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The noosphere can be seen as the "sphere of human thought" being derived from the Greek νους ("nous") meaning "mind" in the style of "atmosphere" and "biosphere".

It is often used in connection with cyberspace and the internet, seen as materializations of it.

For more information see the Wikipedia article at


i.e. history of the concept and its etymology, by Boris Shoshitaishvili:

"As opposed to the Anthropocene’s etymological relationship with time and novelty, the Noosphere is spatially conceived (Mohorčich, 2017). The word designates a global topology of human awareness emerging through recent technological and cultural interconnection. Just as the scientific-descriptive aspect of the Anthropocene (geologic time) can be conceptually distinguished from its broader pragmatic and rhetorical charge (the sense of alarm), the scientific-descriptive dimension of the Noosphere as the global span of accumulating knowledge and conscious interaction exists alongside its predominantly positive evaluative charge.

The “-sphere” of Noosphere derives from the Greek sphaira/σφαĩρα, which has a richer history than our abstract geometrical concept of “sphere.” From the 6th century BCE through the middle ages, sphaira was the key category of the geocentric model of the universe, which consisted of concentric spheres nested around the Earth. Each of the sphairai enclosed different planets, and the movement of the spheres resulted in the planets' motion in their orbits. Moreover, the relative positions of these celestial spheres marked spiritual significance, a sphere having greater meaning the farther it was from Earth. The outermost spheres, such as the Empyrean, were imagined to be dwelling places of the divine. This vision of a cosmos of nested meaningful spheres with Earth at the center persisted for more than a millennium until it was disrupted in modernity, first in the Copernican revolution toward heliocentrism and then in the spatial relativization of the entire universe (Lewis, 2012).

An aspect of the traditional cosmology of the spheres survived the modern decentering of Earth and the universe. In current geochemical nomenclature, the concentric spheres have been reconceived as the constitutive elements of Earth (rather than greater layers of the entire cosmos). This nomenclature consists of a series of compound words ending with “-sphere,” such as the lithosphere and hydrosphere, as well as the more familiar atmosphere and biosphere.

In particular, the theorization of the biosphere is important as immediate context for the first conceptions of the Noosphere. The initial description of the biosphere in Eduard Suess's (1875) Die Entstehung der Alpen (The Formation of the Alps) contains the key elements that later became further developed in the Noosphere concept, including traces of the ancient cosmic legacy of the concentric spheres: The unevenness of the surface of the lithosphere and the insufficient volume of the hydrosphere mean that the latter is incomplete and this incompleteness creates the contrast between sea and dry land.

One thing seems to be foreign on this large celestial body consisting of spheres, namely, organic life. But this life is limited to a determined zone at the surface of the lithosphere. The plant, whose deep roots plunge into the soil to feed, and which at the same time rises into the air to breathe, is a good illustration of organic life in the region of interaction between the upper sphere [atmosphere] and the lithosphere, and on the surface of continents it is possible to single out an independent biosphere (Suess, 1875; trans. Smil, 2002, emphasis added).

In Suess's formulation, the spheres are no longer realms of existence extending beyond the Earth; instead, the planet itself is differentiated into spheres. Suess first highlights three different physical spheres making up the inanimate Earth: the lithosphere of its crust, the hydrosphere covering much of the lithosphere, and the upper sphere (atmosphere) embracing both. These three geochemical spheres recall the concentricity of the traditional cosmology, but differ from it in not fully overlapping each other. As Suess explains, dry land exists precisely because the hydrosphere does not fully envelop the lithosphere.

The other important difference from the older cosmology is Suess's description of organic life as a new kind of “foreign” sphere that interweaves the others. He outlines how the biosphere, exemplified by the growth of a plant, crosses the boundary between two of the other spheres, having roots in the lithosphere while the rest of it extends upward into the atmosphere. We can add to Suess's description that the plant is also drawing water from the soil, an example of the biosphere traversing the separation of the lithosphere and hydrosphere as well as the separation of the lithosphere and atmosphere. Thus, organic life taken comprehensively as the biosphere is an exceptional sphere whose boundary-crossing creates active connections among at least the three outer spheres of the planet.

This 1875 excerpt from Suess is important for understanding the Noosphere because it presents the two thematic components that 50 years later became foundational for this latest sphere. One component is the enduring sense of the cosmic celestial spheres and their concentric order. Suess evokes this sense of ordered concentricity in his description of Earth as a “large celestial body consisting of spheres,” although it has become faint in comparison to millennia prior. The other is Suess's introduction of the biosphere as a new form of planetary sphere emerging from, and actively interconnecting, the primordial physical spheres.

In its intellectual history, the Noosphere can be understood as the speculative extension of these two components from Suess. Vladimir Vernadsky, inspired by Suess's short description, expanded and popularizedthe concept of the biosphere at the turn of the 20th century (Vernadsky & McMenamin, 1998). His lectures on geology, chemistry, and the biosphere in Paris brought him in contact with Pierre Teilhard de Chardin and Édouard Le Roy. With the idea of the biosphere as context, the three thinkers began to envision yet another “thinking sphere” emerging among human beings through culture and technology to envelop the planet. Accelerating human connectivity on a global scale (what today is called globalization) was interpreted by them as a process leading to the formation of this new sphere, the Noosphere. It is illuminating to compare Teilhard's, Le Roy's, and Vernadsky's shared vision of the Noosphere to the two components of Suess's (1875) description of the biosphere identified above. First, like Suess's presentation of the biosphere, the Noosphere both emerges from and extends active connections across the Earth's older spheres but does so profoundly and at a much faster pace. With the help of technology, the social and cognitive interactions of globalized humanity implicate themselves deeply into the material of the planet's crust (lithosphere), its flowing water and bodies of water (hydrosphere), and its air (atmosphere). Moreover, the Noosphere represents the regulation, conservation, disruption, and destruction of vast portions of the biosphere as well as the human interconnection with it through animal and plant domestication. Thus, the Noosphere comes into view as an amplified version of Suess's boundary-crossing biosphere. These material and energetic implications of the Noosphere resemble aspects of the Anthropocene's anthropos.

But the Noosphere also represents a simultaneous retrieval and transformation of the other component from Suess. Suess has situated the biosphere among the imperfectly overlapping but foundational geochemical spheres comprising the Earth, a system that reimagined the traditional cosmology of concentric celestial spheres. The Noosphere adds a sphere of different order to the modern geochemical modern system which serves to bridge this system, in an unexpected manner, with the ancient concentric vision.

