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

Track Running The Human Aspiration - Track 205

What is the nature of a dialectical argument? I shall now give an example of a dialectical argument. If you open The Life Divine and see the second paragraph of the first chapter you will find an example. You saw that the first paragraph consisted of two arguments. One is a logical argument and the second argument in the first paragraph is a historical argument. Let us see where the logical argument is in the first paragraph. We had pointed out yesterday: "The earliest preoccupation of man in his awakened thoughts is also the highest which thought can envisage", this statement is a logical argument. It is in the nature of thought. The nature of thought is such that at its highest it will affirm whatever is the content of the earliest preoccupation of awakened thought. Yesterday I explained to you that this statement is one of the most important statements in the paragraph. It is a logical argument. The earliest preoccupation of man is God. God is that which exists thoroughly. That which exists thoroughly is the highest that thought can envisage – unquestionably. Therefore this argument is a logical argument. The rest of the statements which are made in this paragraph are historical arguments. It brings the historical data – what are the historical data? You examine the earliest man, examine the periods of skepticism, examine the present man, his present preoccupations, his scientific enquiry, the conclusions of the present enquiry and the conclusions that emerge out of it. Because of the difference of nature of the two arguments you will find that these two arguments have different emphases. The logical argument is asserted in term of certainty. The historical argument is presented in term of probability. You will see that Sri Aurobindo uses the word `seems', isn't it? Then the word `promises'. These two words, `promises' and `seems', are words of probability because these two statements come within the context of historical argument and the conclusions of historical arguments cannot be definite. This is the rigor of the first paragraph as you see it. Because historical conclusions cannot be absolutely certain. Therefore, whenever you make an historical argument you have to remember, as a philosopher, not to make a dogmatic statement of certainty. Whenever you state an historical argument your conclusions must have seems, probably, etc. Don't make assertive statements if your argument is historical. You can make a statement in certainty form if your argument is logical in character.

We come now to a third kind of argument, which I told you, is dialectical in character. Let us read this: "These persistent ideals of the race are at once the contradiction of its normal experience and the affirmation of higher and deeper experiences which are abnormal to humanity and only to be attained in their organised entirety by a revolutionary individual effort or an evolutionary general progression." It is a very long sentence, a very difficult sentence, therefore it deserves to be read three or four times, and we can divide the sentence into three or four parts. First of all it says: "These persistent ideals". God. Light, Freedom, Immortality, are the ideals which he calls persistent. Why persistent? Because throughout the ages they present themselves. Even after periods of skepticism they again reaffirm themselves. These ideals are persistent ideals, they come again and again. These persistent ideals of the race are at once the contradiction of its normal experience. This is an argument in the sense that you are given a fact, and this fact is presented to you for examination. Therefore it is an argument. What is the examination you have to make? Sri Aurobindo says: these ideals are contradicted by our normal experience. In our normal experience we always find matter andmatter and matter. Whether you turn this way or that way or that way you find nothing like God, you don't find Light, you don't find Immortality, you don't find Freedom. Our normal experience is simply of matter which is dark, matter which always binds you, it is a fetter, and matter is something that is perishing all the time, it dissolves all the time. So the natural experience of matter, which is all our normal experience, does not give you any kind of a clue of God, Light, Freedom, Immortality. These persistent ideals of the race are a contradiction of the normal experience. But this sentence is not complete; it is only a part of the sentence. But they are also affirmations, they are contradictions on one hand of the normal experience, but they are affirmations of another experience, of higher and deeper experiences. That is to say if however you make an effort to go beyond your normal experience, then in those abnormal conditions you will find God, Light, Freedom, Immortality. They are affirmations of your deeper experiences. These deeper experiences come to you when? They can be attained in their organised entirety… Sometimes you do gains something, if you read the accounts of many people's experiences, you find them writing suddenly that I felt somebody was standing behind me. This is an ordinary experience of many people. You are alone and suddenly you find the presence of somebody around you. Sometimes. But to find the presence of God constantly, that experience in its entirety you can have only by two methods: by a revolutionary individual effort.

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