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Philosophy of Complete Education

Philosophy of Complete Education

The concept of the complete man that I have been led to formulate needs to be subjected to a critical review, not only in respect of its overarching spiritual content but also in respect of its wide scope of integrality. This review can perhaps be fruitfully conducted, if we are to relate it to the development of the concept of complete education.

If to be and to be fully is the content and aim of the struggle for existence, and if to be and to be fittest is the method of survival, then means have to be found or even invented to secure the development of man to grow into fullness and to be equipped with the best possible fitness of faculties and instruments. And it is here that we are required to turn to education, since that is the means that Nature and Man as its awakened instrument seem to have proposed through the long and tireless labour of civilisation and culture all over the world.


Our basic concern is with the contemporary liberal democratic societies where common schools are expected to impart educational influence, and where pluralism and value diversity are allowed to flourish.

And our central question is related to 'holism' that is involved in respect of the personality that is to be developed comprehensively, as also in respect of the process of education that is also to be comprehensive.

Holism or ‘wholeness’ has two senses, − comprehensiveness and integration. As far as comprehensiveness is concerned, we refer to aversion to narrowness and restrictedness of educational aims and processes. We often find goals of education to be narrow or restricted, often the subjects that are studied are narrow in range and scope, and the methods which are adopted are restricted almost exclusively to lectures, talks or conversations. Acknowledging that the goals of education should be as wide as practicable, and acknowledging also that subjects which are studied should include significant elements of knowledge and emphasise them at sufficient depth, the subject matter should be properly related to the kind of development that is sought to be secured. Considering also that educational methods should be as varied as possible so as to stimulate appropriate internalisation of the objects of understanding through observation, experimentation, reflection, critical questioning and other strategies, it should be pointed out that it is quite difficult to provide a positive account of various tasks that should be accomplished. The real difficulty, however, is confronted when we are called upon to identify and apply criteria by which we can judge what constitutes comprehensiveness in terms of breadth, depth, and height as also “balance”. Essentially, these criteria cannot be evolved without serious consideration of fundamental educational aims, values and purposes. At a deeper level, the central issue is as to how education can be made an instrument for transmitting holistic influence upon students, whose personality is proposed to be developed in a comprehensive manner. This question can be answered properly only when we inquire into the question as to what sort of person education seeks or ought to seek to develop. The difficulty in answering this question is enhanced by the value diversity and pluralism which are to be acknowledged and even nourished. The fact that there is in general lack of agreement about what constitutes human good or perfection, prevents us from determining any satisfying answer.

Philosophy of Complete Education

Philosophy of Complete Education

Holism may also mean integration, and education that aims at the whole person is expected to promote integrality of personality, coherence in the development, and healing fragmentations or divisions. One of the ways by which this aim is sought to be fulfilled is to determine the aim of life in the light of which priorities can properly be ordered and the direction of life can be guided so as to secure painless transitions. But the essential question is as how to determine coherence and how to evaluate which of the different views of life can provide sound or central principles for determining priorities and for arriving at integration. This difficulty is enhanced because in pluralistic and liberal society, alternative aims of life are advocated, and each one of them demands acceptance.

In this connection, the presence of alternative theories of values, alternative aims and styles of life, alternative ethical systems and religious systems as also systems of atheism, scepticism and agnosticism reinforce the difficulty. Even when we are presented with suggestions that prescribe tolerance and synthesis, the resultant educational practice may turn out to be a process of ethical or metaphysical, if not religious, indoctrination. In other words, the central difficulty is related to establishing an acceptable evaluative basis for holism.

The normal way by which this difficulty is sought to be met is to admit frankly that there is no objective or conclusive way of determining which of the holistic views of life is correct.  Recourse is, therefore, made to the standards that are to be found in law and which are expressed in terms of rights and also to what is called basic social morality and other democratic principles of freedom, justice, and personal autonomy.