The Noosphere's potential to bridge the ancient and the modern is located in the “noos-” part of the compound word, whose etymological origin is the Greek noos/νόος, meaning “mind.” The primary associations of noos are clearest by contrast with anthropos. Unlike anthropos, which in Greek often delimited the human being in opposition to the gods and their greater metaphysical significance, noos is the precise quality of soul and intellect that human beings share with the gods as well as with the ordered universe as a whole. In Aristotelian philosophy, it is the cosmic noos of the Prime Mover in the outermost sphere that initiates the motion of the lower celestial spheres and that permeates especially the cognition of human beings. And Greek philosophers before Aristotle, such as Plato and the Presocratics, saw not only humans but the rest of the living and nonliving world as participating in noos (Menn, 1992).

Thus, the noos of the Noosphere highlights the growing metaphysical and mental import of human interconnection in the Great Acceleration rather than the crisis of environmental rupture. The sphere of mind is less familiar and less easy to define than the prior geochemical spheres and the biosphere, but a material basis for the Noosphere's development is suggested by the increasingly worldwide coverage of internet cables, mobile phones, satellite radio, and television, in addition to many other technologies of interconnection. Taken collectively, these could be cited as early illustrations of the Noosphere's description of a global concentricity of interacting minds (Cobb Kreisberg, 1995; Wyndham, 2000). And proponents of the Noosphere may suggest that through humanity's ventures into space this new mindful sphere is beginning to tentatively expand itself amebalike beyond Earth's atmosphere (Pitt & Samson, 2012). However, growing concerns about new forms of polarization and fragmentation emerging in a world interconnected by technology, as well as the possibility of outer space becoming the site of a new colonization/militarization paradigm, have complicated a purely hopeful vision of this process (see Section 3.3 below).

Nevertheless, unlike the Anthropocene, the Noosphere paradigm has tended not to focus sharply on potential negative and calamitous outcomes of humanity's impact on planetary processes or of the development of new forms of global communication. (Table 1) The possibility of an emerging expansive global culture/ awareness and, through it, of potential (re)connection to cosmic meaning gives the Noosphere a distinctly positive evaluative charge. The interconnected global changes of the Great Acceleration appear in the vision of the Noosphere less as rupture and more as rapid transition, as a period of interrelated transformations by which humanity congregates to create global culture with a global awareness or ethic."


The Evolution of Noospheric Thinking

By David Ronfeldt [1]:

"The noosphere: a concept about the world’s future evolution

For discussing information-based realms, the grandest, most abstract, and so far least favored term is the noosphere. This term, from the Greek word noos, meaning “the mind,” was coined — whether separately or collectively is unclear — by French theologian-paleontologist Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, along with French mathematician Edouard Le Roy, and visiting Russian geochemist Vladimir Vernadsky, in Paris in 1922. They were already familiar with the terms “geosphere” and “biosphere”, long in use, and innovatively decided that the planet would next evolve a noosphere. The idea spread in Europe and America following Teilhard’s posthumous publications in the 1950s-1960s, and in Russia following Vernadsky’s return there in the 1920s-1930s.

Our earlier writings credited only Teilhard. We did not know about Vernadsky (nor Le Roy, who left few writings behind). So we slightly expand here on our past discussion of Teilhard, then provide a long new discussion about Vernadsky, followed by some comparative remarks. We also add important points from Le Roy’s perspective. Most helpful for doing so was our finally reading David Pitt & Paul R. Samson (eds.),‎ The Biosphere and Noosphere Reader: Global Environment, Society and Change (1998 — hereafter abbreviated as BNR). It contained extracts from Vernadsky’s and Le Roy’s writings that were previously unavailable to us."

Pierre Teilhard de Chardin

Teilhard’s thinking about the noosphere: In Teilhard’s view — especially as expressed in The Phenomenon of Man ([1955] 1965) and The Future of Man ([1959] 1964) — the world first evolved a global geosphere and next a biosphere. Now that people are communicating on global scales, the world is starting to create a noosphere — what he variously describes as a globe-circling realm of “the mind,” a “thinking circuit,” “a new layer, the ‘thinking layer’,” a “stupendous thinking machine,” a “thinking envelope” full of fibers and networks, indeed a “planetary mind” and a planetary “consciousness”, where Earth “finds its soul.”

In the 1964 book’s Introduction, Julian Huxley further defines Teilhard’s concept as “web of living thought” and “a common pool of thought”. He also praises Teilhard for advancing “a threefold synthesis — of the material and physical world with the world of mind and spirit; of the past with the future; and of variety with unity, the many with the one.” And he clarifies that “we should consider inter-thinking humanity as a new type of organism, whose destiny it is to realise new possibilities for evolving life on this planet.”

According to Teilhard, then, forces of the mind — first “psychogenesis’ and then “noogenesis” — have gradually created pieces of the noosphere for ages, while increases in social complexity and human consciousness have laid further groundwork for the noosphere’s emergence. Now it is finally achieving a global presence, and its varied “compartments” and “cultural units” are beginning to fuse. As he puts it, equating cultures with species, “cultural units are for the noosphere the mere equivalent and the true successors of zoological species in the biosphere.” Eventually, a synthesis will occur in which peoples of different nations, races, and cultures will give rise to “unheard-of and unimaginable degrees of organised complexity and of reflexive consciousness” that is planetary in scope (a “mono-culturation”), without people losing their personal identity and individuality.

Fully realized, the noosphere will raise mankind to a high new evolutionary plane, one shaped by a collective coordination of psychosocial and spiritual energies and by a devotion to moral, ethical, religious, juridical, and aesthetic principles. However, he counsels, “No one would dare to picture to himself what the noosphere will be like in its final guise”. Moreover, he warns that the transition may not be smooth — a “paroxysm”, a global tremor and possibly an apocalypse may characterize the final fusion of the noosphere. (Sources: 1964, pp. 175–181, 200–4, 235, 303; 1965, pp. 287–290; 1998, p. 77)

Although Teilhard’s concept is essentially spiritual, and far less technological than cyberspace or the infosphere, he identified increased communications as a cause. Nothing like the Internet existed in his time. Yet he sensed (1964) that 1950s-era radio and television systems were already fostering “a sort of ‘etherized’ universal consciousness,” and someday “astonishing electronic computers” would give mankind new tools for thinking. Today, he is occasionally credited with anticipating the Internet, as well as the idea of the Anthropocene.

