Another great review of IS IT TO BE on Goodreads
(This book review first appeared at goodreads.com on 27 Sept. 2014)
I feel inspired to write something about this truly amazing book, but where to start! In summary, I believe the significance of Jeremy Griffith’s explanation of the human condition contained in IS IT TO BE cannot be overstated. (Note: In 2016 IS IT TO BE, which was published for the scientific community, was recast for general release under its current title FREEDOM: The End of The Human Condition.) So I love Professor Harry Prosen’s Introduction because it accurately conveys the enormous breakthrough contained in this book, as well as describe who Jeremy Griffith is and how he came to produce so many penetrating insights into human existence.
I cannot do justice to the absolute wealth of explanation that is contained in IS IT TO BE, but I might quickly try to summarise its contents. Chapter 1 starts by re-connecting the reader with what the human condition actually is, which is really important because what you will realise from reading this book is that we all walk around in a state of total denial of the issue of the human condition and therefore in a completely superficial, alienated state. To help illustrate our denial, Griffith explains the very real, but not spoken about, psychological process that adolescents go through called ‘Resignation’, where we try to face the issue of our species’, and our own, troubled, destructive behaviour and, not being able to truthfully answer the fundamental question of why we are the way we are, are forced to block out this historically unbearable issue — and I challenge anyone to read that section and not feel like your deepest self hasn’t finally been reached. Then once this all-important issue of the human condition has been established, Griffith proceeds to concisely summarise and totally demolish the current mechanistic scientific paradigm that is dedicated to avoiding the issue of our psychologically disturbed human condition. This exposé is an amazing feat in itself, and so relieving because it is patently obvious how deficient all the ‘genes are selfish and that’s why we are’ theories have been in accounting for human life, even though they’ve been taught in our schools and universities and reported in the media as established fact.
Then in chapter 2 Griffith explains in first principle biological terms the underlying issue in all human affairs of the human condition — our capacity for ‘good’ and ‘evil’— which is undoubtedly the most liberating and relieving passage of explanation to have ever been written. To be able to know deep in my bones that even though I’m full of the human condition, full of insecurity, selfishness and divisiveness, that I am fundamentally a ‘good’ and worthwhile person and that there is a very good reason for my troubled state, is just phenomenal. This explanation finally brings meaning and understanding to all the suffering in the world and my own life which has brought enormous peace and love to my whole being. This chapter alone saves the human race and cannot be read too many times!
I love chapter 3. It explains the meaning of life, no less, and in the process demystifies ‘God’. I find it connects me with the profound beauty that is the whole journey of life on Earth and brings more awe and majesty and love and meaning and wonder to our lives than an overseeing, supernatural God ever could. This knowledge does not strip us of our spirituality, it nourishes it exponentially.
And chapter 4 is captivating. It contains the biological explanation for how we humans acquired our loving, moral sense or ‘soul’— a hot topic in current scientific literature but an answer that is actually incredibly obvious once you hear it. In fact, Griffith says that all his breakthrough ideas are obvious, the key is being able to confront the issue of our human condition, and once someone thinks from behind that wall of denial, they are able to unravel the great ‘mysteries’ that have historically confounded humans. Solving the human condition is literally the unlocking point to explaining so much about life on Earth, especially human life. And Griffith’s eloquent nurturing explanation for our moral instincts is one of the long sought after mysteries that he’s been able to solve as a result. He draws on the latest fossil evidence and the evidence provided by our closest living relative, the gentle bonobo. Bonobos really are the most wonderful living proof of this ‘love indoctrination’ process—we can see their loving ‘soul’ being nurtured into existence before our eyes.
Chapter 5 is another demolition of dishonest biological thinking that is being published by academics around the world, this time exposing the theories that have been put forward for how we acquired our altruistic, cooperative instincts. IS IT TO BE is full of wonderful, honest quotations from thinkers throughout history where they have let out some rare honesty about the human condition, and this chapter contains a passage that cuts to the bone from the anthropologist Ashley Montagu about how critically important it is to our psychological development that we receive nurturing in unconditional love during our early years.
Chapter 6 explains the age-old conundrum of human consciousness, and importantly, why we humans became conscious when other animals haven’t. This is more extraordinary, denial-free, truthful thinking, and the answer is again remarkably simple, but I think to be able to fully absorb it requires an appreciation of the earlier chapters and, in particular, just how alienated and therefore hamstrung our thinking has been as a result of our fear of the human condition.
Chapter 7 is a gripping narrative of the entire psychological journey our species has been on, from our cooperatively behaved, innocent hominid ancestors at the dawn of consciousness, through to ourselves, the psychologically troubled species that is Homo sapiens sapiens. Along the way Griffith explains many aspects of human existence, including the differences in the historical roles of men and women. I must say, coming from the women’s perspective, it has been extremely liberating to be able to understand men at last, and especially why we women have been treated as ‘sex objects’. This unravelling of the ancient psychological war between the sexes is a revelation in itself.
And chapter 8 provides the extremely important and incredibly exciting solution to how the hell do we humans cope with having the blinds drawn so suddenly on all our mad behaviour! IS IT TO BE is full of massively confronting truth, but the most incredible realisation to be made is that it is finally okay to admit what has been going on on Earth because Griffith has explained and defended our ‘upset’ behaviour in first principle biological terms. We truly have been set free from our insecurity about our worth! And, by being fundamentally explained and defended at last, our preoccupation with finding egocentric relief (such as with seeking hunger for power, fame, fortune and glory) is lifted, and we are free to become a unified force, joyously focused on repairing humanity and our world rather than our own selfish, seemingly insatiable need for self-distraction and reinforcement which is currently destroying our planet.
Any one of the insights contained in any one of these chapters is an astonishing breakthrough with startling implications. I have read Jeremy Griffith’s earlier books, but I imagine for someone new to discussion of the human condition they will find the contents of IS IT TO BE a great deal to absorb. But to say I encourage readers to put in the effort to ponder on its profound insights is to put it mildly — because once you do absorb this explanation of the human condition, your life, and eventually the whole world, will be transformed. This deeply truthful, accountable explanation of the human condition has helped me so, so much — I’m an example of someone who has been brought back to life through being able to understand the world and my place in it and I live with so much optimism and excitement for the future, which is extraordinary given how many serious, serious problems humanity is faced with.
How to recommend the book that literally can, and will, save the world!? Do yourself, and the world, the BIGGEST favour and quietly read this book.