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ADAPTED EXCERPT FROM ‘FREEDOM’ FOR MEDIA PUBLICATION

 

FREEDOM: The End Of The Human Condition

 

by Jeremy Griffith

 

Adapted Excerpt

Word count: 2535

‘We are locked in a race between self destruction and self discovery.’
Journalist Richard Neville

 

The Dilemma of the Human Condition

Here on Earth some of the most complex arrangements of matter in the known universe have come into existence. Life, in all its incredible diversity and richness, developed. And, by virtue of our mind, the human species must surely represent the culmination of this grand experiment of nature we call lifefor, as far as we can detect, we are the first organism to have developed the fully conscious ability to sufficiently understand and thus manage the relationship between cause and effect to wrest management of our lives from our instincts, and to even reflect upon our existence. It is easy to lose sight of the utter magnificence of what we are, but the human mind must surely be nature’s most astonishing creation. Indeed, it must be one of the wonders of the universe! Consider, for example, the intellectual brilliance involved in sending three of our kind to the Moon and back.

And yet, despite our species’ magnificent mental capabilities, and undeniable capacity for immense sensitivity and love, behind every wondrous scientific achievement, sensitive artistic expression and compassionate act lies the shadow of humanity’s darker sidean unspeakable history of greed, hatred, rape, torture, murder and war; a propensity for deeds of shocking violence, depravity, indifference and cruelty.

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As the philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer wrote, “man is the only animal which causes pain to others with no other object than causing pain…No animal ever torments another for the sake of tormenting: but man does so, and it is this which constitutes the diabolical nature which is far worse than the merely bestial.” Yes, undermining all our marvellous accomplishments and sensibilities is the fact that we humans have also been the most ferocious and malicious and seemingly evil creatures to have ever lived on Earth. But are we really evil?

 

How we excused our dark side while we couldn’t truthfully explain it

Certainly we have used the excuse that our behaviour is no different to that seen in the animal kingdomthat we are competitive, aggressive and selfish because of our animal heritage. We have argued that we are, as Tennyson put it, “red in tooth and claw”a victim of savage animal instincts that compel us to fight and compete for food, shelter, territory and a mate; that we are at the mercy of a biological need to reproduce our genes. But this reason that biologists have been perpetuating cannot be the real cause of our divisive behaviour because descriptions of human behaviour, such as egocentric, arrogant, inspired, depressed, deluded, optimistic, pessimistic, artificial, hateful, mean, immoral, guilt-ridden, evil, psychotic, neurotic, alienated, all recognise the involvement of our species’ unique fully conscious thinking mindthat there is a psychological dimension to our behaviour. Humans have suffered not from the genetic-opportunism-based, non-psychological animal condition, but the conscious-mind-based, psychologically troubled human condition.

 

The real biological explanation of the human condition that both acknowledges and explains our collective psychosis and reveals the astronomical courage of the human race

Clearly, a fresh approach has been neededan analysis of our human situation from a basis that recognises and confronts the psychological dimension to our behaviour. When that approach is taken the explanation of our less-than-ideal human condition is relatively straight forward. The explanation begins with an analysis of consciousness.

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Nerves were originally developed for the coordination of movement in animals, but, once developed, their ability to store impressionswhat we refer to as ‘memory’gave rise to the potential to develop understanding of cause and effect. If you can remember past events, you can compare them with current events and identify regularly occurring experiences. This knowledge of, or insight into, what has commonly occurred in the past enables you to predict what is likely to happen in the future and to adjust your behaviour accordingly. Once insights into the nature of change are put into effect, the self-modified behaviour starts to provide feedback, refining the insights further. Predictions are compared with outcomes and so on. Much developed, and such refinement occurred in the human brain, nerves can sufficiently associate information to reason how experiences are related, learn to understand and become conscious of, or aware of, or intelligent about, the relationship between events that occur through time. Thus consciousness means being sufficiently aware of how experiences are related to attempt to manage change from a basis of understanding.

The significance of this process is that once our nerve-based learning system became sufficiently developed for us to become conscious and able to effectively manage events, our conscious intellect was then in a position to wrest control from our gene-based learning system’s instincts, which, up until then, had been in charge of our lives. Basically, once our self-adjusting intellect emerged it was capable of taking over the management of our lives from the instinctive orientations we had acquired through the natural selection of genetic traits that adapted us to our environment.