Vladimir Vernadsky

Vernadsky’s thinking about the noosphere: Vernadsky’s views parallel but also differ from Teilhard’s — Vernadsky’s are much more materialist, in spots more mystical, and always less spiritual (Vernadsky was an atheist). Like Teilhard, he too held that Earth first evolved a geosphere, then a biosphere — and a noosphere is next. Indeed, he wrote the first book on The Biosphere (1926), in which he treated the spread of life as an essentially geological force.

In his landmark paper, “New Scientific Knowledge and the Transition from the Biosphere to the Noösphere” (1938), Vernadky argues that increases and changes in the nature of “biogeophysical energy” — owing to a progression of inventions from fire-making, to agriculture, to modern communications technologies, etc. — explain the planetary spread of the biosphere and the coming emergence of a noosphere. In his words, “This new form of biogeochemical energy, which might be called the energy of human culture or cultural biogeochemical energy, is that form of biogeochemical energy, which creates at the present time the noösphere.” (p. 16) This kind of energy, he wrote, lay behind the development of the human mind and reason itself; and it will lead “ultimately to the transformation of the biosphere into the noösphere, first and foremost, through the creation and growth of the scientific understanding of our surroundings.” (p. 20)


Vernadsky goes on to say that the creation of the noosphere has “proceeded apace, ever increasing in tempo” during the “last five to seven thousand years” despite “interruptions continually diminishing in duration” (p. 29). He evidently expects “the unity of the noosphere” to bring “a planned unified activity for the mastery of nature and a just distribution of wealth associated with a consciousness of the unity and equality of all peoples”. But while it is “not possible to reverse this process”, he expects “the transitional stage” to be accompanied by “ruthless struggle” and “intense struggles” that may span several generations. Nonetheless, he doubts “there will be any protracted interruptions in the ongoing process of the transition from the biosphere to the noösphere.” (p. 30) Finally, as he conveys all this with confidence, he nonetheless seems to wonder whether it all “transcends the bounds of logic” and whether “we are entering into a realm still not fully grasped by science.” He even makes positive closing references to Hindu philosophy and to the role of art in man’s thinking (p. 31).

Later, despite his dismay about the destructiveness of WWII, Vernadsky clarified optimistically in an article based on translations of earlier writings, in “The Biosphere and the Noösphere” in the journal American Scientist in 1945 that:

“The historical process is being radically changed under our very eyes. For the first time in the history of mankind the interests of the masses on the one hand, and the free thought of individuals on the other, determine the course of life of mankind and provide standards for men’s ideas of justice. Mankind taken as a whole is becoming a mighty geological force. There arises the problem of the reconstruction of the biosphere in the interests of freely thinking humanity as a single totality. This new state of the biosphere, which we approach without our noticing it, is the noösphere. … “Now we live in the period of a new geological evolutionary change in the biosphere. We are entering the noösphere. This new elemental geological process is taking place at a stormy time, in the epoch of a destructive world war. But the important fact is that our democratic ideals are in tune with the elemental geological processes, with the laws of nature, and with the noösphere. Therefore we may face the future with confidence. It is in our hands. We will not let it go.” (in BNR, p. 99)

Note that despite despair about WWII, he still identified the nascence of the noosphere with such values as freedom, justice, and democracy.

Throughout his varied writings about “the evolution of the biosphere into the noosphere,” Vernadsky extolled the emergence of reason as a powerful, even geological force tied to the development of science and scientific thinking. He thus mostly regarded the noosphere as the “sphere of reason”, the “realm of reason,” the “reign of reason,” and as “the way through which the noosphere manifests itself in the thinking process” — even as “life's domain ruled by reason.”

Vernadsky’s audience was mostly fellow scientists in Russia, not policy-makers. But he did occasionally argue that government administrators should attend to his findings, and that “Statesmen should be aware of the present elemental process of transition of the biosphere into the noosphere.” (in BNR, p. 38)

More on Vernadsky's Vision of the Noosphere

Via Peter Critchley:

"Vernadsky wrote that he was introduced to the concept by Édouard Le Roy’s 1927 lectures at the College of France. (Vernadsky, Vladimir: Some Words on the Noosphere) Aphorism 11. (Original Published 1944). The first use of the term was by Teilhard de Chardin in 1922 (in his Cosmogenesis). Some claim that the term originated with Édouard Le Roy rather than Teilhard de Chardin. They knew each other, in any case. (Fuchs-Kittowski, K.; Krüger, P.: The Noosphere Vision of Pierre Teilhard de Chardin and Vladimir I. Vernadsky in the Perspective of Information and of World Wide Communication; in World Futures: Vol. 50, No. 1-4, 1997. p. 768).

Stated in a couple of lines, Vernadsky’s understanding of the noosphere seems similar to Teilhard’s, described as the planetary “sphere of reason,” the new state of the biosphere. (Moiseyev, Nikita Nikolaievich: Man and the Noosphere; The noosphere represents the highest stage of biospheric development, its defining factor being the development of humankind's rational activities. (Translation of Russian Title: Petrashov, V.V.: The Beginning of Noocenology: Science of Ecosystem Restoration and the Creation of Nocenoses; Pitt, David; Samson, Paul R. (2012). The Biosphere and Noosphere Reader: Global Environment, Society and Change. Oxon: Routledge. pp. 6; Yanshin, A. L.; Yanshina, F.T.: Preface; in Vernadsky, Vladimir Ivanovich: Scientific Thought as a Planetary Phenomenon, Moscow, Nongovernmental Ecological V.I.Vernadsky Foundation, 1997, (Original translated by B.A.Starostin) p. 6.) Vernadsky But whereas Teilhard develops the theological/humanist dimensions, Vernadsky’s concept is grounded in the geological sciences. It’s interesting to pt both concepts together (which for me is the view consistent with the two concepts of God in the Hebrew Bible, Elohim and Hashem, the God of the Creation as physical universe and the God of love and personal relations). The view common to both is that human reason is active in creating the next evolutionary geological layer as part of the evolutionary chain, joining culture and nature. Some claim it was Vernadsky who introduced the concept of the biosphere into the notion of noosphere, which fits the idea of him as a pioneer in this area, grounding the idea in the natural sciences – his own field of biogeochemistry - away from theology, but it seems that Teilhard was well aware of the concept of the biosphere, developed by Edward Suess in 1875. (Levit, Georgy S.: The Biosphere and the Noosphere Theories of V.I. Vernadsky and P. Teilhard de Chardin: A Methodological Essay, International Archives on the History of Science/Archives Internationales D'Histoire des Sciences", 2000. p. 161).

