The Objective Viewpoint on Life and Living

The age of individualism, the development of Science,  and the industrial revolution have created a way of looking at life and the functioning of the world and man’s role within society that works to externalize that life and the reactions that arise from the individual.  The world is looked at as an object to be seen, analyzed, manipulated and controlled.  One can study the laws of action in the outer world, apply them and achieve success.

Sri Aurobindo describes the objective viewpoint:  “But objectivism proceeding by the analytical reason takes an external and mechanical view of the whole problem.  It looks at the world as a thing, an object, a process to be studied by an observing reason which places itself abstractly outside the elements and the sum of what it has to consider and observes it thus from outside as one would an intricate mechanism.  The laws of this process are considered as so many mechanical rules or settled forces acting upon the individual or the group which, when they have been observed and distinguished by the reason, have by one’s will or by some will to be organised and applied fully much as Science applies the laws it discovers.  These laws or rules have to be imposed on the individual by his own abstract reason and will isolated as a ruling authority from his other parts or by the reason and will of other individuals or of the group, and they have to be imposed on the group itself either by its own collective reason and will embodied in some machinery of control which the mind considers as something apart from the life of the group or by the reason and will of some other group external to it or of which it is in some way a part.  So the State is viewed in modern political thought as an entity in itself, as if it were something apart from the community and its individuals, something which has the right to impose itself on them and control them in the fulfilment of some idea of right, good or interest  which is inflicted on them by a restraining and fashioning power rather than developed in them and by them as a thing towards which their self and nature are impelled to grow.  Life is to be managed, harmonised, perfected by an adjustment, a manipulation, a machinery through which it is passed and by which it is shaped.  A law outside oneself, — outside even when it is discovered or determined by the individual reason and accepted or enforced by the individual will, —  this is the governing idea of objectivism; a mechanical process of management, ordering, perfection , this is its conception of practice.”

Sri Aurobindo, The Human Cycle: The Psychology of Social Development, Chapter 6, The Objective and Subjective Views of Life, pp. 57-58