These extracts are presented as a compliment to the CITATIONS du Groupe de d'Études de Caen in order to encourage visitors to read Teilhard's works in their entirety.
BOOK FOUR : SURVIVAL
Chapter I. The Collective Issue
Chapter II. Beyond the Collective: the Hyper-Personal
Chapter III: The Ultimate Earth
EPILOGUE : The Christian Phenomenon
POSTSCRIPT: The Essence of the Phenomenon of Man
BOOK FOUR : SURVIVAL
CHAPTER I. The Collective Issue
Preliminary Observation :
p. 237 « A Blind Alley to be Avoided : Isolation
...flattering to our private egotism, 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. ...to be more alone so as to increase one's being...
p. 238 « Concentration by decentration from the rest; ...by the very excess of their individualisation. ...
more insidious is another doctrine of 'progress by isolation ' --- the doctrine of the selection and election of races. Flattering to collective egotism, keener, nobler and more easily aroused than individual egotism, racialism ...
Isolation of the individual or isolation of the group : two different forms of the same tactics... They involve a subtle deformation of a great truth...»
pp. 238-239 «... those in both groups deceive themselves, and us too, inasmuch as, ignoring an essential phenomenon ---the ' natural confluence of grains of thought ' ---they disfigure or hide from our eyes the veritable contours of the noosphere and render biologically impossible the formation of a veritable spirit of the earth. »
I. THE CONFLUENCE OF THOUGHT
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 '. ...
this psychic interpenetrability grows and becomes directly perceptible in the case of organised beings. Finally, in man, in whom the effects of consciousness attain the present maximum found in nature, it reaches a high degree everywhere. ...But, ...it operates only in virtue of the ' tangential energies ' of arrangement and thus under certain conditions of spatial juxtaposition.
And herein there intervenes a fact ...the geometrical limitation of a star closed, like a gigantic molecule, upon itself. We have already regarded this as a necessary feature at the origin of the first synthesis and polymerisations on the early earth. Implicitly ...it has constantly sustained all the differentiations and all the progress of the biosphere. But what are we to say of its function in the noosphere ? »
pp. 239-240 « What would have become of humanity if, by some remote chance, it had been free to spread indefinitely on an unlimited surface, ...left only to the devices of its internal affinities ? Something unimaginable, ... 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 ...to recoil upon themselves. All available space being occupied, the occupiers had to pack in tighter. ...
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 ... 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 ? ...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 ...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. »
p. 241 «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 this effort that it even succeeds in subjugating the very constructions of phylogenesis...
b. Coalescence of the Branches
pp. 241-242 «...Under conditions of distribution which in any other initial phylum would have led 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 civilisations or political bodies. Zoologically speaking, mankind offers us the unique spectacle of a ' species ' capable of achieving something in which all previous species failed. It has succeeded ...in stretching a single organised membrane over the earth without breaking it. »
p. 242 « ...a radical perfectioning of the way of life by the operation (at last, and only now possible) of a powerful instrument of evolution ---the coalescence upon itself of an entire phylum...
...Until Man came, the most life had managed to realise in the matter of association ...resulted in essentially mechanical and family groups, created on a purely ' functional ' impulse of construction, defense or propagation, such as the colony, the hive or the ant-heap ---all organisms whose power of association is limited to the offspring of one single mother. From man onwards, thanks to the universal framework or support provided by thought, free rein is given to the forces of confluence. At the heart of this new milieu, the branches themselves of one and the same group succeed in uniting, or rather they become welded together
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. 1
(Note 1 - This is what I have called elsewhere ' the human Planetisation ' ).
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 ... :
Evolution = Rise of consciousness. Rise of consciousness = Union effected. »
p. 244 « ... a gigantic psycho-biological operation, a sort of mega-synthesis, the ' super-arrangement ' to which all the thinking elements of the earth find themselves individually and collectively subject. ...:
ever more complexity and thus ever more consciousness. ...