It is acknowledged, however, that deeper issues relating to value education are thus not answered, and therefore, it is recommended that even questions of goals and values, where there are wide differences in the society, should be allowed to be discussed only as a part of exploration and as lessons in critical assessment. And yet there is evident dissatisfaction among all partners of education. McLaughlin has presented this dissatisfaction by raising the following questions: Is the attempt to confine the value basis of the common school to values which are in some sense not significantly controversial counter-intuitive and damaging? Is the influence of the common school as a result undesirably thin? Does the attempt to exercise a principled forbearance of influence lead to a weakening of the power and coherence of the value influence of the school? Must not a greater substantiality – a ‘holistic’ vision of life and of society – be supplied to the common school and to education itself?

These are penetrating questions and, even though we may not have adequate answers, they call for a sincere exercise of debate and wide-ranging research. As a part of this exercise, we may raise one more question and institute an inquiry into the epistemological and philosophical foundations of the possibility of comprehensive knowledge on the basis of which theory and practice of complete education for complete man can be so grounded that, as it appears, they may promote freedom and methods of exploration as against ethical, metaphysical or religious indoctrination, even though they may inspire constant expansion of holistic thought and experience. It is to this inquiry that we may turn, and considering its importance, we may dwell upon it in some detail.

Philosophy of Complete Education

Philosophy of Complete Education


There is an ascending movement of knowledge which seeks to find its fulfilment in the attainment of the highest, completest and the most indubitable knowledge. In this search, it rises higher and higher and on the way it stops at certain stations wondering at each whether it is not the terminus it wants to arrive at. The first such station at which it stops is the level of perception.


For a percept by itself is complete and of the facthood and of the immediate truth of which we have to refer to nothing outside it. That there are percepts and that what is perceived is really perceived are indubitable facts and whatever higher knowledge there may be and whatever correction it may make in the knowledge by perception, it cannot abolish these facts except by denying them with the help of the idea of a mysterious Maya or of the inexplicable; but then such abolishing knowledge would not be the highest knowledge.

However, very soon it is found that perception is only a station on the journey, not a destination; for the reason that compares one percept with another finds at times a certain opposition between them; it finds that two given percepts concerning the same object are so opposed to each other that if one is true the other must be false; and within the field of perception itself there are no means to determine the final truth of either. And this gives rise to the doubt regarding the whole realm of perception. May it not be that all percepts are false? But when the field of perception itself is held in question we cannot discover the existence of that truth while confined solely to that very field.

Or if we do not raise this extreme doubt we may arrive at an intermediary kind of doubt; for if we observe the percepts we find that they change according to the position that the subject takes with respect to the object of perception. And this gives rise to a doubt whether the percepts do not depend entirely upon the percipient[1]. And this doubt is reiterated by the fact that in perception we perceive no necessity of the existence of the object so that of no object we can say it must therefore be existing even when perceptual contact is withdrawn[2]. But as against this we also observe that we cannot perceive things at will[3], and if the objects depend upon the percipient, the latter would not have to labour to understand the object; there would then be no questioning, no groping, no error with respect to the objects of perception.

It may be then that the objects exist independent of the percipient; and with respect to this hypothesis also two positions can be taken. According to the first position, objects are so independent of the perceptual-conceptual activity of the percipient that there is no correspondence between them and therefore what the percipient can know of the objects is not the objects as they are, the objects-in-themselves, but only his mental ideas about the objects, the mental categories which are a priori and underived from experience although elicited through sense-experience. These categories are purely mental and entirely inapplicable to objects-in-themselves and if an attempt is made to apply these categories to objects-in-themselves we are led to antinomy and opposition.[4] But this view can hardly be substantiated by any perceptual evidence and therefore so long as we remain on the perceptual level we cannot decide upon this view.

[1] Cf. Berkeley’s theory that we perceive qualities, not things, and qualities are relative to percipient.

[2] Cf. Hume’s theory of human understanding.

[3] Cf. Realist theory of knowledge.

[4] Cf. Kant’s theory of categories.

