you count the estimated number of seconds since the universe began, then
count them all over again, then multiply the result by the estimated number
of particles in the universe, and then multiply that result by a million
million million - you still have not reached the estimated possible number
of moves in a game of chess.
the game of chess is laughably simple in its potential number of moves
compared to the game of life. A game of chess starts with 32 pieces on
a board of 64 squares. Each piece has a limited range of moves - the most
limited being the pawn, the least limited being the queen.
the perspective of knowing, the whole body, of some 75,000,000,000,000
cells, may be considered the "piece." It is silly to separate the brain
from the body; the body may be considered as both the expression and the
"expressor" of the mind, as indivisible from it. The 25,000,000,000-odd
cells that are part of the brain are the most highly sophisticated of any
kind of cell known. There are estimated to be about twenty times more molecules
in your brain than there are stars in the universe; if all the molecules
in your whole body were separated by the distance between your toes and
the top of your head, you would, if such were possible, be bigger than
the whole universe.
Teleology (from Greek
goal) is the knowledge or the study of the phenomenon by which certain
systems in nature seem to aim at a certain end, without being conscious
about that, nor being guided by someone. It is as if an inborn principle
guided them blindly. Some philosophical approaches use this as evidence
of purpose or design in the universe, and especially that this proves the
existence of a designer. It also suggests that certain phenomena are best
explained in terms of purpose rather than cause or mechanical laws.
The most impressive
fact is that the innumerable systems and beings in universe, apparently
without aiming at a constructive, integrative endpoint, eventually end
up in such a result.
is in favour of 'recognizing and admitting a directed cosmogenesis'.  Darwin's
vision on the mechanism of evolution [Comment by A. Kelly, 19]
From top to bottom
of the series of beings [in the universe], everything is in motion, everything
is raising itself, organizing itself in a single direction, which is that
of the greatest consciousness.
In the evolutionary
process Darwinian theory places the major emphasis on natural selection.
This is despite the fact that selection can only operate on that which
is presented for selection by mutation. Darwinians have tended to regard
whatever is presented for selection as the product of chance. A problem
with this approach is that ontologically, there is no such thing as chance.
Chance is an epistemological concept. It is a label that is applied to
circumstances due to a lack of knowledge of the chain of cause and effect
that gave rise to a "chance" phenomenon.
is no such thing as chance. The principle of sufficient reason affirms
that nothing occurs in the world that does not have its origin in something
else. As Hartmann states: "nothing in the world exists by chance in
the ontic sense. Everything depends on conditions and occurs only where
these are fulfilled. If, however, all conditions are fulfilled, they form
a sufficient reason, and the event is bound to occur". 
vision of the Within and Directed Chance
From Teilhard's perspective,
if I have understood him correctly, the within, the conscious interiority
at the core of everything, since the commencement of the cosmos, has been
groping its way towards centring and concentrating itself within the material
matrix that envelopes it, with the aim if increasing its conscious power.
The Within is always gropingly striving, this way and that way,
to more efficiently complexify its material Without with the goal
of enhancing its own clarity of vision and comprehension. Over the eons,
follows try-out'  as this groping towards ever greater awareness
pursues its course.
One of the reasons
I believe it is fair to say that trial and error groping is a fundamental
teleological mechanism in the eyes of the French Jesuit is that, for him,
it appears to be a mechanism that was in operation from the very first
moment that there was a Within and a Without. That this mechanism
has been in place from the very beginning of things is, in my opinion,
pretty well what Teilhard is saying when he writes: 'Right up to its
reflective zones we have seen the world proceeding by means of groping
and chance.'  Another reason why I regard the mechanism of trial
and error groping as teleologically fundamental for the Auvergnian Jesuit
rests on the fact that he more or less situates it as such when he speaks
of 'the fundamental technique of groping'. 
