The Phenomenon of Man

In THE PHENOMENON OF MAN (Le Phenomne Humain, 1955) by Pierre Teilhard de Chardin a French philosopher, paleontologist and Jesuit priest describes evolution as a process that leads to increasing complexity, culminating in the unification of consciousness.

The book was finished in the 1930s, but was published posthumously in 1955.

The Phenomenon of Man by Teilhard de Chardin referenced in Beyond Motivation by James T. McCay

Buy from

THE PHENOMENON OF MAN set forth a sweeping account of the unfolding of the cosmos and abandoned the traditional interpretations of creation in the Book of Genesis in favor of a less strict interpretation. This displeased the Roman Curia and his own order, The Jesuits, who thought that the book undermined the doctrine of original sin developed by Saint Augustine so his book was not published until after his death many years later.

However, later statements by officials such as Pope John Paul II and Pope Benedict were more supportive of Teilhard de Chardin.

The foreword to THE PHENOMENON OF MAN was written by one of the key scientific advocates for natural selection and evolution of the 20th Century, and co-developer of the modern synthesis in biology, Julian Huxley.

Reference to THE PHENOMENON OF MAN can be found on page: 13.


Evolution is a process featuring the appearance of organizations of ever greater complexity. Again and again organizations have reached certain critical points – points where they could advance no further – except by becoming part of new structures with greater growth potential.

Man now appears to have reached such a critical point. Individually he can no longer cope effectively with information overloads and global system problems.

In this decade we may therefore witness his jump to a new, unimaginably greater creative level – the level of humanity. Pierre Teilhard de Chardin proposed that the next stage of development after man would be the HUMAN. He visualized a human as a member of a ‘greater soul’. A human might also be seen as a member of an interthinking, interfeeling, interacting synergistic group. When a group achieves synergistic interaction it creates (just as a well conducted orchestra does) considerably more then the sum of the individual contributions of its members.


Pierre Teilhard de Chardin
Collins, London 1959

evolution is a story of jumps in performance – diagram

evolution is a story of jumps in performance diagram  page  12

Moshe Feldenkrais

Moshe Feldenkrais (1904-1984) was an engineer, physicist, inventor, martial artist and student of human development.

Moshe Feldenkrais

Dr. Feldenkrais authored a number of seminal books on movement, learning, human consciousness and somatic experience including Awareness Through Movement and Body And Mature Behavior.

Born in the Ukraine, he emigrated to British Mandate Palestine as a young man. Later he studied at the Sorbonne and worked in the Joliot Curie laboratory in Paris during the 1930s. His interest in Ju Jitsu brought him into contact with Professor Kano who developed the sport of Judo. Dr. Feldenkrais was a founder of the Ju Jitsu Club of Paris and was one of the first Europeans to earn a black belt in Judo.

Escaping the Nazi advance he went to Britain and worked on anti-submarine research for the Admiralty. It was there in the 1940s that he began to develop his Method and wrote his first book on the subject. A knee injury, and uncertain prospects for surgery, began Feldenkrais on what was to become a life long exploration of the relationship between movement and consciousness.

In developing his work Moshe Feldenkrais studied, among other things, anatomy, physiology, child development, movement science, evolution, psychology, a number of Eastern awareness practices and other somatic approaches.

He taught in Israel and many countries in Europe through the 1960s and 1970s and in North America through the 1970s and 1980s. He trained his first group of teachers in Tel Aviv in the early 1970s. This was followed by two groups in the USA – one group in San Francisco and another in Amherst, Massachusetts.

In his life Dr. Feldenkrais worked with all kinds of people with an enormous range of learning needs – from many infants with Cerebral Palsy to leading performers such as the violinist, the late Yehudi Menuhin. He taught over a number of years for the dramatist Peter Brook and his Theatre Bouffes du Nord. He was a collaborator with thinkers such as anthropologist Margaret Mead, neuroscientist Karl Pribram and explorers of the psychophysical Jean Houston and Robert Masters.

The breadth, vitality and precision of Dr. Feldenkrais’ work has seen it applied in diverse fields including neurology, psychology, performing arts, sports and rehabilitation.

Written by Cliff Smyth and first published on the website of the International Feldenkrais Federation.