The Object and Functions of Society in the Evolutionary Progression of Humanity

There are many ideas about the need for society and its role in human life.  There are also many ideas about the role of the individual and whether there is an individual destiny, or whether the individual exists to advance society or support its requirements.  Is there some meaning to the life of the individual or is the individual simply a cog in some overall societal development which thereby carries the destiny of the race?  These issues need to be reviewed and resolved to determine the true object and function of society, and the true role and destiny of the individual.

Sri Aurobindo observes:  “The object of all society should be, therefore, and must become, as man grows conscious of his real being, nature and destiny and not as now only a part of it, first to provide the conditions of life and growth by which individual Man, — not isolated men or a class or a privileged race, but all individual men according to their capacity, — and the race through the growth of its individuals may travel towards this divine perfection.  It must be, secondly, as mankind generally more and more grows near to some figure of the Divine in life and more and more men arrive at it, …, to express in the general life of mankind, the light, the power, the beauty, the harmony, the joy of the Self that has been attained and that pours itself out in a freer and nobler humanity.  Freedom and harmony express the two necessary principles of variation and oneness, — freedom of the individual, the group, the race, coordinated harmony of the individual’s forces and of the efforts of all individuals in the group, of all groups in the race, of all races in the kind, — and these are the two conditions of healthy progression and successful arrival.  To realise them and to combine them has been the obscure or half-enlightened effort of mankind throughout its history, — a task difficult indeed and too imperfectly seen and too clumsily and mechanically pursued by the reason and desires to be satisfactorily achieved until man grows by self-knowledge and self-mastery to the possession of a spiritual and psychical unity with his fellow-men.  as we realise more and more the right conditions, we shall travel more luminously and spontaneously towards our goal and, as we draw nearer to a clear sight of our goal, we shall realise better and better the right conditions.  The Self in man enlarging light and knowledge and harmonising will with light and knowledge so as to fulfil in life what he has seen in his increasing vision and idea of the Self, this is man’s source and law of progress and the secret of his impulse towards perfection.”

Sri Aurobindo, The Human Cycle: The Psychology of Social Development, Chapter 7, The Ideal Law of Social Development, pp. 65-66


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