting the other (making a single arch or a single mirror), our modern souls see and feel today a world such as (in size, inter-connections and potentialities) escaped all the great men of antiquity. To this progress in consciousness, could anyone dare to object that there has been no corresponding advance in the profound structure of being?
p. 287 - Now when sufficient elements have sufficiently agglomerated, this essentially convergent movement will attain such intensity and such quality that mankind, taken as a whole, will be obliged -as happened to the individual forces of instinct- to reflect upon itself at a single point ; that is to say, in this case, to abandon its organo-planetary foothold so as to shift ifs centre on to the transcendent centre of its increasing concentration. This will be the end and the fulfilment of the spirit of the earth.
The end of the world : the wholesale internal introversion upon itself of the noosphere, which has simultaneously reached the uttermost limit of its complexity and its centrality.
The end of the world : the overthrow of equilibrium, detaching the mind, fulfilled at last, from its material matrix, so that it will henceforth rest with all its weight on God-Omega.
The end of the world : critical point simultaneous1y of emergence and emersion, of maturation and escape.
p. 288 - But there is another possibility. Obeying a law from which nothing in the past has ever been exempt, evil may go on growing alongside good, and it too may attain its paroxysm at the end in some specifically new form.
There are no summits without abysses.
Enormous powers will be liberated in mankind by the inner play of its cohesion : though it may be that this energy will still be employed discordantly tomorrow, as today and in the past. Are we to foresee a mechanising synergy under brute force, or a synergy of sympathy ? Are we to foresee man seeking to fulfil himself collectively upon himself, or personally on a greater than himself ? Refusal ~ or acceptance of Omega ? A conflict may supervene. in that case the noosphere, in the course of and by virtue of the process which draws it together, will, when it has reached its point of unification, split into two zones each attracted to an opposite pole of adoration. Thought has never completely united upon itself here below. Universal love would only vivify and detach finally a fraction of the noosphere so as to consummate it -the part which decided to 'cross the threshold', to get outside itself into the other.
p. 289 - Ramification once again, for the last time.
Ecstasy in concord ; or discord ; but in either case by excess of interior tension : the only biological outcome proper to or conceivable for the phenomenon of man.
Among those who have attempted to read this book to the end, many will close it, dissatisfied andthoughtful, wondering whether I have been leading them through facts, through metaphysics or through dreams.
But have those who still hesitate in this way really understood the rigorous and salutary conditions impose on our reason by the coherence of the universe, now admlitted by all ?
To make room for thought in the world, 1 have needed to ' interiorise ' matter : to imagine an energetics of the mind ; to conceive a noogenesis rising upstreani against the flow of entropy ; to provide evolution with a direction, a line of advance and critical points ; and fuially to make all things double back upon someone.
In this arrangement of values 1 may have gone astray at many points. It is up to others to try to do better. My one hope is that I have made the reader feel both the reality, difficulty, and urgency of the problein. and, at the saine time, the scale and the form which the solution cannot escape.
The only universe capable of containing the human person is an irreversibly 'personalising' universe.
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