Thinking Man in the Pre-Rational Ages of Human Development

Even in the infrarational stage of human development, one can identify the operation of intelligence and reason, although it is very much subordinated to the infrarational drives and needs.  Yet the character of the thought-process in the infrarational stage took on the colour of the primary influence of the vital age within which it was taking place.  Modern man, living in an age where the reason has come greatly out from under the shadow of the vital force and has begun to act with a new power of organisation and marshalling of ideas, operates under a completely different mode of thought than in the prior age.

Sri Aurobindo explains:  “It is not that in the pre-individualistic, pre-rational ages there were no thinkers upon society and the communal life of man; but they did not think in the characteristic method of the logical reason, critical, all-observing, all-questioning, and did not proceed on the constructive side by the carefully mechanising methods of the highly rationalised intelligence when it passes from the reasoned perception of a truth to the endeavour after its pure, perfect and universal orderly application.  Their thought and their building of life were much less logical than spontaneously intelligent, organic and intuitive.  Always they looked upon life as it was and sought to know its secret by keen discernment, intuition and insight; symbols embodying the actual and ideal truth of life and being, types setting them in an arrangement and psychological order, institutions giving them a material fixity in their effectuation by life, this was the form in which they shaped their attempt to understand and mentalise life, to govern life by mind, but mind in its spontaneously intuitive or its reflectively seeing movements before they have been fixed into the geometrical patterns of the logical intelligence.”

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