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This is Freedom Essay 3
The explanation of the human condition
How do we account for humans’ aggressive and competitive nature? This is the fundamental question about human behaviour that has troubled the minds of humans since time immemorial. It was explained in the previous Freedom Essay that the excuse that our often brutal behaviour is due to ‘savage animal instincts’ doesn’t stack up because there is a psychological element to our behaviour—we suffer from the conscious-mind-based, PSYCHOLOGICALLY troubled human condition, not the genetic-opportunism-based, animal condition. And what’s more, our instincts are to be cooperative and loving, not competitive and aggressive. So if this is the case, what is the real explanation for our divisive behaviour?
In this short 12-minute video that was filmed in Sydney in 2015, biologist Jeremy Griffith outlines his breakthrough explanation of the human condition—that when humans developed a conscious mind some 2 million years ago, a battle unavoidably developed between it and our pre-established instincts. Jeremy explains that this conflict between our intellect and instincts caused our species to become psychologically defensive, angry, alienated and egocentric—the aggressive and competitive state we refer to as the human condition. And with the ability now to explain this conflict, all those insecure, defensive behaviours are obsoleted, brought to an end—we are freed from the human condition!
So, if you haven’t already watched this introduction to the explanation of the human condition, we urge you to watch it now and learn about this greatest of all breakthroughs:
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The Transcript of this video
I’m Jeremy Griffith. For the last 40 years I have dedicated my career as a biologist to understanding and explaining the human condition. Our very physiology has been driving our behaviour, which ranges from incredible acts of love to unimaginable violence and horror. But we can finally provide the scientific explanation for why this is, and through that understanding of the human condition we can free ourselves of all the guilt and uncertainty, and in turn transform ourselves and the world.
In this short video I’ll present the core explanation of the human condition and explain why up until now others have failed to offer true solutions. I will help prepare you for the confronting realities and resulting transformation that will, most wonderfully, end all the suffering and conflict in the world.
Part 1: The Cave
The great philosopher Plato was among the first to explore the human condition, and over 2,000 years later his writings are still relevant. Plato put forward the idea that all of humankind lives in a cave, hiding from the truth that is the human condition. In his analogy, the fire that blocks the exit of the cave is the searing painful light of truth—a light we naturally fear because it makes the unbearable imperfections of human life visible. So we hide deeper and deeper within the darkness of the cave.
This analogy is a perfect representation of the human condition. It shows truth can only exist outside the cave, but since our entire existence has been spent sheltered within, everywhere you look you will find nothing but a great mountain of lies—determined efforts to deny and evade the existence of the human condition. Instead of truth, false biological excuses (such as that we are victims of savage animal instincts within us) and unfounded, feel-good explanations have been pushed, each with its own ulterior motive. [For more about Plato’s cave analogy, see Video/F. Essay 11; or chapter 1:4 of FREEDOM.]
Part 2: Adam Stork
So what is the human condition and how are we to truthfully explain and solve it?
Basically, when we humans developed a conscious mind some 2 million years ago, a battle unavoidably developed between it and our already established instincts. The result of this conflict between our instinct and intellect was that we became psychologically defensive, angry, alienated and egocentric—the upset state we refer to as the human condition. But now that we can explain and understand this conflict, all those insecure, defensive behaviours are obsoleted, brought to an end, and we free ourselves from the human condition.
The easiest way to understand this tragic conflict within us and its solution is to apply our situation to another species.
Imagine a stork: we’ll call him Adam. Each Summer, Adam instinctually migrates North with the other storks to breed. Since he has no conscious mind he doesn’t think about or question his behaviour, he just follows what his instincts tell him to do.
But what if we give Adam a large brain capable of conscious thought? He will start to think for himself, but many of his new ideas will not be consistent with his instincts. For instance, while migrating North with the other storks Adam notices an island full of apple trees. He makes a conscious decision to divert from his migratory path and explore the island. It’s his first grand experiment in self-adjustment/self-management.
But when Adam’s instincts realise he has strayed they criticise his deprogrammed behaviour and dogmatically try to pull him back on his original course. In effect, they condemn him as being bad.
Imagine the turmoil Adam will experience: he can’t go back to simply following his instincts; his instinctive orientations to the migratory flight path were acquired over thousands of generations of natural selection, but those orientations are not understandings. Since his conscious mind requires understanding through experimentation, inevitably a war breaks out with his instincts.
Ideally at this point, Adam’s conscious mind would sit down and explain to his instincts why he’s defying them. He would explain that the gene-based, natural selection process only gives species instinctive orientations to the world, whereas his nerve-based, conscious mind, which is able to make sense of cause and effect, needs understanding of the world to operate.
But Adam doesn’t have this self-understanding. He’s only just begun his search for knowledge. In fact, he’s not even aware of what the problem actually is. He’s simply started to feel that he’s bad, even evil.
So, tragically, while searching for understanding, three things unavoidably happened. Adam defensively retaliates against the criticism, he tries to deny it, and he desperately seeks any reinforcement he can find to relieve himself of the negative feelings. He has become angry, alienated and egocentric, a psychologically upset state we call the human condition.