There are fundamental differences between Teilhard and Vernadsky, mind – but the view of human activity becoming conscious as a geological power, capable of influencing the environment consciously from within, is similar.

Vernadsky is worth exploring on this. (As is Teilhard, whose work seems much more well-known). Vernadsky made the noosphere the third phase of the Earth’s development after the geosphere (inanimate matter) and the biosphere (biological life). In contrast to purely naturalist conceptions (Gaia for instance), Vernadsky underscores the way that human cognition transforms the biosophere in fundamental ways. The noosphere thus emerges as humankind comes to consciousness through the increasing mastery of physical processes. The interesting thing for me is that both thinkers were prepared to go beyond the boundaries of natural science – and hence their views risk being dismissed as ‘not scientific’ - to create overarching theoretical constructions – dare I say metaphysics – comprising philosophy, social sciences and ethics as well as evolutionary theory. (Levit, Georgy S.: The Biosphere and the Noosphere Theories of V.I. Vernadsky and P. Teilhard de Chardin: A Methodological Essay, International Archives on the History of Science/Archives Internationales D'Histoire des Sciences", 2000). I’m also interested in the factb that Vernadsky’s view, grounded in the natural sciences, converged with Teilhard’s in possessing a teleological character. Both argued for the teleological character of evolution. (Many don’t want to go there, but I read people like theoretical biologist Stuart Kauffman, or Robert Wright in Nonzero: The Logic of Human Destiny, and many more, and I don’t see how they avoid teleology even if they refuse to recognise it or overtly deny it). It’s no wonder that the scientific status of the concept is questioned, given the extent to which it drew, in aspects, from Henri Bergson and his ‘Lévolution créatrice (1907), the idea that evolution is "creative" and cannot necessarily be explained solely by Darwinian natural selection. According to Bergson, this creativity is sustained by a constant vital force, animating life and connecting mind and body in a way that contradicts Cartesian dualism of One hundred years later, Stuart Kauffman proposes much the same thing in ‘Reinventing the Sacred: A New View of Science, Reason, and Religion.’ Kauffman writes of will, consciousness, and agency as emergent within an endlessly creative universe. He claims that to be ‘God enough.’ (I’m not sure about that, since it loses transcendendence, but you can see it as an immanent view that has a lot in common with Teilhard and Vernadsky). Basically, it’s the idea that human beings are co-creators in a ceaselessly creative universe. Co-evolution. Sounds new. I would argue that Marx’s metabolic thinking is well worth exploring, not least because it brings us to mediation and the human role in evolution via specific social relations and forms in time and place. The end is the harmonization of cultural and biological evolution. I know Vernadsky most as one of the few who developed Marx’s pioneering metabolic understanding, emphasising the mediation and relation between the social metabolic order and what Marx called “the universal metabolism of nature.” I think it’s here – encompassing all the critique of political economy, praxis, agency that Marx emphasised – and the relation of ‘Nature’ where the focus should be when it comes to addressing environmental crisis. The environment is social and cultural (and moral) as well as natural, it’s the mediation that matters."


Teilhard and Vernadsky compared:

Both Teilhard and Vernadsky shared a deep belief in our planet’s evolving a geosphere, then a biosphere, and next a noosphere. Yet their views about causes and consequences differ enough to be worth comparing. Teilhard’s views were far more spiritually-grounded than Vernadsky’s. He preferred to explain the noosphere’s emergence in terms of geological and technological forces. Yet, like Teilhard, he expected the noosphere to have wonderful ethical consequences for humanity — as he noted, “a just distribution of wealth” and “the unity and equality of all peoples”. Moreover, while both viewed the noosphere optimistically as a realm of collective consciousness, neither regarded it as a realm of uniformity. Both valued individualism and variety. Both favored a future built on democracy. And, seemingly contrary to Charles Darwin, both thought that evolution depended on cooperation as much as competition.

Both are quite unclear regarding what the transition to the noosphere will be like for people. They both make the transitional phase seem inevitable. At times, Teilhard even makes it seem alluringly smooth and peaceful. Yet, if they’d just offered comparisons (which neither evidently did) to the transitions to the geosphere and biosphere, they’d surely have noted that evolution of any kind is often far from smooth and peaceful; indeed, it is often chaotic, disjointed, and violent. Fortunately, Teilhard and Vernadsky at least allude to this prospect — Teilhard by noting that a global tremor if not an apocalypse may characterize the final fusion of the noosphere, Vernadsky by noting the likelihood of intense ruthless struggles spanning several generations. Both recognized humanity’s capacity for self-destruction.

Which raises another question about the nature of the transition: Teilhard and Vernadsky both see the noosphere as evolving piecemeal around the planet, much as did the geosphere and biosphere, with some parts arising here and then spreading there, other parts elsewhere, with interconnections and interactions increasing over time, until the entire planet is caught up in webs of creation and fusion. But neither Teilhard nor Vernadsky specifies exactly what parts and pieces may matter along the way. Teilhard at least mentions that “compartments” and “cultural units” will do the “fusing”. That isn’t much to go on, but it’s a bit helpful for thinking strategically, as we elucidate later.

Le Roy

Le Roy’s depiction of the transition: Concept co-founder Le Roy’s few writings offer further insight into how the transition may occur. In his book on The Origins of Humanity and the Evolution of Mind ([1928] in BNR, 1998), Le Roy turns to a “hydro-dynamical” metaphor for showing how the noosphere may emerge from the biosphere. It would not resemble the growth of a branching tree, but instead occur by way of spurts, jets, and spouts that finally link to form a layer.