The egocentric ideal of a future reserved for those who have managed to attain egoistically the extremity of ' everyone for himself ' is false and against nature. No element could move and grow except with and by all the others with itself.
Also false and against nature is the racial ideal of one branch draining off for itself alone all the sap of the tree and rising over the death of other branches. »
pp. 244-245 «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... »
2. THE SPIRIT OF THE EARTH
« No evolutionary future awaits man except in association with all other men. »
p. 248 « ...there are two ways, through two stages, in which we can picture the form mankind will assume tomorrow ---either (and this is simpler) as a common power and act of knowing and doing, or (and this goes much deeper) as an organic superaggregation of souls. In short : science or unanimity. »
p. 249 « Accordingly, the march of humanity, as a prolongation of that of all other animate forms, develops indubitably in the direction of a conquest of matter put to the service of the mind. Increased power for increased action. But finally, and above all, increased action for increased being. »
p. 250 « With our knowledge of hormones we appear to be on the eve of having a hand in the development of our bodies and even of our brains. With the discovery of genes it appears that we shall soon be able to control the mechanism of organic heredity ... Thought might artificially perfect the thinking instrument itself ; life might rebound forward under the collective effect of its reflection. The dream upon which human research obscurely feeds is fundamentally that of mastering, beyond all atomic or molecular affinities, the ultimate energy of which all other energies are merely servants ; and thus, by grasping the very mainspring of evolution, seizing the tiller of the world.
I salute those who have the courage to admit that their hopes extend that far ; they are at the pinnacle of mankind ; and I would say to them that there is less difference than people think between research and adoration. But there is one point that I would like them to note, one that will lead us gradually to a more complete form of conquest and adoration. However far science pushes its discovery of the 'essential fire " and however capable it becomes someday of remodelling and perfecting the human element, it will always find itself in the end facing the same problem ---how to give to each and every element its final value by grouping them in the unity of an organised whole. »
And what does that amount to if not ...that the stuff of the universe, by becoming thinking, has not yet completed its evolutionary cycle, and that we are therefore moving forward towards some new critical point that lies ahead.
By the effect of reflection and the recoils it involves, the loose ends have been tied up, and the noosphere tends to constitute a single closed system in which each element sees, feels, desires and suffers for itself the same things as all the others at the same time. »
pp. 251-252 « We are faced with a harmonised collectivity of consciousnesses equivalent to a sort of super-consciousness... 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 « ...from the moment we adopt a thoroughly realistic view of the noosphere and of the hyper-organic nature of social bonds, the present situation of the world becomes clearer ; for we find a very simple meaning for the profound troubles which disturb the layer of mankind at this moment.
The two-fold crisis whose onset began in earnest as early as the Neolithic age and which rose to a climax in the modern world, derives in the first place from a mass-formation (we might call it ' planetisation ') of mankind. Peoples and civilisations reached such a degree either of frontier contact or economic interdependence or psychic communion that they could no longer develop save by interpenetration of one another. But it also arises out of the fact that, under the combined influence of machinery and the super-heating of thought, we are witnessing a formidable upsurge of unused powers. ...»
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 ?
As things are now going it will not be long before we run full tilt into one another. Something will explode if we persist in trying to squeeze into our old tumble-down huts the material and spiritual forces that are henceforward on the scale of the world.
A new domain of psychical expansion ---that is what we lack. And it is ...
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. »
CHAPTER II. Beyond the Collective: the Hyper-Personal
Another Preliminary Observation :
p. 254 « A Feeling to be Overcome : Discouragement
The nineteenth century had lived in light of a promised land. It thought that we were on the threshold of a Golden Age, lit up and organised by science, warmed by fraternity. Instead of that, we find ourselves slipped back into a world of spreading and ever more tragic dissension. ...No man will succeed in going beyond man by uniting with himself. That Utopia must be abandoned as soon as possible...