Philosophy of Complete Education

Philosophy of Complete Education

The second alternative position returns to the primary certainty of sense-perception with which we began; it holds the reality of the objectivity of the object and its qualities and Space and Time and maintains that our knowledge of them is determined by them and not by the mental constitution of the percipient. But in view of the uncertainty of the knowledge by sense-perception it confesses that certainty of knowledge is not possible and that the highest that we can attain to is approximation and probability.

But if objectivity is real and can be so known by the percipient, the subject, then it is reasonable to suppose that objectivity and subjectivity are not opposed to each other; and since the object presents itself before the subject and can be known only by the subject, and since the subject can know, that is to say, enter into the object − for how else can it be known? − the ultimate stuff of the two should be identical. For then only is knowledge possible. Nevertheless, if the differentiation of the subject and the object persists we may suppose that identity is not opposed to differentiation. The subject and the object then may be regarded as essentially identical and yet each as the same Identical presenting to the other for its self-revelation.

This indeed is a speculation and as of any other so of this there is no possibility of being certain on the perceptual-conceptual level. For here on this level we have no direct experience of this essential identity of the subject and the object, their revelation as the subjective and objective faces of the One. The object does not reveal itself to the subject: the subject has to grope and attempt a difficult and practically unsuccessful entry into the object; the subject also retains its separation from the object and uses indirect means which maintain that separation rather than unite the two. The subject and the object are thus divided from each other and so certainty of knowledge is not possible at this level.


As a matter of fact, as we rise higher new fields of knowledge open before us. For if the reason operating on sense-perception and sense-data disturbs the simple certainty of the percept, it also arrives by liberating itself from the occupation with sense-data at the metaphysical knowledge which gives us the certainty of the concepts of pure reason. These concepts are found to be the very stuff of the pure reason and therefore are undeniable for it; pure reason exists by them and to deny them would be to deny pure reason itself.[1]

One such concept is that of the Infinite as the underlying Reality of the universe.[2] To reason an absolute end or an absolute beginning is self-contradictory and therefore cannot be; there can be no limit which it can assign or fix in Space and Time before which there is nothing or after which there is nothing. Not only that, reason goes farther and looking at the Movement and finding there not the Stable and Permanent which alone can be the support of this Movement, it goes beyond the categories of Space and Time and comes to conceive an Existence-in-itself, timeless and spaceless, the Infinite, the Eternal, the Absolute to which the categories of quantity, quality, relation and modality do not apply.


[1] Cf. Descartes, Spinoza, Leibnitz and other rationalists.

[2] Cf. Bradley

Philosophy of Complete Education

Philosophy of Complete Education

This Reality, this Self-existence, says the pure reason, must be; and yet in positing this, the reason points to something beyond itself; something of which it is certain and yet which it cannot and does not know. And reaching this utmost limit of its operation, it returns upon itself for a critical self-examination. And it finds that it fails to know the Whole, the Perfect, the Infinite because whereas the Infinite must be or rather is − for that which must be is for the pure reason − unitary, its own movement is piecemeal; it operates through cutting and dissecting the concrete into that and what and thus misses the unity. It applies the same method to all its concepts of Space, Time, Quantity, Quality, Relation and Modality and finds that these concepts also betray the same self-contradiction with which it is itself ridden. These therefore cannot be real; the Real is that which goes beyond all these, the One without the second.

And then the inevitable question arises as to how all this movement, these things of perception, these categories of thought, this division and differentiation, the entire mass of the discord and disharmony that we call our ordinary existence − how all these are reconciled with or contained by that Transcendental unitary self-existence that is the Infinite. Is it that they are not reconciled at all? For the world of our perception and thought by its inherent disharmony and discord appears to be fundamentally and essentially different from that other harmonious and unitary Absolute Reality. But this cannot be because if Reality is Infinite, nothing can be outside it; all that is must be in it or must be That itself. Shall we then say that only That exists and all else is false, that is to say, an illusion, a false perception, an error of limited consciousness? But if That alone exists how did the false perception arise? And in whom did this false perception arise? It must be in That only, for nothing else exists. But then we return to the original question still unsolved. The only answer that we are forced to give is that if the facts are what they are, all the discords of the world are somehow, inexplicably, contained in the Infinite, and when so contained and viewed as such from the point of view of the Infinite, the present discord ceases; and then what we get is the all-harmonious, perfect, unitary and unrelational Whole, the Absolute.

