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- Teilhard de Chardin and Senghor on the civilization of the universal
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Le cosmos , chapitre 1. Dieu , chapitre 2. Dieu , chapitre 3. Le mal , chapitre 2. Le mal , chapitre 1. BOFF, Theology and praxis: Desguin , dans Printemps , , p.
Le mal , chapitre 5. Le cosmos , chapitre 3. Le cosmos , chapitre 5. Le Christ , chapitre 5. Dieu , chapitre 5. Les mots et les livres , p. Un combat avec Dieu", dans Christus , , p.
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Jalons pour un dialogue , Paris, , p. Le sens , chapitre 3. La Descente aux Enfers", dans Pastoralia , mars , p. Le temps du risque", dans A. Le sens , chapitre 1. Impacts et limites de la recherche , Seyssel, Champ Vallon, , p. Le sens , chapitre 4. Revisiter la toute-puissance", dans A. Villanova, "El cristianismo como monoteismo relativo", dans Selecciones de teologia, 42, , p. Internationale patristische Bibliographie , t. Naar het einde van een conflict? Een nieuwe weg van het weten? Poging tot theologische waardering. Teilhard de Chardin P.
A priori, in Teilhard de Chardin's opinion, there seem to be two methods, two possible roads in order to build up this collectivisation of mankind. The first is a process of tightening-up in response to external pressures. The human mass, because it is in a state of continuous additive growth, in number and inter-connections, on the confined surface of this planet, must automatically become more and more firmly concentrated upon itself. To this impressive process of natural compression there may well be added the artificial constraint imposed by a stronger human group upon a weaker; we have only to look around us at the present time, nowadays, to see how this idea is seeking, indeed rushing towards its realisation.
Many countries still behave as masters over others. Why is it that some countries for example, have the right to own the atomic bomb and not others? Yet, there is another way. This is that, prompted by some favouring influence, the elements of mankind should succeed in making effective a profound force of mutual attraction, deeper and more powerful than the surface repulsion which causes them to diverge, forced upon one another by the dimensions and mechanics of the earth, men will purposefully bring to life a common soul in this vast body.
And so, the two possible roads are the following: In his days, Teilhard de Chardin experienced the destruction of war and for him, war expressed the tension and the interior dislocation of mankind shaken to its roots as it stood at the crossroads, faced by the need to decide upon its future. Instead of humanity to unite through compulsion, since unity imposes itself, the collectivisation of mankind being an unavoidable process, it must unite in total freedom.
Learning from the miseries of the past with the world wars, for example, humans must unite in a unanimous spirit. The road to be followed therefore is the road of freedom; we are supposed to engage in the process of totalisation consciously and freely. In effect, Teilhard de Chardin declares:. In my view the road to be followed is clearly revealed by the teaching of all the past. We can progress only by uniting: But unification through coercion leads only to a superficial pseudo-unity.
It may establish a mechanism, but it does not achieve any fundamental synthesis; and in consequence it engenders no growth of consciousness. It materialises, in short, instead of spiritualising. Only unification through unanimity is biologically valid. This alone can work the miracle of causing heightened personality to emerge from the forces of collectivity.
It alone represents a genuine extension of the psychogenesis that gave us birth. Therefore it is inwardly that we must come together, and in entire freedom. The Teilhardian view here reminds us of the Stoic notion of freedom. In fact, happiness consists in obeying nature, living like the gods, living according to the spark of divinity in us, living according to reason.
As such, man's happiness consists in following without restraint the prescriptions of Nature. In a determined world, the stoic is still free. He is free to follow nature or not to do so. Like a dog tied behind the chariot, man is supposed to choose to run step by step, following the cadence of the chariot, in all freedom in order to find satisfaction behind the chariot; instead of resisting and ending up being dragged by force. The process of totalisation imposes itself to us and our happiness consists in uniting in all freedom, in all unanimity in order to avoid being yanked by coercion.
There is no hesitation that humanity, taken in its concrete nature, is really composed of different races. Human races exist, but this needs not give room for any antagonism or racism. In effect, there is no need for us to try to deny our differences. Teilhard de Chardin wonders:. We cannot but acknowledge the fact that people are different like chalk and cheese. Even the children of the same family are not all equally strong or equally intelligent.
