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Please note, links to all the Freedom Essays are included at the end of this essay. Open any essay to read, print, download, share or listen to it (as a podcast).

 

 

This is Freedom Essay 4

 

The ‘instinct vs intellect’ is the obvious
and real explanation of our condition,
as all these great thinkers evidence

 

(this is a shortened version of Freedom Essay 53)

 

By Jeremy Griffith, 2018

 

In this presentation Jeremy Griffith points out that he is not the first person to identify the instinct vs intellect elements involved in producing the human condition. As he reveals, there have been many thinkers throughout historyindeed many of the acknowledged great thinkers in historywho have recognised that the answer to our angry, egocentric and alienated human condition lay in understanding that a clash must have occurred between our already established instincts and more recently emerged conscious mind.

Watch the presentation here:

 

 

Make and see comments here

 

This video also appears as Video 4 in the Introductory Series of videos at the top of our homepage at www.humancondition.com.

 

The Transcript of this video

 

Hello again.

 

Firstly, what I am now going to present is basically a short summary of a longer description I give in Freedom Essay 53 of why the instincts vs intellect explanation of the human condition (which I just described in the previous video/​essay) is the obvious and real explanation for that condition. (Please note that quote sources not provided in this presentation can be found in F. Essay 53.)

 

PART 1 Thinkers from ancient times who recognised the
conflict between our moral instincts and conscious mind,
and the evidence from bonobos of how we acquired our
moral instincts

 

I am not the first person to identify the instinct vs intellect elements involved in producing the human condition. As I describe in chapters 2:6 and 2:7 of my book FREEDOM: The End Of The Human Condition, there have been many thinkers throughout historyindeed many of the acknowledged great thinkers in historywho have recognised that the answer to our angry, egocentric and alienated human condition lay in understanding that a clash must have occurred between our already established instincts and more recently emerged conscious mind.

 

 

The ‘double whammy’ effect from having moral instincts

Before presenting the work of some of these thinkers, I want to make the point that all that is needed to produce a psychologically upset state in a species is for it to become fully conscious, because that self-adjusting capability will naturally have to defy the non-insightful, intolerant, dictatorial instincts. It doesn’t matter what the particular orientation of the species’ instincts is, the fact that instincts are not insightful means that an upsetting clash with the insight-based, self-adjusting conscious mind has to occur. So irrespective of a species’ instinctive orientation, if it develops a fully conscious mind an upsetting battle has to occur between those instincts and the conscious mind.

Importantly however, this doesn’t mean that the particular orientation of a species’ instincts can’t have an impact on the clash with a conscious mind. It can affect it very greatly, as it did when we humans became fully conscious. As pointed out in the second video/​essay of this series, we humans have cooperative, selfless and loving moral instincts, the voice or expression of which we call our conscience. Charles Darwin recognised our distinctive moral nature when he wrote that ‘The moral sense perhaps affords the best and highest distinction between man and the lower animals’. What is so significant about humans having cooperative, selfless and loving moral instincts is that when we became fully conscious, and began experimenting in understanding, and were criticised by our instincts and unavoidably responded in an angry, egocentric and alienated way, that divisive response caused even greater criticism from our instincts because they expected us to behave cooperatively, selflessly and lovingly. In our necessary search for understanding we were firstly unjustly condemned for defying our instincts, and then again for reacting to that condemnation in a way that was counter and offensive to our instincts. We had to endure a ‘double whammy’ of criticism when we became conscious! (This particular ‘double whammy’ effect from having moral instincts is described in F. Essay 24 and in depth in chapter 3:5 of FREEDOM.)

And as I’ll talk much more about shortly, our conscious mind’s terrible ‘double whammy’ of pain for having offended our species’ particular moral instincts is the core reason for the underlying frustration and anger in our behaviour, and also for the immense guilt and insecurity that has necessitated we adopt the patently dishonest ‘savage instincts’ excuse that I described in Video/​F. Essay 2.

 

Thinkers from ancient times who have recognised the moral instincts vs conscious intellect source of the human condition

Having explained that the conflict between the instincts and intellect in our species’ case was greatly compounded by our cooperative, selfless and loving moral instincts, I want to now present the recognition of this conflict by some of the greatest thinkers of ancient times (later I’ll mention similar thinkers from contemporary times).

 

Statue of ‘Moses’ by Michelangelo, 1513-15
Cover of The Bible

Moses as depicted by Michelangelo, with the horns symbolising that he was
able to talk with God, confront the truth of the integrative meaning of life.
(Integrative Meaning and its personification as ‘God’ is explained in F. Essay 23.)