However, inevitably, it was at this juncture, when our conscious intellect challenged our instincts for control, that a struggle developed between our instincts and intellect, the effect of which was the extremely competitive, selfish and aggressive state that we call the ‘human condition’.

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To elaborate, when our conscious intellect emerged it was neither suitable nor sustainable for it to be orientated by instinctsit had to find understanding to operate effectively and fulfil its great potential to manage life. However, when our intellect began to exert itself and experiment in the management of life from a basis of understanding, in effect challenging the role of the already established instinctual self, a battle unavoidably broke out between the instinctive self and the newer conscious self.

Our intellect began to experiment in understanding as the only means of discovering the correct and incorrect understandings for managing existence, but the instinctsbeing in effect ‘unaware’ or ‘ignorant’ of the intellect’s need to carry out these experiments‘opposed’ any understanding-produced deviations from the established instinctive orientations: they ‘criticised’ and ‘tried to stop’ the conscious mind’s necessary search for knowledge.

To illustrate the situation, imagine what would happen if we put a fully conscious mind on the head of a migrating bird. The bird is following an instinctive flight path acquired over thousands of generations of natural selection, but it now has a conscious mind that needs to understand how to behave, and the only way it can acquire that understanding is by experimenting in understandingfor example, thinking, ‘I’ll fly down to that island and have a rest.’ But such a deviation from the migratory flight path would naturally result in the instincts resisting the deviation, leaving the conscious intellect in a serious dilemma: if it obeys its instincts it will not feel ‘criticised’ by its instincts but neither will it find knowledge.

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Obviously, the intellect could not afford to give in to the instincts, and unable to understand and thus explain why its experiments in self-adjustment were necessary the conscious intellect had no way of refuting the implicit criticism from the instincts even though it knew it was unjust. Until our conscious mind (because it was in us humans that the fully conscious mind developed) found the redeeming understanding of why it had to challenge the instincts (namely the understanding found by science of the difference in the way genes and nerves process information, that one is an orientating learning system while the other is an insightful learning system), our intellect was left having to endure the resistancein effect unjust condemnationfrom our instincts, leaving it no choice but to somehow defy that opposition from our instincts.

If we think about it, the only forms of defiance available to our conscious intellect were to attack the instincts’ unjust criticism, try to deny or block from our mind the instincts’ unjust criticism, and attempt to prove our instincts’ unjust criticism wrong. In short, the psychologically upset angry, alienated and egocentric human-condition-afflicted state appeared. Our ‘conscious thinking self’, which is the dictionary definition of ‘ego’, became ‘centred’ or focused on the need to justify itself. We became ego-centric, self-centred or selfish, preoccupied with aggressively competing for opportunities to prove we are good and not badwe unavoidably became selfish, aggressive and competitive.

So, without the redeeming understanding that science has given us of why we had to challenge our instincts (specifically that genes can orientate but only nerves can understand), humans had no choice but to resign ourselves to living a psychologically upset life of anger, egocentricity and alienation as the only three responses available to us to cope with the horror of our situation.

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It was an extremely unfair and difficult, indeed tragic, position for humans to find themselves in, for we can see that while we were good we appeared to be bad and had to endure the horror of our psychologically distressed, upset condition until we found the realas opposed to the invented or contrived not-psychosis-recognisingdefence or reason for our ‘mistakes’. Basically, suffering psychological upset was the price of our heroic search for understanding.

The reality is that any animal that developed a fully conscious mind would encounter resistance from its instincts and presumably develop the equivalent of the upset state of the human conditionwith the only cure being the ability to explain the good reason for its divisive condition, because only that could end the need to retaliate, block out criticism, and try to prove its worth. As the psychoanalyst Carl Jung was forever saying about our condition, “wholeness for humans depends on the ability to own their own shadow”.

