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The "Noosphere" Concept
A first Approach

Etymology

The word "Noosphere" was coined in analogy with the "geosphere", the world or layer of dead matter, and the "biosphere", the world or layer of living matter. Beyond and superimposed on these spheres lies another dimensional sphere, the "noosphere", from Greek "noos, nous" = "mind", and "sphaira" = "globe", a figurative envelope of conceptual thought, or reflective impulses produced by the human intellect. It is not scientifically measurable, of course, but its presence is strongly felt and its influence is all-pervading.

Definition

The concept was first formulated by Vladimir Verdansky and elaborated by Pierre Teilhard de Chardin.

"Pushed one against the other by the growth of their number and by the proliferation of their connections,approached one to the other by the reawakening of a common force and by the feeling of a common anxiety,the future human kind will form nothing but an unified consciousness".(Teillhard De Chardin)

The unification of humanity on a world scale coincides with the emergence of a Noosphere, the world of thought, the global consciousness.

Willingly or unwillingly, all our desires and needs converge to the same final goal, the Omega point.

Precursors and other theories

Classical Greek philosophy developed a concept of the world soul. Recent philosophical investigations see social minds as "syntheses of individual minds into wholes with new minds".

The concept of collective consciousness was developed by Emile Durkheim as a derivative of Rousseau's general will and Comte's consensus.

Recently many alternative groups use the term planetary consciousness ("Global Brain"). The social significance of such initiatives was given its most eloquent form in the H.G. Wells proposal for a world brain.

With the advent of computers and, more recently, Internet and the World Wide Web, the concept has been refined under the stimulus of information scientists such as Manfred Kochen, Harry Schwarzlander and D. Soergel, who are linked through the World Mind Group.

[see also: Societal Learning, 1980 ]

There remains however a fundamental difference between two concepts of noosphere. According to Teilhard, a close study of the evolution process clearly shows that individual autonomy is not lost during the socialization stage, the last known stage of cosmic evolution. In other words: the noosphere remains a complex system of individual minds although the "common" contents of the individual brains show a remarkable convergence. According to Lovelock and other Gaia theorists as Heylighen, the global brain becomes a superior entity, a kind of One terrestral intelligent Being, wherein individual minds lose their independent view of the whole, as cells, one evolutionary layer lower, lost their individuality in the metazoa.

Other hypotheses between these two extremes are possible.

Situation

According to Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, the Noosphere is the ninth and last stage of universal evolution.  Those nine stages can be grouped into three fundamentally different subgroups, which differ by the way they organzia themselves and evolution in general:

(1) The lithophase, lithogenesis or lithosphere  (also called geosphere, cosmosphere or physiosphere) is the first group, comprising 5 layers of "dead" matter: strings, elementary particles (quarks, etc.), atomic particles (protons, neutrons, the hadrons, etc.), atoms and molecules. Their behaviour and changes are ruled by mechanical, physical and chemical rules, i.e. external forces.

(2) The biophase, biogenesis or biosphere, comprising the next 3 layers: eobionts (vituses etc.), protozoa and metazoa (ibcluing primates and Man). Their behaviour and changed are ruled by internal coding (DNA, chromosomes, nervous system). The most apparent feature is their autopoiesis (self-reproduction) and "life".

(3) The noosphere, noogenesis of noophase, comprising the last level: socialization. Here there are no more anatomical of striuctural changes. Behaviour is rules by consciousness, psychologye, the software of the brain.

Description

Teilahrd didn't describe the Noospehre very extensively. He just indicated some differences with previous phases, and made some considerations about the final state, the Omega Point. Many authors, including Jean Gebser, Carl Gustav Jung, Antonio Negri and Ken Wilber, made more extensive studies, and it appeared that, generally speaking, the stages of individual development were to be mirrored in the social.noospherical development, both reflecting universal stages of organization and increasing consciousness.


Est. 11/01 - Latest Update 15/9/02