Why is independent thinking discouraged? 

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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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In Sri Aurobindo's essay entitled "On Original Thinking," a case is made as to why independent thinking is discouraged.  In its most elemental form, Sri Aurobindo makes the argument that social conformity is predicated upon discouraging independence of thought.  Social orders not in touch with the tenets and greatness of independent thought discourage it because of its perceived threat to the Status Quo:

The attitude of mankind towards originality of opinion is marked by a natural hesitation and inconsistency. Admired for its rarity, brilliancy and potency, yet in practice and for the same qualities it is more generally dreaded, ridiculed or feared. There is no doubt that it tends to disturb what is established. Therefore tamasic men and tamasic states of society take especial pains to discourage independence of opinion. Their watchword is authority.

"Authority" supplants all else in the temporal condition of consciousness. Independent thought is thus a threat to this authority.  Independent thinking is discouraged because it introduces a new vocabulary or pattern of recognition that challenges individuals to expand their horizons.  Sri Aurobindo makes the argument that this is met with "a natural hesitation and inconsistency."  For Sri Aurobindo, being able to transcend this natural condition of being in the world is a critical first step in order to embrace what should be as opposed to what is.

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