Pierre Teilhard de Chardin and Muhammad Iqbal on Human Consciousness and Sociality: A Critical Comparison
Lefebure, Leo D
This study is a comparative analysis of Pierre Teilhard de Chardin and Muhammad Iqbal focused on how the themes of consciousness and sociality are developed and interconnected in their respective worldviews. Research efforts sought the exposition of these themes throughout the oeuvres of both authors and in letters and journals, published and archival. Taking a short article by Eva de Vitray-Meyerovitch as inspiration, this study is the first sustained comparison of Iqbal and Teilhard de Chardin and the only sustained comparative study of Teilhard with any Muslim thinker. The scope of research in this project has also brought numerous primary and secondary sources within the respective orbit of each thinker into conversation for the first time and it marks the first published citation of previously unused or sealed archival resources held by Georgetown University.The analysis of consciousness in Teilhard and Iqbal has revealed (1) the importance of their shared inheritance from philosopher Henri Bergson (2) a shared commitment to the unity of consciousness and (3) a shared commitment to a particular kind of panpsychism within the context of panentheism. With respect to sociality, both thinkers write of the phenomenon as a transformative union bearing out the future of consciousness through the joining together of disparate peoples. Iqbal envisions this union as the coming together of the umma bound together by the centripetal force of Islam, whereas Teilhard imagines the entire cosmos forming the Body of Christ in a transhumanist eschaton. Ultimately, Iqbal’s view is more grounded and more attentive to the immediate dangers of imperialism, inequality, and power differentials than Teilhard’s cosmic vision. Despite such differences, and despite their respective critiques of mysticism, it is shown that both Teilhard and Iqbal share a mystical paradigm devoted to knowledge, love, and the building of a better world.
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