This diversity is what gives merit to each and every one. If it were not so, one could not talk about a synthesis of all. In order to lay a foundation of a racial morality, we are called to acknowledge our differences. People are all equal in dignity, but each individual person is different from another in terms of talents, temperament, character and personality.
We cannot but accept this fact in order to talk about the Civilization of the Universal, or about globalisation, where there is a synthesis of all human races. It is therefore important for us to point out here with Teilhard de Chardin, the error of feminism. Woman is not man, and it is precisely for this reason that man cannot do it all alone, without woman. A mechanic for example, is not a football player, or an artist, or a farmer; and it is thanks to these diversities that the national organism functions.
This is most providential for the total prosperity and future of man. It is important to note with Teilhard de Chardin that these inequalities and or differences may appear as detrimental so long as the elements are regarded statically and in isolation. Observed however from the point of view of their essential complementarity, they become acceptable, honourable, and even welcome. Will the eye ever say that it despises the hand? Once this functional diversity of human races is admitted, in Teilhard de Chardin's opinion, two things follow instantly. The first is that the duty of each race is not to preserve or rediscover some indefinable original purity in the past but to complete itself in the future, according to its own qualities and values.
The second is that in this drive towards collective personalisation, aid must be sought from each of the neighbouring branches of civilization. In the Teilhardian world view, human races are complementary. No race is supposed to claim superiority over others. Teilhard de Chardin avers:. Races, patries, nations, Etats, cultures, groupes linguistiques As a palaeontologist and cosmologist, Teilhard de Chardin tends to reconcile East and West:. Hence, collectivisation is not the work of some privileged cultures or human races or civilizations. The doors of the future are going to open themselves only through the impulse of all the civilizations together.
The Civilization of the Universal is not for some peoples, but it is the work of all though some may lead the others in this panhuman convergence. Since we are all from the same species, we must work to build up a common mind and avoid racism. The increase of human consciousness favours forces that tend towards dissolution but this is countered according to Teilhard de Chardin, by a planetary impulse towards solidarity: An ecumenical view of humanity emerged clearly in Teilhard de Chardin's mind during his days.
The call for the Civilization of the Universal is based here on his principle that union differentiates in order to neutralize all forms of racism. The collective must be personalized in order to heal the cleavage. Individual races must become collective-minded. The various races of man, in so far as we can still distinguish between them, in spite of their convergence, are not biologically equal but different and complementary like children of the same family. And there is no doubt that it is even to this very genetic diversity that we must attribute the extreme biological richness of mankind.
Each race must therefore strive to keep its identity, because the Civilization of the Universal means unity in diversity and not fusion in identity. With all confidence, Teilhard de Chardin thus says:. There is nothing in this, I think, to hurt anyone's pride: They accuse me of being a racialist, I am not. For the racialist, mankind is divided into higher and lower races, any fusion of the two being immoral and degrading.
The biologically inferior races have, for him, only one useful purpose, to perform the meaner tasks, and humanity will never attain unity. Though different, all races are complementary and equal in dignity. In effect, there are in Teilhard de Chardin's vision, some races that act as the leading light of evolution and others that have reached a dead end. Mankind is evolving towards a form of totalisation, and this process necessarily entails a particular role for every race.
The various races, though different, are capable of coming together in synthesis. These races must therefore share. There is in fact a moral effort needed in order that this collaboration among races may take place effectively. Teilhard de Chardin states:. Human relationships are so complex that one needs to be very careful in relating with the other person.
There is a constant moral effort that is needed. This entails a great spirit of sacrifice. Coming up together in view of the Civilization of the Universal is not something so easy. Accepting the values of the other culture or human race is not given. In discussing the present situation and mutual duties of races, Teilhard de Chardin acknowledges that there is a contagious movement which is at present setting the various ethnic unities of the world in great hostility with one another.