In Teilhard's opinion,
evolution, by no means, moves in the direction of enhanced consciousness
by way of chance only, but rather by way of directed chance which
is what groping is all about. In fact, he comes right out and says plainly:
is directed chance.'  We will shortly look at directed chance in
a little more detail. But, before we do so, it might be a good idea to
clarify what the French Jesuit means by the term "chance". As I understand
it, he utilizes the word in its ordinary, everyday usage of "apparently
random happenstance", or "out of the ordinary occurrence", or "unexpected
Now let's return
to the subject of directed chance. Through groping, the within, during
the course of evolutionary development, takes advantage of 'strokes
of chance which are recognised and grasped -- that is to say, psychically
selected' , by the Within. From Teilhard's perspective, the Within,
even at its most attenuated, is able to, and, in fact does, engage in a
'groping utilisation of favourable cases' , that is to say, of favourable
instances of strokes of chance. "Favourable" and "unfavourable" in the
present context, I take to mean, respectively, "conducive to the advance
of consciousness" and "not conducive to the advance of consciousness".
The within, no matter how thinly spread it is, "knows" to make use of favourable cases, happeninstances, occurrences or eventuations and to reject or ignore
cases, happenstances, occurrences or eventuations that are unfavourable.
guided evolution occurs] under the cover of the determinisms analysed
by biological science and by way of an infinite fumbling and perpetual
phenomenon is a process that we suppose to be present in the
evolution and activities of non-conscious natural systems, because what
we observe seems not explicable from environmental or internal causes.
It is a hypothesis that tries to explain the fact that these processes
deviate from our statistical predictions and expectations.
A process is a series of changes with some unifying principle. A random series of
changes does not constitute a process. A random series of changes will
not appear to be coordinated, or related in any way. The existence of a
unifying principle differentiates a process from a random series of changes.
A series of changes continuing over an extended period, which are obviously
related to one another, indicates the operation of a process.  I'll try to propose
here a number of mechanisms in evolution, that could explain this phenomenon
without needing a "magical" classical teleological principle. I'll discuss
first some interpretational factors, that may blur our perception of probability,
and then some strategies, used in nature, to enhance the probability that
A first possible
explanation of intriguing phenomena is that our observation is too limited,
or that we are not thinking far enough.
time I left my house with my car, the next traffic lights were on red.
I had very paranoid interpretations after a while, because I expected a
more fair 50% chance. Incredibly, but it took
several months before I realized that I could only leave my house and cross
the road when the flow of cars had ended, and these cars, of course, were
the ones that had waited for the lights to become green. When I arrived,
the moment had come for the lights to switch to red...
The same way professionals
expect other things than outsiders. Pre-scientific explanations of natural
facts, invoking the intervention of god(s), gradually were and are replaced
by rational, scientific explanations.
Our brain perceives
gestalts, i.e. complete images, rather than details that have to be summed
up. We internally already see a complete image, by just observing some
minor details. This is an enormous gain of time and safety, but it is,
of course, also a source of possible misinterpretations. Neuropsychology
is the science that studies such phenomena, and a disorder as dyslexia,
where the wrong words are read, is a typical complication of that faculty
of instant interpretation. Also optical illusions and some styles of art
(e.g. Escher's) apply to this phenomenon.
Futhermore, we have
the inborn tendency to see persons or even animals in objects, and even
persons in animals. All kind of art works, especially the non-figurative,
often leads us to see objects, animals, faces etc. in the abstract lines
and figures. We call this phenomenon anthropomorphism if we see
human faces and figures, zoomorphism if we see animals in objects.
Art, ancient and modern, often uses animal and human shapes for simple
vase from Naxos (2700-2300 BC)
When we are excited
or angry, this tendency even increases and sometimes we feel attacked by
inanimate objects that frustate us, and as a reaction we kick them or throw
But this same inborn
tendency probably suggests us that some inexplicable phenomena, as moving
objects, robots, dark shapes are probably animated. In a primitive age
or culture, where physical science is not very evolved, this tendency was
of course much stronger.
Anyway, where I'm
pointing to is the fact that we, confronted with intriguing phenomena,
probably see a certain will or conscious purpose in it, rather than a pure
coincidence or an unexplained mechanism.
False Unlikelyhood Principle
If we think more
or less statistically, and education in general promotes this way of thinking,
we can be struck by the enormous quantity of "unlikely" phenomena
the universe is filled with. If we start dwelling on that scant, highly
unprobable chance that life emerged on a planet, just big enough to attract
an atmosphere, just far enough from a star to keep most of our water between
0 - 50 ºC, etc., then erverything in our existence seems so unlikely,
that we just feel unable to explain it, and a notion as "natural" becomes
Although this attitude
is a good start for aesthetic, existential or even religious emotions,
and may inspire us towards a little more respect for life and its frail
opportunities, the exceptionality of our daily experiences loses its meaning,
because all other possibilities just didn't materialize. The exceptionality
of our reality becomes a certainty. How exceptional it be, the fact we
are here and now, and muse about it, is a proof that it (eventually?) succeeded.
