The symbolic order and the noosphere: Pierre Teilhard de Chardin and Jacques Lacan on technoscience and the future of the planet

International Journal of Philosophy and Theology 1 (1):117-145 (2022)
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Abstract

This paper presents a mutual confrontation of the oeuvres of Pierre Teilhard de Chardin (1881–1955) and Jacques Lacan (1901–1980), highlighting their relevance for the planetary challenges we are facing today. I will present their views on technoscience, environmental pollution and religious faith, focussing on human genomics as a case study. Both authors claim that technoscience reflects a tendency towards symbolisation: incorporating the biosphere (liv- ing nature) into the “symbolic order’ (Lacan) or ‘noosphere’ (Teilhard). On various occasions, Lacan refers to Teilhard’s concept of the hominization of the planet and their dialogue culminates in a ‘final conversation’ between Teilhard and Lacan in 1954, during a reception organised by the journal Psyché. I will conclude that the Teilhard-Lacan dialogue is highly relevant for current debates concerning the Anthropocene, as a moment of global awakening and global crisis. Processes of hominization allowed humans to become literate beings, littering the planet as well: humans as literate litterers. Whereas Teilhard argues that technoscience and self-direc- ted evolution are about to culminate in what he refers to as point Omega, Lacan rather stresses the hazards involved in this optimistic desire towards all-encompassing synthesis, unification and fulfilment.

Author's Profile

Hub Zwart
Erasmus University Rotterdam

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