 

I already mentioned in my previous presentation the great Hebrew prophet Moses’s 3,500-year-old story of Adam and Eve that describes Adam and Eve as living in the Garden of Eden-state of original innocence (the dictionary description for the word ‘Edenic’ is ‘the first home of Adam and Eve…​a state of innocence, bliss, or ultimate happiness’ (The Free Dictionary)), and how they then took the fruit from the tree of knowledge, obviously meaning they became conscious, at which point they became sufferers of divisive behaviour or ‘sin’. So that’s an acknowledgement that we once lived cooperatively and lovingly and then became conscious and seemingly lost the plot by becoming ‘evil’, guilty, competitive and aggressive sinners deserving of ‘banishment’ from the Garden of Eden.

Of course, what is missing from Moses’s account is the critical redeeming explanation for WHY searching for knowledge made us angry, egocentric and alienated which, as I emphasised in my previous presentation, science has since made possible with its discovery of the difference in the way genes and nerves operatenamely that while genes can give species orientations, nerves need to understand cause and effect. All the elements involved in producing the human condition of moral instincts at odds with a conscious mind are present in Moses’s story of Adam and Eve.

 

Richard Heinberg - Cropped photo - head and shoulders

Richard Heinberg (1950– )

Richard Heinberg’s book ‘Memories and Visions of Paradise’

 

Similar acknowledgements of our species’ past cooperative and loving existence which became corrupted when we became conscious can be found in other religions. For example, Zen Buddhism speaks of the loss of an uncontaminated, pure state as a result of the intervening conscious mind, referring to ‘the affective contamination (klesha)’ or ‘the interference of the conscious mind predominated by intellection (vijñāna)’. And Taoist scripture features a description of our distant forebears as being ‘the Men of Perfect Virtue’. Indeed, as the American author Richard Heinberg points out in his book Memories & Visions of Paradise, every human culture has a myth involving both the emergence of consciousness and a ‘fall’ from an original ‘Golden Age’ of togetherness and peace. As Heinberg summarised in the second edition (1990) of his book, ‘Every religion begins with the recognition that human consciousness has been separated from the divine Source, that a former sense of oneness…​has been lost…​everywhere in religion and myth there is an acknowledgment that we have departed from an original…​innocence and can return to it only through the resolution of some profound inner discord…​the cause of the Fall is described variously as disobedience, as the eating of a forbidden fruit [from the tree of knowledge], and as spiritual amnesia [forgetting, blocking out, alienation/​psychosis]. Again, that ‘resolution of some profound inner discord’ between our ‘separated’ ‘original’ state of ‘innocence’ and ‘conscious’ mind depended on science providing insight into the way genes and nerves work.

 

Detail of a mosaic by Monnus of Hesiod, 3rd century; in the Rhenish State Museum, Trier, Ger.

Hesiod,
from the Monnus mosaic, c.200

‘The Torture of Prometheus’ painting by Gioacchino Assereto 1620-1648.

The Torture of Prometheus
by Gioacchino Assereto, c.1630

 

Later in F. Essay 53, which, as I’ve mentioned, is a longer, more complete presentation of what I’m explaining in this talk, I include Heinberg’s descriptions of many of these cultural myths and religious teachings that recognise the ‘naive, innocent, cooperative and loving instincts vs a newly developed self-adjusting conscious intellect’ elements of the human conditionfrom the Sumerians to the Babylonians to the Persians, to the Hebrews, Egyptians, Africans, Hindus, Americans, Chinese, Romans and Greeks. As an example, in the case of the ancient Greeks, Heinberg quotes the very great Greek poet Hesiod who in approximately 800 BC wrote this about our species’ pre-conscious time (the underlining is my emphasis): ‘When gods alike and mortals rose to birth / A golden race the immortals formed on earth…​Like gods they lived, with calm untroubled mind / Free from the toils and anguish of our kind / Nor e’er decrepit age misshaped their frame…​Strangers to ill, their lives in feasts flowed by…​Dying they sank in sleep, nor seemed to die / Theirs was each good; the life-sustaining soil / Yielded its copious fruits, unbribed by toil / They with abundant goods ’midst quiet lands / All willing shared the gathering of their hands.’ So yes, they didn’t have a troubled conscious mind, and they lived a sharing, gentle life.