To explain or efface the appearances of a setback ....would not only dispel a beautiful dream but encourage us to weigh up a radical absurdity of the universe...»
p. 255 « After all half a million years, perhaps even a million, were required for life to pass from the pre-hominids to modern man. 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 ?
In spite of all evidence to the contrary, mankind may very well be advancing all round us at the moment ---there are in fact many signs whereby we can reasonably suppose that it is advancing. But, if it is doing so, it must be ---as is the way with very big things ---doing so almost imperceptibly.
This point is of utmost importance... To have made it does not, however, allay the most acute of our fears. ...does it not sometimes seem that we are actually being blocked in our advance or even swallowed up from behind ---as though we were in the grip of some ineluctable forces of mutual repulsion and materialisation ?
Repulsion ....in spite of the strength of these energies bringing men together, thinking units de not seem capable of falling within their radius of internal attraction ...men are hostile or at least closed to one another. Like a powder whose particles, however compressed, refuse to enter into molecular contact, deep down men exclude and repel one another with all their might : unless (and this is worse still) their mass forms in such a way that, instead of the expected mind, a new wave of determinism surges up ---that is to say materiality.
Materialisation. ...There are imponderable currents which, from fashion and rates of exchange to political and social revolutions, make us all the slaves of the obscure seethings of the human mass. However spiritualised we suppose its elements to be, every aggregate of consciousness, as long as it is not harmonised, envelops itself automatically (at its own level) with a veil of 'neo-matter ", superimposed upon all other forms of matter ---matter, the ' tangential ' aspect of every living mass in course of unification. Of course we must react to such conditions ' but with the satisfaction of knowing that they are only the sign of and price paid for progress. But what are we to say of the other slavery... ?»
pp. 256-257 « We have ' mass movements ' ---no longer the hordes streaming down from the forest of the north or the steppes of Asia, but ' the Million ' scientifically assembled. The Million in rank and file on the parade ground ; the Million standardised in the factory ; the Million motorised ---and all this only ending up with Communism and National-Socialism and the most ghastly fetters. So we get the crystal instead of the cell ; the ant-hill instead of brotherhood. Instead of the upsurge of consciousness which we expected, it is mechanisation that seems to emerge inevitably from totalisation.
In the presence of such a profound pervision of the rules of noogenesis, I hold that our reaction should be not one of despair but a determination to re-examine ourselves. ... 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 POINT
p. 259 « It is only in the direction of hyper-reflection ---that is to say, hyper-personalisation ---that thought can extrapolate itself. ...
At first sight we are disconcerted by the association of an Ego with what is the All. ...
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, space-time 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....»
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.
The Future-Universal could not be anything else but the Hyper-Personal ---at the Omega Point.
The time has come ...to analyse still further the nature of the personal centre of convergence upon whose existence hangs the evolutionary equilibrium of the noosphere. »
p. 261 « It is ... in Omega that ...the hoard of consciousness liberated little by little on earth by noogenesis adds itself together and concentrates. ...
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 these centres are our very selves and personalities. The very centre of our consciousness, deeper than all its radii ; that is the essence which Omega, if it is to be truly Omega, must reclaim. And this essence is obviously not something of which we can disposses ourselves for the benefit of 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. »
pp. 261-262 «...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 ...
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. ...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 ' .»
p. 263 « Egoism, whether personal or racial, ...feels right. Its only mistake, but a fatal one, is to confuse individuality with personality. In trying to separate itself as much as possible from others, the element individualises itself ; but in doing so it becomes retrograde and seeks to drag the world backwards toward plurality and into matter. In fact it diminishes itself and loses itself. 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 true ego grows in inverse proportion to ' egoism '. Like the Omega which attracts it, the element only becomes person when it universalises itself. 2
[ Note 2 - 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 '.] »
pp. 263-264 « it is centre to centre that they must make contact and not otherwise.»
p. 264 « Which brings us to the problem of love.