This antagonism among peoples, in which we are caught, seems to give a final knock to whoever dreamed of a unification of the universe. The world in his days was characterised by repulsion, isolation and fragmentation and this was revealed by wars and conflicts. Teilhard de Chardin, who believed in the existence of human progress, remained optimistic despite the revival of racism in his days.
Il faut des nations conscientes pour une terre totale. Teilhard de Chardin bears witness to the fact that some peoples of the earth have lived in fear of one another and even in conflict. He imagines that these forces of opposition lying in every human unit in Europe or in Asia, were then in gestation and that they wanted to come out, neither to oppose nor crush themselves, but to unite, come together and to fertilize themselves. We need conscious nations for a total earth. The apparent conflict situation in the world is just a step towards a union by dissension and gradually, all races are becoming aware of their duties towards one another.
There is therefore, according to Teilhard de Chardin, no room for discouragement, since the process of globalisation will have to take a long period of time. What we need is patience and optimism:. Teilhard de Chardin says that nowadays, we are witnessing forces of divergence; but we need not despair. In reality a process as great as the synthesis of races cannot be realised quickly.
It will take time more especially because we are in the phase of extreme divergence. The phase of extreme divergence which is characteristic of races and the world today is just a prelude to such a convergence, that is, the Civilization of the Universal as has never yet been on earth.
In fact, according to Teilhard de Chardin, every move we make to isolate ourselves presses us closer together. So, in spite of quarrels and conflicts which it disturbs and saddens us to see, the idea that a concentration of humanity is taking place in the world and that, far from breaking it up, we are increasingly coming together, is not an absurd one. The theory that there is a human synthesis is indubitable and it is taking place gradually as days and centuries go by in the universe. Teilhard de Chardin affirms:. We need to admit the fact that there is a coming together of human races and of peoples in order to appreciate that which humanity needs most: This international ethics is what we have been considering in a wider context as the Civilization of the Universal, the convergence of all races towards the Omega Point.
Teilhard de Chardin is himself conscious of the fact that this phenomenon calls for no detailed description:. It takes the form of the all-encompassing ascent of the masses; the constant tightening of economic bounds; the spread of financial and intellectual associations; the totalisation of political regimes; the closer physical contact of individuals as well as of nations; the increasing impossibility of being or acting or thinking alone - in short, the rise, in every form, of the Other around us.
Hence, we are now in the phase of planetisation. In his consideration of the Collectivisation of mankind, Teilhard de Chardin is confident. He perceives a great event foreshadowed: He says that although our individualistic instincts may rebel against this drive towards the collective, they do so in vain and wrongly:. There is no force on earth that can escape to that which is the force of the earth. The movement which carries us along tends by nature to make us completely human.
Ipso facto , we are called to obey to this inner drive of the universe, which seeks to make us one and if we become aware of this profound ordering of things, we will be able to allow human collectivisation to pass beyond the enforced phase, where it now is, to the free phase: Teilhard de Chardin asserts that the phenomenon of planetisation of humankind falls in several aspects: Geographically, since , a vast expanse of the earth, the region of the Pacific, hitherto on the fringe of civilization, has for practical purposes entered irrevocably into the orbit of industrialised nations.
Mechanised masses of men have invaded the southern seas, and up-to-date airfields have been permanently installed on what were the poetically lost islands of Polynesia. Ethnically, during the same space of time, there has been a vast and pitiless confusion of peoples, whole armies being removed from one hemisphere to the other, and tens of thousands of refugees being scattered across the world like seed borne on the wind. Brutal and harsh though the circumstances have been who can fail to perceive the inevitable consequences of this new striving of the human dough?
According to Teilhard de Chardin, this process of collectivisation of mankind is unavoidable:. Despite the accumulated improbabilities that its progress presupposes, it has continually been increasing in our world and what can be seen in mankind today is precisely its climax. We cannot stop or turn back from what is taking shape and gathering speed around us indeed, it is an unavoidable process.
In effect, we do experience today progress in human collectivisation.
Teilhard de Chardin and Senghor on the civilization of the universal
Countries tend to build up international organisations in order to make unity among them more effective. What the Western world experiences today through the European Union, is a tangible proof that humanity is moving towards the Civilization of the Universal, though much still needs to be done in the whole world. Teilhard de Chardin is a forecaster.