Hesiod also recounted how this ‘Golden Age’ came to an end, telling how Prometheus stole firewhich, as I’ll explain shortly, represents consciousnessfrom his fellow Gods and gave it to humans for their use, an act which enraged the Gods, and Zeus in particular, who retaliated by ‘send[ing] evil for thy stealthy [theft of] fire’. Zeus punished Prometheus by having him strapped to the top of a mountain where, every day in perpetuity, ‘down he sent from high / his eagle hovering on expanded wings / she gorged his liver’. And humanity he punished by creating the infamous woman Pandora, who opened a great ‘box’ containing a multitude of ‘ills’ so that ‘woes innumerous roam’d the breathing world / with ills the land is rife, with ills the sea / Diseases haunt our frail humanity.’ Zeus’s punishment for Prometheus’s theft of fire brought an end to the ‘Golden Age’; where previously ‘From evil free and labour’s galling load /[there emerged a situation where] Now swift the days of manhood haste away / And misery’s pressure turns the temples gray.’ Hesiod then chronicles his five ages of manfrom the just referred to ‘Golden Age’ of innocence came the ‘Silver Age’ where there was still some innocence, then the ‘Bronze Age’ where men were tough and warlike, then the civilised ‘Heroic Age’, and then finally his own age, the completely corrupt ‘Iron Age’, where ‘misery’ has compounded to the point where Hesiod cries, ‘Oh would that Nature had denied me birth / Midst this fifth race; this iron age of earth / That long before within the grave I lay / Or long hereafter could behold the day! / Corrupt the race, with toils and grief opprest / Nor day nor night can yield a pause of rest / …​Speeds the swift ruin which but slow began.’ In light of what has been revealed, we can now understand that in this story fire is the metaphor for the conscious intellect (as it is in many mythologies; indeed, ‘Prometheus’ literally means ‘forethought’), and that the consequences of humans gaining a conscious mind were ‘woes innumerous’ and ‘misery’ and ‘evil’, which explains why Prometheus was punished by the Godsin their eyes his gift to humans of consciousness was responsible for the ‘corrupt[ion] of the human race, for our falling out with the Godly ideals.

So, the elements of an original moral instinctive orientation which then came into conflict with a conscious mind were in these myths from ancient Greece, but of course, as in Moses’s time, the science didn’t exist that would make it possible to explain the redeeming, good reason for WHY the conflict occurred.

 

Sculpture of Plato circa 428- 248 B.C.

Plato (c.428–348 BC)

Plato’s ‘Phaedrus’ book cover

 

Plato, like Hesiod, is another very great thinker from ancient Greece. Indeed, Alfred North (A.N.) Whitehead, himself one of the most highly regarded philosophers of the twentieth century, described the history of philosophy as being merely ‘a series of footnotes to Plato’. Since philosophy is the study of ‘the truths underlying all reality’ (Macquarie Dictionary, 3rd edn, 1998), and Plato was the champion of this study of the truths underlying all reality, we can expect that Plato also recognised the moral instincts vs conscious intellect elements of the human condition, and he certainly did. In 360 BC he gave this exceptionally honest description of our species’ pre-conscious time in innocence: ‘there was a time when…​we beheld the beatific vision and were initiated into a mystery which may be truly called most blessed, celebrated by us in our state of innocence, before we had any experience of evils to come, when we were admitted to the sight of apparitions innocent and simple and calm and happy, which we beheld shining in pure light, pure ourselves and not yet enshrined in that living tomb which we carry about, now that we are imprisoned in the body, like an oyster in his shell.’ Plato also gave this other honest description of the innocent ‘Golden Age’ in our species’ past, writing of a time when we lived a ‘blessed and spontaneous life…​[where] neither was there any violence, or devouring of one another, or war or quarrel among them…​In those days God himself was their shepherd, and ruled over them [our original instinctive self was orientated to living in an ideal cooperative, loving way]…​Under him there were no forms of government or separate possession of women and children; for all men rose again from the earth, having no memory of the past [we lived in a pre-conscious state]. And…​the earth gave them fruits in abundance, which grew on trees and shrubs unbidden, and were not planted by the hand of man. And they dwelt naked, and mostly in the open air, for the temperature of their seasons was mild; and they had no beds, but lay on soft couches of grass, which grew plentifully out of the earth.’

When describing the emergence of consciousness and its corruption of our loving, moral instincts, Plato used a two-horsed chariot analogy in which the conscious mind ‘plunges and runs away, giving all manner of trouble to his companion [our cooperative and loving moral instincts]…​[by perpetrating] terrible and unlawful deeds [it defies our moral instincts]. And elsewhere Plato also described how after the emergence of consciousness, humans ‘had to order their course of life for themselves, and were their own masters’, after which occurred ‘the separation, when the world was let go [when the corrupt state of the human condition emerged]; a situation where he said ‘at first all proceeded well enough [our intellect mostly deferred to our instincts]; but, as time went on, there was more and more forgetting [more and more dishonest denial with its alienating separation from our instinctive moral self because it was criticising us more and more]…​and at last small was the good, and great was the admixture of evil, and there was a danger of universal ruin to the world’. And that’s the situation we have arrived at today where the upset in humans is now so great we ARE facing the ‘universal ruin’ of the world!