2. LOVE AS ENERGY
Considered in its full biological reality, love ---that is to say, the affinity of being with being ---is not peculiar to man.
pp. 264-265 «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 fulfil them, for it alone takes them and joins them by what is deepest in themselves. ...In truth, does not love every instant achieve all around us, in the couple or the team, the magic feat, the feat reputed to be contradictory, of ' personalising ' by totalising ? »
p. 266 «Mankind, the spirit of the earth, the synthesis of individuals and peoples, the paradoxical conciliation of the element with the whole, and of unity with multitude ---all of these are called Utopian and yet they are biologically necessary. And for them to be incarnated in the world all we may well need is to imagine our power of loving developing until it embraces the total of men and of the earth.
How can we account for that irresistible instinct in our hearts which leads us towards unity whenever and in whatever direction our passions are stirred ?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 ; ...the severed particle which trembles at the approach of ' the rest ' ...»
p. 267 «A universal love is not only psychologically possible ; it is the only complete and final way in which we are able to love.
But, ...how are we to explain the appearance all around us of mounting repulsion and hatred ? ...universal love ...what is it waiting for to pass from potentiality to action ? Just this ...: 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. ...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,1 then in the atmosphere created by this focus the elemental attraction will immediately blossom.
(Note 1 - Not, of course, by becoming a person, but by charging itself at the very heart of its development with the dominating and unifying influence of a focus of personal energies and attractions.) »
pp. 267-268 «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 «...modern thought is at last getting used once more to the idea of the creative value of synthesis in evolution. 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. ...at each further degree of combination something which is irreductible to isolated elements emerges in a new order.
pp. 268-269 « 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...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... loving and lovable at this very moment ? Love ...dies in contact with the impersonal and the anonymous. ...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. 270 « The radical defect in all forms of belief in progress, as they are expressed in positivist credos, is that they do not definitely eliminate death. What is the use of detecting a focus of any sort in the van of evolution if that focus can and must one day disintegrate ? To satisfy the ultimate requirements of our action, Omega must be independent of the collapse of the forces with which evolution is woven.
In the light of our experience it is abundantly clear that emergence in the course of evolution can only happen successively and with mechanical dependence on what precedes it. First the grouping of the elements ; then the manifestation of 'soul ' whose operation only betrays, from the point of view of energy, a more and more complex and sublimated involution of the powers transmitted by the chains of elements. ...And it is in the very same way that Omega itself is discovered to us at the end of the whole processus, inasmuch as in it the movement of synthesis culminates. Yet ...under this evolutive facet Omega still only reveals half of itself. While being the last term of its series, it is also outside all series. Not only does it crown, but it closes. »
p. 271 « Autonomy, actuality, irreversibility, and thus finally transcendence are the four attributes of Omega.
In Omega we have in the first place the principle we needed to explain both the persistent march of things towards greater consciousness, and the paradoxical solidity of what is most fragile. 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 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. »
pp. 271-272 « 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. Once formed, a reflective centre can no longer change except by involution upon itself. ...It escapes from entropy by turning back to Omega : the hominisation of death itself.
Thus from the grains of thought forming the veritable and indestructable atoms of its stuff, the universe ---a well defined universe in its outcome ---goes on building itself above our heads 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 around us, one by one, ...' souls ' break away, carrying 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 Ultimate Earth
p. 273 « We have seen that without the involution of matter upon itself, that is to say, without the closed chemistry of molecules, cells and phyletic branches, there would never have been either biosphere or noosphere. In their advent and their development, life and thought are not only accidentally, but also structurally, bound up with the contours and destiny of the terrestrial mass.
But ... 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 geogenesis. ...However convergent it be, evolution cannot attain 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. »
1. PROGNOSTICS TO BE SET ASIDE
pp. 273-275 « ...Onslaughts of microbes, organic counter-evolutions, sterility, war, revolution, (cosmic catastrophe)---there are so many ways of coming to an end. Yet perhaps anything would be better than a long drawn-out senility.»
p. 275 « 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. »
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.
