Christopher X J. Jensen
Associate Professor, Pratt Institute

Was Teilhard de Chardin the real inventor of an evolutionary approach to culture?

Posted 26 Jan 2014 / 0

On Being Teilhard de Chardin on The “Planetary Mind” and Our Spiritual Evolution

We often give credit to Richard Dawkins — who is undeniably the inventor of the term “memetics” — for introducing an evolutionary approach to cultural change. But as this piece makes clear, de Chardin was already thinking on far more large scales about cultural evolution than Dawkins.

The “Omega Point” idea is interesting. As David Sloan Wilson suggests, this is wrong if you look at it as a teleological process. We need to guide ourselves to it!

Great stuff on what “spirituality means” in the DS Wilson section. Having a “soul” is about two things:

    • Having a collective goal that sacrifices self interest at lower levels; and
    • Having the means to communicate about the achievement of that collective goal via cooperation.

Revkin’s bit on the state of our collective brain is fascinating. We are clearly in an adolescence of the “noosphere”, but will it ever mature? This is a similar question to what DS Wilson is saying about a “soul”.

It seems like maybe de Chardin’s curiosity about our evolution is comparable in importance to that of Darwin and Wallace!

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