But this last note of ‘somehow’ and `inexplicable’ shows that we have reached here the utmost limit of pure reason. For it becomes clear now that just as it cannot know the Infinite although it is compelled to posit It, even so it cannot know how to unite the universe and the Infinite although it is compelled to regard the universe to be somehow contained in the Infinite. But this ignorance is sufficient to raise certain doubts regarding the completeness of our premise. We may be certain of our concept of the Infinite, but so long as we do not know what that Infinite is, how are we to know whether the Infinite is opposed to the finite, the Indeterminate to the determinate? We do not have, on the other hand, true knowledge of the universe which has been declared to be ridden with self-contradiction. On the perceptual-conceptual level we do not have any certainty about the true nature of the universe of our perception; pure reason gives us certainty − but only the certainty about the Infinite in which the universe must be contained. It does not throw any further light on the nature of the universe; on the contrary, in returning to the universe it still takes the same perceptual-conceptual view of it. If so, we may suppose that the insuperable difficulty is not really in the problem but in the incompleteness of our premise. And this opens out a fresh line of approach.

Philosophy of Complete Education

Philosophy of Complete Education

For it may now be argued that if in the vision of the Infinite or rather in the unitary concrete experience of the Absolute all discords cease to be, then is it not because there was in reality no discord, and all the discord that we were imposing was not in fact but only in idea relative to our finite mode of seeing and thinking? In fact it may be that the fundamental categories of world-existence are not self-contradictory and therefore not the elements of discord which have to be resolved. For if they were not essentially in harmony with the Infinite, they could not have any existence whatsoever, not even a false and perceptual existence.

But this is a speculation and as of any other which attempts to fathom into the mystery of the as yet unknown Infinite, so of this we cannot be certain. For Reason does not stand at the origin of the determination of the universe; it is itself a determination and as yet unable to see the primary relation between the Indeterminate and the determination; there is still a veil between it and its original source; and until the two aspects of knowledge − the knowledge of the Infinite and the knowledge of the universe − meet in a supreme act of knowledge, we would be encircling in vain to relate the two entities which are very largely to our Reason two words without precise meaning.


There are always two ways of obtaining knowledge, through ideation and through experience; and unless we realise in experience what we idealise, our idealising will remain almost unreal to our need of experience. Therefore our need of experience also has a kind of reason which accepts not the reason of ideas but the reason of facts and experience: to it therefore anything which is unrealisable is a meaningless word, a non-sense. So it is possible always to question the concepts of pure reason until they are realised. Thus the rationalistic philosophy in the West which denies the possibility of our having the realisation of the Infinite has come to be challenged by philosophers of Logical Analysis and others according to whom metaphysical concepts are meaningless. These philosophers, therefore, turn back upon pure reason and returns to the primacy of sense-experience.

This in fact represents the contemporary dominant trend in philosophy. But this reaction of the sense-mind against the higher and nobler faculties has come at a time when that high certainty which was felt with respect to physical sciences has itself come to be questioned and scientific knowledge is being gradually regarded as only probable. It is thus a movement towards uncertainty, as never before. The quest is whether there are new vistas of experience and knowledge.

In fact the opposition between reason and experience is fallacious. For if we examine carefully, we find that just as sense-mind needs for its operation the presentation of sensible facts, even so pure reason also needs for its operation on them the presentation of its ideas.[1] Thus the concept of the Infinite is not the product of reason, it is the very stuff of its being; and if we go still deeper we find that there is in us the faculty of intuition which gives its first intimations to reason of the existence of the Infinite. And the foundation of intuitional knowledge is conscious or effective identity between that which knows and that which is known. The possibility therefore of our having that intuitional knowledge is already implied in the very functioning of pure reason.


