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Teilhard de Chardin, Pierre - Phenomenon of Man - Brains

Identifier

000184

Type of Spiritual Experience

Background

De Chardin was particularly interested in the increase in size and complexity over time of the  brain.  He considered it a trend – an indicator that agglomerates were becoming more complex functionally, and that the brain was the special preserve of those functions which ,as it were,  had no outward display of form.  The brain was in essence the hardware – the processor – needed to support all these extra functions.  He postulated that the increase in size and complexity of the processor – the hardware - signalled that something pretty complex  was happening to the software.  Just as computers have become specialised processors of abstract function, so the brain has become a processor of abstract function.  In a rather odd way technology is mirroring life.

A description of the experience

Pere Teilhard de Chardin – Phenomenon of Man

Among the mammals … the average brain is much more voluminous and convoluted than in any other group of vertebrates.  Yet when we look closer, we see not only many inequalities, but a remarkable order in their distribution... In nature at the present day, the placentals take place in the matter of brain over the marsupials....  We see placental brains ...  relatively smaller and simpler in the Lower Tertiary age than in the Miocene and Pliocene ….  In general, it may be said that taking any offshoot from any vertical, it is only rarely that we find that .. it does not lead in time to more and more 'cerebalised forms'........

Taking another branch, the arthropods and the insects, we find another sort of consciousness, we are less sure of our values, but the thread which guides seems to hold.  From group to group and age to age these forms, psychologically so far removed, display, like ourselves, the influence of cerebralisation.  The nerve ganglions concentrate; they become localised and grow forward in the head.  At the same time instincts become more complex; and simultaneously the extraordinary phenomena of socialisation appears.

The source of the experience

Teilhard de Chardin, Pierre

Concepts, symbols and science items

Symbols

Science Items

Activities and commonsteps

Commonsteps

References