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. It is in this direction that we must extrapolate man and the hominisation if we want to get a forward glimpse of the end of the world. »
2. THE APPROACHES
p. 276 « ...we can say that life still has before it long periods of geological time in which to develop. Moreover, in its thinking form, it still shows every sign of an energy in full expansion. »
pp. 276-277 « On the one hand, compared with the zoological layers which preceded it ...mankind is so young that it could almost be called new-born. 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. »
p. 277 «...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 (chromosomes). Without denying the possibility or even probability of a certain prolongation in our limbs, and still more in our nervous system, of the orthogenetic processes of the past,1 I am inclined to think that their influence, hardly appreciable since the emergence of Homo sapiens, is destined to dwindle still further.
(Note 1 - Taken up again and prolonged reflectively, artificially ---who knows? ---by biology... see pp. 249-250.) »
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 rich 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.»
pp. 279-280 « We can envisage a world whose constantly increasing ' leisure ' and heightened interest would find their vital issue in fathoming everything, trying everything, extending everything ; ...a world in which, as happens already, one gives one's life to be and to know, rather than to possess. That, on an estimate of the forces engaged, 1 is what is being relentlessly prepared for us.
(Note 1 - External forces of planetary compression obliging humanity to totalise itself organically in itself ; and internal forces ... of spiritualisation, unleashed or exalted by technico-social totalisation. )
p. 281 « Man, the knowing subject, will perceive at last that man, ' the object of knowledge ', is the key to the whole science of nature.
As I said in my Preface, 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 evolution ...He (Man) represents, individually and socially, the most synthesised state under which the stuff of the universe is available to us. »
p. 282 « Correlatively, he is at present the most mobile point of the stuff in course of transformation. So far we have certainly allowed our race to develop at random, and 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. ... »
p. 283 « ...is it not precisely the world itself which, culminating in thought, expects us to think out again the instinctive impulses of nature so as to perfect them ? Reflective substance requires reflective treatment. If there is a future for mankind, it can only be imagined in terms of a harmonious conciliation of what is free with what is planned and totalised....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.
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.»
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.
In the mutual reinforcement of these two still opposed powers, in the conjunction of reason and mysticism, the human spirit is destined, by the very nature of its development, to find the uttermost degree of its penetration with the maximum of its vital force.
3. THE ULTIMATE
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 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. »
p. 286 « we have as yet no idea of the possible magnitude of ' noospheric ' effects. ...human vibrations resounding by the million ---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 magnitudes represent ? 1
[Note 1 - ...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 ? ]
In this direction, the most unexpected is perhaps what we should most expect. Under the increasing tension of the mind on the surface of the globe, we may begin by asking seriously whether life will not perhaps one day succeed in ingeniously forcing the bars of its earthly prison, either by finding the means to invade other inhabited planets or ...by getting into psychical touch with other focal points of consciousness across the abysses of space. ...Consciousness would thus finally construct itself by a synthesis of planetary units. ..».
pp. 286-287 « Without in any way wishing to discourage such hypotheses ...I adopt the supposition that our noosphere is destined to close in upon itself in isolation, and that it is in a psychical rather than a spacial direction that it will find an outlet...Hence, quite naturally, the notion of a change of state occurs. ...»
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 its centre on to the transcendent centre of its increasing concentration. This will be the end and the fulfillment 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. »
pp. 287-288 « 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. »
p. 288 « The end of the world ; critical point simultaneously of emergence and emersion, of maturation and escape. ...
two almost contradictory suppositions about the physical and psychical state our planet will be in as it approaches maturation. ...
According to the first hypothesis ...evil on the earth at its final state will be reduced to a minimum. ...The final convergence will take place in peace 2 .
(Note 2 - Though at the same time ---since a critical point is being approached ---in extreme tension. ...)
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.
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.»
pp. 288-289 « In that case, the noosphere, in the course of and by virture 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. ...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.
