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VINE VOICEon 18 July 2013
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. Even with all of today's scientific discoveries the truth in his extrapolations still hold up.

However I would read "Dinosaur in a Haystack: Reflections in Natural History" Stephen Jay Gould, before reading Book 2, chapter 2, section 3 "THE TREE OF LIFE" it will enhance the experience..

This is a five star book no matter what side of the argument you are on. Listen to Teilhard de Chardin's timeless words coming from Oskar Werner as Fr. David Telemond in "Shoes of the Fisherman" (1968)
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on 27 October 2014
I have still to discover what lies between the pages of this book, a pointless review to write then maybe and how on earth could I rate it 5 stars?
But consider the small fact, my father, educated and worldly, when asked if he'd like me to read to him as his illness debilitated him, insisted I find specifically this book from his vast collection of books to read to him on his death bed. Alas I only got three pages in. It must be worth something if this is the book he requested to listen to. And I do intend to read it.
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VINE VOICEon 23 April 2010
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. Even with all of today's scientific discoveries the truth in his extrapolations still hold up.

However I would read "Dinosaur in a Haystack: Reflections in Natural History" Stephen Jay Gould, before reading Book 2, chapter 2, section 3 "THE TREE OF LIFE" it will enhance the experience..

This is a five star book no matter what side of the argument you are on. Listen to Teilhard de Chardin's timeless words coming from Oskar Werner as Fr. David Telemond in "Shoes of the Fisherman" (1968)
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on 14 April 1999
The reading of this book is an experience in itself. I approached the Phenomenon of Man with some skepticism, as most people will, since it conforms to neither Darwinian or Creationist dogma. Its putative teleology within a spiritual framework is a dissent from both views. What you notice, though, is the immense intellect behind this work. The process of formal argument anticipates and answers the counter arguments as soon as they are posed. You feel as if you are on tracks led to an inevitable conclusion. The book itself becomes analogous to the process de Chardin is proposing. It is finally the homogeneity of the spirit rather than the heterogenous complexification of the natural world which is the ultimate subject of this book. A merging of consciousness in the image of Christ is the conlusion, hardly conforming to Church doctrine of the sovereignty of the individual or free will, which led to the authors problems with the Roman Curia.
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on 31 December 2003
Teilhard’s "The Phenomenon of Man" remains one of the seminal works of the 20th Century. Written 50 years ago it is still scientifically far ahead of most modern evolutionary science, discerning an underlying pattern in evolution, beyond Darwinism, which few seem to be able to grasp. In particular, Teilhard traces the significance of the phenomenon of human consciousness as part of the cosmic order, and thus the rise of human civilisation as an integral aspect of nature.
It is curious that the perception of design and teleological order in nature should be such a challenge to science and to Christianity. Current evolutionary science generally resists any kind of shape to evolution beyond a certain level, while Christianity too often remains stuck in a dualism between Creator and the created order, and philosophy seems generally stuck in the area of Cartesian subjectivity. Even modern ecology can find no real place for humanity in the cosmos. It is because Teilhard probes far beyond these limited perspectives that his work is challenging and controversial.
It is often said that The Phenomenon of Man is a very difficult book to read, that it is abstruse or merely rhetorical. But it is difficult only because it is a larger and more comprehensive scientific vision than we are accustomed to. It challenges the limits that most scientific thinking unnecessarily imposes on reality, as well as the limits that sociology and religious dogma likewise impose upon human nature and the place of humanity within the scheme of nature. These limits arise because of the question of the nature of consciousness, which is either dismissed as an epiphenomena or else reduced to mere chemistry. Teilhard’s proposal that consciousness is a primary ordering principle of natural evolution therefore clashes with the prejudices of most contemporary thinking. Yet it is obvious that if the place of man within the natural scheme of things is to be understood, consciousness and its possibilities cannot be left out of account. It is because Teilhard takes on this question that his book seems difficult.
It is time for a new generation of readers to take up Teilhard’s thought, in a calmer atmosphere than that of its first publication in which it was distorted by both opponents and by enthusiasts alike. The Phenomenon of Man is neither a "mystical vision" nor scientific reductionism. It is simply a larger perspective of natural observation than most studies of evolution are prepared to undertake.
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on 4 April 2011
As a Jesuit and a paleontologist Teilhard de Chardin tried to reconcile the evolutionary theory of the ascent of man and his religious beliefs. As a pioneer he did not always get it right but his Jesuit superiors had more sympathy with what he was trying to achieve that the authorities in Rome.