In his words,

“Take the biosphere. Let us imagine in it a few points here and there where spurts, strictly limited and hardly surpassing above the middle level, and where jets grow little by little, open up and finally link up their spouts, spreading a layer that covers the Earth.” According to his imagery, it is “the spurting points that [will] attach the noosphere to the biosphere.” (BNR, p. 66)

Those metaphors aside, Le Roy goes on to identify real-world factors that will drive creation of the noosphere: “division of work, game of association and habit, culture and training, exercise of all types; from where come social classes, types of mind, forms of activity, new powers”. And he says this will ultimately lead to a separation and spiritualization of the noosphere — “a disengagement of consciousness increasingly free and pure, and the constitution of a superior order of existence; the order of spirituality, reaching a point of perfection where the noosphere would strain to detach itself from the biosphere as a butterfly sheds its cocoon.” According to Le Roy, it is “this mysterious force of thought cohesion between individuals that allows the start of organised union in a unique layer”. (BNR, p. 67, 69)

In other words, Le Roy views the expansion of the mind and the creation of the noosphere as a planetary process that will lead to the noosphere’s separation from the biosphere:

“We are, in truth, confronting a phenomenon of planetary, perhaps cosmic, importance. This new force is human intelligence; the reflexive will of humankind. Through human action, the noosphere disengages itself, little by little, from the biosphere and becomes more and more independent, and all this with rapid acceleration and an amplification of effects which continue to grow. Correlatively however, by a sort of return shock, hominisation has introduced, in the course of life, some formidable risks.” (BNR, p. 5)"



The Noosphere as a Evolutionary Transition

Markus Lindholm:

"The noosphere gained an evolutionary dimension through the work of John Maynard-Smith and Eörs Szathmáry, in what they identified as the major evolutionary transitions (1995, 1999; Szathmáry, 2015). The history of the biosphere involves a series of transition thresholds, associated with new levels of collaborative 'altruistic' behavior. An early transition occurred in the Precambrian, as one bacteria cell managed to inhabit another, without getting engulfed or digested. The two cells overcame their inherent tendency of selfish behavior, and instead developed a collaborative, symbiotic bond. This collaborative fusion became the advent of large and complex eukaryote cells, characterized by extensive division of cellular functions, with mitochondria for energy metabolism and chloroplasts for effective photosynthesis. This novelty enabled the biosphere to extend into new space, and thereby to alter patterns and dynamics of biogeochemical cycles. During the early Cambrian period, a new level of collaboration emerged, as some eukaryote cells formed cellular colonies. Again, instead of pursuing genomic selfishness, cells established functional common equilibria, resulting in a novel biological unit: Tissue, which soon assembled into larger collaborative complexes, such as leaves, stem, cones and cambium, or blood vessels, nerves and skin, and enabled the emergence of large and complex organisms. Again, the biosphere went through a transition of 'physiological altruism' into its present mode. During the Cretaceous, certain insects socialized into superorganisms, where each member partly serves as independent organism, but nonetheless are functional units of a larger communal organism – anthills, beehives, or wasp nests. The noosphere flags a new transition, where the mental isolation, which up to this point had dominated the biosphere, is complemented by the sharing of meaning, conveyed by symbolic signs. We are the last major evolutionary transition (Wilson, 2015). The human community, based on shared meaning, which already puzzled Charles Darwin and Alfred Russel Wallace, inaugurates a web of cognitive interactions, which allow us to alter, reorganize, deteriorate, and even possibly destroy our environment. "Due to social care (including medicine) and agriculture, the biology of humans has become gradually de-Darwinized" (Szathmáry, 2015, p. 10110). For the same reason, Joseph Henrich considers Homo sapiens as a principally novel existence on the planet: "humans are at the beginning of a major biological transition, the formation of a new kind of animal. In our species, the extent and sophistication of our technical repertoire – and our ecological dominance – depends on the size and interconnectedness of our collective brains" (Henrich 2016, p. 318).

We are witnessing a new major transition going on right in front of us, and each of us is part of it. Without understanding the concept of the noosphere and how it relates to the major evolutionary transitions, the environmental crisis will remain inexplicable.

The major evolutionary transition that the reader is part of right now, through conceiving these thoughts of mine, depends on socialization of the minds. The minds, which so far were limited to single organisms, extend into a cognitive community of shared symbolic signs and meaning, independent of the environment. The noosphere involves similar features as the previous transitions, where singular and isolated units managed to overcome their egocentric isolation without engulfing their fellow organisms. The 'we' invokes a capacity for common action so far unseen in the biosphere: A shared cognitive space independent of the adaptive demands of the ecological niche, and instead adapting to the noosphere, with all its new challenges, fears and possibilities (Gillings et al., 2016)."


Implications of the noosphere concept for thinking about noopolitik

David Ronfeldt [3]:

"The foregoing points about the noosphere, some nearly a century old, have implications for framing noopolitik in our era. We mean for the development of noopolitik to reflect a keen clear grasp of the noosphere concept, particularly along the following lines:

The noosphere remains a scientific and spiritual concept. It arose from revolutions in thinking about science and evolution, about complexity and consciousness, about the importance of cooperation as well as competition, about systems and self-organization, and about how the world is becoming evermore interconnected and interdependent. It makes knowledge and reason — the mind — crucial for humanity to attain its planetary potential and address matters that require systemic holistic analyses and answers. The noosphere has become a visionary political concept as well. But it is not a fantastic utopian idea. It’s an evolutionary “protopian” idea — which means expecting “progress in an incremental way where every year it's better than the year before but not by very much” (Kelly, 2011, 2015). Accordingly, the noosphere concept is very much about anticipating and shaping what lies ahead, with a sense of grounded realism as well as hopeful idealism. It is about living within the permissible limits of the biosphere, in part by recognizing and attending to the effects of human activity, so that the biosphere and noosphere are kept in a mutually-beneficial balance. Thus the noosphere concept offers an engaging positive vision of the future; its proponents believe its emergence is the key to the future of humanity. OR

The noosphere concept is embedded with value orientations that its originators deemed best for protecting the biosphere and creating the noosphere. It means to favor views that are ethical and ecumenical, that seek harmony and mutual goodwill, that value freedom and justice, pluralism and democracy. It calls for the world and its cultures to be open and inclusive, in ways that foster unity and variety, a collective spirit as well as individuality — all in order to foster an “inter-thinking humanity”. It is a pro-humanity anti-war concept. As Moiseev said, “entering the age of the noosphere requires the practical reconstruction of the worldwide order and the establishment of a new thinking, a new scale of values and a new morality.” (BNR, p. 171)

From the beginning, the noosphere’s emergence has been a function of revolutionary advances in information and communications technologies across the centuries. More recently, and thus less noticed, yet increasingly important for the future, is that the noosphere’s growth is also a function of the development and distribution of all sorts of sensory apparatuses that will enable what McLuhan aptly called an “externalization of senses”. This revolution in sensory technologies is in early phases, and its maturation is surely essential for the noosphere’s growth.

