May 29, 2011

Reasoning and logic are a mask; conclusions spring from preferences, prejudices and passions

We have, most of us, our chosen explanation of this dolorous phenomenon [of the decline of Indian civilisation]. The patriot attributes our decline to the ravages of foreign invasion and the benumbing influences of foreign rule; the disciple of European materialism finds out the enemy, the evil, the fount and origin of all our ills, in our religion and its time-honoured social self-expression. Such explanations, like most human thoughts, have their bright side of truth as well as their obscure side of error; but they are not, in any case, the result of impartial thinking.
Man may be, as he has been defined, a reasoning animal, but it is necessary to add that he is, for the most part, a very badly reasoning animal. He does not ordinarily think for the sake of finding out the truth, but much more for the satisfaction of his mental preferences and emotional tendencies; his conclusions spring from his preferences, prejudices and passions; and his reasoning and logic paraded to justify them are only a specious process or a formal mask for his covert approach to an upshot previously necessitated by his heart or by his temperament. When we are awakened from our modern illusions, as we have been awakened from our mediaeval superstitions, we shall find that the intellectual conclusions of the rationalist, for all their pomp and protest of scrupulous enquiry, were as much dogmas as those former dicta of Pope and theologian, which confessed without shame their simple basis in the negation of reason....
It is always best, therefore, to scrutinise very narrowly those bare, trenchant explanations which so easily satisfy the pugnacious animal in our intellect; when we have admitted that small part of the truth on which they seize, we should always look for the large part which they have missed. INDIA'S REBIRTH- Part II

Comment posted by: Sandeep: Re: 15 August: an Eternal Birth—the Mother explains its significance
I tend to leave aside some of these high-brow observations made by the Mother like this one about the significance of 15th August.  Thats because I don't possess the consciousness she had when she spoke of these things, so it makes no sense to interpret it intellectually.

Sri Aurobindo has outlined this very succinctly in this chapter: [...]

Standing on the head of reason is Adwaita. I don't think the law of parsimony gets that far at all and probably has little to do with spirituality; something like the idea can probably be found in Nyaya and Mimamsa which said about everything possible concerning causality. I am mentioning the idea in this context because it is very tempting to ascribe "spiiritual" and "occult" causes for things that are actually quite concrete and present, such as class discrimination. There, Marxist criticism and psychology is probably the best authority

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