The Human Cycle — The Ideal of Human Unity — War and Self-Determination

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The Human Cycle
The Ideal of Human Unity
War and Self-Determination


Chapter I The Cycle of Society 5 Paper icon.png
Chapter II The Age of Individualism and Reason 15 Paper icon.png
Chapter III The Coming of the Subjective Age 26 Paper icon.png
Chapter IV The Discovery of the Nation-Soul 35 Paper icon.png
Chapter V True and False Subjectivism 44 Paper icon.png
Chapter VI The Objective and Subjective Views of Life 55 Paper icon.png
Chapter VII The Ideal Law of Social Development 63 Paper icon.png
Chapter VIII Civilisation and Barbarism 73 Paper icon.png
Chapter IX Civilisation and Culture 82 Paper icon.png
Chapter X Aesthetic and Ethical Culture 92 Paper icon.png
Chapter XI The Reason as Governor of Life 102 Paper icon.png
Chapter XII The Office and Limitations of the Reason 114 Paper icon.png
Chapter XIII Reason and Religion 124 Paper icon.png
Chapter XIV The Suprarational Beauty 136 Paper icon.png
Chapter XV The Suprarational Good 146 Paper icon.png
Chapter XVI The Suprarational Ultimate of Life 155 Paper icon.png
Chapter XVII Religion as the Law of Life 173 Paper icon.png
Chapter XVIII The Infrarational Age of the Cycle 182 Paper icon.png
Chapter XIX The Curve of the Rational Age 192 Paper icon.png
Chapter XX The End of the Curve of Reason 208 Paper icon.png
Chapter XXI The Spiritual Aim and Life 222 Paper icon.png
Chapter XXII The Necessity of the Spiritual Transformation 232 Paper icon.png
Chapter XXIII Conditions for the Coming of a Spiritual Age 246 Paper icon.png
Chapter XXIV The Advent and Progress of the Spiritual Age 261 Paper icon.png


(Sri Aurobindo letter to the Mother, 1915:) “I have begun in the issue of the Arya which is just out a number of articles on the Ideal of Human Unity. I intend to proceed very cautiously and not go very deep at first, but as if I were leading the intelligence of the reader gradually towards the deeper meaning of unity — especially to discourage the idea that mistakes uniformity and mechanical association for unity.”[1]

The seventy-eight footnotes in the present edition of “The Ideal of Human Unity” reflect the complex history of the text. Only three of these can be traced to the “Arya” (two other footnotes found in the “Arya” were deleted during revision). Sri Aurobindo added more than fifty footnotes in his first revision, many of them referring to political developments of the 1930s such as the rise of Fascism. In his second, lighter revision, undertaken more than ten years later, he also made extensive use of footnotes for updating the text.[2]

