Freedom: Expanded, by Jeremy Griffith
(This article first appeared at emptysinkpublishing.com on 4 Nov. 2013)
“There is not a single human being who does not despair at least a little, in whose innermost being there doesn’t dwell an uneasiness, an unquiet, a discordance, an anxiety in the face of an unknown something, or a something he doesn’t even dare strike up acquaintance with.” Danish philosopher Soren Kierkegaard
We have reached a point in human history where, like never before, the pitch of collective human anxiety is so high, and yet the search for meaningful answers has become so superficial and wayward. Any genuine thinking about the human condition–as demonstrated by the quote above–quickly reveals just how confronting a subject it is. The human race recognizes that the ideals of life are to be loving and cooperative, and yet we are selfish and egocentric; we are without question the most intelligent, conscious beings on the planet, and yet we are also the most destructive force to have ever walked on the face of the Earth.
Reading Jeremy Griffith’s treatise on the human condition, as explained in his book, Freedom: Expanded, is a life-changing experience that no other book can deliver. Paragraph by logical paragraph Griffith outlines the problem in all human affairs, explores their origins, and proposes a way for us to resolve our incongruities. Prepare to be taken on the journey of the greatest story ever told: our story.
Digesting this book will awaken you from your trance–it will slowly but surely repackage everything you thought you knew about life around a truthful, logical, and meaningful argument. Superstition, hubris and guesswork–hallmarks of the old human paradigm–will dissipate, and scientific understanding, true compassion and honesty about our species’ situation will fill the void left behind.
Freedom: Expanded may well be the book that changes your life forever–which is precisely its purpose. Reading Griffith’s words will bring you to an epiphany: that understanding the human condition is desperately required if humanity is to reconcile its schizophrenic, unbalanced nature. ‘Our thinking mind needed understanding–specifically, understanding of why we humans are fundamentally good and not bad, evil, worthless beings. In short, we needed the dignifying, redeeming and TRANSFORMING understanding of the human condition.’2
As with any work of profundity, the author’s explanation is a simple one crafted from straightforward logic. Griffith explains that it was the struggle between our newly developed conscious self over an already long-established instinctive self that was the origin of the human condition, and this struggle manifests as the anger, egocentricity and alienation that currently characterizes our behavior. Once our nerve-based learning system became sufficiently developed for us to become conscious and able to effectively manage temporal events, our conscious intellect was then in a position to wrest control from our gene-based learning system’s instincts, which had previously been in control.
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 natural selection. However, it was at this juncture, when our conscious intellect challenged our instincts for control, that an epic struggle erupted between our instincts and intellect, the effect of which was an extremely competitive, selfish and aggressive state that we call the human condition. When our conscious intellect emerged, its great potential was in understanding the world rather than adhering to an instinctive orientation. 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. It is this battle within us that is the root cause of our angry, egocentric and alienated behavior–the true reason for the superficial, escapist and materialistic lifestyle that is so characteristic of modern society.
The book’s central thesis presupposes a path to explaining the fundamental questions that have dogged humanity since the emergence of consciousness, including: the truth about the development and order of matter; how and why we became self-conscious when other animals didn’t; the origin of our moral soul and conscience; the human condition and when it emerged; how corrupt humans became under the duress of the human condition. Most importantly, not only are these questions finally answered from a fully-accountable, biological position, but a path forward for humanity is also laid out for all to follow.
When you first try to read this book, it is best to take it slowly, as it does take a while to take in the issue of the human condition as Griffith describes it. The compassionate explanations are comforting, but the subject matter also affronts our established way of viewing ourselves and the world. Griffith addresses this initial difficulty absorbing the subject matter as the ‘deaf effect’,3 a state where our minds are essentially in shock in response to what is being explained. This is due to an eons-old ingrained behavior which denies and avoids discussion of the human condition. Griffith’s completely holistic, utterly honest and fearless exposé is hard-hitting–the confronting truths that he presents about the dark side of human nature can lead to an upwelling of defensive and even angry reactions in the reader. Although this can be initially unsettling, these emotional responses can soon be rectified as authentication of Griffith’s truths.
In light of Freedom: Expanded’s confronting and controversial nature, it is recommend the reader diligently and deeply absorb what is being said; it is only then that the defensive reactions subside enough to allow the truth and honesty about the human situation to be regarded. Then, the compassionate, complete, total defense for humanity’s current predicament can finally be understood.
Incredibly, Freedom: Expanded outlines where we have come from, why we are the way we are, and where we are going–the whole human story at the most macro level, from start to finish. This book provides the opportunity to shift to an existence that is free of the human condition for the first time in our history: ‘Overall, we can see that only the finding of the understanding of the human condition could unravel this terrible mess, in particular end the need for the relief of power, fame, fortune and glory and all the destructive, materialistic greed, egocentricity and competition that resulted from it.’4
Having provided the key that unlocks the human condition, Griffith not only enlightens the fundamental scientific questions of our age, but also demonstrates the power of his treatise by using it to explain countless other elements of human life. Understanding the human condition allows reconciliation between long-standing dichotomies such as men and women, science and religion, left- and right-wing politics, and indigenous and non-indigenous races, to name a few. This ultimate resolution of all the core duality in human life establishes a framework of knowledge that serves to provide humanity with a direction towards a ‘truly contemporary vision of life, and the increase of life and meaning that awaits us in the future.’5
A succinct summary would fall hopelessly short of trying to précis Freedom: Expanded. What can be said is that never has there been a greater need for someone to cut through the unending morass of human folly and present us with the tools necessary to finally understand our human predicament and allow us to escape the current situation in which we are all trapped. Jeremy Griffith does just that.
A quote by Sir Laurens van der Post, the great 20th century philosopher and prophet, describes the problems Griffith attacks in Freedom: Expanded: ‘Man everywhere is dangerously unaware of himself. We really know nothing about the nature of man, and unless we hurry to get to know ourselves we are in dangerous trouble.’5 Indeed, humanity appears to be in trouble, but once you have read Jeremy Griffith’s explanation of the human condition, you will believe that the whole paradigm has been shifted: where yesterday the human situation appeared hopeless, now the future is exciting and radiant.
1. Kierkegaard, Soren. The Sickness Unto Death, New York: Merchant Books, 1849
2. Griffith, Jeremy. Freedom: Expanded Book 2, www.humancondition.com/freedom-book2-the-transformation-of-the-world, 2009
3. Griffith, Jeremy. Freedom: Expanded Book 1, www.humancondition.com/freedom-book1-the-difficulty-of-the-deaf-effect, 2009
4. Griffith, Jeremy. Freedom: Expanded Book 1, www.humancondition.com/freedom-book1-the-anguish-of-resignation, 2009
5. Post, Laurens van der. Jung and the Story of Our Time, New York: Vintage Books, 1976