He had already foreseen a certain planetisation of mankind in his days. Is it not what globalisation is all about? This is the Civilization of the Universal, a rendez-vous where each culture has something to offer and to receive as well. This will continue to take place gradually. Teilhard de Chardin calls our attention to the need to accept this phenomenon of planetisation of mankind in all optimism:. Instead of denying or minimizing the reality of this great phenomenon, we are supposed to frankly accept it.
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We are called to acknowledge its value and its significance in order to build on it a monument of happiness and liberation of all humanity. One may genuinely wonder how Teilhard de Chardin could postulate such a phenomenon. The answer is simply that as a Geologist and Palaeontologist, he studied the past and his studies of the past enabled him to establish knowledge of the future. He believed that it is only by carefully studying the past that we can anticipate the future and understand the present.
In this context therefore, we consider Teilhard de Chardin a Prophet of globalisation. Faced with so much destruction at this beginning of the 3 rd millennium, we can still affirm that the planetary consciousness of Teilhard de Chardin is taking place; it is a process that is certifiable. It is perhaps Teilhard's greatest service to our time that having accepted the whole cosmic process as one, continuous, complexified and convergent, he can regard it with an unfaltering hope.
Anyone who enters into the significance of evolution will find in the record of its evidence of progress and therefore of encouragement, not as an exception, but in its diverse forms and at every level verifiable and conclusive. In our first chapter, we have considered the notion of the Civilization of the Universal as presented to us by Pierre Teilhard de Chardin.
The thought of this French Jesuit priest on humanism gave much dignity to peoples that were considered as inferior in a period marked by the growth of racism and ethnocentrism. In effect, the writings of Teilhard de Chardin were actually challenging the racist visions of the representative of western imperialism in Africa. In this second chapter of our philosophical endeavour, we set ourselves the task of analysing the foundations of Senghor's humanism, his African socialism, the Negro-African vision of the world, his role and his contribution to the building up of the Civilization of the Universal.
Like Teilhard de Chardin, Senghor considered the interaction of cultures and human races. His readings of Teilhard de Chardin urged him to adopt and adapt some of his views on the Civilization of the Universal. In the midst of French and African culture, Senghor makes of Teilhard de Chardin's humanism, the basis of his thought on the Civilization of the Universal:.
The foundations of Senghor's understanding of the Civilization of the Universal could be drawn from the assertion of Teilhard de Chardin that there are some human races that have reached a dead end, while others act as the spearhead of evolution. As we have seen with Teilhard de Chardin, mankind is evolving towards a form of totalisation, and this process necessarily entails a particular role for every human race. This is because human races are complementary and capable of coming together in synthesis. All human races and cultures are called to share an attitude of sympathetic collaboration in a unanimous effort towards the Civilization of the Universal.
The complementarity of human races enabled Senghor to found his African humanism. Senghor's humanism is based on the contribution of the Negro-African race to the building up of the Civilization of the Universal. Africa thus occupies an important place and it has an important role to play in this process of totalisation of mankind. Later on in our work, we shall consider with Senghor that which is the Negro-African contribution to the Civilization of the Universal. Several years after the colonial period in black Africa, one can tempt to draw up the cultural relation balance between the two continents: Were there cultural exchanges strictly speaking?
In order to have a real reciprocal cultural exchange, a certain equality is necessary in the relations between two continents. However, the colonisers considered the colonised like primitives, uncultivated and incapable to have a civilization of their own. Que peut-il nous donner en retour? Senghor will endeavour to present the bad effects of colonisation on the African culture. In effect, colonisation has helped in the loss of most of our African traditional values and has helped in the formation of a split personality in many Africans.
Senghor calls for a revalorization of our traditional and cultural values since the African contribution to the building up of the Civilization of the Universal is above all based on his cultural values. Senghor's African socialism relies on three pillars: In order to obtain an inventory of traditional African values, in Senghor's opinion, the study of the mythical past of Africa is crucial. Teilhard de Chardin had exhorted all cultures to converge towards the Omega point, through love and charity.