He was particularly interested in a great lacuna in traditional Darwinism, focussed as it was narrowly on material facts, to study the grades of life-forms. Darwinism, though recognizing grades of life forms, had nothing further to say on the matter. But even the ancient philosophers speculated on the intelligence of animals, and the difference between sentient animals, other living things like trees, and inanimate nature like stones. Sentient animals had an anima or soul which ordered their lives.

Teilhard argued that for every evolutionary step in the material world there must be a similar step in the grades of anima. As a Christian and a priest he considered that this evolution must have direction which he called the omega point, which can be understood as the vision of God.

It was his misfortune that he lived just after the sweeping condemnation of modern thought by Pope Pius X in 1907 and any priest who deviated from traditional orthodoxy was likely to be sent to the missions in a remote part of the world. He was sent to China.

It can be argued that his teaching, or lack of it, on original sin is more in conformity with Catholic belief than the then teaching of the Vatican which depended heavily on the sin of Adam, precisely one of the biblical stories Leo XIII had said need not be interpreted literally, and that the Vatican was clinging to outmoded interpretations as in the case of Galileo.

None of this theological background appears in Teilhard's work, nor is it mentioned in the Introduction by Sir Julian Huxley who read the book as a scientist and probably was ignorant of the theological background. This book was written in scientific terms by a scientist who was also a priest; it is in no way a vindication of his personal difficulties with the Vatican. But Catholics can be relieved that it can be understood in orthodox religious terms, given a bit of goodwill towards someone who was attempting to break new ground.

What are we to make of the arguments in the book itself? They are certainly plausible. It makes one think again about the subject. But life and intelligence have proved difficult to deal with in Darwinian terms.It is easy to devise measures of intelligence, but difficult to prove scientifically how self-awareness comes about. Perhaps some things should be left to philosophy rather than science.

It is not an easy read but every educated person should make the attempt.
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on 3 June 1999
In the most serious intent to transcend dualism Teilhard de Chardin not only put the bases for a new worldview but also made the most clear distintion between the without of things and the within of things. In this way he opened the doors to start thinking in a new concept of unity in which the qualitative aspect of reality is just as important as the quantitative. Another important Teilhard contribution is the concept of "The Perception of Space-time" not as a linear-mathematical framework but as a new sphere of reality he also called DURATION as Bergson did...In the last century...has been taking place in our minds: the definite access of consciouness to a scale of new dimensions; and in consequence the birth of an entirely new universe.
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on 2 August 2000
I'm not big on academia, and I hold no particular religious affiliations, so I approached this book from a 'Joe in the street' standpoint, (and this is off the top of my head so to speak), so please forgive any discrepancies - I just felt like giving some'input'!
As I recall, Chardin refers to (amongst many other aspects of the human condition, like Love!) something he calls the noosphere, a sphere of evolutionary consciousness around the earth if you like, where (and I'm paraphrasing here) 'man discovers he is nothing else than evolution become conscious of itself' - for me the www/net (and here's where my strapline comes in folks!) would seem to be a natural part of this 'noogenesis' as he puts it, man projecting his mind outward and (hopefully) inward, if you like...
If one takes the view that humankind's role is one of being the thinking part of this organism we call earth, a mechanism such as the net (in this context) would appear to be a vital cog in the process of humankind understanding himself and others (at an increased rate!) and so would be contributing to the evolutionary process
....cosmogenesis anyone? ..Ooh yes! and repercussions all round please!..
Seriously, (well as serious as I can get) I personally found Chardin's writing illuminating and thought provoking, and I would recommend this book to anyone interested in our place in the universe...
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on 26 April 2016
Teilhard may be on to something but his florid and pretentious prose does nothing to illuminate his thesis and leaves him open to the criticism of Sir Peter Medawar referenced by other reviewers. Readers unconvinced by the arguments of Dawkins and his acolytes should read Jerry Fodor's "What Darwin Got Wrong" or Raymond Tallis "Aping Mankind".
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on 14 January 2016
Essential reading for all interested in acquiring a broad view of human development.
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