The Characteristics of the Reason and Its Role in Human Development

With the advent of the power of Reason in the human mentality, an entirely new quality of mental action manifests, one which goes far beyond the habitual physical mind or the expression of instinctive behavior.  The self-reflective power of the Reason makes it possible for the individual to gain what we may call an independent standpoint that can observe the thought process, the accumulation of factual data and the conclusions drawn during the process, such that the individual exercising this power can understand things in a way that is outside the framework of the narrower, lower mental capacities.

Sri Aurobindo notes:  “Reason … exists for the sake of knowledge, can prevent itself from being carried away by the action, can stand back from it, intelligently study, accept, refuse, modify, alter, improve, combine and recombine the workings and capacities of the forces in operation, can repress here, indulge there, strive towards an intelligent, intelligible, willed and organised perfection.  Reason is science, it is conscious art, it is invention.  It is observation and can seize and arrange truth of facts; it is speculation and can extricate and forecast truth of potentiality.  It is the idea and its fulfilment, the ideal and its bringing to fruition.  It can look through the immediate appearance and unveil the hidden truths behind it.  It is the servant and yet the master of all utilities; and it can, putting away all utilities, seek disinterestedly Truth for its own sake and by finding it reveal a whole world of new possible utilities.  Therefore it is the sovereign power by which man has become possessed of himself, student and master of his own forces, the godhead on which the other godheads in him have leaned for help in their ascent; it has been the Prometheus of the mythical parable, the helper, instructor, elevating friend, civiliser of mankind.”

Sri Aurobindo, The Human Cycle: The Psychology of Social Development, Chapter 11,  The Reason as Governor of Life, pp. 104-105