The noosphere concept carries a set of standards for strategy. This is clearest if strategy is understood not only as an art of relating ends, ways, and means, but also as an art of positioning for spatial, temporal, and actional advantages. Then, valuing the noosphere strategically means thinking and acting in global/planetary ways (spatially), while minding long-range future end-stakes (temporally), and creating new means or forms of agency to shape problems and opportunities at all scales (actionally).

Moreover, the noosphere concept, like the biosphere concept, has long implied an end to Westphalian realpolitik-type thinking that nation-states are the most important actors and that material factors matter most. Now, in the information age, other actors and factors increasingly matter more. Reflecting this, proponents of the noosphere helped inspire the establishment of “noospheric institutions” such as the United Nations and UNESCO, as well as Green Cross International, and a range of activist civil-society NGOs (BNR, p. 184-185). The time may come when aspects and/or parts of the noosphere are defined as belonging to the “global commons”.

All these points about the noosphere apply to our vision of noopolitik. In a grand sense, the purpose of noopolitik is to prepare the way advantageously for the age of the noosphere, while also protecting the biosphere and geosphere.

In a more practical sense, our early definition of noopolitik still reads well, even in light of our updated analysis of the noosphere concept:

In sum, noöpolitik is an approach to diplomacy and strategy for the information age that emphasizes the shaping and sharing of ideas, values, norms, laws, and ethics through soft power. Noöpolitik is guided more by a conviction that right makes for might, than the obverse. Both state and non–state actors may be guided by noöpolitik; but rather than being state–centric, its strength may well stem from enabling state and non–state actors to work conjointly. The driving motivation of noöpolitik cannot be national interests defined in statist terms. National interests will still play a role, but should be defined more in society–wide than state–centric terms and be fused with broader, even global, interests in enhancing the transnationally networked “fabric” in which the players are embedded. While realpolitik tends to empower states, noöpolitik will likely empower networks of state and non–state actors. Realpolitik pits one state against another, but noöpolitik encourages states to cooperate in coalitions and other mutual frameworks. In all these respects, noöpolitik contrasts with realpolitik. (2007) [4]

All this implies that the noosphere begs for strategic thinking. Yet we’ve seen arguments that a key component of the noosphere, cyberspace, is “ill-suited for grand strategic theories” — the challenges it poses and the technologies it rests on are said to be changing too rapidly and too uncertainly for such thinking, at least for the time being. Do such arguments also apply to the noosphere? We think not. By comparison, the noosphere is a more complex, vastly larger, indeed cyberspace-encompassing “space” — and it too is evolving uncertainly, though maybe less rapidly. And the noosphere is even more difficult to pin down than cyberspace. Yet, our view, along with the views of others we discussed above, is that the noosphere does lend itself to grand strategic thinking. In our case, that means advancing the concept of noopolitik. [Martin C. Libicki, “Why cyber war will not and should not have its grand strategist,” Strategic Studies Quarterly, (Spring 2014, pp. 23-39), p. 33.]

Besides, let’s notice that U.S. policy and strategy have long aimed to “assure access to and use of the global commons” — its land, sea, air, and space domains — and that cyber has lately been added to that set of domains. Thus cyberspace now seems increasingly headed for grand strategic theorizing. It makes sense to expect the noosphere, in at least some respects, to eventually be deemed part of the global commons. Indeed, viewing the noosphere from a global-commons perspective may help with framing and specifying what noopolitik is all about." (Jasper, Scott, ed., Conflict and Cooperation in the Global Commons: A Comprehensive Approach for International Security. Georgetown University Press, 2012.)


Implications of Noospheric thinking for our understanding of the Anthropocene

"The Overlapping Predicament of the Universal Assumption in the Anthropocene and Noosphere"

By Boris Shoshitaishvili:

"Finally, the Anthropocene and the Noosphere paradigms both face the challenge of justifying their baseline assertions of global scope. For the Anthropocene, there continues important debate over whether it is appropriate to identify “humanity as a whole” (anthropos) as the agent responsible for material-energetic Earth system disruption if individuals, communities, and nations have differentially contributed to the process (Chakrabarty, 2015). For the Noosphere, its proponents face questions about the degree to which it is developing as something truly global in the way the word suggests, given extremely disparate access to internet and education as well as to even more basic fundamentals. Moreover, the Noosphere must grapple with how to reconcile within its global scope preexisting nonglobal imagined communities, ways of life, and diverse collective identities, such as distinct nation-states and religious traditions (Sideris, 2017). Although different in their specifics, the challenges inherent to the assumptions of a universal humanity in both paradigms would benefit from collaborative exploration."

In conclusion:

"The Great Acceleration represents a set of interrelated anthropogenic global trends that are profoundly impacting human and living beings as well as the Earth system as a whole. It is therefore crucial for humankind—simultaneously the collective agent and patient of the Great Acceleration—to have available broadly shared, scientifically compatible, and globally acceptable paradigms in which to understand this period of immense change. Indeed, in the absence of such global paradigms, it is unclear how we can fully recognize the precarities and prospects of our own species in the 21st century.

Today, the Anthropocene and the Noosphere are the two major paradigms that have begun to make sense of the Great Acceleration, yet they have developed mostly in isolation from each other. As I have shown in Sections 2.1 and 2.2, they derive from different scientific-intellectual traditions, and they offer nearly opposite normative evaluations of global changes driven by humankind. The Anthropocene has taken shape in its pragmatic and rhetorical dimensions as the paradigm of rupture, materiality, and warning; the Noosphere as the paradigm of transformation, mind/culture, and promise.

A balanced understanding of the global transformation in which we as a species are increasingly embroiled will require the insights of both paradigms. Consequently, what is needed is not a wholesale paradigm shift from one to the other but a new process of paradigmatic dialogue. In Sections 3.1 and 3.2, I have outlined two promising preliminary attempts that have been made as beginnings of reconciliation: the first nests the crisis of the Anthropocene within the formation of the Noosphere; the second seeks to unify the global protagonists of the two paradigms. While these attempts are starting points for future dialogue between the Anthropocene and the Noosphere, more extensive scholarly effort is necessary to bridge the great conceptual distance that has opened between them. In Sections 3.3 and 3.4, I have suggested two promising areas of overlap for such effort.

