Towards an Ethics of Technology: Re-Exploring Teilhard de Chardin’s Theory of Technology and Evolution


Defining the mechanism of evolution is a controversial issue that, until now, divides the scientific community. Some have argued in the strictest Darwinian terms that evolution’s primary mechanism is necessity—“survival of the fittest”. Other evolutionists followed in the footsteps of Jacques Monod, the French biologist, who argued for a mixture of random chance and necessity. Teilhard de Chardin, it is widely believed, took Monod one step further by asserting that evolution is the fundamental motion of the entire universe, an ascent along a privileged and necessary pathway toward consciousness—thus, evolution was guided chance and necessity. However, if evolution is being guided, what is doing the guiding? And where, ultimately, is it going? His bold answers brought Teilhard to the heart of a widely perceived scientific, as well as religious, heresy. A heresy that was effectively silenced, and soon would re-emerge as the world began witnessing exponential advancements in Science and Technology (specifically, on computing, nano-technology, robotics and genetic engineering). Almost half a century after the publication of Phenomenology of Man, many futurist thinkers have began noticing that the super-fast acceleration in the passage of time for evolution is moving in a very different direction than that for the Universe from which it emerges. This paper puts forward the thesis that the philosophical underpinning of a “human-sponsored variant of evolution” (i.e. evolution towards convergence of biological and non-biological intelligence) finds support and meaning within Teilhard de Chardin’s theory of evolution (i.e. evolution towards consciousness). It specifically covers 1) the implications of advancing technologies in human evolution and consciousness within the context of Teilhard’s theory of evolution; 2) how, after homo sapiens silently emerged around 500,000 years ago (with larger brains, particularly in the area of the highly convoluted cortex responsible for rational thought), and after they develop computing, the story of evolution has progressed exponentially paving the way for the possibility of turning Teilhard’s controversial ideas (such as the Noosphere) more than a poetic image; and 3) how the grandest creations of evolution—consciousness and intelligence—provide for the very tool that may allow homo sapiens to take over the course and direction of their own evolution—without necessarily shedding their desire to search for spiritual truth in a secular universe.

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Articulo, A. (2014) Towards an Ethics of Technology: Re-Exploring Teilhard de Chardin’s Theory of Technology and Evolution. Open Journal of Philosophy, 4, 518-530. doi: 10.4236/ojpp.2014.44054.

Conflicts of Interest

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.


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