The Developmental Formation of a Societal Aggregate

Sri Aurobindo draws an analogy to the development of an individual life-form when describing the formative stages of a societal unit.  The individual life-form has a physical body, a vital-nervous sheath, and (to whatever extent the form permits it) a mental power, all organized around the psychological unity, which, when it becomes self-aware can be called ego, or when further refined, can be seen as the soul of the being.

“The administrative, political, economic organisation of mankind in aggregates of smaller or greater size is a work which belongs at its basis to the same order of phenomena as the creation of vital organisms in physical Nature.  It uses, that is to say, primarily external and physical methods governed by the principles of physical life-energy intent on the creation of living forms, although its inner object is to deliver, to manifest and to bring into secure working a supraphysical, a psychological principle latent behind the operations of the life and the body.”

“In this process, as we have seen, first smaller distinct units in a larger loose unity are formed; these have a strong psychological existence and a well-developed body and vital functioning, but in the larger mass the psychological sense and the vital energy are present but unorganised and without power of definite functioning, and the body is a fluid quantity or a half-nebulous or at most a half-fluid, half-solidified mass, a plasm rather than a body.  This has in its turn to be formed and organised; a firm physical shape has to be made for it, a well-defined vital functioning and a clear psychological reality, self-consciousness and mental will-to-be.”

Sri Aurobindo, The Ideal of Human Unity, Part One, Chapter 12, The Ancient Cycle of Prenational Empire-Building–The Modern Cycle of Nation-Building, pp. 96-97