Mystical consciousness/transformation: An examination of the Christian tradition from a Teilhardian perspective

Carol Jean Vale, Fordham University


This dissertation investigates the thought of Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, S.J., 1881-1955, as it both recapitulates and enhances the Christian tradition in terms of consciousness and transformation. The major portion of the thesis compares the philosophical and theological thought of Bonaventure, Meister Eckhart and Teilhard de Chardin. To examine the Teilhardian synthesis in light of other mystical and philosophical texts, the thought of Thomas Aquinas, Francis of Assisi, Ignatius of Loyola, Teresa of Jesus, and John of the Cross is analyzed. The underlying premise of the dissertation is that Teilhardian thought develops from the concept that "Energy makes itself Presence." Mystical consciousness and transformation, as articulated by Teilhard, can best be defined in relationship to energy and complexification, both of which inhere in the law of complexity consciousness. Since Teilhard neither systematically elucidates a theology nor methodically explicates a philosophy, his thought must be extrapolated from numerous texts which must be tested against one another and synthesized in an effort to produce a coherent whole. This dissertation endeavors to present such a synthesis. By means of a critically comparative analysis the thesis investigates consciousness and transformation as they relate to pertinent areas of the Christian neoplatonic and mystical tradition. The dissertation, which is thematic and historical in nature, concentrates on a critical, textual, comparative analysis and interpretation of the primary texts of Pierre Teilhard de Chardin in comparison with the primary texts of those thinkers mentioned above. It uses as well secondary and related source material. Textual analysis considers his thought in its entirety in order to provide a hermeneutic which extrapolates and explicates the meaning of both scattered and isolated statements as well as integrated textual exposition. The dissertation reaches several significant conclusions. First, it demonstrates that Teilhard is doing a metaphysics which is a direct departure from Thomism and that it parallels and, at points, coincides with the metaphysics of Meister Eckhart. Second, it situates Teilhard in the Christian mystical and Neoplatonic traditions. Third, it shows that his doctrine of exemplarism functions within an innovative epistemology in a manner which both reflects and transcends past tradition. Finally, the dissertation concludes that energy, by means of multiple transformations, functions at every level of Teilhard's thought.

Subject Area

Theology|Religious history

Recommended Citation

Vale, Carol Jean, "Mystical consciousness/transformation: An examination of the Christian tradition from a Teilhardian perspective" (1990). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI9025026.