Pierre Teilhard de Chardin:
"The Phenomenon of Man" (1955)

(Copyright © 2014 Piero Scaruffi | Legal restrictions )
A Jesuit theologian disguised as a paeontologist, Pierre Teilhard wrote since 1925 of the noosphere, the layer created by all conscious beings, the same concept used by Vladimir Vernadsky in 1926 (although in a technological, not spiritual, setting). Teilhard discusses the different levels of unity in nature, not reducible to each other: the unity of matter, the unity of life and the unity of consciousness. Teilhard believes that a rudimentary form of consciousness pervades the whole universe: everything has both an outer (material) form and an inner (material) form. Otherwise it would be difficult to explain how a material world driven by deterministic mechanical laws yields a consciousness that has free will. Teilhard tracks the progress of consciousness, first as "invisible" in the world, then gradually appearing and dominating and eventually bound to become all that exists. His "scientific" analyses and his historical analyses are amateurish at best. The book reads better as pure philosophy. Teilhard objects to the Darwinian vision of blind evolution, which may or may not have a direction because it is driven by randomness. Teilhard believes that there was and there is a direction in evolution: towards more and more conscious beings. Teilhard sees the evolution of life towards forms of greater and greater brain complexity. He thinks that at some point, with primates, biological evolution left most of the body almost intact but started changing the brain very dramatically: the force of evolution concentrated on just that one organ. Brains yield consciousness, which expands rapidly all over the planet, enveloping the biosphere into a noosphere. The biosphere is evolving in the direction of a greater noosphere.
Teilhard does not stop there. He extrapolates the evolution of the noosphere that is creating a super-consciousness, a collective consciousness of all individual consciousnesses, and envisions a terminal point of consciousness evolution: the Omega Point, a soul of souls. He then "demonstrates" that this Omega Point must have always existed and is in fact the very cause of the evolution of the universe towards itself. And this is none other than the God of the Christian religion (Teilharad obviously didn't know that he was almost quoting from the Upanishad of Hinduism).
This vision is mixed with utopian feelings, like when he exclaims that "the true ego grows in inverse proportion to egoism". In other words, we are also evolving towards an ideal society.
The book is very weak (and virtually unreadable) when Teilhard lets his mystical side take over. Then we get passages such as "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 inidividual and collective forces of dispersion in the world and to impose unification--there at last we find the spring and secret of hominization"; "By its structure Omega, in its ultimate principle, can only be a distinct Centre radiating at the core of a system of centres" ; and so forth.

The concept of the noosphere of the Omega point were further investigated in a follow-up book, "L'Avenir de l'Homme/ The Future of Man" (1959), that contains essays written in various years.

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