A statistical approach is no longer justified. Our "probability" is 100
%. If the chance of dying in a traffic accident is 1%, the day you die
you don't die for 1%. You're 100% dead!
Of course, probably
not every planet where life started will eventually evolve to this 9th
layer of complexification. And even we are not yet sure that things will
turn out positively, with a triumphant Omega Point, to use just one way
of putting it. Although the quantitative precautions nature takes to preserve
posterity (fishes have thousands of litlle fish, humans only one child
on average) gradually decrease, as if the probability of hitting the goal
increases, it should be exceptional that all living planets, which
arrived at stage 9, reach Omega. Terrestrian humanity could be one of Nature's
What I tried to demonstrate,
is that the probability approach can be misleading. The fact Earth succeeded
up to now in its impressive evolution doesn't imply a teleological principle.
All cases that have failed, simply don't exist.
Natural Methods of Probability Enhancement
According to Teilhard's
vision, the gradual increase in complexity (even more complex integrations)
is paralleled by a gradual increase in consciousness:
we perceive a constant increase in psyche throughout time. May not this
great law be the most general expression we can arrive at of universal
evolution?'  Three mechanisms for
probability enhancement, to "direct" the Universe towards integration,
by climbing up an hierarchy of even more complex sysyems, are used by nature:
structural arrangement during lithophase, biological scripts during Biophase,
and conscious control during Noophase.
We must not forget,
of course, that the French Jesuit perceives the evolutionary progression
of consciousness as correlated with, as a function of, ever more increasing
material involution, organization and complexification, which involution,
organization and complexification tends to centre and concentrate consciousness.
In this connection he speaks with approval of 'the idea of a universe that
is moving, principally and specifically, towards states of super-organization
which can be measured, in terms of absolute value, by an increase of psychic
interiorization and centration'. 
point, apropos of the teleological mechanism of groping, is very much related
to consciousness. It is his opinion that consciousness, which he also calls
the within, permeates all things. Thus he tells us that 'co-extensive with
their Without there is a Within to things.'  And, in a similar vein,
inert and totally brute matter does not exist. Every element contains,
at least to an infinitesimal degree, some germ of inwardness and spontaneity,
that is to say of consciousness. In extremely simple and extremely numerous
corpuscles [which only manifest themselves by their statistical effects]
this property remains imperceptible to us, as if it did not exist.' 
For the Auvergnian
Jesuit, the Within is, in effect, a kind of conscious 'spiritual energy'
that 'represents the inner lining' of everything in the cosmos. 
and External Arrangement
From biophase on,
starting with proteins, nature uses a kind of genetical coding to steer
its reproduction and evolution. Before this point, during the lithophase
of "dead" matter, no internal organization is observable, although Pierre
Teilhard de Chardin hypothesized a progressively developping consciousness
that already started in pre-human beings/systems, and hence some theorists
presuppose a kind of primitive consciousness, yet to discover in dead matter,
or residing in a paranormal, psychic dimension.
But even the absence
of such a principle in dead matter doesn't automatically mean that everything
occurs by accident. The very structure of primitive systems like atoms
and molecules most probably isn't accidental, but is a strong factor which
enables further complexification, i.e. progress on the ladder of evolution.
To take just the example of atoms in general: by "coincidence" the outer layer presents an incomplete octet structure, and not another, more inner
layer. This creates a high probability that other atoms, passing "nearby",
aggregate to create a complete outer layer for each of them and, by doing
so, molecules are formed. The same way we can assume that structures, at
all levels of the evolutionary ladder, have one or more built-in properties
that make them more likely for further structuration and evolution towards
more complex systems. One could say that a certain kind of "intelligence",
or "consciousness" is revealed by this "coincidence": nature, by the structures
it uses, keeps a memory of certain successful achievements and repeats
those structures that are most successful, i.e. that offer most chances
to continue the evolution. It is, again, not a teleological principle.