A crucial first step, the central concern of this article, is to recognize the Anthropocene and the Noosphere as the two major paradigms through which humanity now strives to comprehend this Great Acceleration that has swept up all of us, most of the living world, and much of the physical environment. It is by building on our recognition of these divergent paradigms that we can begin the essential process of reconciling them and thus developing steady global perspectives on uncertain worldwide change."



Noosphere concept gaining ground in recent decades

By David Ronfeldt:

"When we first published about noopolitik in 1999, the noosphere idea was attracting evermore interest and adherents. As we learned, Marshall McLuhan’s notion of the “global village” and James Lovelock’s & Lynn Margulis’s “Gaia thesis” were derived partly from Teilhard’s ideas. Cyberspace guru John Perry Barlow was claiming that “The point of all evolution to this stage is to create a collective organism of mind. With cyberspace, we are essentially hardwiring the noosphere.” And scholar-activist Elise Boulding was foreseeing a “many-layered map of the world” à la Teilhard, consisting of the geosphere, biosphere, and a “sociosphere” (families, communities, nation-states, international organizations, and “the peoples’ layer” of NGOs), and atop all that the noosphere. In her view the noosphere consisted of “the sum total of all the thoughts generated in the sociosphere.” Indeed, “[t]he more we can involve ourselves in the networks that give us access to that envelope, the more we can contribute to the emergence of that [global civic] culture.”

Boulding’s writings in particular showed that the noosphere concept was gaining resonance and credibility among transnational civil-society actors, more than among government and commercial actors. We still believe it is time for the latter to begin moving in this direction, too, particularly since power in the information age stems, more than ever before, from the ability of government and market actors to work conjointly with networked civil-society actors. [Sources: see our 1999 study]

Later, when we wrote our update in 2007, we found we were not alone in predicting that the information age will affect grand strategy and diplomacy so thoroughly that a new concept will emerge. David Rothkopf urged that “the realpolitik of the new era is cyberpolitik, in which the actors are no longer just states, and raw power can be countered or fortified by information power.” David Bollier favored Netpolitik to name “a new style of diplomacy that seeks to exploit the powerful capabilities of the Internet to shape politics, culture, values, and personal identity.” Europeans prefered infopolitik as the term for a new era of public diplomacy based on “proactive international communication” and “the projection of free and unbiased information.” None of these alternative terms has taken hold; but at the very least they have helped advance the sense that something new was in the making."


David Ronfeldt:

At this writing, in 2018, the noosphere concept has still not gone mainstream, but recognition and validation have kept growing. One significant supportive venue is the website Edge, which consults a rich variety of leading thinkers around the world in order to compile answers to Edge’s Annual Question.

Regarding the 2010 Annual Question “How Is the Internet Changing the Way You Think?” psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi replied:

“The development of cooperative sites ranging from Wikipedia to open-source software (and including Edge?) makes the thought process more public, more interactive, more transpersonal, resulting in something similar to what Teilhard de Chardin anticipated over half a century ago as the "Noosphere", or a global consciousness that he saw as the next step in human evolution.” [5]

And, to the 2017 Annual Question “What Scientific Term or Concept Ought to Be Better Known?” historian David Christian replied that

“The idea of the “Noösphere,” or “the sphere of mind,” emerged early in the 20th century. It flourished for a while, then vanished. It deserves a second chance. … Freed of the taint of vitalism, the idea of a Noösphere can help us get a better grip on the Anthropocene world of today.” [6]

Elsewhere, former New York Times blogger, environmentalist Andrew Revkin cleverly called attention to the concept by referring to it as the “knowosphere” (and “no(w)osphere”) in 2012.

Moreover, pro-commons P2P theorist James Quilligan included the noosphere along with the biosphere and physiosphere in his layout of “the global commons” — criticizing “the Market State” for creating contradictions and then proposing that

“Today’s global superbubble is the result of deep structural imbalances between economic ideology and policy (noosphere), and environment and labor (biosphere) and physical resources (physiosphere). The challenge is to assemble international representatives from all regions and sectors to discuss global commons issues in a negotiating format which integrates these three streams of evolution.” [7] [8]

Lately, DARPA has shown interest in discussing the matter, having organized an event whose objectives included the following agenda item: “Noosphere: Create, measure, and model foundational questions regarding humans, human-machine interactions, and society For example, are there new approaches to ‘computation’ based on human or animal social or cognitive processes and how might we understand them? We are also discussing how human perception might be a tool in modern conflict resolution.” (2017)

Far away, as a result of Vladimir Vernadsky’s early work on the biosphere and noosphere (as well as “noocracy”), plus Alexey Eryomin’s later work on noogenesis and Nikita Moiseev’s work on the noosphere, not to mention Mikhail Gorbachev’s interest in these matters, noos-related concepts have grown in stature in Russia more than has been recognized. They continue to flourish in sub-groups within the Russia Academy of Sciences, notably the Vernadsky Institute of Geochemistry and Analytical Chemistry, and the Institute for the Scientific Research and Investigation of Cosmic Anthropoecology. Russians also lead the Noosphere Spiritual Ecological World Assembly (NSEWA), which holds periodic conferences that attract New-Age believers from around the world, notably Jose Arguelles, author of Manifesto for the Noosphere: The Next Stage in the Evolution of Human Consciousness (2011). Other spin-offs from Vernadsky’s thinking include the Galactic Research Institute (GRI) and its Foundation for the Law of Time (GRI-FLT), along with an online activity it organized in 2012, the First Noosphere World Forum. These (and other) New-Age activities may not matter for thinking about American information strategy and diplomacy, but they do indicate the influences that Vernadsky and his Russian scientist colleagues have had not only in Russia but also in odd circuits around the world.

[9] [10] [11]

Lately, extending Vernadsky’s influence and recalling the Global Consciousness Project at Princeton, Russian eclectic Anton Vaino co-invented and touted the “nooscope” during 2011-2012 as “a device that records changes in the noosphere” — and as “the first device of its kind that allows for the study of humanity’s collective mind.” If operationalized, it would deploy a complex system of “sensory networks”, potentially around the world, to collect data and scan activities in seven areas: the business sphere, market conscience, the infrastructure of human life support systems, technogeneous catastrophes, natural disasters, special-purpose layers, and collective consciousness. Vaino’s influence and the nooscope idea’s proposal are unclear. But, curiously, Vladimir Putin appointed him Chief of Staff in 2016, a position he holds today. This has aroused speculations as to whether Putin’s ideas for a “Third Way” and “managed democracy” may now mean imposing a “noocracy” — Plato’s term for “rule of the wise” that Vernadsky reiterated, but applied in mind-manipulating authoritarian Russian ways.

