The Influence of the Past on the Development of the Future

Sri Aurobindo takes up the objection that the various forms that human unity could likely take are rooted in the past history of human societal development and do not, therefore, take into account totally new directions or possibilities.  He points out that humanity builds its present and future directions on habitual patterns developed in the past and it would take some unforeseeable new opening of consciousness and human receptivity to alter this long-standing and predictable pattern.

Sri Aurobindo notes:  “…mankind even in dealing with its new problems works upon past experience and therefore upon past motives and analogies.  Even when it seizes on new ideas, it goes to the past for the form it gives to them.  Behind the apparent changes of the most radical revolutions we see this unavoidable principle of continuity surviving in the heart of the new order.  Moreover, these alternatives seem the only way in which the two forces in presence can work out their conflict, either by the disappearance of the one, the separative national instinct, or by an accommodation between them.  On the other hand, it is quite possible that human thought and action may take so new a turn as to bring in a number of unforeseen possibilities and lead to a quite different ending.  And one might upon these lines set one’s imagination to work and produce perhaps a utopia of a better kind.  Such constructive efforts of the human imagination have their value and often a very great value; but any such speculations would evidently have been out of place in the study I have attempted.”

Sri Aurobindo, The Ideal of Human Unity, Part Two, Chapter 35, Summary and Conclusion, pg. 305