The same way, external
factors promote evolutionary steps. Primitive cosmic matter, that originally
tended to disperse equably, creating a uniform but inactive cosmos, very
soon tended to aggregate into heaps that started revolving heavily, thus
provoking high temperatures, chemical and nuclear reactions, resulting
in stars and planets. In fact, most evolved structures in the universe
are intensely concentrated, dramatically enhancing the probability to develop
further evolutionary steps. This phenomenon still exists at the social
level: social organization and human culture really starts in places where
social concentration, induced by the fertility of the region, safety considerations
and migrations, was highest. Teilhard often describes this factor of conglomeration
as one of the most important inductors of evolutionary progress, at all
levels. Socialization has also a quantitative connotation.
Of course, both aspects
--structural and external arrangement-- interact with each other, and should
be considered as two elements of one process.
Although the aforementioned
factors continue to sort effect, nature adds some important new factors
to enhance probability.
Starting with Nucleid Acids, incorporating DNA into genes and later into
chromosomes, nature keeps trace of the successful steps it made of the
road to complexification. Moreover, nature adopts a repetitive mode of
creating its objects, allowing swifter corrections and additions than if
existing structures had to be partially replaced by new ones. Nature also
opted for a simple kind of program: a cumulative addition of genetic information.
It would probably have been unfeasible to restart each time from scratch,
even if, theoretically, more efficient systems could have been designed.
It also explains why, in embryology, the new being quickly passes through
most of prior phylogenetic stages, from the individual cell on. It enables
us also to retrieve genetic genealogies of living beings.
The mechanism of
the genetic encoding of new features remains largely unexplained, although
a natural selection of random variations (partly induced by radio-active
radiation from outer space?), enhanced by an enriching exchange of information
and "new tricks" during fertilization seems essential. Moreover, this encoding
probably is not blind or onesided: a constant interaction with stimuli
and conditions inside the uterus is supposed to be essential, so even at
this complex level of metazoics we can observe "external arrangement".
primitive reflexes. Gradually, genetic information is extended with
instincts for sensoric interpretation and behaviour, as the animals start
observing, moving and doing things. Furthermore, many instincts are provided
with direct and intense satisfaction nerves, to make sure the subject
will execute the programmed task: tasting food is already a great satifaction,
long before the sugar and the proteins are inside the organism to sustain
its biochemical processes. Copulating is much more satisfying than the
abstract idea that this particular animal sort is preserved.
At this level, a
fundamental mechanism in evolutionary processes emerges, although I presume
it was already present at lower levels. Let's start with two examples:
doesn't catch flies, but its tongue shoots out towards objects that move
along a particular path. The toad even tries to catch a lighting point
moved with a particular zigzag by the experimenter. The young ducklings
don't run after their mother, but after the first big moving being they
observe after coming out off their egg. Should this be experimenter Lorenz,
than they anxiously flee and seek protection from him when their mother
arrives. These examples illustrate
very well a fundamental characteristic of natural programming: not the
goal itself is aimed at, but something with an isolated and sometimes very
strange characteristic that, in "normal" circumstances, is typical for
the goal. I don't know if there is a biological name for this mechanism,
but I tend to call this the Tip Principle. This cunning stratagem
(1) allows nature to reduce dramatically the amount of information needed
to guide living systems, and perhaps partly explains why so uncredibly
complex achievements are possible with such an extremely concise "manual".
(2) But it makes organisms often dangerously dependent from environmental
conditions, and this is particularly the case when this environment quickly
changes or contains more and more artificial conditions. Most animals are
trapped, also by other animals, by using their misguiding instinct. (3)
But the most impressive aspect of the Tip Principle is it's teleological
capacity, that will be discussed later in this article when we speak about
the Involuntary Integration Principle.
The presence of instincts,
needs and satisfying instinctive nervous circuits, explain why animals
the play is an "irreal" activity (irreal in the sense of not
directly useful, because the underlying needs, e.g. feeding, where
the instinct is intended for, is not really fulfilled). And, apart from
the fact that play situations are good for training some reflexes for the
moment they really will be needed, the phenomenon playing clearly illustrates
the Tip Principle. But playing is very realistic for the subject, because
it provides much more satisfaction than the often more difficult and dangerous
With man, and partially
already with the higher mammalia, nature adds a conscious control device to guide its observations and its activities. Thanks to the faculty
of abstraction and recombination, residing in man's prefrontal cerebral
area, he is able to construct an internal image of external reality. This
image, of course, has to develop and gradually becomes more congruous with
objective reality. It is within this partial, not yet realistic reality
image that the Tip Principle finds numerous applications, from playing
to neurotic behaviour, from aggresiveness to self-destruction. Let's consider
some aspects of the development of conscious control.