Obviously living at a time when science still had to be developed Plato, like Moses and Hesiod, was also unable to provide the redeeming, instincts-can-orientate-but-only-nerves-can-understand, good reason WHY we departed from ‘innocence’ and seemingly, as he described it, became ‘evil’, bad people.

 

Bonobos evidence our nurtured, cooperative and
loving heritage

Since it’s likely been a very pressing question in your, the listener/​reader’s, mind, I’ll now briefly explain how our distant ape ancestors came to live in a cooperative and loving instinctive state. Indeed, this question of how we humans acquired our moral instinctive self or soul has been one of the great outstanding biological questions. And the reason it has been such a huge question for us biologists is because we know that genes normally cannot select for unconditionally selfless, fully cooperative traits simply because such traits tend to be self-eliminating and so normally can’t become established in a species‘By all means, you can be selfless towards me and sacrifice your genes for me, but I’m not about to be selfless towards you and sacrifice my genes for you.’ The process of natural selection dictates that selfish opportunism will supposedly always exploit selflessness. So how could such a selfish process possibly have created such loving selflessness in us? As is explained in F. Essay 21, the way it was achieved in our forebears was through nurturing.

To explain what is so significant about a mother’s nurturing of her offspring, I first need to point out that a mother’s maternal instinct to care for her offspring is selfish because she is ensuring the reproduction of her genes by looking after her offspring who carry her genes. So maternalism is a selfish trait, which, as I’ve just said, genetic traits normally have to be for them to reproduce and carry on into the next generation. HOWEVER, and this is all-important, from the infant’s perspective maternalism does have the appearance of being selfless. From the infant’s perspective, it is being treated unconditionally selflesslythe mother is giving her offspring food, warmth, shelter, support and protection for apparently nothing in return. So it follows that if the infant can remain in infancy for an extended period and be treated with a lot of seemingly altruistic love, it will be indoctrinated with that selfless love and grow up to behave accordingly. As is explained in much more detail in F. Essay 21, selfish maternalism can train an infant in altruistic selflessness.

And if we think about primates, being semi-upright from living in trees, and thus having their arms free to hold a dependent infant, it’s clear that they are especially facilitated to support and prolong the mother-infant relationship, and so develop this nurtured, loving, cooperative behaviour. And in fact, the bonobo variety of chimpanzees, who live south of the Congo River in Africa, are extraordinarily matriarchal, or female role focused, and extraordinarily nurturing, as the following photos illustrate, and as a result bonobos are the most cooperative and loving of all primates, which the following quotes evidence. And bonobos are also our closest living relatives, sharing 98.7% of our DNA. So we can see that bonobos provide the perfect evidence for how our distant ape ancestors became cooperative and loving.

 

Images of bonobos nurturing their infants

Bonobos nurturing their infants

 

Quotes illustrating the extraordinarily loving nature of bonobos.

 

Quote from Zookeeper Barbara Bell about Bonobos’ compassion.

Bonobo zoo keeper Barbara Bell

Bonobo quote by Sue Savage-Rumbaugh about the central role of nurturing in bonobo society.

Primatologist Sue Savage-Rumbaugh

 

Quote on Bonobo compassion from French Docmentary.

Filmmaker of the French documentary Bonobos

Bonobo quote by primate researcher Vanessa Woods about bonobos capacity for love.

Bonobo researcher Vanessa Woods’s
first-hand account of bonobos’ unlimited
capacity for love from her study of them
in their home in the Congo basin

 

You can read much more about the amazing nurtured
cooperativeness in bonobo life in F. Essay 21.

 

The following picture of a group of bonobos resting in a grassy glade perfectly equates with the description that Plato gave earlier about what life was like for humans back in the ‘Golden Age’ of nurtured togetherness: ‘And they dwelt naked, and mostly in the open air, for the temperature of their seasons was mild; and they had no beds, but lay on soft couches of grass, which grew plentifully out of the earth.’ Clearly we have a perfect instinctive memory (if we don’t choose to deny it) of what life was like before ‘the fall’ because Plato didn’t know of the existence of bonobos and yet knew exactly what our bonobo-like life before ‘the fall’ was like.

