The Phenomenon of Man

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9780006248361: The Phenomenon of Man

An excerpt from the Preface


If this book is to be properly understood, it must be read not as a work on metaphysics, still less as a sort of theological essay, but purely and simply as a scientific treatise. The title itself indicates that. The book deals with man solely as a phenomenon; but it also deals with the whole phenomenon of man.

In the first place, it deals with man solely as a phenomenon. The pages which follow do not attempt to give an explanation of the world, but only an introduction to such an explanation. Put quite simply, what I have tried to do is this; I have chosen man as the centre, and around him I have tried to establish a coherent order between antecedents and consequents. I have not tried to discover a system of ontological and causal relations between the elements of the universe, but only an experimental law of recurrence which would express their successive appearance in time. Beyond these first purely scientific reflections, there is obviously ample room for farther-reaching speculations of the philosopher and the theologian. Of purpose, I have at all times carefully avoided venturing into that field of the essence of being. At most I am confident that, on the plane of experience, I have identified with some accuracy the combined movement towards unity, and have marked the places where philosophical and religious thinkers, in pursuing the matter further, would be entitled, for reasons of a higher order, to look for breaches of continuity.

But this book also deals with the whole phenomenon of man. Without contradicting what I have just said (how-ever much it may appear to do so) it is this aspect which might possibly make my suggestion look like a philosophy. During the last fifty years or so, the investigations of science have proved beyond all doubt that there is no fact which exists in pure isolation, but that every experience, however objective it may seem, inevitably becomes enveloped in a complex of assumptions as soon as the scientist attempts to express it in a formula. But while this aura of subjective interpretation may remain imperceptible where the field of observation is limited, it is bound to become practically dominant as soon as the field of vision extends to the whole. Like the meridians as they approached the poles, philosophy and religion are bound to converge as they draw nearer to the whole. I say 'converge' advisedly, but without merging, and without ceasing, to the very end, to assail the real from different angles and on different planes. Take any book about the universe written by one of the great modern scientists, such as Poincare, Einstein or Jeans, and you will see that it is impossible to attempt a general scientific interpretation of the universe without giving the impression of trying to explain it through and through. But look a little more closely and you will see that this hyperphysics is still not a metaphysic.

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Teilhard de Chardin
Published by Collins (1977)
ISBN 10: 0006248365 ISBN 13: 9780006248361
New Mass Market Paperback Quantity Available: 3
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Murray Media
(North Miami Beach, FL, U.S.A.)
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Book Description Collins, 1977. Mass Market Paperback. Book Condition: New. Bookseller Inventory # P110006248365

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