In adapting Teilhard de Chardin, Senghor considers that the African world is much more adapted than the western world, to realize this communion of love. He considers the African's view of the world as a communion of souls, as the basis of the contribution of the African continent to the Civilization of the Universal. He then calls for a revalorization of African cultural values such as hospitality, solidarity and mutual love and concern.
This inventory can be drawn from the effects of colonialism on cultural patterns of behaviour of the African. We can point out here the Inferiority Complex and the Split personality in the African. Similarly, while colonialism brought a new security by introducing the rule of law against the arbitrary power of chiefs; and brought technical and economic developments which make man less dependent on nature, it has also robbed the African traditional security which he found in his tribal ties and in the old social web of relationships.
Finally, while it introduced a broader horizon into people's life by making them look beyond the limits of their villages, and by bringing about new associations: As we shall see in the next chapter, despite these side effects of colonialism, the African himself, at least partly, still carries the blame of his inferiority complex and his split personality. As a result of his inferiority complex, the African develops a split personality. This reflects itself more especially in African leaders as Kaunda points out: In effect, the problem lies in the mentality of the African.
Africa is a continent blessed with a lot of natural resources. Due to poor technical and economic development, these resources are and have been exploited by the West. Senghor thus insists on the spiritual and cultural resources of Africa. The foreign contributions, whether capitalist or socialist, whether from the West or from the East, must take cognizance of and be adapted to the African cultural and economic realities. Neither western nor eastern, nor African civilization is the universal civilization. Africa has something to offer in the process of collectivisation of mankind.
The Hegelian and other racist attitudes are therefore wrong:. The Negro-African is not finished before he even gets started. Let him speak; above all, let him act. Let him bring like a leaven, his message to the world in order to help build the Civilization of the Universal. Following the steps of Teilhard de Chardin, Senghor acknowledges the complementarity of races and cultures. But it welcomes them in order to fertilize and reinvigorate its own values, which it then offers for the construction of a civilization which shall embrace all mankind.
The neo-humanism of the twentieth century stands at the crossroads where the paths of all nations, races and continents meet, where the four winds of the spirit blow. Above all, the search for the Civilization of the Universal must not become an excuse for introducing a new cultural colonialism. This implies an independence of the mind, which is the necessary prerequisite of other independences: Such independence must imply not merely the rejection of the former colonial rule as being the absolute culture, but also of any other culture or value system which has not been fully integrated into that of one's own people.
Every man is part of a social context: The conception of reality by Africans is in many ways different from the way the Westerner views the world. Our attitude to life cannot therefore but be different from the western attitude to life. It is important to consider how the negro-African views reality in order to see why Senghor adopts and adapts the Teilhardian considerations on the Civilization of the Universal.
When the Westerner considers reality as empirical, Africans look at being as dynamic. In effect, for the Westerner, everything can be tested and can be explained scientifically. He believes in empirical causality and seeks to know the material causes of things. He holds that a thing is what it is and not something else.
He is more or less occupied with experience and bases his conception of reality on the law of non-contradiction, law of identity, law of the excluded middle, which are the basic principles outside which thought must be incorrect. For Africans, Being is dynamic, not static. It is concrete, real. As such, we are aware of the fact that there are causes and reasons that cannot be explained scientifically.
We are aware of the fact that a thing can be itself and still be something else. We are not only aware of this, we live it intensively. Sometimes, our vision of things tends to defy the principles and categories of western thought. There is more to the world than what only the eye can see.
We are engaged in the events and things that occur and we are involved in Being. A tree falls and kills a man. The westerner would say there was an accident, a tree fell and killed a man. Then he would bring out his equipment and go to examine the tree. Perhaps he would discover that the tree was hollow inside. Perhaps, he would be able to establish that there was a storm at the time the tree fell. The man happened to be passing just at that moment and so he got killed. To prevent this from happening again, he would, perhaps, decide to fell all trees within a certain distance from the highway.
