Stages of the Development of the Reason’s Approach to Society: Liberty, Equality, Fraternity

The intelligent reason, as it develops and attempts to take charge of, guide and direct humanity in an attempt to surpass the infrarational vital stage of development, passes through several stages of its own.  Sri Aurobindo has identified them as based on the underlying principles of liberty, equality and fraternity.  The reason itself is an intermediate term, between the infrarational and the suprarational, and thus, does not appear to have the final resolution within its scope.  It may fall back into some form of infrarational sleep state, ossifying the ideas that were novel when they appeared into tradition, creed, cult and habitual action.  It may proceed to widen itself and open to the higher spiritual truths of the nature and thus, exceed its own natural action.  Otherwise, within its own frame of reference, it can never be totally satisfied and thus, never reach a final settled result.

Sri Aurobindo observes:  “If we may judge from the modern movement, the progress of the reason as a social renovator and creator, if not interrupted in its course, would be destined to pass through three successive stages which are the very logic of its growth, the first individualistic and increasingly democratic with liberty for its principle, the second socialistic, in the end perhaps a governmental communism with equality and the State for its principle, the third — if that ever gets beyond the stage of theory — anarchistic in the higher sense of that much-abused word, either a loose voluntary cooperation or a free communalism with brotherhood or comradeship and not government for its principle.  It is in the transition to its third and consummating stage, if or whenever that comes, that the power and sufficiency of the reason will be tested; it will then be seen whether the reason can really be the master of our nature, solve the problems of our interrelated and conflicting egoisms and bring about within itself a perfect principle of society or must give way to a higher guide.  For till this third stage has its trial, it is Force that in the last resort really governs.  Reason only gives to Force the plan of its action and a system to administer.”

Sri Aurobindo, The Human Cycle: The Psychology of Social Development, Chapter 19, The Curve of the Rational Age, pp. 193-194