On the other hand, the contemporary appeal to experience and verifiability is incomplete. For in the first place, sense-experience gives us no certain knowledge, and it can at the most arrive at tolerable probabilities; this would mean that not only metaphysical knowledge but in fact even the concepts of science are little more than nonsense. In the second place, the refusal to admit the truths of pure reason is arbitrary since it is based upon an unfounded assumption that reason and truth are entirely divorced from each other. And finally, if we are impartial enough, we have to take note of supraphysical experiences; for then it becomes possible for us to see that we can enter through the inner consciousness into subtler planes of existence and even to the highest and supreme experience of the Infinite.[2]

[1] cf. Descartes’ view on the origin of the idea of God.

[2] See William James’ account of mystic experiences in his “Varieties of Religious Experience”.

Philosophy of Complete Education

Philosophy of Complete Education


Thus the movement of knowledge must rise higher into the field of spiritual experience to see if it gets there what it seeks. And indeed once again we find in the spiritual field the same kind of, though intenser and wider, certainty of the facthood and of the truth of the experience as we got in the field of sense-perception. As there, so here, the experience is complete by itself and for the facthood and truth of which we have to refer to nothing outside it; as there, so here, the fact that there are spiritual experiences and that whatever is experienced is really experienced is indubitable; and whatever higher knowledge there may be and whatever corrections it may make in the knowledge by spiritual experience, it cannot abolish the facthood or truth of spiritual experiences except by ignoring them; but then such ignoring knowledge would not be the highest knowledge.

But unlike in sense-experience, in spiritual experience the subject finds its final rest and so of all search of knowledge. The experience is found to be so total and integral that the spirit and reason feel justified in regarding it as the ultimate and final destination of all knowledge. The spirit knows then that the Truth and reason supports it; and there is no possibility of moving anywhere farther.

But if we look here for the fulfilment of the conditions of integral knowledge we find that all of them are not fulfilled in any single spiritual experience; where we find the identity of the subject and the object, the differentiation between the two is absent, and vice versa. And this leads to variation in knowledge and claims which conflict with each other.


There are three fundamental experiences in terms of which we can translate roughly all the multitudinous varieties of spiritual experience. The first is one in which the Subject finds itself as the inactive Witness Self or Purusha[1] to which an entirely alien principle of active Nature or Prakriti presents its construction of the world as Object. The ultimate difference between Subject and Object or an ultimate dualism is a position which we have met before and reason has considered it to be untenable. But now in the light of this experience which has an inherent certainty and finality about itself, reason also comes to see that its reasonings were mere constructions, perhaps sufficient within themselves but having no relevance to the ultimate facts of existence; for experience shows that there is an ultimate dualism. And thus we get a dualistic philosophy armed with its own mental logic and its appeal to intuition and experience.

The second is the experience in which the Subject, the knower, merges himself completely into the pure and indeterminable eternal existence of the Infinite beside which there is nothing else, the experience of the Immutable and unqualified Absolute, the Nirguna Brahman[2]. And then if we ask of the universe in relation to this experience we are told that that universe is a lie, an illusion, an existence which in fact never existed except to false vision. This again is the position which we have met before and reason has found it to be untenable. But in the light of this experience which has an inherent certainty and finality about itself, reason also comes to see that its reasonings were mere constructions and that reason being itself ridden with self-contradiction cannot really give us the truth; it finds now that its constructions have no relevance to the fact of supreme experience. And thus we get the philosophy of Illusionistic Monism which is armed with its own mental logic and appeal to intuition and experience.

[1] Cf. Samkhya Philosophy of India which advocates dualist philosophy of spiritual experience.

[2] Cf. Monistic experience and pantheistic experience, and particularly Adwaita Philosophy

Philosophy of Complete Education

Philosophy of Complete Education

And the third is the experience in which the Subject finds in the Object, the Infinite, the true Subject of himself as well as of the universe which in turn are found to be the objective self-determinations of the Infinite, the Saguna Brahman. In this experience we find a promise of greater knowledge of the Infinite as related to the universe, but here there is a lack of the experience of the identity of the terms of knowledge which prevents us from coming to any certain knowledge about the ultimate relation of these terms. But in the light of this experience, once again, reason comes to see that its demand for complete knowledge is presumptuous and has no relevance to the final fact of experience. And thus we get the philosophy of Qualified Monism[1] armed with its own mental logic and appeal to intuition and experience.

