On the Nature of the Phenomenon of Human Society, and its Hidden Relationship with Gravity

April 23, 1948

We stand at the dawn of a new era for humanity. As Teilhard de Chardin observed, cosmic forces are propelling our social evolution. Though born of gravitational forces, our consciousness now rises with its own creative power to bring forth previously unimagined realms of thought and social organization. Our future lies in our hands.

1. The most comprehensive way in which we can express the life-factor is to picture it to ourselves as a movement of involution on itself of the stuff of the cosmos—a movement that draws matter (obeying an exponential law) towards states that are progressively more complex and more fully centred; the degree of complexity and centration (or involution) being measured by the increase in psychic charge (‘temperature’), i.e. consciousness.

2. From this point of view, psychology and sociology are tending to make it clear that man is still incompletely centred upon himself (either as an individual element or collectively); for a correlated supercentration of the individual and of the human whole may readily be anticipated (and is even already noticeable), in the direction of a super-involution of mankind on itself and under its influence: collective unification (totalization) accompanied by an increase in psychic charge.

3. That being so, if we look for the origin of the force that acts on mankind to super-involute and super-centre it on itself, we find that it lies in the pressure exercised by our planet on a human mass that has reached the limit of its expansion, and is henceforth continually more compressed on the globe on which it came into being. This pressure increases exponentially, and the stuff of man tries to escape from it; just as a body which crystallizes under pressure, its reaction takes the form of a geometrically increasing organization (with, in consequence, a similar rise in psychic charge): this corresponds exactly to the laws of life.

4. Again, if we note that the (relative) compression exercised on mankind by the Earth is ultimately an effect of the ‘astro-genetic’ compression exercised by gravity on diffuse sidereal matter (it is the pressure of gravity that produces the stars), we are obliged to conclude that anthropogenesis (just as the whole of biogenesis which preceded it) is, when we get to the bottom of it—seen ‘from below’—a phenomenon of gravity; this does not, however, prevent the consciousness released by vital involution from gradually developing a specific ascending and unitive force (a pull towards gravity) which is added to, and gradually takes the place of, the original, external, force of ‘compression a tergo.’

Looked at as a whole, the process of cosmic vitalization could be expressed in this way:

Expansion → compression (gravitational) → organization or complexification (biological) → centration and emergence (both psychic).

Pierre Teilhard de Chardin


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