can you distinguish your position from Teilhard's in a nutshell, as I have
KELLY, 29.03.02] First I've to mention
that I admire Teilhard for several scientific reasons. I've not the kind of "autos efa" ("the Master said it himself") adoration as Pythagoras's students had.
Not at least because I think that even with the ideas of this Herald of
Evolution, evolution is occurring, and science in general inevitably has
made some impressive progress over the last seventy years. But what strikes
me is that all the recent contributions of science up to now seem to confirm
the fundamental concepts of Teilhard. At least he was a very gifted visionary.
Dear Tony, your kind
invitation to define my standpoint concerning Teilhard's theories was very
stimulating, and prompted me to some deep reflections.
Basically I'm not
a Teilhardian per se, but someone who searches the "truth", i.e.
the deeper evidence of existence. And here comes perhaps my most typical
position: I strongly believe that, for the sciences where the modern exact
experimental scientific method can't be applied by lack of exactly measurable
data and controllable experiments, the integrative method is, as
far as I can conceive, the only means to distinguish plausible hypotheses
from naive projections, even if the latter are logically deduced from some
a very important concept for me, more important than evolution itself,
but I'm not sure that everybody interprets this notion the way I do. Therefore
I'm summerizing here some of its rich meanings and application fields (a
more extensive description can be found on
Integration can be
defined the creative combination of paradoxical elements, as well in ideas and
theories as in active processes. By performing an integration nothing is
lost of the values of the elements that feed the integration, due to the
hypotheses that (1) there is only one truth and (2) every conflict
can be resolved on a constructive, non-selective way; thus all incompatibilities
most probably are due to some inexact (too much or not enough generalized)
formulation of the divergent standpoints.
Integration is much
more than just good will and mutual empathy. Although openmindedness and
a constructive attitude are essential to start with, it demands an arduous
intellectual effort, completed by a willingness to actively realize
the outcome of the intellectual integration process.
This makes from
way of synthesizing all bits of knowledge, making it more complete
and avoiding unnecessary loss of time to retrieve all important aspects
of what we are looking for. I'm afraid the overwhelming quantity of information
on the WWW eventually will make imperative an integrative structure. Equally
required is an urgent extension of HTML to enable integrations and integrative
linking of texts. These relevances
explain why I'm so enthousiastic about Teilhard:
2. the only harmonious
and peaceful way of living: happiness and the sense of living includes
the art of integrating one's needs with the possibilities, the limits and
the expectations of the surrounding world. I give the same weight to "integration",
as, in other cultures, is given to concepts as "Peace", "Harmony", "Ma'at"
and "Shalom". One could even describe every psychiatric syndrome as an
instance of non-integration.
3. the essence
of human communication. Communication is just an attempt to integrate
by two or more people. Love is integration, not only with one's intellect
but also with one's way of living and interacting with each other. Teilhard
stated that love is a local form of a universal process --Brian C. would
have no problems to situate this quote : - )
4. most probably
central process in two extremely important mental activities: inductive
thinking and creativity, two processes still occurring at an unconscious
level. Let's not forget that intuitive induction is the real way science
and technology make progress: logical deduction and control of predictions
is just a way to falsify or to confirm the --intuitively-- proposed theories.
Operationalizing the inductive paradigm may dramatically enhance scientific
progress (and the Quality of Life in general).
5. an alternative
to the modern scientific method. This is perhaps the most important
application of integration. As argued elsewhere, integrative thinking must
not replace the sacrosanct exact experimental scientific method, but complement
it in fields where the former is not applicable --and too many important
domains stay outside the realm of exact science. The popularity of this
integrative method is up to now rather restricted, because it demands a
completely different scientific approach than the traditional academic
world is used to. It requires, amongst other things, a sufficient expertise
in different scientific fields. No university curriculum nowadays leads
to this capacity, not even philosophy. Futhermore, essential modern sciences
as General Systems Theory suffer from this hyperspecialization and fragmentation,
argued by Heylighen.
