For the Vital Temperament Life Itself Is the Object of Living

The industrial revolution in Europe represented a period in human development that was focused on the fulfillment and satisfaction of the motives and desires of the vital being of man.  Other aspects of human life, the artistic, philosophical, religious, spiritual, all were treated as accessories, luxuries or secondary frills while the main action of life was the practical, vital organization and the achievement of vital and dynamic goals.  This issue was clearly set forth by Charles Dickens in his novel Hard Times, in which he showed the shallowness and emptiness of a life that measured everything based on economic or material factors, and failed to value the other aspects of living that have been important parts of human evolution throughout the world.

“for the European, ever since the Teutonic mind and temperament took possession of western Europe, has been fundamentally the practical, dynamic and kinetic man, vitalistic in the very marrow of his thought and being.  All else has been the fine flower of his life and culture, this has been its root and stalk, and in modern times this truth of his temperament, always there, has come aggressively to the surface and triumphed over the traditions of Christian piety and Latinistic culture.  This triumphant emergence and lead of the vital man and his motives has been the whole significance of the great economic and political civilisation of the nineteenth century.  Life in society consists, for the practical human instincts, in three activities, the domestic and social life of man, — social in the sense of his customary relations with others in the community both as an individual and as a member of one family among many, — his economic activities as a producer, wealth-getter and consumer and his political status and action.  Society is the organisation of these three things and, fundamentally, it is for the practical human being nothing more.  Learning and science, culture, ethics, aesthetics, religion are assigned their place as aids to life, for its guidance and betterment, for its embellishment, for the consolation of its labours, difficulties and sorrows, but they are no part of its very substance, do not figure among its essential objects.  Life itself is the only object of living.”

 

Sri Aurobindo, The Human Cycle: The Psychology of Social Development, Chapter 16,  The Suprarational Ultimate of Life, pp. 157-158

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