Pierre Teilhard de Chardin

Pierre Teilhard de Chardin (pyĕr tāyär´ də shärdăN´), 1881–1955, French paleontologist and philosopher. He entered (1899) the Jesuit order, was ordained (1911), and received a doctorate in paleontology from the Sorbonne (1922). He lectured (1920–23) at the Institut Catholique in Paris. After visiting China (1923–24), he resumed teaching at the Institut, but in 1926 he was forced by his superiors to abandon teaching and return to China because of his controversial attempts to reconcile the traditional view of original sin with his concept of evolution; at that time it was also decided that his publications should be limited to purely scientific material, a limitation that continued throughout his lifetime. Shortly after his return to China, Teilhard was named adviser to the National Geological Survey, and in that capacity he collaborated on research that resulted in the discovery (1929) of Peking man (see Homo erectus). While in China (1926–46) he also completed the manuscript of The Phenomenon of Man (published posthumously, 1955; tr. 1959), in which he outlined his concept of cosmic evolution and his conviction that belief in evolution does not entail a rejection of Christianity. Evolution he saw to be a process involving all matter, not just biological material, the cosmos undergoing successively more complex changes that would lead ultimately to "Omega Point," which has been variously interpreted as the integration of all personal consciousness and as the second coming of Christ. Teilhard's evolutionism earned him the distrust of his religious superiors, while his religious mysticism made scientific circles suspicious; but despite much opposition—or perhaps because of it—there was an unusually broad popular response to his work after its posthumous publication. The interest may be explained by his boldly anthropocentric, and somewhat mystical, understanding of the cosmos: humanity for him is the axis of the cosmic flow, the key of the universe. Teilhard de Chardin's other works (all published posthumously) include Letters from a Traveller (1956, tr. 1962), The Divine Milieu (1957, tr. 1960), The Future of Man (1959, tr. 1964), Human Energy (1962, tr. 1969), Activation of Energy (1963, tr. 1971), and Hymn of the Universe (1964, tr. 1965).

See biographies by C. Cuénot (tr. 1965), R. Speaight (1968), and M. and E. Lukas (1981); studies by M. H. Murray (1966), R. Faricy (1967), R. G. North (1967), B. Delfgaauw (1969), P. Hefner (1970), H. J. Birx (1972), T. M. King (1981), E. O. Dodson (1984), W. Smith (1988).

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright© 2018, The Columbia University Press.

Pierre Teilhard de Chardin: Selected full-text books and articles

Teilhard and the Future of Humanity By Thierry Meynard Fordham University Press, 2006
Teilhard's Vision of the past: The Making of a Method By Robert J. O'Connell Fordham University Press, 1982
The Anthropic Cosmological Principle By John D. Barrow; Frank J. Tipler Oxford University Press, 1988
Librarian's tip: "Teilhard de Chardin: Mystic, Paleontologist and Teleologist" begins on p. 195
Radical Pragmatism: An Alternative By Robert J. Roth Fordham University Press, 1998
Librarian's tip: Chap. 6 "Transcendence and Immanence: An Alternative"
The Strange Case of the Spotted Mice and Other Classic Essays on Science By Peter Medawar Oxford University Press, 1996
Librarian's tip: Chap. 1 "The Phenomenon of Man"
Toward a Phenomenological Rhetoric: Writing, Profession, and Altruism By Barbara Couture Southern Illinois University Press, 1998
Librarian's tip: Chap. 4 "Profession: Embodying Truth in Self-Expression"
Twentieth-Century Religious Thought: The Frontiers of Philosophy and Theology, 1900-1960 By John MacQuarrie Harper & Row, 1963
Librarian's tip: Chap. 82 "Realist Metaphysics in Theological and Religious Writers -- W. Temple, L. S. Thornton, P. Teilhard de Chardin"
From Silence to Vindication: Teilhard De Chardin & the Holy Office By Nugent, Robert Commonweal, Vol. 129, No. 18, October 25, 2002
Christian Mystics: Their Lives and Legacies throughout the Ages By Ursula King Routledge, 2004
Librarian's tip: "Pierre Teilhard de Chardin (1881-1955)" begins on p. 234
The Greening of Protestant Thought By Robert Booth Fowler University of North Carolina Press, 1995
Librarian's tip: Discussion of Pierre Teilhard de Chardin begins on p. 109
God after Darwin: A Theology of Evolution By John F. Haught Westview Press, 2000
Librarian's tip: "Chap. 6 "A God for Evolution"
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