first stage of behavioural control, most important in young children and
primitive cultures, is the tendency to only think for themselves, if need
be even detrimental for others. Their behaviour is guided by impulses,
the manifestations of activated needs. Animals and children have no sympathy,
no pity, no compassion, although some other instincts often counteract
this, including anxiety when the parent seems anxious or depressed, or
the instinct to avoid little animals (as horses do so remarkably) and animals
that display an attitude of submission, typical for apes and dogs.
More developed humans
can temporarily regress to more primitive behavioural patterns,
including destructive aggression.
Short term profit.
Where egotism can be coinsidered as a very short term vision of reality,
because one just takes one's immediate needs into account, conscious control
may intervene to a certain degree. Daily experience and upbringing makes
it clear that impulse control in many situations can lead to a greater
The faculty that allows humans, and higher mammalia probably as well, to
interpret and to direct their own interpretations and behaviour using an
image, a model of reality, that surpasses a mere collection of observations,
also enables them to construct images of themselves, partly subscious,
which are, subjectively, very important but, objectively, often incorrect
to an important degree. Freud started using the name phantasms for
these images and stressed that they determined our observations, emotional
interpretations and behaviour, more than reality did. Reality, along psychoanalysts,
is pratically unimportant, because even "objective" sensations as heavy
pain and the prospect of suicide can be overturned and endowed with a positive
meaning or perspective. The very existence of phantasms explains why "objective",
non-concerned observers often don't understand how and why people, e.g.
in a conflict, neurosis or psychosis, present a behaviour "which every
other person should immediately recognise as abnormal and nocive for the
person himself". The dimensions of reality of course tend to become more
apparent to the subject, as experiences are more frequent and prolonged.
This tendency of phantasms to become more real in time, is called the Reality
Principle by Freud. Adult development is supposed to gradually lead
to a congruency between objective and long term effect with subjective
In their development,
phantasms are strongly influenced by emotional experiences, frustrations
and, to a lesser degree, pleasure. As the need for appreciation is very
fundamental in each of us, most of the phantasms are related to the image
(we think) others have about us. In fact, the development of man as a social
being starts with some fundamental often troublesome experiences concerning
narcissism and oedipal rivalry.
of phantasms to be incongruous with reality opens the door for all kinds
of neuroses, and even psychoses. This is not the place to discuss them
in detail. Suffice it to state that, from a psychoanalytical point of view,
most of so-called "normal" persons and behaviour can be considered as mildly
neurotic. Moreover, most often the negative consequences of one neurotic
trait (e.g. being aggressive against one's partner, making everybody unhappy
and oneself ridiculous in the eyes of an objective observer) are compensated
by other neurotic traits (e.g. projecting the "cause" of one's aggressive
behaviour into the "unacceptable" behaviour of one's partner, and some
proudness because one resisted manipulation), or by the fact "everyone
does it", creating an illusion of normality, e.g. in war, collective rejection
or even lynching of somebody.
From an evolutionary
and systemic point of view, phantasmatic behaviour most often is unappropriate,
because it makes it impossible to realize an integration of the needs of
all concerned. Often the most powerful impose some much less agreeable
experiences upon the less powerful, just to satisfy their own egotistic
and phantasmatic needs.
Sooner or later this
use of power will provoke defensive and counter-aggressive reactions by
the weaker and oppressed, which eventually find, e.g. by collective reactions,
a tool to stop or to limit this disagreeable situation and, if possible,
take a phantasmatic revenge, what makes that the former oppressor now comes
into a situation of frustration.
This swinging interaction
is masterly described by Michael Hardt & Antonio Negri in their neo-Marxistic
social analysis Empire.
