The Reason Attempts to Understand the Meaning Of Our Existence

Sri Aurobindo describes the issues surrounding the limitation of the Reason when it comes to the ultimate questions of life: “Nowhere are these disabilities more embarassing than in those fundamental questions of the nature of the world and of our own existence which yet most passionately interest thinking humanity because this is in the end the thing of utmost importance to us, since everything else, except some rough immediate practicality of the moment, depends on its solution. And even that, until this great question is settled, is only a stumbling forward upon a journey of which we know not the goal or the purpose, the meaning or the necessity.”

Religion, philosophy and science all attempt to provide solutions to these questions. Despite each one’s claims to have a monopoly on the ultimate truth of their viewpoint, they all suffer from the self-filtering bias and from the overall limitations of the faculty of Reason and thus, they too fail to provide any final and definitive answers, as evidenced by the numerous different answers provided by them throughout mankind’s history.

Whether based on speculation, reason, or some type of revealed experience, we find the same type of limitations in science, philosophy and religion. The underlying problem is the inability of the faculty of Reason to encompass and comprehend the complexity and enormity of the universal creation. The method of “knowing” makes it impossible to provide a comprehensive answer from this standpoint.

Sri Aurobindo briefly recounts the issues for each of these paths: “The religions profess to solve these grand problems with an inspired or revealed certainty; but the enormity of their differences shows that in them too there is a selection of ideas, separate aspects of the Truth…and a construction from a limited spiritual experience.” “The philosophical systems are very obviously only feasible selective constructions of great reflective ideas. More often these are possibilities of the reason much rather than assured certainties or, if founded on spiritual experience, they are still selective constructions, a sort of great architectural approach to some gate into unknowable Divine or ineffable Infinite.” “The system of science seems to be itself only another feasible and fruitful construction of the reason giving a serviceable account to itself of the physical world and our relations to it, and it seems to be nothing more. And its knowledge is fatally bound by the limitation of its data and its outlook.”

Sri Aurobindo,

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