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

Hub Zwart*

*Corresponding author for this work

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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 (living 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-directed 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.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)117-145
Number of pages29
JournalInternational Journal of Philosophy and Theology
Volume83
Issue number1-3
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 5 Jul 2022

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022 The Author(s). Published by Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group.

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