Basically suffering psychological upset was the price we conscious humans had to pay for our heroic search for understanding. In the words from the song The Impossible Dream from the musical the Man of La Mancha, we had to be prepared to ‘march into hell for a heavenly cause’ [lyrics by Joe Darion, 1965]. We had to lose ourselves to find ourselves; we had to suffer becoming angry, alienated and egocentric until we found sufficient knowledge to explain ourselves.
The Biblical story of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden accurately describes the primary situation involved in our human condition of the psychologically upsetting battle that emerged between our instincts and our conscious intellect’s search for knowledge. It says Adam and Eve/we took the ‘fruit’ (Genesis 3:3) ‘from the tree of knowledge’ (Gen. 2:9, 17) and were ‘disobedient’ (the term widely used in descriptions of Gen. 3). In other words, we developed a conscious mind and free will. But in that pre-scientific story it says Adam and Eve then became perpetrators of ‘sin’ (Gen. 4:7) and as a result were ‘banished…from the Garden of Eden’ (Gen. 3:23) state of our species’ original innocence for having become ‘evil’ (Gen. 3:22), whereas this scientific presentation says, ‘No, no, that story got it wrong’.
Adam and Eve are actually the heroes of the whole story of life on Earth because surely the conscious mind is nature’s greatest invention and to be given the task of searching for understanding while the whole world’s condemning you was the hardest and toughest of tasks—because that condemnation was universal. All the other innocent storks are condemning the search for knowledge, and since all of nature, the rain, the clouds, the trees, other animals, are all associated with our original instinctive self, the whole world, in effect, ganged up on Adam and Eve/i.e. us humans—and yet all the time we were good and not bad but we couldn’t explain why, but now at last we can.
Our species has lived with the human condition for some 2 million years—the probable time we have been conscious—and it’s taken tremendous courage to withstand the relentless criticism from our instincts. But finally the knowledge that science has given us of the difference between instinctive orientations and conscious understandings allows us to explain that we didn’t deserve this criticism—that we conscious humans are good and not bad after all.
And best of all, through that clarifying insight all our psychologically defensive angry, alienated and egocentric behaviour—which has been destroying both ourselves and our world—is obsoleted, made redundant. We are redeemed. The great burden of guilt has been lifted from the human race, and that old insecure, upset life that went with it is over—which means we go from living with the trauma of the human condition to living free of it. You could say that—in the nick of time—we humans have won the race between self-destruction and self-understanding!
I want to mention that there have been many thinkers throughout history who have, like Moses in his Garden of Eden story, recognised that our psychologically upset human condition is a result of us humans becoming conscious and at odds with our species’ particular cooperative and loving, Edenic, moral instincts, but, as I said, it wasn’t until science revealed the difference between instinctive orientations and conscious understandings that we were finally in a position to explain that humans are actually good and not bad. The instinct vs conscious intellect explanation of the human condition is actually very obvious, and it shows just how wrong and absurd the old excuse is that ‘we are competitive and aggressive because we have savage animal instincts’! I present a short history of the many thinkers who have recognised the true ‘instinct vs intellect’ elements involved in the human condition in the next Video/F. Essay 4.
Part 3: Coping
As you work through this material, expect to find some extremely confronting revelations. There will be times where you may feel it’s easier to go back to denying the human condition rather than facing it. As a species, we have been hiding in Plato’s dark cave of denial and evasion for so long that when the blinds are suddenly drawn and we see the liberating explanation of our condition, that revealing light can be overpowering as the dishonesty and horrible truths of humankind are exposed all at once.
But there is an immensely relieving and easy way of coping with the arrival of this liberating understanding. As emphasised, once we know that our angry, alienated and egocentric condition is finally explained and defended, there’s no longer any need to continue perpetuating it. In fact, with this knowledge in place it would be irresponsible to continue along that old road. There is an unburdened life waiting for all of us outside the cave in the warm, relieving sunlight, free of the human condition. [Read more about how everyone’s lives can be immediately transformed in F. Essay 15.]
Part 4: Freedom
Now that you have a slightly better understanding of the human condition and what to expect, I urge you to continue with your digestion of this explanation. Everything you need to know is in my book FREEDOM and its condensation, Transform Your Life And Save The World, both of which you can download for free from this website (), or purchase from bookstores such as Amazon. We have also set up the World Transformation Movement, a non-profit organisation offering free support, context and community for everyone. The human condition has caused unmentionable suffering, and held us back as a species for millions of years. It’s time to take our power back and start living to our species’ fabulous real potential—and transform our world.
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For further reading on the biological explanation of the human condition, we recommend you read , or . Also, (a condensation of which appears next in ) demonstrates how readily apparent the instinct vs intellect elements of the human condition are when someone is prepared to think honestly and truthfully about the subject.
Discussion or comment on this essay is welcomed—see below.
Please Note, if you are online you can read, print, download or listen to (as a podcast) any of the following Freedom Essays by clicking on them, or you can find them all at .
These essays were composed in 2017-2018 by Jeremy Griffith, Damon Isherwood,
Fiona Cullen-Ward & Brony FitzGerald at the Sydney WTM Centre.