 

A group of bonobos at the Lola Ya Bonobo Sanctuary, Democratic Republic of Congo

 

Your next question may well be, ‘But why haven’t I heard about this reasonably obvious nurturing explanation for humans’ moral nature before now?’ Well, just like the obvious truth that our species once lived cooperatively and lovingly, this truth that we acquired our moral instincts through nurturing has been an unbearable truth while we couldn’t explain why we humans became so competitive and aggressive and as a result lost the ability to adequately nurture our offspring with unconditional selflessness or love. The truth of our species’ Edenic cooperative, innocent and loving past, and the truth that nurturing is what made us human, have both been impossible truths to accept while we couldn’t truthfully explain the human condition, explain why our species became corrupted and lost the ability to fully nurture its offspring. As it has been observed, ‘parents would rather admit to being an axe murderer than a bad mother or father’!

 

Again, F. Essay 21 describes how nurturing gave us our moral instinctsand also the scientist who dared to admit it.

 

 

PART 2 The source of the volcanic anger in humans, and why we had to employ the false ‘savage instincts’ excuse

 

I now want to interrupt this presentation of thinkers who have recognised the instinct vs intellect elements of the human condition to firstly talk more about the ‘double whammy’ effect from having offended our moral instincts, and secondly about why we had no choice but to employ the false ‘savage instincts’ excuse.

 

Where the volcanic anger in humans has been coming from

What I want to add to what I said about the ‘double whammy’ we conscious humans have had to endure (of being condemned for defying our instincts and then again for responding to that condemnation in an angry, egocentric and alienated way that further offended our particular moral instincts) are the consequences of never having accepted that we deserved all this condemnation. In fact, what has kept us going throughout the 2 million years (which is the probable time we humans have been fully conscious) that we have had to live with this terrible condemnation is that we have always intuitively believed that there had to be a reason for our corrupted condition and that one day we would find that redeeming and psychologically relieving explanationwhich, as I’m arguing, we have now finally found.

If we think about the scale of the injustice of this situation where for some 2 million years we have been condemned as evil, innocence-destroyed, Garden-of-Eden-obliterated, corrupt monsters by the whole world when all the time we didn’t believe we were, but couldn’t explain why, we can see where all the volcanic frustration and demonic anger inside us humans has been coming from.

 

A collage showing examples of the volcanic anger in humans: Nazi rally; skulls from Pol Pot regime; Ku Klux Klan; wartime execution

 

Imagine living for just one day with the injustice of being condemned as evil, bad and worthless when you intuitively knew, but were unable to explain, that you were actually the complete opposite, namely truly wonderful, good and meaningfulin fact, as it turns out, the heroes of the whole story of life on Earth! How tormentedhow immensely upsetwould you be by the end of that one day? You would be hurt to the core and furious! So extrapolate that experience over 2 million years and you can begin to appreciate just how much volcanic frustration and anger must now exist within us humans! While we have learnt to significantly restrain and conceal‘civilise’the phenomenal amount of upset in us, under the surface our species must be boiling with rage, and sometimes, when our restraint can no longer find a way to contain it, that anger must express itselfhence our capacity for shocking acts of cruelty, sadism, hate, murder and war. And no wonder we have led such an evasive, denial-practising, lying, avoid-the-truth-of-our-corrupted-condition-at-all-costs, escapist, superficial and artificial, greedy, smother-ourselves-with-material-glory-while-we-lacked-the-spiritual-glory-of-compassionate-understanding-of-ourselves, power, fame, fortune and glory-seeking existence.

 

Images showing: a winning sports team; a pile of money; a luxury sports car; and a lavish house

 

We truly are psychologically distressed creaturesbut now at last we can explain ourselves and end the psychosis. The word ‘psychiatry’ literally means ‘soul-healing’ (derived as it is from psyche meaning ‘soul’, and iatreia which means ‘healing’see paragraphs 63 & 72 of FREEDOM), but never before have we been able to ‘heal our soul’, explain to our original instinctive self or soul that our fully conscious, thinking self is good and not bad and, by so doing, reconcile and heal our split selves. The psychoanalyst Carl Jung was forever saying that ‘wholeness for humans depends on the ability to own our own shadow’well now at last we can love ourselves. Everyone can come in from the cold now. Deep, bone-draining exonerating relief finally comes to the human race!

 

Why we had to employ the false ‘savage instincts’ excuse

Not only did the injustice of our situation cause volcanic frustration and anger in us, the astronomical shame, guilt and insecurity from seeming to be vile, evil, innocence-destroying creatures also necessitated that we find some excuse for our corrupted condition while we searched for the real reason for itand this is where the patently false ‘savage instincts’ excuse came to our rescue.