Had we to meet the one and the single realisation at the end and summit of every spiritual endeavour, our reason would have been obliged to accept the final test and authority of that experience, however much it may disappoint the expectations of reason. For then reason would recognise its limitations and submit to the supremacy of knowledge by experience. But here we find that different roads lead us to different goals, different summits, and the reason which compares these experiences remains undecided between them.

It has however been argued that essentially these spiritual experiences point to the same Reality and that so many different philosophies are only so many different ways of stating the same Truth. But this argument errs by over-simplifying and therefore explaining away the real problem. It is true that each of these philosophies speaks of the Being or the Infinite as the content of spiritual experience; but each gives a different and opposing account and this difference and opposition is clearly meant and upheld by the originators of these philosophies themselves.

Faced with this conflict, if we are to argue with each position that the other is invalid then we are led to three alternatives, namely, either that none is valid or that one of them or two of them are valid or that each one is valid. But none of these alternatives can be proved. For to prove we must be in possession of some such knowledge whose validity is not in question. This situation therefore pushes us to a greater and higher and more certain knowledge in the light of which this conflict could be resolved. For at this level we find as yet a limitation which prevents consciousness to look beyond its present occupying experience. It may be that the spiritual experience is not the plane of ultimate experience but of the penultimates. And the phenomenon of opposing spiritual experiences would point to a probability that the Infinite is so complex as to combine and harmonise apparently opposing principles. Indeed there is nothing inconceivable in the fact that that which is really Infinite should have various faces of Itself each of which can be variously experienced and yet should give in each experience the sense of perfection. For may it not be that the Infinite is the original Mystery of which what appears to the limited mind as contradictories are really its equal and complementary truths?

But this is a speculation and unless we find a substantiating experience we cannot be certain about it. For here there is still something that escapes us. We are in search of the knowledge of the Infinite and the mystery of the origin of the universe, the action of the determining power of the Infinite and the process of self-determination of the Infinite. But here on the spiritual plane when we attain to the Infinite and attain identity with it the world disappears, determinations are found to be substanceless name and forms having no reality, and the subject, the knower, also merges into the unqualified oneness of the Infinite, the Nirguna Brahman. On the other hand, when we approach the Infinite in His creative activity, the subject, the knower, can enter into a relation with Him, embrace Him, realise his truth as a portion of Him and realise also the truth of the universe as a determination of Him, but still the identity with Him which alone can give us the complete knowledge of Him, the subject and the universe, is still denied. There is still a veil between that Nirguna Brahman and this Saguna Brahman and we do not know as yet the principle which determines this differentiation and therefore in which we can hope to arrive at the ultimate all-comprehensive knowledge.

[1] Cf. Theistic experience, particularly, Vishishtādvaita of Ramanuja.

Philosophy of Complete Education

Philosophy of Complete Education


But already in some of the ancient records of Knowledge such as the Veda and the Upanishad we find the description of the Supreme Reality which shows that the seers of those ages had ascended to a plane of knowledge where these opposing experiences meet and fuse so as to give a synthetic and integral knowledge.

In the last century, we find in India in Sri Aurobindo’s philosophy of the Supermind, reaffirmation of that ancient spiritual knowledge and its formulation. And if we study its concept of the supermind, we find in it the answer to our questions that have arisen in the course of our enquiry.

