Evolution - A Metaphysical Discussion by R.Y. Deshpande by Debashish on Fri 10 Nov 2006 09:39 AM PST Permanent Link Chapter XIV of "Narad's Arrival at Madra", SAICE, 2006
Nietzsche left the appearance of his superman wholly at the mercy of Chance. If this is acceptable, we might then as well say that there is a good likelihood even for the donkey of Sancho Panza to become one in the course of long time. And for the same reason and by the same process the superman could also just disappear. As Sancho's creature turns up suddenly from nowhere and goes into nowhere, our superman too would become a product of dubious ways of destiny.
But more often than not it has been proved that the rationalist conclusions of science are only provisional and, even when accepted, are not always satisfying to our deeper sense of understanding. Collective life cannot and should not end in the death of the individual. Besides, we have to also know if there is any future for the physical body that houses us in it, body that has been always regarded more as an obstacle than an aid, something that is unworthy of nobler things cherished by us but not easily obtained because of its severe limitations. Add to this the likelihood of what caused evolution that itself is evolving further. Is not then man himself a transitional being for the secret Urge that is driving evolution onward? To questions of this kind we cannot get answers from science. Nor would the philosophical systems or propositions fill up the bill. Take an example, of Samuel Alexander's Space-Time. It looks so unconvincing that it should have been endowed with a nisus that makes matter, life, and mind emerge out of it; it is practically as good as saying that these have come into existence out of non-existence, ex nihilo.
Not much is gained in later formulations. To Alexis Carrel's "Man the Unknown," Teilhard de Chardin adds "Man to be" as the solution of everything that we can know. After a long and almost a linear anti-entropic process of chemico-biological evolution, there is the appearance of a complex mental activity on an unprecedented scale. This mental activity or awareness or consciousness in its turn gives to evolution a new process or mechanism for the evolution itself to forge ahead in its ever-growing unfoldment. According to Teilhard, what is going to happen in the future are not somatic but vast mental and social transformations leading to an intense noogenic activity. A critical point in this development having been reached, a stage where the biological is more or less exhausted, only a collective higher order must culminate into impersonalised organisation of superlife. Based so much on scientific researches is the thesis that it may look in its infallibility to be the last word to fix the possibilities for man.
Man was born, and he stood erect; soon he started acquiring power over his surroundings which itself, over a period of sixty million years, contributed to the development of his brain that made him a "thinking being in an unthinking world," as we have in Savitri. He began to "laugh and weep," though Plato never did in the whole of his 81-year life, nor perhaps Kant. Man became the Protagorean measure of all things. He climbed noble peaks in the domain of science and philosophy and mathematics, even as he soared with tireless wings in the sky of religion and art and poetry. Yet, despite all the achievements of quantum mechanics, there looms over his head the ambiguous cloud of Uncertainty in the helplessness of this multidimensional world. Henri Poincare states that for mathematics "there is no such thing as a solved problem, there are only problems more or less solved." However, knowing well that there is so much of Ã peu pres in the entire approach, one begins to wonder whether this bears any satisfying conviction.
It seems that in this epoch of spiritual malady, the Heideggerian angst has taken possession of the minds of men. Modern man is verily in a state of utter alienation. He has lost faith; he has lost belief in himself; he has even lent himself to the Marxian sun under which there can exist no God. But then this is essentially an evolutionary problem and unless, a la Sri Aurobindo, we take evolution as the evolution of consciousness there cannot be any solution to it. The glorious "divine humanism" held in front of us by him is a possibility that can materialise soon with the conscious participation of man himself. It is the great spiritual Ascent of Man which no Bronowski can visualise.
Sri Aurobindo's vision of the destiny of man is based on direct spiritual experience and has authenticity of one who has meticulously tested the thousand aspects and modes of nature in her evolutionary enterprise. In it is the indisputable basis of empiricism that goes far beyond even the hardest methodology of science. The conclusion is that man is after all a mediator divinity and the real evolution, rather the evolution in reality, is to start from this point onward. One could hence call it infinite progress. It is in this context that we should see the issues related to physical transformation and the work carried out by the Mother deep into the cellular regions. From man human to man divine there doesn't seem to be a direct leap or transition possible and there is the necessity for the "intermediate" man to arrive.
Sri Aurobindo's philosophy of integral non-dualism, as propounded by him in his magnum opus The Life Divine, is a landmark event regarding our view of reality. What we clearly see in it is that the a priori and unconditional application of the laws of formal logic, namely, Identity, Contradiction and Excluded Middle to propositions which express the nature of reality, is logically unwarranted and unjustified. When abstract or formal reason has to deny the reality of one or the other aspect of the Absolute in order to make it consistent with the laws of formal logic, laws which are empty of content and do not present a picture of reality, we have to go beyond reason or formal logic. There has to be the Logic of the Infinite. Sri Aurobindo's Logic of the Infinite is founded on integral knowledge. Indeed that knowledge, and not of formal logic, alone can be the true ground for the activity of dynamic consciousness itself. The system thus offered carries on it the stamp of the knowledge of a spiritual seer; it is advaita-vedanta with the infallibility of some higher truth of the Self expressing itself in revelatory words. Metaphysically speaking, we have in it three elements: Omnipresent Reality as the creator of all that is and that could be more, the Logic of the Infinite governing the process, and Integral Knowledge as the basis of its action. Behind all this is of course the creative Delight itself.
This theory is a multi-stranded theory with the urge to grow from below and with the constant pressure of the higher levels bringing their potentialities and powers into the lower. Evolution is not a monochord. There is a double process in it, with Avatarhood as one significant aspect. This evolution is finally to effect the establishment of a race whose governing consciousness-force shall be the creative truth operating in the freedom of progressive delight. There will be the race of gnostic beings. To put in the words of K D Sethna (Amal Kiran): "What we call evolution is a process by which the multiplicity of the soul-truths inherent in the Spirit shape various series of formulations on earth for the gradual revelation of their own shades of divine diversity at play in the divine unity. This, again, means that each soul-truth gathers and assimilates through these formulations or rebirths a certain growing experience which helps it to express its diversity on evolutionary lines, and which it holds together in an evolving intermediate psychological form of itself between its pure spiritual status and its expression here." The upshot of the evolution is: diversity and unity in a divine way.
Sri Aurobindo's explanation of the evolutionary universe is as follows. He writes in a letter: "I have put forward this cardinal fact of a spiritual evolution as the meaning of our existence here. It is a series of ascents from the physical being and consciousness to the vital, the being dominated by the life-self, thence to the mental being realised in the fully developed man and thence into the perfect consciousness which is beyond the mental, into the supramental Consciousness and the supramental being, the Truth-Consciousness which is the integral consciousness of the spiritual being. Mind cannot be our last conscious expression because mind is fundamentally an ignorance seeking for knowledge; it is only the supramental Truth-Consciousness that can bring us the true and whole Self-Knowledge and world-Knowledge; it is through that only that we can get to our true being and the fulfilment of our spiritual evolution."
Thus in spite of the long course of evolution of thought, we find that it is not possible for thought by itself to arrive at the Self-Knowledge and world-Knowledge Sri Aurobindo speaks of; it cannot, closes as it does on itself. Therefore, all metaphysical theories of evolution are bound to be bounded by the limitations of mental faculty and hence cannot be satisfying in the deeper sense of our longings and aspiration, cannot be acceptable to perceptions that are sensitive to the possibilities of the spirit expressing itself even here in the physical world of ours.