To fully appreciate the agony of our human condition we do need to keep immersing ourselves in the full horror of our predicament. If our species did once live in a wonderfully cooperative, selfless and loving peaceful state, as the great thinkers I’ve just mentioned recognised we did, then how extremely ashamed of our corrupted condition must we be? The question that has been screaming out to be answered is, ‘Why on Earth would we have been so seemingly stupid to have departed from such a wonderful existence? How were we to explain our species’ so-called ‘fall from grace’; why did we depart from our original Edenic cooperative and loving moral instinctive way of living and become brutally aggressive warmongers, egomaniacal competitors and psychotic and neurotic mad people? Why did we destroy paradise, turn utopia into dystopia!?’ That has been our terrible predicament: how on Earth could we explain and justify that seeming act of madness. Even though we intuitively didn’t believe it was true, the seemingly irrefutable implication from our behaviour has been that we are evil monsters?!

Clearly, trying to live with the implication that we are evil, worthless monsters has been unbearable, which means it was absolutely imperative that we find some relieving excuse for our corrupted condition while we waited for the actual explanation for it to be foundand, as I said, that is where the ‘savage instincts’ excuse came to our rescue.

Obviously untrue as it is, we could apply a bit of mental self-deception to persuade ourselves that, ‘Look, animals are competing and fighting all the time so that’s our animal heritage as well’! Basically, just overlook the fact that we have loving moral instincts and determinedly embrace the ‘savage instincts’ excuse! Unsurprisingly really, given the agony of our predicament, when we humans become psychologically cornered, any excuse will do, we just need to come up with oneand that’s what we did with the ‘savage instincts’ excuse.

 

Collage of hyenas feeding, rams head butting, lion attacking buffalo

 

Again, as I said in the second video/​essay of this series, this excuse that we have savage animal instincts that are driven by a need to reproduce our genes like other animals is the excuse that virtually everyone has been using for our competitive, selfish and aggressive human-condition-afflicted behaviour. Our conversations are saturated with the ‘savage instincts’-based reason for our behaviour, with comments like: ‘We are programmed by our genes to try to dominate others and be a winner in the battle of life’; and ‘Our preoccupation with sexual conquest is due to our primal instinct to sow our seeds’; and ‘Men behave abominably because their bodies are flooded with must-reproduce-their-genes-promoting testosterone’; and ‘We want a big house because we are innately territorial’; and ‘Fighting and war is just our animal nature expressing itself’; and ‘Religions are merely manifestations of our survival-driven group mentality’. And then there’s the most common comment of all, that ‘It’s just human nature to be selfish’. We deluded ourselves that other animals constantly compete and fight with each other in an effort to make sure they reproduce their genes, and that’s what our forebears did, and so that is where our brutal competitive and aggressive behaviour comes from, which we‘we’ being our conscious selfsupposedly have to spend our whole lives trying to control.

But again, as I pointed out, the ‘savage instincts’ theory is simply not true, it’s just a convenient excuse we came up with. Firstly, we humans don’t have savage competitive, selfish and aggressive instincts like other animals, we have cooperative, selfless and loving moral instincts, the voice or expression of which we call our conscience; recall Darwin’s words: ‘The moral sense perhaps affords the best and highest distinction between man and the lower animals.’ And secondly, words used to describe human behaviour such as egocentric, arrogant, inspired, depressed, deluded, pessimistic, optimistic, hateful, cynical, mean, immoral, brilliant, guilt-ridden, evil, psychotic or neurotic, all recognise the involvement of OUR species’ fully conscious thinking mind. They demonstrate that there is a psychological dimension to our behaviour; that we don’t suffer from a genetic-opportunism-driven ‘animal condition’, but the psychologically troubled HUMAN CONDITION.

 

A selection of science books based upon the ‘savage instinct’ excuse for human behaviour

Some of the many science books accounting for human behaviour
using the false ‘savage instincts’ excusesee Video/​F. Essay 14.

 

Further, if we do have cooperative, selfless and loving moral instincts (which, as Darwin said, we do), and not competitive, selfish and aggressive ones like other animals, then those cooperative and loving instincts must have come from a time when our forebearspresumably our distant ape ancestorslived cooperatively, selflessly and lovingly. And in fact, our ape ancestors did live cooperatively, selflessly and lovingly, and, as has now been explained, it was through nurturing, like the bonobos practice, that they managed to achieve that wonderful gentle, sharing, cooperative and peaceful way of living that Moses, Hesiod and Plato, and many other great thinkers of old, recognised they did live like.