In the first place, we find that on the supramental plane the different and opposing truths arrived at by different spiritual experiences are in fact not opposed to each other but are complementary aspects of the Supreme Infinite Being; they are not illusory but real determinations of the Infinite; in the supramental consciousness these aspects meet and fuse into each other. The supermind sees these truths of the Infinite, and for the creation and as a basis of creation puts them forth. But this determination does not involve the division of perfection: “An independent completeness of identity,” says Sri Aurobindo, “with each of the primal aspects and powers − not narrowing as in the mind into a sole engrossing experience seeming to be final and integral, for that would be incompatible with the realisation of the unity of all aspects and powers of existence − is a capacity inherent in consciousness in the Infinite….But the Supermind keeps always and in every status or condition the spiritual realisation of the Unity of all.”[1]

There are two aspects of the Supermind which render its knowledge of the Infinite and the universe infallible. The first is the fact of its being the self-awareness of the Infinite; the second is its being the power of self-determination which is inherent in that self-awareness. Now when we speak of the self-determining power of the Infinite it should be clear to us that the Reason which still borrows the contents of its ideas by analogy from the facts of sense-experience commits a fallacy when it puts the Infinite and determination in irreconcilable opposition to each other. To it determination is a division which breaks the whole and thus destroys the perfection of the whole; to it therefore determination of the whole is a self-contradictory idea and therefore something that cannot be; and if the facts of experience compel it to regard the fact of determination as something ultimate, it takes resort to ‘somehow’ and ‘inexplicability’. To the Supermind, on the contrary, determination is not a division, but a self-manifestation of the Infinite; necessarily therefore determinations pre-exist in the Infinite and to create, that is to say, manifest them, the Infinite has not to be broken; determinations are the eternal truths of the Infinite and the Supermind brings them forth and arranges them. The determination of the Infinite therefore is not to the supramental consciousness a mystery or an inexplicable phenomenon but a fact of direct knowledge and execution. The phenomenon is not mysterious, it is the Reality itself which is to our limited mind a Mystery. It is this mystery which Reason has to accept, not the unaccountability of the phenomenon of the Infinite creating teeming finites ad infinitum. To the supramental consciousness the Supreme is not a rigid Indeterminable, an all-negating Absolute. And this the Supermind knows because it is itself the self-awareness of the Infinite and because it is itself the self-determining power of the Infinite.

[1] Sri Aurobindo: The Life Divine, American Edition, p. 289.

Philosophy of Complete Education

Philosophy of Complete Education

This being so, we can now be certain of what this universe is; we can be certain that the universe is not ultimately an illusion but a real self-determination of the Infinite; it is, in other words, an objective representation of Reality to itself effected by the instrumentality of the Supermind which mediates as what Sri Aurobindo calls the Real-Idea between the Infinite and the objective self-representation. For what is contained in the Infinite is simultaneously conceived, that is to say, idealised subjectively and realised, brought forth objectively by the Supermind. Therefore nothing in the universe is a mere idea without any substance behind it; so not only subjective idealism but also the theory which reduces our world-experience to certain universal mental categories which are regarded as having no correspondence with the objects, that is to say, the substance of the objects, is fallacious. For ultimately the subjective and the objective are only the two sides of a single vision, and there is therefore in the supramental cognition a complete correspondence between them. The conflict therefore between subjectivism and objectivism also is fallacious.

On the supramental plane we come to know with certainty the original relation of the three terms of existence, the Infinite, the universe and the individual. It becomes certain here that the individual is at once identical in essence with the Infinite and yet in manifestation a concentration of the Supreme Consciousness of the Infinite; it is thus from the point of knowledge a self-objectivisation of the Infinite so that the Infinite can look at itself from the point of view of the individual. In this relation we find the primary conditions of complete knowledge entirely fulfilled: here there is a complete mutuality and identity of the terms of knowledge. The individual can know the Infinite for it is in fact one with the Infinite, the Object-in-itself; but this identity does not abolish the differentiation of the individual so that the two terms can be known subjectively and objectively on the basis of identity. And the same relation holds true of the individual and the universe, the subject and the object. Here again the subject and the object are in essence identical with the infinite, and therefore the subject can know the essence of the object, the object-in-itself; moreover, the object is seen as an objective differentiation proceeding from the subject itself; and therefore it is possible for the subject to throw, to project itself into the object and know the essentiality, the peculiarity, the very differentia of the differentiation of the object from the subject and yet without losing its own subjectivity, the essentiality, the peculiarity, the very differentia of the subject’s differentiation from the object.

