About the Pride and Prejudice Project
In 2000, MSS began a study of Jane Austen’s novel, Pride & Prejudice, to examine the process of social development as well the reflections of fundamental truths of life and human character depicted in the novel. The study brings out through the narrative the process of social evolution that occurred in England during the Napoleanic era in contrast to the violent social revolution taking place across the English Channel. It also examines the power of personal attitudes and decisions to determine life events and their outcomes. Several seminars were conducted in Madras and Pondicherry to discuss the findings of the study.
People come to Pride and Prejudice for a variety of reasons and come away thrilled by the contact – for love of fine literature, for the beauty of its language, for the inspiration of Darcy’s passion or the fire in Elizabeth’s fine eyes, for its portrayal of emerging feminine individuality in a society that has chosen rapid social evolution in place of radical revolution, or simply for its humor, entertainment value and love of life!
We cherish Pride and Prejudice for all these reasons, but the objective of this project is different. We seek to utilize this superb novel by a literary genius as a mirror of life. Our objective is knowledge of human nature, self-knowledge and knowledge of the character of life itself. Those who seek knowledge of material nature can turn to physical science for the answers to many questions which baffled our ancestors. But where can we turn for a knowledge of human existence and life itself? Psychology, sociology, history, philosophy and religion all claim authority over this obscure territory, but their answers leave us groping and unsatisfied. Where else can we turn?
We can turn to great writers who have studied life by minute observation of people and events, precise analysis of circumstances, actions and consequences, keen insight into conscious intention and subconscious motive. Our great writers are the greatest scientists of life. The greatest of them, the Shakespeares and Austens, are quite literally seers of life. What they write are not mere stories, but mirrors held up to reflect deep insights into human character and nature and the character of life. They hold up a mirror for all too see, often without comment or explanation. They are faithful portrait artists reluctant to philosophize. We see the world through their eyes and come away with a greater sense of insight and wonder, but not necessarily with an understanding that we can explain to ourselves or communicate with others.
The Pride and Prejudice project approaches this novel as rich raw material about human personality, society and the nature of life itself. The insights and explanations provided here are the result of more than three decades of research on these subjects at The Mother’s Service Society, Pondicherry, India (www.motherservice.org). That research is based on the writings of Sri Aurobindo. The research has encompassed many fields of life, including history, biography, social development, business management, international affairs and contemporary events. But of all these fields we have found the study of great literature the most fruitful and effective means to arrive at a greater understanding of ourselves and the world we live in. For the past seven years, Pride and Prejudice has been a central focal point of that research.
The articles contained on this sight are an attempt to reveal deeper insights into the nature of human existence founded on an integral knowledge of life. Various dimensions of that knowledge are explored from different perspectives under the other portals and projects of the Human Science wiki.
We cannot and do not expect most readers either to evince interest in or undertake the study of the knowledge base on which this project is based. At the same time, we face the dilemma that it is almost impossible to fully communicate the insights we have uncovered without using a vocabulary that differs significantly from daily usage, without basing ourselves on conception that may appear complex and obscure on first acquaintance, and without coming to conclusions that may appear surprising and arbitrary without an understanding of the foundation on which they are based.
The difficulty is especially great when it comes to common notions regarding the nature and interaction between individual personality, society and the universe around us. Therefore, for those who have the interest and the patience, you will find articles on the site exploring each of these concepts in relatively great depth. For those who simply seek to understand the novel better, we have sought to provide brief definition pages to clarify our usage of common words.
Our objective here is not to promote a philosophy of life. It is to help readers acquire a deeper appreciate of the profound wisdom depicted in the novel and, through that, deeper insight into their own lives. In the process we expect that you will come – as we have — to admire Jane Austen and her work even more than before and share our sense of wonder at her astonishing literary creation.
How can you contribute?
No statement or conclusion in this project is intended to be taken at face value or accepted as an assertion of truth. Our purpose is to provoke thought, inquiry and questions. We invite and request other contributors to do likewise. This project is constructed as a wiki so that all those with an interest in the novel and an interest in truths of life and human nature can contribute. Your contribution may be in the form of articles presenting complementary or opposite points of view or it may be in the form of comments and discussions or questions challenging what others have already written.
Knowledge is not a thing, it is a process. We hope that your participation in the Pride and Prejudice project will help us all acquire a greater capacity to see behind the surface appearances the deeper processes and significance of our own lives.