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The Phenomenon of Man [Paperback]

Pierre Teilhard de Chardin , Julian Huxley
3.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (19 customer reviews)

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Paperback, Dec 24 1975 --  
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Book Description

Dec 24 1975

Pierre Teilhard De Chardin was one of the most distinguished thinkers and scientists of our time. He fits into no familiar category for he was at once a biologist and a paleontologist of world renown, and also a Jesuit priest. He applied his whole life, his tremendous intellect and his great spiritual faith to building a philosophy that would reconcile Christian theology with the scientific theory of evolution, to relate the facts of religious experience to those of natural science.

The Phenomenon of Man, the first of his writings to appear in America, Pierre Teilhard's most important book and contains the quintessence of his thought. When published in France it was the best-selling nonfiction book of the year.

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"A most extraordinary book, of far-reaching significance for the understanding of man's place in the universe." -- Abraham J. Heschel

"Marks the most significant achievement in synthetic thinking since that of Aquinas." -- Bernard Towers, Blackfriars

About the Author

Pierre Teilhard De Chardin was born in Auvergne, France, in 1881.An ordained member of the Society of Jesus, Pierre Teilhard held positions as professor of geology at the Catholic Institute in Paris, director of the National Geologic Survey of China and director of the National Research Center of France.He lived in China for many years where he played a major role in the discovery of Pekin man. In 1951 he moved to New York where under the auspices of the Wenner-Gren Foundation he was enabled to continue his work until his death in 1955. Le PhÉnomÈne Humain, issued in France in December of that year, was immediately pronounced one of the outstanding publishing events of the century.

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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Teilhard shines June 24 2000
Simply astounding. These are about the only words that I think best describe The Phenomenon of Man. Certainly, this has to be one of the most wildly interesting books that I have ever read. Most of us know and at least vaguely understand evolution, and also theists usually respond defensively that there is no conflict between God and evolution. But rare is the person who seeks to intergrate evolution into God's large-scale, dynamic plan refusing even just to argue for some "Design" in the universe. Teilhard argues that with the onset of animals capable of internal reflection, human beings, evolution takes a turn "inward". The consciousnesss is now what evolves, evolving toward an Omega Point with Teilhard sees as Christ. Certainly in our lives we can see the appeal of this view. Shouldn't our lives be a constant growth, an evolution toward complete oneness with God?
Teilhard is a genius and the best modern example of the intellectual firepower that can come from the Catholic Church and the Jesuits in particular. Although he and the Church didn't always get along (most of his stuff was censored in some way) I think this is due to the fact that Teilhard was so far ahead of his time that the hierarchy really didn't know what to do with him. Surely, 50 or even 20 years from now Teilhard de Chardin will be regarded as one of the most prolific Catholic minds in the last few centuries.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Profound, Complex and Farsighted March 11 2003
This is the toughest book I have ever read.
Teilhard de Chardin starts with the Universe as primal gas and traces the evolution of "matter and consciousness" to the present day. He charts this development as a vector leading to higher consciousness. Man is only one more stepping stone along this path. What is next? He predicts the development of a "noosphere" existing between the biosphere (the thin, wet, green and flesh layer on the lithosphere) and the atmosphere.
When I read this book, 20 years ago, I thought the noosphere was the development of a collective consciousness and a precursor of mental telepathy. I now believe that the internet and widespread use of wireless communications already fulfills his prophecy.
Despite being a Jesuit (or perhaps because of it), Teilhard de Chardin develops his analysis without relying on the concept of God.
Brilliant and subtle. Not for the faint of heart or the speed reader.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Nonsense! Nov. 6 2000
People, people! I feel honor-bound to interject a skeptical note into the midst of all the adulatory gushing. There is no doubt Teilhard de Chardin was a deeply religious man as well as a capable scientist. He strove mightily to reconcile these two aspects of his consciousness, and *Phenomenon of Man* is one of the most celebrated results of his efforts. The other reviews will tell you how splendid it is; it falls to me to tell you that it is nothing but incoherent mush and pseudo-scientific babbling.
Sir Peter Medawar, Nobel prizewinner in medicine, had this to say about the book:
"It is a book widely held to be of the utmost profundity and significance; it created something like a sensation upon its publication in France, and some reviewers hereabouts called it the Book of the Year --- one, the Book of the Century. Yet the greater part of it, I shall show, is nonsense, tricked out with a variety of metaphysical conceits, and its author can be excused of dishonesty only on the grounds that before deceiving others he has taken great pains to deceive himself."
Medawar's defends this opinion with copious quotes from de Chardin, the arguments of which he analyzes and refutes with withering contempt. Medawar's verdict seems conclusive to me; there may be a book somewhere that successfully unites the scientific and the mystical, but Teilhard's isn't it.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The message of this book. Jan. 17 2009
I customer below me asked someone to give one thing that was valuable about this book. What did this book teach us? That the future is valuable. The future is valuable to such an extent that we cannot even approach comprehension of it. This is due to evolution, even from a creationists point of view. How can one so involved in the Catholic faith give us a superposition on evolution and creation? He did it. Can you not see how value able this is? If you want to get into this book and at the very least understand it read Wilber, Aurobindo, Gebser, HG Wells, and others. To finish off I propose those of you imagine this:

"Think of a time when a collect consciousness includes and goes beyond what we have now to that of the theosphere --A time when objective and subjective reality merge to create an unfathomable experience of qualia and encounter."

That's what this author is pointing to.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
By bernie TOP 100 REVIEWER
I am not going to argue points as the author can do that for him self. I will say, many people surpassingly arrive at the same conclusions independently of this work. The few negative reviews are because of a disagreements not that this book is negative in any way. Even with all of today's scientific discoveries the truth in his extrapolations still hold up. However I would listen to "Dinosaur in a Haystack : Reflections in Natural History", efore reading Book 2, chapter 2, section 3 "THE TREE OF LIFE".

This is a five star book no matter what side of the argument you are on. Listen to Teilhard de Chardin's words coming from Oskar Werner as Fr. David Telemond in "Shoes of the Fisherman (1968)"
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Most recent customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Thank God for philosophy
It has been about twenty years since I read the phenomenon of man , a powerfully influential book. A Canadian prime minister of powerful intellect named a key policy initiative... Read more
Published on March 1 2011 by P. Boire
2.0 out of 5 stars Muddled Synthesis
Pierre Teilhard De Chardin was a Jesuit scientist, a brilliant paleontologist and evolutionist who attempted throughtout his life to reconcile Catholic belief with scientific... Read more
Published on March 5 2003 by Avid Reader
4.0 out of 5 stars Good Insight
I stumbled across this site and was captured to read the reviews about Teilhard's book. I read this book 20+ years ago and had relegated it to my archives but these reviews have... Read more
Published on Dec 3 2002 by Arthur
1.0 out of 5 stars Bring your oxometer, and try to keep a straight face...
Derek Bickerton, in "Language and Species," gives us an example of language creating concepts: a friend declares that, to evaluate a certain speech, he would really need his... Read more
Published on Oct. 16 2002 by Geoff Puterbaugh
3.0 out of 5 stars A Middle Ground?
The reviews here pretty much mirror the two camps out there regard PTdC - love him or hate him and little in between.
I think there is another way to approach the work. Read more
Published on Feb. 6 2002
A few eminent figures in politics claim to have been profoundly moved by this book, but I admire them too much to tell you who they are! Read more
Published on Aug. 12 2001
1.0 out of 5 stars Teilhard de Chardin: Blowhard of the Century
As pointed out by another reviewer, Peter Medawar thoroughly demolished this book, and you can see for yourself that no modern thinker relies on this nonsensical babble.
Published on June 9 2001 by Geoff Puterbaugh
2.0 out of 5 stars Too much nonsense
Don't be expected to be blown away by the logic in this book, or the conclusions that are derived thereof. The logic gaps in much of this book are tremendous. Read more
Published on March 22 2001 by Neil McGillivray
2.0 out of 5 stars Tainted Logic
I bought this book with high expectations, having been delighted with the idea of Teilhard's "noosphere". Read more
Published on March 5 2001 by Aaron
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