Reason Acts as Intermediary for Other Powers of Consciousness, Not the Ultimate Controlling Power

If we observe the tremendous developments of humanity over the last several hundred years, we might very well come away with the sense that the power of Reason, triumphing over superstition, religious dogma and ignorance, is the central power that should and does control human growth and development.  We have already seen, however, that the reason is unable, due to its inherent limitations, to intervene effectively in the realm of religion.  The question remains, however, to what extent reason can or should manage and control the actions of the being in the outer world.

Sri Aurobindo takes up this question, putting aside the question of religion:  “But in the other spheres of human consciousness and human activity it may be thought that it has the right to the sovereign place, since these move on the lower plane of the rational and the finite or belong to that border-land where the rational and the infrarational meet and the impulses and the instincts of man stand in need above all of the light and the control of the reason.  In its own sphere of finite knowledge, science, philosophy, the useful arts, its right, one would think, must be indisputable.  But this does not turn out in the end to be true.  Its province may be larger, its powers more ample, its action more justly self-confident, but in the end everywhere it finds itself standing between the two other powers of our being and fulfilling in greater or less degree the same function of an intermediary.  On one side it is an enlightener — not always the chief enlightener — and the corrector of our life-impulses and first mental seekings, on the other it is only one minister of the veiled Spirit and a preparer of the paths for the coming of its rule.”

Sri Aurobindo, The Human Cycle: The Psychology of Social Development, Chapter 14,  The Suprarational Beauty, pg. 136