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Teilhard de Chardin, Pierre - Phenomenon of Man - Cells



Type of Spiritual Experience


De Chardin provides a good example of something which itself is tiny, just to demonstrate, how many and how minute the basic building blocks are


A description of the experience

Pierre Teilhard de Chardin – Phenomenon of man 

Chemistry teaches us that the cellular edifice is based on albuminoids, nitrogenous organic substances (amino acids) of enormous molecular weight (up to 10,000 and over).  In combination with fats, water, phosphorus and all sorts of mineral salts (potassium, sodium, magnesium and various metallic compounds) these albuminoids constitute a protoplasm, a sponge made up of innumerable particles in which come appreciably into play the forces of viscosity, osmosis, and catalysis which characterise matter when molecular groupings have reached an advanced stage.

And that is not all.  In the centre of the agglomeration, a nucleus containing chromosomes may generally be seen against the  background of the surrounding cytoplasm perhaps itself composed of fine roots or filaments – mitro chondria.

Pere Teilhard de Chardin – Phenomenon of Man

If certain calculations (admittedly indirect) are accepted as correct, the molecular weights of some of the natural proteinous substances (such as viruses), may well be in terms of millions.  Much smaller than any bacteria – so small in fact that no filter can retain them – the particles forming these substances are none the less colossal compared with the molecules [which form them] and which are normally dealt with in inorganic chemistry

Pere Teilhard de Chardin – Phenomenon of man

 association ….. is not a sporadic or accidental [phenomenon].  On the contrary, it represents one of the most universal and constant expedients … used by life in its expansion.  Two of its advantages are immediately obvious.  Thanks to it, living substance is able to build itself up in sufficient bulk to escape innumerable external obstacles (capillary attraction, osmotic pressure, chemical variation of the medium etc) which paralyses the microscopic organisms.  In biology, as in navigation, a certain size is physically necessary for certain movements.  Thanks to it again, the organism (here too because of its increased volume) is able to find room inside itself to lodge the countless mechanisms added successively in the course of its differentiation.

The source of the experience

Teilhard de Chardin, Pierre

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