The Nature of the Reasoning Intellect and the Attempt to Govern the Life-Energy of the Creation

The logical intellect, the power of reason, has a characteristic action that is linear and segmented.  It moves from step to step and does best with analytical functions where it reviews, categorizes and then tries to create a rules-based system for managing the variations it has understood.  The intellect divides and compartmentalizes and tends also to look at things as “either / or” in a “black and white” fashion.  The intellect has a much harder time comprehending and acting upon subtle complexities and interactions which do not fit into its logical schematic.

The life-energy, on the other hand tends to have a wild abandon that does not follow the rigid ideas or compartmentalized process that the intellect can handle.  There is a constant interplay of forces which brings about ever-new forms through that interaction.  Chaos theory in modern science has shown how even simple, fixed organized principles will create complex systems based on the interaction of different forces and their influences upon one another.

It is thus impossible for the logical intellect to gain total mastery or control over the developments of the life energy.  To a certain degree, some amount of organization and control is possible, but eventually, the life-energy spills out of the canals that the reason has created for it, and new complexities arise in the holistic, global environment within which life develops.

Sri Aurobindo notes:  “The whole difficulty of the reason in trying to govern our existence is that because of its own inherent limitations it is unable to deal with life in its complexity or in its integral movements; it is compelled to break it up into parts, to make more or less artificial classifications, to build systems with limited data which are contradicted, upset or have to be continually modified by other data, to work out a selection of regulated potentialities which is broken down by the bursting of a new wave of yet unregulated potentialities.  It would almost appear even that there are two worlds, the world of ideas proper to the intellect and the world of life which escapes from the full control of the reason, and that to bridge adequately the gulf between these two domains is beyond the power and province of the reason and the intelligent will.  It would seem that these can only create either a series of more or less empirical compromises or else a series of arbitrary and practically inapplicable or only partially applicable systems.  The reason of man struggling with life becomes either an empiric or a doctrinaire.”

Sri Aurobindo, The Human Cycle: The Psychology of Social Development, Chapter 11,  The Reason as Governor of Life, pg. 110