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

Track Running The Human Aspiration - Track 301

The first chapter includes everything. So, if you study it very well you have a good foundation. Do not worry if it goes slowly and please stop me if you think that I am going fast. I am prepared to do this chapter with you hundred a times if necessary. But we must do it very well.

We were talking yesterday of the dialectical argument. The dialectical argument is placed in a setting in which one set of phenomena seems to contradict another set of phenomena, demanding a necessary blending of the two. This method of argument dates back to ancient times. Plato used this argument in a very large way, and in modern times Hegel gave it a very definitive form. I don't know if you have heard the name of Hegel, but let me tell you about Hegel.

He was a German philosopher. His dates are 1770 to 1831. He examined the nature of thought. How do people think was his basic question. What is the movement of Reason? He found a special connection between Reason and Reality. Between reality which is supposed to be there and Reason which is supposed to be here, he found a correlation. And therefore he found the key to reality in reason. If you want to know what is there, you examine Here, inside, in your process of reasoning, you will find out what is There. It is as it were a key. And he found that just as reason develops inside your thinking process so does reality move in the outside world. His famous sentence was: "Reason is real and real is rational". This sentence can be criticised in many ways depending upon what we mean by reason. If you go to Hegel himself, without imagining what he meant, this word reason can be regarded as super–reason. It is not exactly reason as we understand normally, in our normal process of thinking, but it is reason as a creative – not only a thinking instrument – but a creative instrument. Normally we mean by reason a thinking instrument, an instrument of discrimination which distinguishes one from the other. But in Hegel, the word reason since it is creative is creative by distinguishing. Real according to him is concrete. Reason in its creative process brings out differentiations and manifests them. This is the process of becoming. Therefore becoming is a process of abstraction. Real is concrete, the reason distinguishes the contents of the Real and brings out these distinctions, and as they come out they become abstractions.

And then there are steps. Each step is more remote than the next. The first step is nearer to the concrete; the next step is farther from the concrete. Until we come lower and lower down to all that we see. The more concrete we are the nearer we are to the Real. The farther we are from the Real the more abstract we are. So according to him we move from concrete to abstract and then, we ascend from abstract to concrete. So the more we think, and think really, the more we reach the Real. That is why he taught that if you exercise the reason fully you can grasp the Real. You become more and more concrete, you become one with the Real. And we are constantly to approach the real, so that we become more and more concrete. Now in the process he discovered what we call the process of dialectic, the process by which the concrete become more and more abstract and the process by which the abstract become more and more concrete.

This process according to him has a design. He felt that every human being endowed with reason moves in a particular fashion. Unfortunately, reason cannot approach the real without going through steps. It will be ideal if you straight away are able to become identified with the Real and become concrete, but that is not the power of the reason. He does not speak of any other power that can be; this is the limitation of Hegel. He thinks reason is the only power we have and it can go from abstractions to concrete gradually, its goal is to become completely one, with the Real, but only Real can be concrete. You and I who are instruments of reason can approximate as much as possible, but only the real can be what it is. The real is the concrete experience according to him, the total experience, everything is included in it. So his advice to mankind is to rise from one's lower limited visions and reach up to the top. You cannot of course reach the top but may approximate it as far as possible. This is where Hegel's idea of reason stops short of the supermind. The supermind becomes one, itself concrete with the Supreme, with the Absolute, with the Real. But you can see, although we fall short of the highest, he has conceived the process by which you can become less and less abstract, more and more concrete. This description of reason, although not the supreme description, is already a preparation for the supreme description of what we call super–reason or supermind.

According to Hegel, reason in the beginning, perceives only one set of phenomena. When you strain it further, there comes before it another set of phenomena. When you go farther you are able to see the two sets together in some kind of combination, some kind of synthesis and you begin to perceive another set of phenomena, and then again beyond that another set is seen which is a combination of the previous two, and the previous two already combines the previous synthesis that you had already achieved. So there is a progressive synthesis in which you move forward and upward.

He found that any human being who uses his reason properly will follow this movement, which he called dialectic movement. You start with one perception and continue to perceive it, try to understand it, more and more, there will arise from itself another set of phenomena which you will discover are exactly the opposite of the first. And then the next one will synthesise the previous two which he calls the thesis and the antithesis and when the two are united he calls it the synthesis. So in the process of thinking, according to him, if you really follow the process, you will come across these stages of development.

We use cookies in this webiste to support its technical features, analyze its performance and enhance your user experience. To find out more please read our privacy policy.