Also humans play,
for the same reasons animals do. Their play is equally "natural" as animal
play, even if it often uses technical devices, and is organized with a
set of sometimes complicated rules. In humans, however, not only instincts
explain this behaviour, but also the strong phantasmatic needs, leading
often to a complicate elaboration of rules and tools. Teilhard, on many
places in his books, insists on the "naturality" of human artefacts. He
advocates not to consider the human as artifical against the "natural animal"
essence, and provided they keep their vital connection with the current
that wells up from the depths of the past, are not the artificial, the
moral and the juridical simply the hominized versions of the natural, the
physical and the organic?  He considers human play
as equally natural as animal play, and sees in this parallelism another
argument for the naturality of human functioning.
If the personal and/or social development is given enough time and opportunities,
then it may be expected that phantasmatic and ego-directed behaviour leading
to an inequality of satisfaction will be replaced by a conscious pursuit
of an integration of all concerned paties and their needs. Although by
trial and error such a balance can be reached (e.g. in a small, undisturbed
community where everyone finds his satisfying role), the most appropriate
way to realize such an integration is, of course, open and constructive
could also be described as] a voluntary integration principle, whereby
people, knowingly and willingly, promote social stability, satisfaction
and integration. This kind of voluntary promotion of human integration,
by human beings themselves, is the sort of thing that Teilhard would look
upon as a form of 'seizing the tiller of the world'  by the human
inhabitants of that world. Why this evident solution
is so seldom realized, is discussed elsewhere.
Involuntary Integration Principle
This Principle, which
is perhaps the best "explanation" of the intriguing teleological phenomenon,
tries to indicate that and why active systems, without being internally
guided nor consciously aiming towards an integrative situation, where the
electrical, biochemical, physical and psychological needs of all concerned
systems should be satisfied, on the long run may end up by reaching such
an integrative situation. Provided there is enough room and time for experimenting,
acting and reacting, and transformation processes, the system will end
up with integration, because it is the most stable and satisfying situation
For the dominant
person/system/group, the situation will longer last if the subjects are
relatively happy with it, and the happier they are, the longer the situation
can last. Moreover, if cooperation is enthousiatic, the probability is
greater the subjects will observe and communicate signals of dangers and
propose suggestions for improvement.
For the subjects,
if frustration is taken away, the resisting force that provokes depression,
demotivation, flight and agression is absent. If a feeling of frustration
(or, for more simple systems, an uncompensated electrical or chemical need)
subsists, energy remains available for destabilizing reactions at the first
Of course, if all
concerned are equally satisfied, there is no longer need to speak about
dominant and subjected elements.
principle of Involuntary Integration could comfort us to a certain degree
in that it seems to promise a good outcome for our world, even if not all
concerned parties consciously pursue the search for an integration in which
all members of the group would feel satisfied. But it can only be advocated
that, at all levels of social functioning, from an intimate relationship
to professional and political organization, all concerned parties should
be "fully conscious" of the effects on short and long term of their behaviour,
but also of the spectacular material and emotional savings that can be
made by trying to make direct intregrations. Of course, such a process
doesn't occur automatically, and requires some demanding psychological
skills, including communication and the ability to grow and to control
teleological mechanisms seem not to conflict with Teilhard's concepts. I'm not sure we put
the same accents. As I understood this great integrative philosopher, and
this is confirmed by your readings, he seems to suggest that, in one way
or another, there is somewhere a little bit of "psychicality", " a thinly
spread Within", a kind of divine imbuement to guide its volutionary steps.
What I am proposing in my article, is that the teleological processes rather
occur because each volving element "looks" for "satisfying" its " needs"
-i.e. a rather short-sighted, egotistic guiding principle- and at each
level this "appeasement" happens to be an integration, a step towards convergence.
have clarified a difference between your take on teleology and that of
the Auvergnian Jesuit. Well, this is precisely
my point. In fact, I'm convinced there is no difference. The only
thing I'm trying to do is to explain some mechanisms Teilhards left rather
vague, at least for my feeling. It's also my opinion that, due to this
vagueness, many faithful interpret this passages (and the like) as a reference
to a kind of soul or other divine intervention to guide evolution, while
non-christians do find here a pretext to refute Teilhard as unscientific.
I'm trying to indicate that this teleological process is very natural,
in fact a bit of system theory, and this, on the other hand, doesn't diminish
the greatness of a Designer, because He didn't need any corrective intervention:
the system is so well structured that, in spite of the absence of
any "guiding psychism", evolution, while respecting our freedom, inevitably
conducts into a grandiose integration.
like a perfectly viable approach to me.