Life as human beings live it is a field in which forms and forces interact to produce results. However, in this case the forms are not forms of material substance, they are forms of action. As the basic building block of material forms is the atom, the basic building block of life forms is the individual act. In both instances, the real foundation for the form is energy in constant movement.
As atoms combine together to constitute larger inorganic forms ranging in size from the molecule to the planet, solar system and galaxy and more complex organic forms ranging in complexity from single cells, to organs, organisms and species; so too, individual acts combine to form larger, more complex and more enduring activities, systems, organizations, institutions, customs and cultures. Composing a letter, conceiving a child, establishing a business, and founding a country are acts. Farming, shopping, manufacturing and researching are complex recurring chains of activity. Social habits, customs, procedures, and laws are complex systems of acts. Like the atom, each of these acts and systems can be broken down into smaller constituent parts ad infinitum to discern the minutest sensations, impulses, thoughts and movements of which they are constituted. Each is itself part of a longer chain or larger system of actions.
Like the expansive movements of stars and galaxies, each act can be traced back to its origins in the distant past and to its explicit or subtle consequences in the distant future. The key to this evolution of complexity in life is tersely explained by Sri Aurobindo. “It (life) evolves through growth of consciousness even as consciousness evolves through greater organization and perfection of life.” A progressive emergence of a previously involved consciousness and a progressive organization of the consciousness that emerges are the twin principles of evolution in all planes of existence, material, social, psychological and even spiritual.
The forces that act in our lives include forces of material nature such as weather and gravity, but also social forces such as political power, social status and peer pressure, and psychological forces such as the power of ideas, ideals, opinions, beliefs, emotions, sensations, impulses, desires and aspirations. All these forces meet and interact in the cauldron of life to influence the course of the acts, activities, systems and organizations. When Martin Luther posted his Ninety-five Theses on the door of the Castle Church in Wittenberg in 1517 to launch the Reformation; when President Roosevelt halted the US banking crisis in 1932 by appealing to the American people over the radio; when Churchill single-handedly inspired the British people to resist Nazi aggression at a time when all of Europe had capitulated; when Mahatma Gandhi stirred the Indian masses to cast off two centuries of British imperial rule: when Gorbachev unilaterally dismantled the iron structure of communist authoritarianism that ended the Cold War – their acts expressed and mobilised forces of tremendous intensity to confront opposing forces and destroy or alter entrenched forms of social organization. The fields in which they acted, variously term economic, religious, political, social, psychological, are fields for scientific inquiry – arguably far more central and important fields than any that absorbs the attention of astrophysicists or evolutionary biologists. The material, technological, organization, social and psychological forces they wielded and unleashed are also proper subject for scientific study. The forms they created, altered or destroyed, be they forms of governance, law and social organization or forms of social attitude and mental understanding, are very much objects for scientific investigation.