1. He uses,
perhaps for the first time in the history of science, integration as
a scientific method: his synthetic view of the evolution of the universe,
where he uses the overall applicability of his "laws" as the convincing
scientific argument par excellence. Traditional scientists in general
are feeling uneasy with this approach that they only can qualify as "unscientific". My enthousiasm is enhanced
by the discovery, in recent decades, of some important scientific data
reinforcing Teilhard's visions:
2. In his description
of evolution, integration is apparently the central process. In
the earlier stages of the evolution of the universe it is principally the
factual integration (increasing complexity, with "natural selection" being
only one aspect of the trial and error process leading to more integration),
but at the higher, "conscious" levels of evolution, and especially in the
Noosphere, intellectual integration becomes predominant.
3. Doing so he enabled
and proposed an integration of two intellectual approaches up to now incompatible:
and religion, although fundamentalists on both sides tend to deny this,
and some even accuse him of trying to save religion from its decline by
lack of scientific foundations.
1. No less
than three new levels were added to Teilhard's evolutionary scheme:
the quarks level (2), the superstrings level (1), and the eobionts level
(6) intercalated between the molecular (5) and the protozoic (7) level.
2. The elaboration
of the General Systems Theory suggesting that his Evolution theory
finally only describes the spontaneous development of natural systems,
making his theory rather a kind of natural history than of philosophy.
3. Modern philosophers,
including Heylighen, Turchin and Joslyn of Brussels University (the Principia
Cybernetica Project) "rediscover" Teilhard's fundamental systemic processes,
labeling them "metasystem
4. Whitehead's Process
Theory, rediscovered in recent decades, confirms and describes the
general evolutionary idea of Teilhard (and, by the way, Darwin, Lamarck
and the others)
5. Popular postmodern
authors, including Capra, Kurzweil, Wilber and Hagerty, advocating a more
global and holistic approach than the aristotelic-cartesian, in
fact propose to do what Teilhard did half a century earlier.
6. The Gaia hypothesis takes into account some of Teilhard's ideas, but neglects some important
of Teilhard's ideas need to be further elaborated, and some of his
concepts reformulated. These points include:
1. An elaboration
of the detailed processes of the socialization, including the Noosphere
and the WWW. Teilhard only used very general terms to describe it, rather
pointing to the final stage, the Omega Point, than to the intermediate
stages, with which we are confronted on a daily basis.
2. A clarification
of the Global Brain / Global Mind issue. Teilhard gave many arguments
supporting rather the Global Mind than the Global Brain hypothesis but,
anyway, he wasn't very clear and apparently not very conscious of the Global
Brain possibility and other computer- to- human- brain interactions.
3. I fear that the
use of Christianity as the final religious embodiment will perhaps prove
too naive one day. Sensitive issues including God and Christogenesis
are to be reconsidered, although they are touching archetypes.
4. I've the impression
that Teilhard underesteemed psychology as the central science of the
future. In fact, this science is the study of human functioning at
an individual and social level. Politics, economic management, scientific
progress, ethics and religion finally can be considered as empirical, pre-scientific,
dilettantish forms of psychology. Socialization and Noosphere in fact are
the most grandiose applications of psychology.
5. The whole range
of identity blurring phenomena including genetic manipulation, artificial
intelligence, cloning, immortality by the transfer of "mental contents",
etc. don't have any place in Teilhard's considerations although their importance
Concluding I could state that I love the Teilhardian approach as a brilliant and very
inspiring application of the postmodern and "post-scientific" way of thinking
la lettre, rather than as a kind of postbiblical revelation. Evolution
is a universal law, also for Teilhard's Evolutionism.
Teilhard de Chardin s.j. died on Easter 1955 in New York.
grave is at Hyde Park, New York,
a former Jesuit seminary that was sold
the Culinary Institute of America ("CIA"...).
keys to the cemetary
be obtained from the Institute's security office.