Summary (Masterplots, Fourth Edition)
When The Phenomenon of Man appeared in France in December, 1955, it was hailed as a major publishing event. The English translation, which appeared in 1959, appeared to be an event of equal interest and significance among English-speaking readers. Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, born in Auvergne, France, in 1881, was an ordained member of the Society of Jesus. Early in his student days at a Jesuit college, he became interested in geology and mineralogy. He then began to study philosophy, followed by an interval of teaching physics and chemistry, and then began the study of theology. During his teaching years and theological studies, he acquired a competence in paleontology, and it was as a paleontologist that he was to become best known to the world.
Teilhard de Chardin’s interests gradually centered on the general facts and theories of the evolutionary process and finally were pinpointed on what was to become his life’s work: the evolution of the human race. Professionally, he was a geologist and paleontologist; as a thinker, he felt impelled to formulate a philosophy of evolution that would take into account human history, human personality, and the future possibilities for humanity on Earth. It is this formulation of concepts that constitutes Teilhard de Chardin’s The Phenomenon of Man. Sir Julian Huxley, in an illuminating introduction, remarks that Teilhard de Chardin was a visualizer of power who saw the whole sweep of the...
(The entire section is 1769 words.)
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