But as I have emphasised, the immense problem we have had with this truth that our ancestors were cooperative, selfless and loving is that it has been absolutely unbearably condemning of our present corrupted condition, which means we simply had to find a way to deny it, which again is where the ‘savage instincts’ excuse came to our rescue. We have to bottom out on how diabolical our situation has been. It wasn’t until science revealed the difference between instinctive orientations and conscious understandings that we humans were finally in a position to explain the real reason for our competitive and aggressive behaviour. Until we found out about nerves and genes and how they work, every time we thought truthfully about our ‘corrupted’ or ‘fallen’, innocence-destroyed, Garden-of-Eden-obliterated human condition, the only conclusion we could come to was that we must be evil monsters. Without the ability that science has given us to explain about nerves and genes we were completely stuck with absolutely no ability at all to truthfully explain ourselves.

 

Detail from Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel depiction of Adam and Eve being cast out of the Garden of Eden

The Expulsion from Paradise (detail) by Michelangelo, c.1512

 

And since science only found out about the existence of genes and nerves and how they work in the last 160 years or so (the period since Darwin published his theory of natural selection), that is a staggering amount of time we fully conscious humans have had to live without the ability to truthfully explain ourselvessome 2 million years in fact.

So now we can see how important it was to deny our ancestors lived cooperatively and lovingly and instead to delude ourselves they were savage brutes trying to reproduce their genes like other animalsbecause without that denial and that excuse we simply wouldn’t have been able to get by and live with ourselves throughout all that time! And we can also now see what an absolutely incredible relief it is to have the real reason for our corrupted condition and no longer have to carry on the charade of believing in a false excuse! And there is not only the relief of no longer having to lie like fools, this true understanding that we now have of the human condition allows every human to no longer have to live a defensive and retaliatory egocentric and aggressive existence. We can be transformed to living free of the human condition, which is a fabulous change that Tony Gowing describes in the next video/​essay (5), and I will further describe in F. Essay 15. So, there really is no comparison between the life we have had to live up to the present and what we now have on offer!!!

 

 

PART 3 Contemporary thinkers who have recognised the basic instinct vs intellect elements involved in producing the human condition

 

The main point about what has now been explained is that until science revealed the difference in the way genes and nerves work and by so doing made it possible to truthfully explain why we humans became competitive, aggressive and selfish (which, again, I’m suggesting is the explanation I presented in the previous video/​essay), we had no choice other than to use the dishonest ‘savage instincts’ excuse for our divisive behaviour. This does raise the question that since these understandings of how genes and nerves work have been known for 160 years or so, why hasn’t the instinct vs intellect explanation I’ve given for the human condition been found before nowand why hasn’t science raced to acknowledge the all-important discovery? The reason it hasn’t been found is that almost all scientists, like virtually every other human, have been deeply committed to avoiding the unbearably confronting issue of the human condition (the terrifying question of why we are so corrupted and soul-destroyed) and habituated to using the ‘savage instincts’ excuse to defend themselves. I had to be thinking independently of prevailing scientific thought to be thinking truthfully enough about the human condition to solve it. And, in terms of having that understanding accepted by the scientific establishment, science has always been slow to move to a new paradigm of thinking, especially when the new paradigm is a more truthful onea difficulty the playwright George Bernard Shaw recognised when he said that ‘All great truths begin as blasphemies.’ You can learn much more about science’s entrenched denial of the human condition and about its extremely dangerous perpetuation of the savage instincts excuse in Video/​F. Essay 14, and in chapter 2 of FREEDOM. Indeed, Video/​F. Essay 14 gives a very powerful description of all the dishonesty in science, and where that dishonesty has been taking uswhich is straight to extinction!

So that brings us to the main point of this presentation, which is that you will know that the explanation of the human condition that I have put forward is the true explanation because if we think truthfully about the human conditioninstead of dishonestly living in denial of it as virtually everyone, including scientists, have been doingthen it becomes apparent that the instinct vs intellect explanation is the completely obvious and fully accountable and thus true explanation for our divisive behaviour. And this obviousness is made abundantly clear by the many great thinkers throughout history who have recognised those instinct vs intellect elementssuch as the ones I have already mentioned from ancient history, and the ones I’m about to mention from contemporary times. As you will see, while none of these thinkers have managed to fully explain the human conditionin some cases because in their time science had yet to reveal the nature of the gene and nerve-based systemsall of them recognised the key ingredients involved in that honest and true explanation of our conscious mind being at odds with our instincts.

