[ Extracts cited by Janice B. Paulsenfrom the final chapter of The PHENOMENON OF MAN, Harper & Row, revised English translation by Benjamin Wall (1975), pp. 300 - 310. ]

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.



p. 300 "It is this unchanged, though recogitated, essence of the Phenomenon of Man which I think will be useful to set out here as a summing-up or conclusion under three inter-related headings:"


p. 301 "Reduced to its ultimate essence, the substance of these long pages can be summed up in this simple affirmation : that if the universe, regarded sidereally, is in process of spatial expansion (from the infinitesimal to the immense), in the same way and still more clearly it presents itself to us, physico-chemically, as in process of organic involution upon itself (from the extremely simple to the extremely complex), ---and, moreover, this particular involution ' of complexity ' is experimentally bound up with a correlative increase in interiorisation, that is to say in the psyche or consciousness."


p. 303 "A second original point ...---apart from the interpretation of life as a universal function of the cosmos--- lies, on the contrary, in giving the appearance on the human line of the power of reflection the value of a ' threshold ' or a change of state. ...a new form of biological existence, characterised ... by the following properties:

a. The decisive emergence in individual life of factors of internal arrangement (invention) above the factors of external arangement (utilisation of the play of chance).

b. The equally decisive appearance between elements of true forces of attraction and repulsion (sympathy and antipathy)..."

c. p. 304 "Lastly, the awakening in the consciousness of each particular element (consequent upon its new and revolutionary aptitude for seeing the future) of a demand for unlimited survival. That is to say, the passage, for life, from a state of relative irreversibility (the physical impossibility of the cosmic involution to stop, once it has begun) to a state of absolute irreversibility (the radical dynamic incompatibility of a certain prospect of total death with the continuation of an evolution that has become reflective).

These various properties confer on the zoological group possessing them a superiority that is not only quantitative and numerical, but functional and vital ..."


p. 304 "...because this particular stem (the zoological group of mankind), alone among others, has succeeded ...in emerging from instinct into thought, it proves itself capable of spreading out in its turn...so as to form a spectrum of another order ---the immense variety of anthropoligical types known to us. ..."

p. 305 "Look at the way in which, as mankind technically patterns its multitudes, pari passu, the psychic tension within it increases, with the consciousness of time and space and the taste for, and power of, discovery. ...Yet how can one fail to recognise this revealing association of technical organisation and inward spiritual concentration as the work of the same great force ...which brought us into being ? How can we fail to see that after rolling us on individually ...upon our own selves, it is still the same cyclone (only now on the social scale) which is ...driving us together into a contact which tends to perfect each one of us by linking him organically to each and all of his neighbours ?"

p. 306 " ' Through human socialisation, whose specific effect is to involute upon itself the whole bundle of reflexive scales and fibres of the earth, it is the very axis of the cosmic vortex of interiorisation which is pursuing its course ' : replacing and extending the two preliminary postulates stated above (the one concerning the primacy of life in the universe, the other the primacy of reflection in life) this is the third option ---the most decisive of all--- which completes the the definition and clarification of my scientific position as regards the phenomenon of man. ...

...If above the elementary hominisation that culminates in each individual, there is ...above us another hominisation, a collective one of the whole species, then it is quite natural to observe, parallel with the socialisation of humanity, the same three psycho-biological properties rising upwards on the earth that the individual step to reflection originally produced.

a. Firstly the power of invention, so rapidly intensified ...by the rationalised collaboration of all the forces of research that it is already possible to speak of a human rebound of evolution.

b. Next, capacity for attraction (or repulsion) ...rising so rapidly ...economics will soon count for very little in comparison with the ideological and the emotional factors in the arrangement of the world.

c. Lastly and above all, the demand for irreversibility..."

p. 307 "These ...pointers seem ...to constitute a serious scientific proof that (in conformity with the universal law of centro-complexity) the zoological group of mankind ...is turning, by planetary arrangement and convergence of all elemental terrestrial reflections, towards a second critical pole of reflection of a collective and higher order ; towards ...a point through which we can prognosticate the contact between thought, born of involution upon itself of the stuff of the universe, and that transcendent focus we call Omega, the principle which ...makes this involution irreversible and moves and gathers it in.