This then is the possibility when the movement of knowledge reaches the summit of being and experience. And having reached this summit it is again possible to come down and convert our lower instruments of knowledge and to fulfil them by uniting them with their corresponding higher terms. Thus the spiritual knowledge can be heightened into the supramental; the reason can be converted into a form of the self-luminous intuitional knowledge; and our physical senses too can be so converted as to become the physical means of supramental knowledge.

Philosophy of Complete Education

Philosophy of Complete Education


The above philosophical statement, which is stated in rational terms but which is basically a statement of what can be called claims of integral experience in the spiritual domain, can be questioned on the ground that there are no criteria by which the suggested claims can be verified and thus established in terms of validity. This argument is, indeed, to be welcomed, but it can be answered adequately if we enter into the domain of Yoga which in India is recognised as a body of knowledge based on verifiable, repeatable and abiding spiritual experiences and realisations. And in this science, we find the application of criteria which are shared by all those who have entered into this field and studied this field in depth. One can, indeed, deny the admissibility of the knowledge contained in this field, but one needs to ask whether that denial is dogmatic or based upon any valid ground. Even though the relevant knowledge may not easily be accessible and shareable by a large number of people, it is similar to the knowledge available in physical sciences such as that of space-time continuum, where Time is claimed to be the fourth dimension of space.


One may, indeed, feel that this is a very difficult terrain, and one may even venture to dismiss this entire discussion. Yet, I feel that the subject is extremely important. For I see no other basis on which, in the domain of philosophy of education, the thesis of the complete education for the complete man can be sustained.

The inquiry that I have conducted in this Essay respects freedom and pluralism which has great beneficial implications for the utmost and highest possible good of the individual and the collectivity. Its basic thrust is to provide a new ground for enabling seekers to transcend the limitations of dogma, − be it materialistic or religious – by developing methods of exploration and constant expansion of the quest of the truth, − whatever one may mean by it, − and testing the truth on the anvil of highest possible experience and realisations that one can conceive for the promotion of the individual and the collective good. It encourages holism and comprehensiveness and integration, but holism that is constantly progressive and constantly integrating within its fold and quest expanding horizons of knowledge. It respects questioning, but it also urges questioning to ripen into a disciplined process of inquiry, and not only to rest in professing inquiry but also in conducting inquiry and stretching it to its highest possible end so as to arrive at clarity of thought, possession of knowledge that inspires practice and maturation into wisdom that is capable of widest possible sympathy and ever progressive synthesis. The practice of complete education for the complete man that can emerge from these essential attitudes would, in my view, provide useful contributions to the development of the methodology which can be employed in all relevant tasks of teaching-learning and educational administration.

Philosophy of Complete Education

Philosophy of Complete Education

If the argument given here is seen or found to be irrelevant or unsustainable, then the thesis presented here can be left at this point as an exercise of research but of no eventual consequence as far as the development of the theory and practice of the complete education for the complete man is concerned.

Even then, it may be urged that the thesis put forward here can be considered as a project of research for further refinement and even for a programme of practical experimentation on a limited scale, if such a possibility could be obtained in the domain of educational research.

For in the light of the supramental knowledge, which provides a central and holistic principle, ever-enlarging synthesis of the domains of knowledge is possible, and a sound programme of complete education for the complete man can be conducted, if suitable environment and sustained effort can be secured, − as it is happening, as far as I know, in some parts of India.

But even then, in a pluralistic society where freedom of thought is ensured, no experiment can be imposed, and the proposed experiment and its results can be utilised as a part of exploration and as lessons in critical assessment.

In that context, I should like to add one more chapter to spell out a few ideas that may be relevant to the development of the education of the whole being, which might also be useful in some indirect way even to those who may not agree with the thesis presented here but who are still concerned with improving the common schools in free democratic society, and who feel that there is some truth in the concept of holism which needs to be strengthened for the purposes of providing to the society and the world adequate answers to the questions which still need to be debated, particularly in the context of the pressure that is felt more and more increasingly to impart wider education, more meaningful education, and even education for the spiritual and integral development.

Philosophy of Complete Education

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