Mbi continues by showing how Africans look at things in a way that is different from the western vision of the world:. He the westerner doesn't think of praying about the matter. Our peoples, on the other hand, would look at the man. They would want to know why the tree fell on this man. For them this is not just a simple event. It is an occurrence that has meaning.
God, the Ancestors, the spirits, other human beings come into picture. Relationship has been disrupted somewhere and this situation must be set right in order to prevent a repeat of this kind of occurrence. They would go for a nggambe man to find out the origin of this evil. Then they would offer sacrifices of appeasement and try to procure protection for the members of the family. They don't think of changing the physical conditions.
L’Église verte ? La construction d’une écologie catholique : étapes et tensions
These are two completely different approaches to the same situation. When the Westerner will stress on the material dimension of events, the African will stress more on the spiritual dimension of it. He will see the spirit everywhere. Because Africans usually think and react the way they do, they are often condemned as being superstitious and illogical.
After all, can we say that what is not known does not necessarily exist? Can we actually attribute the effectiveness of what is only to that which is known? Do we have the right to reject totally the African's understanding of being as dynamic? This will certainly lead us to the absolutisation of rationality in its scientific and technological form, the error of Positivism. We suppose, therefore, that it is wiser to see the western vision and the African vision as complementary ways of being-in-the-world.
The human being is both matter and spirit:. A purely rationalistic approach to reality, which takes account only of the materially demonstrable, can be just as lopsided as one, which sees spirit everywhere. It doesn't help the situation if we simply disregard and condemn. It would do a lot more good if we try to understand and move forward It is important to acknowledge our differences in the way we look at Being instead of trying to condemn one attitude or the other. The two visions are necessary in the construction of the Civilization of the Universal.
While western man studies nature to see what he can make out of it, we acknowledge on our part that nature holds mysteries. For us, nature is mysterious, we learn from it, we perceive the dynamism of being from it and this leads us to worship.
The reverence that Africans give to nature points out to traditional religion. We perceive God in nature and we worship Him in and through nature. Nature is the ground for all our relationships:. I am because I am involved with other beings. Without relationship my being loses meaning and I cease to be. Where there is a breach in relationship I am bound to experience trouble, I find myself confronted with nonbeing.
Nature involves us completely and we are part of it. From nature, we gain not only material goods, but also knowledge, religiosity and wisdom. If for the Westerner, what is artificial is meaningful and valuable, because it is the mark of his achievement and scientific spirit, for us, what is natural is meaningful and valuable because it is the sacred ground of our being.
With our vision of the world, it is perhaps right to assert that we worship God naturally, the Most real Being in the most natural way. Again, one great mistake which the foreigner is liable to make when he sees us gazing at nature is to say that we worship trees or stones Africans do not worship trees or stones; it is a misunderstanding of the way we look at things.
Our metaphysics is impregnated with religion. Africans are notoriously religious. The world for Africans consists of the physical reality, which we see. It is not a static reality but a dynamic reality, which opens up to the world beyond. The world both seen and unseen is one reality. In the world beyond, there is the realm of the nature spirits, both the good and the bad, and there is the realm of ancestral spirits: They are blessed ones; they are productive even in the after-life since they are close to the source of life.
They live in perpetual communion with the family and can bring assistance to those in the present life. They are venerated as Ancestors. Those whose life was unproductive on earth are damned ones; they remain unproductive when they die. African ontology presents a concept of the world which is diametrically opposed to the traditional philosophy of Europe. The latter is essentially static, objective, dichotomic; it is in fact, dualistic, in that it makes an absolute distinction between body and soul or matter and spirit.
It is founded on separation and opposition: The African, on the other hand, conceives the world, beyond the diversity of its forms, as a fundamentally mobile, yet unique, reality that seeks synthesis. The African is, of course, sensitive to the external world, to the material aspect of beings and things.
It is precisely because he is sensitive to the tangible qualities of things such as shape, colour, smell, or weight that he considers these things merely as signs that have to be interpreted and transcended in order to reach the reality of human beings. Thus, the whole universe appears as an infinitely small and at the same time an infinitely large network which emanates from God and ends in God.
For Africans, God is absolutely transcendent, far beyond everything.