In a thought provoking book entitled OBJECTIVE SOCIETY, Everett Knight has posed a problem of great interest in typology and its consequences to social understanding. His concern has been the extraordinary situation to which academicians have arrived having built themselves a way of looking at Society objectively that is to say detachedly. The scientific out look has been to look at the world contra-subjectively and this has led to the hypostatising of categories galore which have hardly objective existence though they have all been invented or discovered in the course of the necessity for assuming or presuming an objective world independent of the subject or his experience. This detachment from subjectivity and attachment to objective reality as if it has nothing directly bearing on the life of the individual or his ethic or politics or in one word, his religion, has been a phenomenon which should make one shudder about the future of man. This tendency of the mind to cloister itself and build up an ivory tower is the essential characteristic of the monk. Sri Aurobindo called it the ‘ascetic’ detached from the world and away from the world in all ways except perhaps in the forced prison of the world and all its tormenting changes that change nothing at all. That this monk cult should have invaded the scientific mind and the academies is the one distressing factor even when such men do indulge in the study of society and so on.
The Messianic type of person however there is in this world: he perceives the world to be the object of his work and needing change according to his pattern of thinking or planning or reasoning. He sees that the world as he lives is an ethical field for his struggle and conquest for reality. The unreal world of the past is to be replaced with the dynamic reality of the future. Always we have had men who saw that the world requires to be changed and shaped according to great ideals. He is no pessimist who knows that the world needs change but is ineffective to do it as he knows not the know how of things. The know-why of things needs to be necessary for the know-how and since the know why is beyond his rationality and perceptions, the know how is delayed and thus the pessimist is the arrested messiah. Ideological messianism we have always had and utopian messianism is also what we have had. Science however has been able to promise messianism its help but what with the indeterminacy and the threat to human life itself not to speak of its being incapable of integration with values ethical and religious it appears that messianism is bound to find itself in difficulty. Further both monk and messiah are anti-rationalistic and emotional or sentimental. Thus these two are said to be antithetical to the rational spirit which smothers all action.
The struggle today is not between the Monk (the otherworldly human) and the Messiah (the this-worldly futurist) but between thought and action. Thought has been said to be the cause of action, and a rational or thoughtful person always plans his action and then acts. The intellectual in being truly intellectual is at the arrested level of objective knowing rather than getting involved in action. His Olympian attitude is of course much appreciated though it is exasperating to find one whose doubt is so omni pervasive an element of his existence that his existence itself requires to be questioned. Of course the doubter must exist according to Des Cartes for his thinking is nothing but doubting, However it is to the credit of those who have seen through the flaw in this ‘detachment’ and pre-planned activity of as Bergson says of perception this ‘virtual action’ itself is said to be action, a sort of behaviour and reckoned even by psychologists as such, to claim that action there is which verifies the rightness of the thought or the doubt and such action is of course cooperating in the field of real knowledge. We always find this integration of thought and activity in the very process of cognitivity, and the arbitrary division of thought from activity in cognitivity itself not to speak of life is an abstraction of the most disastrous order which has led to the present stalemate in philosophy as well as politics and other areas of human existence. Pragmatism was right in insisting that knowledge is or becomes truly knowledge when it is acted and action is the test of the rightness of knowledge. This was the truth insisted upon by the Indian Realistic logicians and organists and personalities that action is what is intended in all knowledge and the verification of this intention is indeed itself knowledge-acting towards truth and reality.
The present tendency in university education is precisely to debar this and develop an objective outlook that is arrested at perception what does not develop into perception at all for perception requires an perceptive mass of activity and knowledge which is excluded in the temples learning.
The modern types of political life and indeed no one can escape from coming to grips with it leads us to accept a philosophy that could in a sense take cognizance of both the individual detachment and messianic aspiration. The cry that the academies should be free from the emotional and other factors entering into the field of political or social life shows the voice of the Monk: the refusal to participate in life to be able to carry on work of the most abstruse and obtuse types is considered to be necessary preparation for life itself so far as the students themselves are considered, but not in respect of the adults who are in charge of the academies themselves. The division of labour has been carried too far: it has also meant that the academies unfortunately do not care for the dynamic social situation which demands a messianic zeal that would develop perceptions of the new world, dreams that demand to be realized. That is one of the reasons why the academies have become the bye-word for snobbery and scholarship and antiquarianism. These charges are rather harsh and the anti-intellectualism that has pervaded both the fascist and communist types of minds which are socialistic in a sense of being concerned with society which awaits to be conserved or transformed and organized, is mainly due to the slogan of objectivity, which is the principle of cat on the wall which has been played assiduously and cultivated unconsciously by all concerned with education of the youth.
In India this danger has to be averted before it ripens into a rigidity that this tradition of the monk or ascetic is strong is clear: it is the basic dynamism if one may speak of it as dynamism at all, of Mayavada. The Messianic role itself was turned into a monkish business: messianism helped monkhood and this is precisely what Everett Knight has not canvassed. The Indian mind has seen the two types: the mystic and the religious: the religious and the secular, and has striven to resolve the conflict by an appropriate adjustment of human psychology. The mystic need for cosmic or supra-cosmic freedom and perception of the Oneness of the world is like messianism, for the mystic not merely attains but seeks to communicate his vision to all so that all can participate in that experience, that world. His cry of liberation and Union with all is a basic individualistic-cum-cosmic urge voicing forth its most urgent demand for values to be realized in this world itself. However it is a cry which embraces the option: if possible here if not in Heaven or the cosmic. The religious type is that which engages itself in a series of acts of devotion which are designed to reveal the dependence of man or soul on God. The self-surrender inherent in religious devotion is the seeking of absolute dependence on that supreme person who alone can reveal one’s own true nature and emancipate it from all bonds, of life, of imperfection, of sin and ignorance. This twofold typology is helpful in the mystico-religious search for ultimate or Absolute Reality. However it has been shown that the mystic is not afraid of the impersonal experience of liberty and as such may hasten to deny the deity which alone can grant it the union which is the passionate embrace of the Infinite. The two routes were well-known to the ancient Upanisadic seekers or seers, who described them as the seekers after vinasa and the seekers after Sambhuti.
Or again in a different typology as the seekers of avidya and the seekers after vidya, meaning the scientists who devote all attention and life to the discovery of the laws of the areas of reality instead of the cardinal principle of Reality as a whole and integral. The Vidya seekers are those who seek the absolute apart from the world and not as controlling, sustaining, supporting and leading the world of souls and Nature to a greater evolution.
The typological disjunction however is a fact that occurs in the world of history or evolution itself. Indeed it is not merely ideological. It is one of the great truths of Marx that he gave blood and life to the bloodless ballet of impalpable categories of Hegelian Dialectic by the messianic drive of the economic homeostasis. So too we find again the embers of religious fanaticism have been lit and racialism has also through the emphasis on apartheid and self-government of the under-developed and the underdeveloped peoples have put the dialectic in a war of life and death. Thus one can hardly be a scholar merely for he is being dragged into the fray of events and cannot escape reflection and action. However it is one of the facts of our day that academic insulation cannot last long: monkdom is forever gone: forces of life are in total warfare: science and ethics are in moral grips with one another. The Messianic temper is more in the climate or the day and whilst it is time it is for the rationalistic monk to see the light and guide himself and the messiah to the haven of a possible universe, for the messiah is bound to fail in the long run leaving a slogan of rich timbre.