All quotes from Pierre Teilhard de Chardin’s

Life is the property that is peculiar to large organized numbers, it is the specific effect of matter carried to an extreme degree of internal structuration.

Consciousness and complexity, therefore, are two aspects of one and the same reality—the centre—depending on whether we a adopt a viewpoint outside or inside ourselves.

We do not immediately recognize in man the natural extension of the atom. Nevertheless, once we have drawn the curve followed by a world which is advancing, along one of its axes, towards large complexes, it becomes clear (and dazzlingly clear) that in each one of us the same movement is being continued: however enriched it may be, it is still the same primordial movement form which, millions of years ago, there emerged the first elementary compounds of oxygen, nitrogen, and carbon.

Man is precisely the most recently elaborated, the youngest, and hence the most complex and most fully centred, of molecules.

We have no justification for the belief that the moleculization of matter has reached its ceiling in us. Everything, rather, goes to show that, in and through mankind, the cosmos is still continuing its arduous drift towards increasing states of complexity.

For the last twenty thousand years during which we have known it (for that is all) there appears to have been no appreciable change in the structure or in the functioning of the brain of Homo sapiens. When, however, we leave aside the individual and turn to the collectivity of man, something new comes to light.

A series of new needs, which it would be puerile and anti-biological to regard as superfluous and artificial, is continually making itself felt in us. It is no longer possible for us to live and develop without an increasing supply of rubber, of metals, oil, electricity and energy of all sorts. No individual could henceforth manage to produce his daily bread on his own. Mankind is more and more taking the form of an organism that possesses a physiology and, in the current phase, a common ‘metabolism.’

The quantity of activity and consciousness contained in mankind, taken as a whole, is greater than the mere sum of individual activity and consciousness.

Until man, we may say that nature was working to construct ‘the unit or grain of thought.’ It would now seem undeniable that, obeying the laws of some gigantic hyper-chemistry, we are now being launched towards ‘edifices made up of grains of thought,’ towards ‘a thought made up of thoughts.’

The greatest of the energies the universe still holds in reserve (and certain indications allow us to feel it stirring) is, without doubt, not the energy we are trying to release by breaking up the atom: it is made up by the still dormant affinities that one day will hurl together the most conscious elements of the universe—in other words, ourselves.

Each grain of thought, now taken to the extreme limit of its individual consciousness, will simply be the incommunicable, partial, elementary expression of a total consciousness which is common to the whole earth, and specific to the earth: a spirit of the earth.

In just what form are we to picture this spirit of the earth? This thing which is coming to birth in us and from us, through an ascent into the super-complex—is it some sort of super-family, super-team, super-culture, or super-nation, in which no element, however high its position in the hierarchy, will experience or synthesize in itself the totality of the whole? Or is it rather, as has already happened once in nature, some super-individual that is going to appear at the term of our coming together?

When the collective is taken to its upper limit, is it still ‘collective’ or does it issue in a super-person?

In order to be able to function, life needs, and ever increasingly needs, to recognize that it is in itself irreversible. At a degree that is still implicit and incipient, this inner demand can already be seen in the persistent impulse that for hundreds of millions of years has unceasingly driven organic beings ‘blindly’ towards higher forms of consciousness. In an ill-defined but already explicit state, it springs up, at the first appearance of the inevitable fact of death, in the animal that has become capable of seeing ahead. From the critical moment when consciousness turns back upon itself and so makes it its business to foresee, every being, no matter how primitive, begins to reject as intolerable the idea that it can ever disappear completely and utterly.

Psychological relations will one day come to be formed between our planet and other ‘thinking’ stars: the combined minds of a large number of ‘earths.’

We can draw but one conclusion from this evolutionary conflict between the without (which is limited) and the within (which knows no limit) of the noösphere: that we must foresee an internal break between the two aspects of the phenomenon. We are forced to conceive that beyond a certain critical value, centration can in some way or other continue independently of the physico-chemical synthesis that was necessary, in a first phase, for its initiation: the centre throwing off its original shell of complication.

A mankind, totalized, more perfectly than any known living being, under the influence of a single higher soul—not collectivized man, but super-personalized man.

The most amazing advances of science and technology are no more than a preparation and a beginning. When all is said and done, the future of the world depends entirely upon the emergence in us of a moral consciousness of the atom, culminating in the appearance of a universal love.

I would like to give some idea of how the most traditional human moral system takes on a new form, new coherence and urgency—how smoothly it is integrated, and so becomes dominant in the great body of cosmic energies, once man, in regulating his behaviour, leaves behind the individualist position ‘of the monad’ and resolutely adopts, in judgment and action, the point of view of the atom.

The more the individual on his side associates himself in an appropriate way with other individuals, the more, as an effect of synthesis, does he enter deeper into his own being, become conscious of himself, and in consequence personalize himself. And the more the collectivity on its side concentrates itself, in an appropriate way, upon elements for whose fuller personalization it is itself responsible, the more, again, is it ‘humanized’ and personalized.