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

Track Running The Human Aspiration - Track 601

Philosophical writing has a special characteristic. Just as there is a form of poetry – rhythmical words, style, a vision of Truth – all these create the forms of poetry. Similarly there is something like a philosophical statement. If I say you write a philosophical statement on a certain subject, how does it differ from a personal essay for example? A personal essay is a form of writing. Then there is the critical essay; another form of essay. Now if I ask you to write a philosophical essay – what is the characteristic of a philosophical essay? You take for example the first paragraph of 'The Life Divine'.

The first paragraph is a statement which consists of a philosophical argument, and I have said that there are many forms of philosophical arguments, and while discussing it I had said the first paragraph has two philosophical arguments. Now try to recollect.

If you remember I told you that there are two important words in this paragraph. One is is – there is one word which is simply is –, another word which is important is seems, and another word which is equivalent almost to seems is promises. So there are two words which are the key to the answer to my question. Whenever an argument deals with the nature of thought, (anything that is derived from the nature of thought, is called a philosophical argument – but it is a special type of philosophical argument), it is called either a logical argument or an epistemological argument. That is because logic is a part of epistemology. A logical argument or epistemological argument is the same thing, because it concerns the nature of thought. There is another argument: seems, promises, which is a historical argument. So there are already two forms of philosophical arguments. These can be logical argument, or can be historical argument.

I had then spoken of a third form of an argument, a dialectical argument. What is a dialectical argument? A dialectical argument is logical with a special characteristic. Here is a statement; "All planets move around the sun, therefore all that move around the sun are planets". This is not a correct argument, it cannot be vice versa. It is also a logical argument but it is a logical argument which is a fallacy in conversion. There is a special name for it. It is a conversion but a fallacious conversion. When you do vice versa you get a fallacy in conversion. Dialectical argument has a special nature: dialectical argument is one in which you first state one set of facts from which another set of facts is derived, or you state another set of facts which is opposite to the first set of facts, leading up to a necessity to find a conclusion which gives you a synthesis. That is a dialectical argument.

Now illustrate this argument from the second paragraph. There is a set of facts namely the ideals of God, Light, Freedom and Immortality. Now this is set against another set of facts. This first set of facts is contradicted, is in opposition to another set of facts which are the results of ordinary experience. You have got two sets of facts. Now how are you going to arrive at a synthesis? This is the basic structure of the second paragraph. How are you going to harmonise these two?

Answer: "By discussing and try to find a solution and if you cannot find a solution you make a synthesis of both arguments."

Quite right! Now tell me what is the solution which has been found by Sri Aurobindo? One solution says Sri Aurobindo is proposed by the material intellect, which assumes that these ideals are invalid. That is the solution. Material intellect trying to see these two opposite says that the opposite of this is invalid. That is a solution.

The argument that material intellect takes for granted is that our present state of consciousness is the highest possibility of consciousness. Therefore anything that proposes to go beyond those possibilities is impossible, therefore invalid. The solution is found by cutting out the second premise. It is not a real synthesis. But it is a kind of solution. This is valid, this is invalid. It is not a real synthesis. But in a process of argumentation you can say: now that it is the end of the argument. Unless you bring in another argument it is the end of the argument. Sri Aurobindo continues the argument and proposes a synthesis. What is Sri Aurobindo's argument? "But if we take a deliberate view…" underline the word deliberate, so Sri Aurobindo starts an argument by proposing the use of a deliberate view. That is a very important word. I have given a special name for that argument also. When you use the words "deliberate view" – I had underlined that word, deliberate, and said that it is a special kind of argument, a new argument that Sri Aurobindo puts forward now. I had said that it is a quintessential metaphysical argument. And I had explained why it is a quintessential metaphysical argument. "If you take a deliberate view of the workings of Nature". Only consider these words: "If you take a deliberate view". I told you that philosophy is a quest of knowledge, of totality and then I had come to the word at which I had stopped, do you remember that word? Meaning. Philosophy is basically a search of meaning of facts; therefore any question that raises the question of meaning is a quintessential philosophical argument. It is a fundamental philosophical argument. When you ask the question: What is the real meaning of it?

Sri Aurobindo says, "Take a deliberate view". A deliberate view means what? To take a deliberate view is to ask the question of its meaning. So if you ask the question what is the meaning of this opposition – the argument now turns upon meaning. According to the material intellect the very fact is that there is opposition, means one is right, the other is wrong. That is the material argument. So Sri Aurobindo says: No! You are not taking a deliberate view of things. Why opposition at all? Consider before you say that this is right and so therefore this is wrong, because you are not taking the quintessential metaphysical position. You should ask the question why there is opposition at all between the two. Sri Aurobindo says, if you examine this opposition between the realised facts and the unrealized ideals, you should ask the question why is there opposition between the actualized facts and the unrealized ideals. You take a meaningful position if you raise the question. Sri Aurobindo says your conclusion will then be: "… that direct opposition appears rather as part of Nature's profoundest method and the seal of her completest sanction." That is the real conclusion. If you ask what is the meaning of this opposition? If you examine this way then Sri Aurobindo say, you will find that this opposition is Nature's method. It is Nature's method of bringing them together, not a denial of the one or the other. The ultimate aim of this opposition is to arrive at a synthesis. That is the aim you find, if you examine deeply.

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