Sri Aurobindo's - 'The Life Divine' - The Human Aspiration - Chapter I

Track Running The Human Aspiration - Track 202

So, I was asking you the question why there is a need of an argument at all. Behind every philosophical activity the assumption is that there is a huge world around us. This huge world is full of phenomena. There is one statement which you can make because of these phenomena which cannot be doubted, and it is this: "There are events". This is one statement which you can make and you can say "it is obvious" and perhaps even the blind people will accept this proposition: there are events. Indubitable statement, you cannot doubt it at all. But having said "there are events", doesn't giving us any wisdom, it doesn't give us any kind of a clue. What kind of events, interconnection of events, interconnection of these events with you, interconnection of all this with the totality, if there is any totality at all. These questions are not answered merely by saying "there are events". And philosophy has even a deeper question to ask, not merely to see that so many events exist in the world or happen in the world, but what is the meaning or the significance of these events.

You remember when we were defining what is philosophy, and I now turn to the one who has written down the definition; (to Anandamayi) I don't know if your definition includes this particular word, tell me whether it includes this word or not. Philosophy is a quest of knowledge. Tell me... [Anadamayi reads:]

"Philosophy is a quest for knowledge pertaining to all domains, including the quest for perfection both individual and collective, which results in the formulation of an idea/ideas pertaining to the totality which includes all that we see and experience or think of, and beyond that which may, may not exist, in search of the presence or absence of the meaning of all, beyond all and all particulars."

The word `meaning' is present in that definition; therefore it is a correct definition. The essence of philosophical quest is to find the meaning. First of all we have to ascertain what are the facts, what are the events, their inter–relationships, what is behind them, whether there is any ultimate reality or not which you do not see but which is there as a source which may exist may not exist, and you search for whether there is a meaning in it or not. This being the meaning of philosophical enquiry, whenever any statement is made it takes the form of an argument. This is the necessity of argument, and the reason why all philosophical books abound with arguments. Sometimes people who are not familiar with the idea of philosophy get tired of philosophy because they say, "Oh! It is nothing but meaningless debate, meaningless argumentation coming to no conclusion. It has no sense in it." But that is because, it is not understood that philosophy is a very serious enquiry in which you should not become tired if you really want to discover, to find out the meaning. If you don't want to find the meaning and you are satisfied with what you are, don't enter into philosophy. But if you want to find out the meaning, and since we are blind, and since there are many events happening, there is a need to inter–connect them. And because in the beginning of our search we happen to be blind we are likely to be struck only by one aspect rather than another aspect. Therefore if we are struck with that particular aspect you need to be told there is another aspect also. And when you say there is another aspect also, this statement takes the form of an argument.

Argument basically is nothing but stating one aspect of data and trying to join with it another aspect of data in a meaningful manner. The minimum is that there should be a connection on one aspect of data with another aspect of the data.

You know the meaning of data? Data means that which is given. It comes originally from a Sanskrit word: datam. That which is given. From datam comes data. Datam is singular and data is plural. Given facts are called data. Because normally we are seized with one set of data and we are do take into account another set of data, philosophy makes you aware that you need to connect one set of data with another set of data. But even these two sets of data are not enough. There is a third set of data, a fourth set of data, a fifth set of data, there is plenty of data, and that makes the whole complexity of philosophical argument.

Having done this kind of exercise to begin with, you come across certain data which are of such a nature that they are all comprehensive, knowing which all things are known. You can have such data, knowing which all the data can be known. This kind of thing also happens in our search. It is like a key. You may have so many rooms in a big castle and suddenly you find a key and when you find this key you can open the whole and everything is open to you.–

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