We can now see how the origins of our human condition has parallels with the pre-scientific Biblical account in the Book of Genesis of Adam and Eve’s experiences in the Garden of Eden, except in that presentation when Adam and Eve took the “fruit” (3:3) “from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil” (2:9, 17)went in search of understandingthey were “banished…from the Garden” (3:23) for being “disobedient” (the term widely used in descriptions of Gen. 3) and becoming ‘bad’ or ‘evil’ or ‘sinful’. In this presentation, however, Adam and Eve are revealed to be the heroes, not the villains they have so long been portrayed as. So while humans are immensely upsetthat is, immensely angry, egocentric and alienatedwe are good and not bad after all! And ‘upset’ is the right word for our condition because while we are not ‘evil’ or ‘bad’ we are definitely psychologically upset from having to participate in humanity’s heroic search for knowledge, ultimately self-knowledge. ‘Corrupted’ and ‘fallen’ have sometimes been used to describe our condition, but they have negative connotations that we can now appreciate are undeserved.

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For our species, it really has been a case of “Give me liberty or give me death”, “Death before dishonour”, “Never back down”, as the sayings go. Our conscious thinking self was never going to give in to our instinctive self or soul. Even though we had developed into angry, egocentric and alienated people, we were never going to accept that we were fundamentally bad, evil, worthless, awful beings; we weren’t going to wear that criticismfor if we did, we wouldn’t be able to get out of bed each morning and face the world. If we truly believed we were fundamentally evil beings, we would shoot ourselves. There had to be a greater truth that explained our behaviour and until we found it we couldn’t rest. And so every day as we got out of bed we took on the world of ignorance that was condemning us. We defied the implication that we are bad. We shook our fist at the heavens. In essence, we said, ‘One day, one day, we are going to prove our worth, explain that we are not bad after all, and until that day arrives we are not going to “back down”, we are not going to take the ignorant, naive, stupid, unjustified criticism from our instincts. No, we are going to fight back with all our might.’ And that is what we have done; that is what every conscious human that has ever lived has doneand because we did, because we persevered against all that criticism, we have now finally broken through and found the full truth that explains that humans are wonderful beings after all. In fact, not just wonderful, but the heroes of the whole story of life on Earth! This is because our fully conscious mind must begiven its phenomenal ability to understand the worldnature’s greatest invention, so for us humans who were given this greatest of all inventions to develop, to be made to endure the torture of being unjustly condemned as bad or evil for doing just that, and to have had to endure that torture for so long, some 2 million years (the time we have likely been fully conscious), has to make us the absolute champions of the story of life on Earth. We were given the hardest, toughest of tasks, and against all the odds we completed it. We are so, so wonderful.

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Best of all, this breakthrough in understanding of ourselves ends all the anguish and strife in human life

The absolutely wonderfully psychologically relieving and thus transforming effect of this psychosis-addressing-and-solving real explanation of the human condition is that after 2 million years of uncertainty it finally allows all humans to understand that there has been a very good reason for our angry, alienated and egocentric lives. Indeed, this fact of the utter magnificence of the human race brings such intense relief to our angst-ridden cells, limbs and torsos that it will seem as though we have thrown off a shroud of heavy weights. The great, heavy burden of guilt has finally been lifted from the shoulders of humans. Yes, doesn’t the core feeling exist in all humans that far from being meaningless, “banish[ment]”-deserving “evil” blights on this planet we are all immense heroes? Doesn’t this explanation at last make sense of the immensely courageous and defiant attitude of all humans? And won’t this explanation bring deep, bone-draining relief to the whole of each person’s being?

Indeed, the ability now to explain and understand that we are actually all good and not bad enables all the upset that resulted from being unable to truthfully explain the source of our divisive condition to subside and disappear. Yes, finding the redeeming understanding of our troubled, psychologically upset, human-condition-afflicted existence finally enables the human race to be healed and thus transformed it makes us “whole” again, as Jung said it would. To quote Professor Harry Prosen, a former president of the Canadian Psychiatric Association, on this dreamed-of, greatest of all breakthroughs in science: “I have no doubt this biological explanation of the human condition is the holy grail of insight we have sought for the psychological rehabilitation of the human race.”

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As the following picture powerfully intimates, we have needed, and now have, the key that liberates the human mind from the underlying deep, dark, psychological trauma of the human condition.

Illustration by Matt Mahurin for TIME, 29 Nov. 1993

The full explanation of the human condition that is provided in this adapted excerpt is presented in Chapter 1 of FREEDOM: The End Of The Human Condition.

 

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