Part I
Chapter I The Turn towards Unity: Its Necessity and Dangers 279 Paper icon.png
Chapter II The Imperfection of Past Aggregates 285 Paper icon.png
Chapter III The Group and the Individual 290 Paper icon.png
Chapter IV The Inadequacy of the State Idea 296 Paper icon.png
Chapter V Nation and Empire: Real and Political Unities 304 Paper icon.png
Chapter VI Ancient and Modern Methods of Empire 312 Paper icon.png
Chapter VII The Creation of the Heterogeneous Nation 323 Paper icon.png
Chapter VIII The Problem of a Federated Heterogeneous Empire 330 Paper icon.png
Chapter IX The Possibility of a World-Empire 337 Paper icon.png
Chapter X The United States of Europe 344 Paper icon.png
Chapter XI The Small Free Unit and the Larger Concentrated Unity 355 Paper icon.png
Chapter XII The Ancient Cycle of Prenational Empire-Building — The Modern Cycle of Nation-Building 364 Paper icon.png
Chapter XIII The Formation of the Nation-Unit — The Three Stages 374 Paper icon.png
Chapter XIV The Possibility of a First Step towards International Unity — Its Enormous Difficulties 384 Paper icon.png
Chapter XV Some Lines of Fulfilment 395 Paper icon.png
Chapter XVI The Problem of Uniformity and Liberty 405 Paper icon.png
Part II
Chapter XVII Nature’s Law in Our Progress—Unity in Diversity, Law and Liberty 417 Paper icon.png
Chapter XVIII The Ideal Solution—A Free Grouping of Mankind 427 Paper icon.png
Chapter XIX The Drive towards Centralisation and Uniformity—Administration and Control of Foreign Affairs 437 Paper icon.png
Chapter XX The Drive towards Economic Centralisation 445 Paper icon.png
Chapter XXI The Drive towards Legislative and Social Centralisation and Uniformity 451 Paper icon.png
Chapter XXII World-Union or World-State 462 Paper icon.png
Chapter XXIII Forms of Government 465 Paper icon.png
Chapter XXIV The Need of Military Unification 475 Paper icon.png
Chapter XXV War and the Need of Economic Unity 485 Paper icon.png
Chapter XXVI The Need of Administrative Unity 494 Paper icon.png
Chapter XXVII The Peril of the World-State 505 Paper icon.png
Chapter XXVIII Diversity in Oneness 513 Paper icon.png
Chapter XXIX The Idea of a League of Nations 523 Paper icon.png
Chapter XXX The Principle of Free Confederation 533 Paper icon.png
Chapter XXXI The Conditions of a Free World-Union 540 Paper icon.png
Chapter XXXII Internationalism 548 Paper icon.png
Chapter XXXIII Internationalism and Human Unity 554 Paper icon.png
Chapter XXXIV The Religion of Humanity 564 Paper icon.png
Chapter XXXV Summary and Conclusion 571 Paper icon.png
A Postscript Chapter 579 Paper icon.png


(Sri Aurobindo:) “The four essays published in this volume [first edition] were not written at one time or conceived with any intentional connection between them in idea or purpose. The first was written in the early months of the [First World] war, two others when it was closing, the last recently during the formation and first operations of that remarkably ill-jointed, stumbling and hesitating machine, the League of Nations. But still they happen to be bound together by a common idea or at least look at four related subjects from a single general standpoint, — the obvious but practically quite forgotten truth that the destiny of the race in this age of crisis and revolution will depend much more on the spirit which we are than on the machinery we shall use. … Great hopes are abroad, high and large ideals fill the view, enormous forces are in the field. It is one of those vast critical moments in the life of the race when all is pressing towards change and reconstitution. The ideals of the future, especially the ideals of freedom, equality, commonalty, unity, are demanding to be brought out from their limited field in the spiritual life or the idealism of the few and to be given some beginning of a true soul of action and bodily shape in the life of the race. But banded against any such fulfilment there are powerful obstacles, and the greatest of them come not from outside but from within. For they are the old continued impulsions and obstinate recalcitrance of mankind’s past nature, the almost total subjection of its normal mind to egoistic, vital and material interests and ambitions which make not for union but for strife and discord, the plausibilities of the practical reason which looks at the possibilities of the day and the morrow and shuts its eyes to the consequences of the day after, the habits of pretence and fiction which impel men and nations to pursue and forward their own interest under the camouflage of a specious idealism, a habit made up only partly of the diplomatic hypocrisy of politicians, but much more of a general half-voluntary self-deception, and, finally, the inrush of blinder unsatisfied forces and crude imperfect idealisms — of such is the creed of Bolshevism — to take advantage of the unrest and dissatisfaction prevalent in such times and lay hold for a while on the life of mankind. It is these things which we see dominant around us and not in the least degree any effort to be of the right spirit and evolve from it the right method.”[3]

The Passing of War? 606 Paper icon.png
The Unseen Power 612 Paper icon.png
Self-Determination 623 Paper icon.png
A League of Nations 634 Paper icon.png
1919 664 Paper icon.png
After the War 668 Paper icon.png


Appendix I 685
Appendix II 686

Notes are paraphrased from the “Publisher's Note” and “Note on the Texts”.

  1. The Human Cycle – The Ideal of Human Unity – War and Self-Determination, p.688, “Note on the Texts”
  2. Ibid., p.689
  3. War and Self-Determination, p.600, “Forward to the First Edition”

See also