Thursday, September 19, 2019

The optimism of Teilhard de Chardin

Pierre Teilhard de Chardin
Teilhard de Chardin’s vision of the future is essentially optimistic, perhaps too much. In his book The Phenomenon of Man he outlines his vision of the future evolution of human beings, which he presents as a process of increasing convergence towards a unifying center with the appropriate name of Omega Point.
By studying the unifying process that should take us to the next stage (or the final point) of our evolution, Teilhard distinguishes three different areas:
  1. That embodied in each one of us, in our bodies, which he calls the incorporated energy. In this field, according to him, we have a lot to do: from completely dominating diseases, to designing, by various means, a higher human type. In this regard he says this in his article The Human Energy, written in 1937: Such an ambition has long appeared... fantastic or even blasphemous... For a complex of obscure reasons, our generation still regards with distrust all efforts proposed by science for controlling the machinery of heredity, of sex-determination and development of the nervous system.
  2. Controlled energy, carried out through technical developments that shorten the effective distance between any two human beings. In one of my books I have mentioned that the Internet is building the nervous system of a new super-organism that, at this point, still has no head. Although Teilhard could not foresee the existence of the Internet, the technical advances in the field of telecommunications in his time were already quite important, so that his forecasts are not too surprising.
  3. Spiritualized energy, according to Teilhard the most interesting part of human energy for organization. Here he offers several possibilities in regard to human love, whose primary objective should be the union of the couple, rather than reproduction; plus possible advances in the field of direct communication between human beings through telepathy, mysticism and similar procedures.
Convergence towards
the Omega Point

The problem with Teilhard’s optimistic vision is that every advance, technological or simply human, always shows two faces, positive and negative, and if the first should be encouraged, the second must be avoided. Thus, for instance, Teilhard was in favor of curbing the increase in the world population, but I am convinced that the way we are doing it, causing over 10 million abortions every year, would have horrified him. Knowing him, it’s not too far-fetched to think that he would have considered this a frightening egotistic dissipation of human energy, based on the opposite of what he proposed. This is how he defined egoism: life... scatters in a plurality of reflective consciousness, each of which is its own final reason.

In his book Los desafĂ­os de hoy (Today’s challenges) Jordi Marjanedas distinguishes between two different trends on the road towards the future of evolution:
  • Globalization: primarily negative, focused on a few commercial, industrial and financial organizations, spread on a planetary level, that have taken control of modern society. Although he does not mention them, we all know many of these super-companies that dominate everything, that dare to censor what they don’t like (usually what does not adapt to the dominant ideology), and that not even compete with one another, for they have carefully distributed the market: Amazon (distribution), Apple (telephony), Facebook (social networks), Google (search engines, videos) and Microsoft (operating systems for computers).
  • Mundialization: this would be the next step in human evolution, such as Teilhard de Chardin saw it. Its object, using Teilhard’s words, would be the spontaneous appearance and... the systematic cultivation of such a ‘cosmic sense’. It is raising men to the explicit perception of their ‘molecular’ nature. They are ceasing to be closed individuals, to become parts... [of a whole] each [of whose cells] occupies, and is alone capable of occupying a fixed place.
Some of the future advances that Teilhard proposes are extremely dangerous. Take, for instance, the design of a higher human type. Who are we going to commission its realization? Present politicians, who are becoming increasingly the first problem of our society? The big companies mentioned above, whose main goal is their own growth? Or scientists who act, in the best case, out of curiosity, and in the worst, manipulated by entities beyond control?

The same post in Spanish
Thematic thread on What Is Man: Preceding Next
Manuel Alfonseca

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