The Intellectual Religion of Humanity: Its Positive Direction and Its Limitations

It has become clear, through the extensive review that Sri Aurobindo has done, that the older forces and motives that have led to human groupings of the past are not going to be sufficient or capable of bringing about a stable and living unity of all mankind.  Physical need and proximity, mutual fulfillment of vital needs and desires, and adherence to a specific cultural tradition or religious background are motives that brought about unity within the smaller groupings of humanity, which, although not perfect, showed that humanity has the drive and the capability of forming larger aggregates.  When we get to the issue of the unification of the entire human race, the differences that helped form the smaller groupings as different from other groupings no longer can apply.  We must find a solution that incorporates all of humanity and its common interests and needs.  The rise of the intellectual religion of humanity as a conceptual framework seems to move in the right direction.

Sri Aurobindo analyzes this potentiality:  “The saving power needed is a new psychological factor which will at once make a united life necessary to humanity and force it to respect the principle of freedom.  The religion of humanity seems to be the one growing force which tends in that direction; for it makes for the sense of human oneness, it has the idea of the race, and yet at the same time it respects the human individual and the natural human grouping.  But its present intellectual form seems hardly sufficient.  The idea, powerful in itself and in its effects, is yet not powerful enough to mould the whole life of the race in its image.  For it has to concede too much to the egoistic side of human nature, once all and still nine-tenths of our being, with which its larger idea is in conflict.  On the other side, because it leans principally on the reason, it turns too readily to the mechanical solutions.  For the rational idea ends always as a captive of its machinery, becomes a slave of its own too binding process.  A new idea with another turn of the logical machine revolts against it and breaks up its machinery, but only to substitute in the end another mechanical system, another credo, formula and practice.”

Sri Aurobindo, The Ideal of Human Unity, Part Two, Chapter 35, Summary and Conclusion, pp. 306-307

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