Re: Huxley, Teilhard and other matters

From: Scott Chase (
Date: Sat Feb 09 2002 - 23:20:11 GMT

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    Subject: Re: Huxley, Teilhard and other matters
    Date: Sat, 09 Feb 2002 18:20:11 -0500
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    >From: John Croft <>
    >Subject: Huxley, Teilhard and other matters
    >Date: Sat, 9 Feb 2002 01:46:29 +0000 (GMT)
    >Regarding Teilhard
    > > > I'm not too keen on Teilhardian omegoid noospheric
    > > > orthogenesis adherents either, though there could
    > > > be some memeticists who like some of his ideas.
    > > > Wasn't Julian Huxley a proto-memeticist of sorts
    > > > with his noetic allusions to noogenetics?
    >John wrote
    > > According to Mayr, yes, but when we tried to track
    > > this down, we couldn't find it - Mayr's ref was
    > > incorrect (he cited _The Modern Synthesis_). It may
    > > have been in a non-science piece Huxley wrote in
    > > 1940 or so.
    >Yes, I have just gone to check and Julian Huxley was
    >very impressed with Teilhardian thinking. He even
    >wrote the introduction on the English Translation of
    >the "Phenomenon of Man", Teilhard's magnum opus (which
    >unfortunately has dated somewhat - although Teilhard's
    >use of the three phaes of evolution -"cosmogenesis",
    >"biogenesis" and "noogenesis" amke sense in terms of
    >the "three replicators" (Lee Smolin's "Life in the
    >Cosmos", the origins of the gene and mimetic theory a
    >la Blackmore.
    >It is interesting that the best part of Teilhardian
    >thought has been saved by Thomas Berry, who for many
    >years was president of the International Teilhard
    >Society, and wrote a lovely monograph of "Teilhard in
    >the Ecological Age" which looks at the strengths and
    >weaknesses of his thinking. Thomas Berry's "New
    >Story" of using cosmology as an underpinning for a
    >scientifically verifiable "creation story" is
    >attracting considerable interest in certain locales.
    >The other interesting threat is the direction
    >Teilhardian omega point theory has taken under the
    >hands of Vernor Vinge. Fascinating stuff.
    I had a hard time parsing Teilhard's theologically inclined works. Didn't he
    try to mix oil and water (contra Gouldian NOMA)? I've got some photocopied
    pages of Sion Cowell's _The Teilhard Lexicon_ (2001. Sussex Academic Press,
    Brighton) and words like "Christogenesis" and "Christ-Omega" stand out.
    "Pleroma" (IIRC a gnostic term also used by Jung) and "Parousia" which has
    something to do with the second coming are also within the lexicon. Teilhard
    had written, in more theologically inclined works, more than what one sees
    in _The Phenomenon of Man_. His ideas are interesting but it is more
    interesting to ponder what is lurking behind the curtain of his noogenic and
    cosmogenic visions, given his Jesuit background. What exactly is driving
    evolution in his view? What stands at the omegoid pinnacle? Can Teilhard's
    theological work be separated from his writings on evolution?

    I've found the Julian Huxley book where he talks about putatively
    proto-memetic study known as noogenetics, but I'll sit on it a while, at
    least til Wilkins resurfaces. I suppose Huxley can be easily marginalized
    and dismissed.

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