It only remains for me ...to define my opinion on three matters which usually puzzle my readers : (a) what place remains for freedom (and hence for a possible of setback in the world) ? (b) what value must be given to spirit (as opposed to matter) ? and (c) what is the distinction between God and the World in the theory of cosmic involution ?"

a. p. 307-308 " ...it in no way follows ...that the final succes of hominisation is necessary, inevitable and certain. ... The ' noogenic ' forces of compression, organisation and interiorisation, under which the biological synthesis of reflection operates, do not at any moment relax their pressure on the stuff of mankind. Hence the possibility of foreseeing with certainty (if all goes well) certain precise directions of the future." 1

[ p. 308 note 1 "- This for instance ; that nothing could stop man in his advance to social unification, toward the development of machinery and automation (liberators of the spirit), toward 'trying all ' and 'thinking all ' right to the very end." ]

p. 308 "...however persistent and imperious the cosmic energy of involution may be..., it finds itself intrinsically influenced in its effects by two uncertainties related to the double play ---chance at the bottom and freedom at the top ...however, ...in the case of very large numbers (such, for instance as the human population) the process tends to 'infallibilise ' itself, inasmuch as the likelihood of success grows on the lower side (chance) while that of rejection and error diminishes on the other side (freedom) with the multiplication of the elements engaged.2

[ note 2 - For a Christian believer ...the final success of hominisation (and thus cosmic evolution) is positively guaranteed by the ' redeeming virtue ' of the God incarnate in his creation. But this takes us beyond the plan of phenomenology. ]

b. As regards the value of the spirit, ...from the phenomenal point of view, ...matter and spirit do not present themselves as ' things ' or ' natures ' but as simple related variables ... At this level of reflection ' consciousness ' presents itself ...as an ' effect ', as the ' specific effect of complexity."

p. 309 "...within these limits ...something very important ...furnished by experience in favour of the speculations of metaphysics.

...once we have admitted the ...transposition of the concept of consciousness, nothing ...stops us from prolonging downwards towards the lower complexities under an invisible form the spectrum of the ' within ' . ...The ' psychic ' shows itself subtending (at various degrees of concentration) the totality of the phenomenon

...followed upward towards the very large complexes, the same 'psychic ' element from its first appearance in beings, manifests, in relation to its matrix of 'complexity ', a growing tendency to mastery and autonomy. At the origins of life, it would seem to have been the focus of arrangement (F 1) which, in each individual element, engenders and controls its related focus of consciousness (F 2). But, higher up, the equilibrium is reversed. Quite clearly, first from the ' individual threshold of reflection ' ---if not before--- it is F 2 which begins to take charge (by ' invention ') of the progress of F 1. Then, higher still, ...at the approaches (conjectured) of collective reflection, we find F 2 apparently breaking away from its temporo-spatial frame to join up with the supreme and universal focus Omega. After emergence comes emersion. In the perspectives of cosmic involution, not only does consciousness become co-extensive with the universe, but the universe rests in equilibrium and consistency, in the form of thought, on a supreme pole of interiorisation.

What finer experimental basic could we have on which to found metaphysically the primacy of the spirit?"

c. p. 310 "Lastly, to put an end ...to the fears of 'pantheism ' ...how can we fail to see that, in the case of a converging universe ..., far from being born from the fusion and confusion of the elemental centres it assembles, the universal centre of unification (precisely to fulfil its motive, collective and stabilising function) must be conceived as pre-existing and transcendent ?. ...For, if in the last resort, the reflective centres of the world are effectively ' one with God ', this state is obtained not by identification (God becoming all) but by the differentiating and communicating action of love (God all in everyone). And that is essentially orthodox and Christian."

(1) noogenesis - (2) survival

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