Globalisation and Culture - Crisis of Civilisation and Beyond

Crisis of Civilisation and Beyond

Crisis of Civilisation & Beyond

We are getting absorbed in the problems of power shift which are caused by "softnomics", the technologies which are related to software that produces and processes information and knowledge with ever-increasing speed. In other words; we are interested in knowledge to the extent to which it gets related to money-making. What is our centre of gravity? It is the economic social ultimate -- an ideal material organisation of civilisation and comfort, the use of reason and science and education for the channelisation of a utilitarian rationality which will create mechanisms and systems for vital and material satisfactions surrounded by luxuries of intellectual and aesthetic pastimes.

The contemporary crisis of humanity arises from this centre of gravity; humanity more is slipping more and into the mire of this pit. While its inner soul feels mutely the agony of this plunge and wants to be uplifted and liberated, it is unable to assist itself and to break its chains.

There is a deeper reason for this, and we may try to understand it.


Since the last five hundred years, humanity has been living in the Age of Reason. In previous cycles of human history, there have been periods where intellect dominated, but they never reached the sweep, pitch- and intensity as our modern Age of cultivating, subtilising and fathoming the applications of our rational faculties. The Age of Reason is, therefore, of special significance, particularly when we realise that the human being is distinguishable from other species by virtue of its Reason. We can expect from this Age those, results which the

Crisis of Civilisation and Beyond

Crisis of Civilisation and Beyond

human beings can obtain at their maximum level of development. And, indeed, during this period, rationalism flourished uninhibitedly and produced results of highest excellence. But it also showed quite decisively what it can accomplish and what it cannot. Two articles of faith, underlying the march of Reason, came to be fully tested and disproved. The first article was the faith that Reason can arrive at Truth and can arrive at it with certainty. At the end of its march, it has come to declare that the concept of Truth has rather limited and relative meaning in terms what can be known by Reason will always be circumscribed within the limits of varying degrees of probability. The second was that Reason can, with its capacity to observe, know and govern impartially, apply itself to human life and arrive at the right relationship between the individual and collectivity. Reason also erected in this connection three great ideals of progress, -- Liberty, and dreamt of their harmonious fulfillment in a rational order of society. At the end of its march in our own century, Reason has now demonstrated, particularly with the collapse of the socialist experiment in USSR, that Reason can neither harmonise the individual and the collectivity nor can it synthesise freedom, equality and brotherhood. It is seen that Reason can succeed only in establishing a limited rule of Law over, uneasy springs of freedom and a narrow rule of efficient organisation by imposing on all concerned a heavy hand of compulsion and uniformity. It has proved that Reason as a governor of society can secure freedom only by overriding the demands of equality, and if it attempts to secure equality, it is obliged to strangulate freedom. As for

Crisis of Civilisation and Beyond

Crisis of Civilisation and Beyond

fraternity, the highest that Reason could achieve was temporary comradeship and pragmatic or utilitarian cooperation.

Having reached this end of the road, Reason now stands bereft of any agenda; its fundamental search seems to have ended; its basic experimentation seems to have come to a close; it can only turn now in expanding or contracting circles of probabilities in the field of knowledge and those of compromises in the field of practical life. It can, of course, take another course if it can choose to become sufficiently revolutionary and institute an inquiry into those ulterior sources from which its articles of faith regarding Truth and certainty and the ideals of liberty, equality and fraternity sprang into :its ken and sustained its long journey, which, even when declared to be unrealisable, keep on knocking and calling us insistently for their fulfilment.

But this is more a question of choice, of will, of a deliberate effort. It is easy to refuse, and to find reasons for the refusal. For it may be argued that all articles of faith, even of Reason, invite a return to the domain of religion or of the supra-rational-against which Reason had declared an open revolt at commencement of its march into the modern

it may be argued rational create are insoluble therefore, supra-rational is non-existent or unreal and that the best counsel for reason is to limit its activities to the practical and immediate problems of their material existence in the universe.

What is the consequence? Reason by itself cannot long maintain the race in its progress; it is the inner spiritual necessity, the push from what is there yet unrealised that maintains the progressive or evolutionary stress, the

Crisis of Civilisation and Beyond

Crisis of Civilisation and Beyond

spiritual nisus. But if. that is refused or renounced, there is bound to occur a crisis. The contemporary crisis of humanity is a crisis of this -kind.        It is not a sociological, political or economic crisis; it is what Sri Aurobindo calls an evolutionary crisis.

An evolutionary crisis can occur only at an extremely crucial moment of. the life of a species. It is when a certain level of consciousness has effected an 'ascent to the next level of consciousness, integrated the powers and activities of the lower consciousness into those of the higher level of consciousness, when the integrated powers have achieved acute subtilisation and refinement, then the moment arrives for taking a leap into the still higher level of consciousness. If at that moment there is obstruction or failure to secure the necessary push, a crisis sets in which continues to concentrate on the issue of the next ascent until the necessary conditions are created which would facilitate the ascent or mutation of the species. Or else, if there is repeated failure, the concerned species gives place to a new species and gets itself either extinct or relapses into a certain type of fixed movement, bereft of a nisus for a higher ascent or mutation. With humanity today such a point of crisis has been reached; this is evidenced by the fact that its highest faculty of Reason has accomplished the tasks of maximum possible integration, subtilisation and amplitude of multi-sided development; having reached this stage of accomplishment, its limitations have been made bare and acknowledged; it is very clear that the deeper powers lying behind Reason are in need of a surge, and they are being blocked by the achieved circuit of grooves set up by Reason. It is only if Reason consents to allow deeper powers to rise to a new stage of the ascent of consciousness, that further progress of humanity could be possible. 

Crisis of Civilisation and Beyond

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