Ramification once again, for the last time. »
p. 289 « In this second hypothesis, ...more in conformity with traditional apocalyptic thinking, we may perhaps discern three curves around us rising up at one and the same time into the future : ...
The death of the materially exhausted planet ; the split of the noosphere, divided on the form to be given to its unity ; and simultaneously (endowing the event with all its significance and with all its value) the liberation of that percentage of the universe which, across time, space and evil, will have succeeded in laboriously synthesising itself to the very end.
Not an indefinite progress, which is an hypothesis contradicted by the convergent nature of noogenesis, but an ectasy transcending the dimensions and the framework of the visible universe.
Ectasy 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 and thoughtful, wondering whether I have been leading them through facts, through metaphysics or through dreams. »
p. 290 « But have those who still hesitate in this way really understood the rigorous and salutary conditions imposed on our reason by the coherence of the universe, now admitted by all ?
To make room for thought in the world, I have needed to ' interiorise ' matter : to imagine an energetics of the mind ; to conceive a noogenesis rising upstream against the flow of entropy ; to provide evolution with a direction, a line of advance and critical points ; and finally to make all things double back upon someone. ...
I may have gone astray at many points ...My one hope is that I have made the reader feel both the reality, difficulty, and urgency of the problem and, at the same time, the scale and form which the solution cannot escape.
The only universe capable of containing the human person is an irreversibly ' personalising ' universe. »
I. AXES OF BELIEF
pp. 293-294 « As early as in St. Paul and St. John we read that to create, to fulfil and to purify the world is, for God, to unify it by uniting it organically with himself. How does he unify it ? By partially immersing himself in things, by becoming ' element ', and then, from this point of vantage in the heart of matter, assuming the control and leadership of what we now call evolution. Christ, principle of universal vitality because sprung up as man among men, put himself in the position (maintained ever since) to subdue under himself, to purify, to direct and superanimate the general ascent of consciousnesses into which he inserted himself. By a perennial act of communion and sublimation, he aggregates to himself the total psychism of the earth. And when he has gathered everything together and transformed everything, he will close in upon himself and his conquests, thereby rejoining, in a final gesture, the divine focus he has never left. Then, as St. Paul tells us, God shall be all in all. ..».
p. 294 «The universe fulfilling itself in a synthesis of centres in perfect conformity with the laws of union. God, the Centre of centres. In that final vision the Christian dogma culminates. And so exactly, so perfectly does this coincide with the Omega Point that doubtless I should never have ventured to envisage the latter or formulate the hypothesis rationally if, in my consciousness as a believer, I had not found not only its speculative model but also its living reality. »
p. 296 «...if the love of God were extinguished in the souls of the faithful, the enormous edifice of rites, of hierarchy and of doctrines that comprise the Church would instantly revert to the dust from which it rose.
It is a phenomenon of capital importance for the science of man that, over an appreciable region of the earth, a zone of thought has appeared and grown in which a genuine universal love has not only been conceived and preached, but has also been shown to be psychologically possible and operative in practice.
3. POWER OF GROWTH
pp. 296-297 « The bigger the world becomes and the more organic become its internal connections, the more will the perspectives of the Incarnation triumph. »
p. 297 « If the world is convergent and if Christ occupies its centre, than the Christogenesis of St. Paul and St. John is nothing else and nothing less than the extension, both awaited and unhoped for, of that noogenesis in which cosmogenesis ---as regards our experience ---culminates. »
pp. 297-298 «I have tried to show that we can hope for no progress on earth without the primacy and triumph of the personal at the summit of mind. And at the present moment Christianity is the unique current of thought, on the entire surface of the noosphere, which is sufficiently audacious and sufficiently progressive to lay hold of the world, at the level of effectual practice, in an embrace, at once already complete, yet capable of indefinite perfection , where faith and hope reach their fulfilment in love. Alone , unconditionally alone, in the world today, Christianity shows itself able to reconcile, in a single living act, the All and the Person. »
(1) noogenesis - (3) the essence
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