Basic Principles for the Action of Reason in the Development of Human Society

The reasoning intelligence has, for the most part, been put to work carrying out the will of desire.  The influence of the vital nature on the reason and the conclusions drawn by the process of reasoning has been, and continues to be, an enormous impediment that skews the results and makes reason little more than an instrument of power and control by those who have a more developed power of reason than the mass of society.  This leads to an elite ruling class which then uses the powers it possesses to maintain and extend its control, influence and the benefits accruing to that effort.  One of the methods used by this elite is to deny education and the opportunity to exercise the powers of reasoning to the vast mass of society, or at the very least, if education is available, to use it as a means of indoctrination and brainwashing.

Sri Aurobindo observes:  “This reason which is to be universally applied, cannot be the reason of a ruling class; for in the present imperfection of the human race that always means in practice the fettering and misapplication of reason degraded into a servant of power to maintain the privileges of the ruling class and justify the existing order.  It cannot be the reason of a few pre-eminent thinkers; for, if the mass is infrarational, the application of their ideas becomes in practice disfigured, ineffective, incomplete, speedily altered into mere form and convention.  It must be the reason of each and all seeking for a basis of agreement.  Hence arises the principle of individualistic democracy, that the reason and will of every individual in the society must be allowed to count equally with the reason and will of every other in determining its government, in selecting the essential basis and in arranging the detailed ordering of the common life.  This must be, not because the reason of one man is as good as the reason of any other, but because otherwise we get back inevitably to the rule of a predominant class which, however modified by being obliged to consider to some extent the opinion of the ruled, must exhibit always the irrational vice of reason subordinated to the purposes of power and not flexibly used for its own proper and ideal ends.  Secondly, each individual must be allowed to govern his life according to the dictates of his own reason and will so far as that can be done without impinging on the same right in others.  This is a necessary corollary of the primary principle on which the age of reason founds its initial movement.  It is sufficient for the first purposes of the rational age that each man should be supposed to have sufficient intelligence to understand views which are presented and explained to him, to consider the opinions of his fellows and to form in consultation with them his own judgment.  His individual judgment so formed and by one device or another made effective is the share he contributes to the building of the total common judgment by which society must be ruled, his little brick in appearance insignificant and yet indispensable to the imposing whole. … it is sufficient also for the first ideal of the rational age that this common judgment should be effectively organised only for the indispensable common ends of the society, while in all else men must be left free to govern their own life according to their own reason and will and find freely its best possible natural adjustment with the lives of others.  In this way by the practice of the free use of reason men can grow into rational beings and learn to live by common agreement, a liberal, a vigorous, a natural and yet rationalised existence.”

Sri Aurobindo, The Human Cycle: The Psychology of Social Development, Chapter 19, The Curve of the Rational Age, pp. 195-197

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