[12] [13] [14] [15] [16]

Actually, throughout history every expansion in interpersonal communications and connectivity has led to new notions that a collective, even global consciousness may taking shape. The noosphere is but one of many concepts for grasping this. Significant 19th C. precursors were Hegel’s idea of the “objective Spirit” and Emerson’s notion of the “Over–Soul”. The early 20th C. brought Henri Bergson’s work on “creative evolution” and H. G. Well’s call for a “world brain”. In the late 20th C., notions multiplied that collective intelligence, global consciousness, a global brain, and/or or a global mind may awaken from the growth of cyberspace and the Internet. These notions included, as noted above, Marshall McLuhan’s “global village” and James Lovelock’s & Lynn Margulis’s “Gaia”. These new notions also enlarged the possibilities for Benedict Anderson’s “imagined communities” to form in new ways, apart from territory and nation. A more recent manifestation is the concept of the Anthropocene. Making matters more nebulous and mysterious, philosophers interested in consciousness and quantum dynamics have lately proposed “panpsychism” and “cosmopsychism”, implying collective consciousness.

[17] [18]


Noosphere Collective Intelligence Project:

"What if software got out of our way so ideas could flow freely? What if using the web was like reading each others minds? So we could think a mile in somebody's shoes. What if my work merged with your work to become ours? I think in pictures, you think in words, they think in numbers, but we all think together. Our knowledge flowing, filtering and improving to serve and enlighten us all. Vision is a space on the web for people to curate knowledge collaboratively. It's a workbench for gathering our thoughts, alone or together. It is for ontologizing, collecting data, expressing opinions, surveying, collaborative filtering and decision-making. It's an eco-system in which information of all kinds is subjected to the evolutionary pressure of tightly targeted peer-review -- because we're all scientists of something." (

Global Consciousness Project

David Ronfeldt:

"Meanwhile, psychologist Roger Nelson led the unusual controversial inconclusive “Global Consciousness Project” (GCP; 1998-2015) at Princeton University, as “an international collaboration of researchers interested in the possibility that we can detect faint glimmerings of a coalescing layer of intelligence for the earth, what Teilhard de Chardin called the Noosphere.” Mostly a parapsychology experiment, it deployed engineering devices around the world to try to detect whether a collective consciousness might be forming in response to major world events (e.g., 9/11). According to Nelson, “Suggestions like those made in many intellectual and cultural traditions, that there is an Earth consciousness, appear to have a modicum of scientific support in the GCP results … and that we may be interconnected on a grand scale by consciousness fields.” (2007) Not exactly the kind of validation we are looking for, but it does provide another recent piece evincing interest in a “realm of the mind.”

The Documentary

Intro via

"Throughout this series, we explore the conditions that gave rise to the noosphere:

1. Heredity

The transfer of genetic and cultural information from parents to offspring, generation to generation.

2. Tools

Instruments and technological devices that aids in accomplishing tasks.

3. Self-Consciousness

Conscious of one's own acts or states as belonging to or originating in oneself : aware of oneself as an individual.

4. Communication

A process by which information is exchanged between individuals through a common system of symbols, signs, or behavior.

5. Population

A body of persons or individuals having a quality or characteristic in common, the total of particles at a particular energy level.

6. Trade

To exchange (something) for something else, typically as a commercial transaction.

7. Cerebralization

The developing capacity of a species to form an idea, mental image or understanding something

8. Convergence

To come together and unite in a common interest or focus.

Across five different stages of humanity:

• Paleolithic (300,000 - 11,000 years ago) • Neolithic (11,000 years ago - 3,000 BCE) • Classical (3,000 BCE - 1400 CE) • Modern (1,400 CE - present) • Future

This series of short films explores the ways humanity is building the nervous system of a superorganism, called the noosphere. As we deepen our understanding of this noosphere we begin to discover a collective sense of meaning and purpose that will help us address our global challenges.

Our series is narrated and hosted by Brian Thomas Swimme ( and produced by Human Energy (

Human Energy was founded to share a new scientific and cosmic story introducing the Noosphere as a source of meaning for future generations in our globalizing world.

The project addresses the challenges of unprecedented technological and social change which, together with the scientific picture of an aimless universe, have created a crisis of orientation.

The Third Story of the Universe ( offers a meaningful way to understand this moment in the history of our species. This new cosmic story contrasts with rigid interpretations of religions and myths (the First Story) as well as current versions of science that eliminate meaning and purpose from the universe (the Second Story).

Humankind is experiencing a cosmic transition as we continue to interconnect technologically and cross-culturally. Together we are forming the Noosphere, a shared sphere of culture, technology, and thought weaving human beings into a mindful global envelope, even a new form of life as a superorganism. This process has existential and world-historical significance for all of us.

More information

See: Nooron

Key Book

= Book: David Pitt & Paul R. Samson (eds.),‎ The Biosphere and Noosphere Reader: Global Environment, Society and Change (1998)

URL = download

David Ronfeldt:

"Further evidence for the growth of interest in the noosphere concept across the decades is the impressive wide-ranging collection by David Pitt & Paul R. Samson (eds.),‎ The Biosphere and Noosphere Reader: Global Environment, Society and Change (1998). As the editors state (on what appears to be the back cover or infold),

“The noosphere concept captures a number of key contemporary issues — social evolution, global ecology, Gaia, deep ecology and global environmental change — contributing to ongoing debates concerning the implications of emerging technologies such as human-created biospheres and the Internet.”

Their book provides, in excerpts, “the central ideas and key writings of many prominent thinkers”, including Teilhard, Vernadsky, and LeRoy — the original coiners of the term — along with admirers and interpreters Henri Bergson, Julian Huxley, Arnold Toynbee, James Lovelock, Lynn Margulis, Rafal Serafin, Marshall McLuhan, Theodosius Dobhzansky, Dorion Sagan, Richard Dawkins, Kenneth Boulding, and Nikita Moiseev, among others. Plus Mikhail Gorbachev, who wrote the book’s Foreword." (