Seeing as the Way of All Life

Here’s a thought to ponder, from Pierre Teilhard de Chardin’s fascinating and provocative forward to his classic book, The Phenomenon of Man.

Seeing. We might say that the whole of life lies in that verb—if not ultimately, at least essentially. Fuller being is closer union: such is the kernel and conclusion of this book. But let us emphasise the point: union increases only through an increase in consciousness, that is to say in vision. And that, doubtless, is why the history of the living world can be summarised as the elaboration of ever more perfect eyes within a cosmos in which there is always something more to be seen. After all, do we not judge the perfection of an animal, or the supremacy of a thinking being, by the penetration and synthetic power of their gaze? To try to see more and better is not a matter of whim or curiosity or self-indulgence. To see or to perish is the very condition laid upon everything that makes up the universe, by the mysterious gift of existence. And this, in superior measure, is man’s condition.

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