The Complex Factors Limiting Human Ability to Understand Cause and Effect Through Past, Present and Future

In the material world we see certain results that repeat themselves time and again, and we make for ourselves laws of physics, laws of chemistry, etc.  We are able to define cause and effect using these laws and as a result, can develop incredible powers of action and organization.  When it comes, however, to the vital and mental worlds, which we call “social” science rather than physical science, we find it virtually impossible to completely understand and thereby predict cause and effect.  Social scientists, such as psychologists or sociologists, attempt to apply techniques suited to physical science to the operations of individuals and social groupings, and to a certain extent, they may find some relative success.  In the end, however, this success is both fragmented and limited in scope, and our best theories of economics, psychology, sociology, human interaction, etc. wind up being upset by factors that we have not taken into account.

Sri Aurobindo explains:  “This is because mind and life bring in a great subtlety and intricacy of movement, each realised movement carries in it a complex of forces, and even if we could disengage all these, all, that is to say, that are simply actualised and on or near the surface, we should still be baffled by all the rest that is obscure or latent,– concealed and yet potent contributory causes, hidden motion and motive force, undeployed possibilities, uncalculated and incalculable chances of variation.  It ceases to be practicable here for our limited intelligence to calculate accurately and with certitude as in the physical field from precise cause to precise effect, that is to say, from a given apparent set of existing conditions to an inevitable resultant of subsequent or a necessary precedence of antecedent conditions.  it is for this reason that the predictions and previsions of the human intelligence are constantly baffled and contradicted by the event, even when largest in their view of the data and most careful in their survey of possible consequence.  Life and mind are a constant flux of possibles intervening between spirit and matter and at each step bring in, if not an infinite, at least an indefinite of possibles, and this would be enough to make all logical calculation uncertain and relative.  But in addition there reigns behind them a supreme factor incalculable by human mind, the will of the soul and secret spirit, the first indefinably variable, fluid and elusive, the second infinite and inscrutably imperative, bound, if at all, only by itself and the Will in the Infinite.  it is therefore only by going back from the surface physical mind to the psychic and spiritual consciousness that a vision and knowledge of the triple time, a transcendence of our limitation to the standpoint and view range of the moment, can be wholly possible.”

Sri Aurobindo, The Synthesis of Yoga, Part Four: The Yoga of Self-Perfection, Chapter 25, Towards the Supramental Time Vision , pp. 859-860

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