However, while all these thinkers have recognised the fundamental instinct vs intellect ingredients involved in producing the psychologically upset state of the human condition, you will notice that amongst the contemporary thinkers I’m about to mention there is a variance in how honest each has been about those instincts within us being cooperative, selfless and loving, not competitive, selfish and aggressive. Not all contemporary thinkers have been able to acknowledge the truth of our cooperative and loving past because the more upset angry, egocentric and alienated the human race became, the more unbearably confronting the truth of our past state of innocence became. It follows that in earlier times when the upset angry, egocentric and alienated state of the human condition wasn’t as developed as it now is, there would be more truthful acknowledgement of our species’ cooperative, selfless and loving heritage and of its corruption when we became consciouswhich is what the examples from ancient times demonstrate.

Even so, while all the thinkers from the less upset, more innocent and naive ancient times included here were all able to acknowledge our cooperative, selfless and loving heritage, there were already, even in those earlier times, many people who wanted to deny it, and we know this because Plato told us of its occurrence in those earlier times when he wrote that ‘this tradition [of the innocent ‘earth-born’ man], which is now-a-days often unduly discredited, our ancestors [in the form of existing relatively innocent ‘races’ of people, such as those who still exist today like the Bushmen of the Kalahari and the Australian Aborigine], who were nearest in point of time to the end of the last period and came into being at the beginning of this [more upset period], are to us the heralds [of that earlier innocent age]. Of course, being members of modern humans, Homo sapiens sapiens, the Bushmen and the Aborigines are still going to be full of upset compared to our distant, original fully innocent, bonobo-like ancestorsthey are only relatively innocent compared to most ‘races’ today. (see par. 860 of FREEDOM)

So, even though there is in our modern era even more denial of our species’ innocent past than was occurring in Plato’s time when he lamented that our innocent past ‘is now-a-days often unduly discredited’, as you will see in the following collection of contemporary thinkers who have recognised the basic instinct vs intellect elements involved in producing the human condition, there are still those who have truthfully recognised both the basic elements and that our instincts were cooperative and loving.

(Again, the source of all these quotes in this presentation can be found in the longer version of this presentation in F. Essay 53, where many more acknowledgements of our conscious mind’s corruption of an original state of innocence are recorded.)

 

Eugene Marais

Eugène Marais (1871–1936)

Cover of ‘The Soul of the Ape’ by Eugene Marais

 

In identifying the role of instinct and intellect in producing the human condition, the South African naturalist Eugène Marais was on the right track when, between 1916 and 1937, he wrote that ‘The great frontier between the two types of mentality is the line which separates non-primate mammals from apes and monkeys. On one side of that line behaviour is dominated by hereditary memory, and on the other by individual causal memory…The phyletic history [evolutionary development] of the primate soul can clearly be traced in the mental evolution of the human child. The highest primate, man, is born an instinctive animal. All its behaviour for a long period after birth is dominated by the instinctive mentality…it has no memory, no conception of cause and effect, no consciousness…As the new soul, the soul of the individual memory slowly emerges, the instinctive soul becomes just as slowly submerged…For a time it is almost as though there were a struggle between the two.’ Marais also recognised that the ‘instinct…​is incapable of deviation from a certain fixed way of behaving…This inherited memory is in every respect a terrible tyrant.’ He further realised that ‘the so-called “subliminal soul” in manthe “subconscious” mentalityis none other than this old “animal” [instinctive] mentality which has been put out of action by the new [conscious] mentality.’

We can recognise much of the Adam Stork analogy that I use to explain the human condition in Video/​F. Essay 3 in Marais’s descriptionof becoming conscious and, as consciousness emerged, a ‘struggle’ with the inflexible, ‘tyran[nical] instincts erupting. Marais not only acknowledged the elements of instincts and conscious intellect involved in the human condition, he was considering how the two elements interacted. Had he pursued and developed his insight into the emerging ‘struggle’ between the inflexible, ‘tyran[nical] ‘instinctive soul’ or ‘hereditary memory’ and the new ‘conscious’ ‘memory’-based, ‘cause and effect’-understanding, ‘individual causal memory’, he could have realised, as I did, that the good reason why the conscious intellect had to defy the tyrannical instincts was because the conscious mind had to search for understanding of ‘cause and effect’, and further that it was that particular guilt-producing ‘struggle’ that caused the upset competitive, aggressive and selfish, corrupted human nature.

So that’s an amazingly honest and thus penetrating analysis of the origin of our corrupted human condition!

 

Portrait of Sir Laurens van der Post

Sir Laurens van der Post (1906–1996)

Laurens van der Post and Jane Taylor, ‘Testament to the Bushmen’ book cover

 

F. Essay 51 is dedicated to explaining the significance of the work of Sir Laurens van der Post, especially his extensive writings about the relatively innocent Bushmen people of the Kalahari Desert of South Africa. What is relevant here is that Sir Laurens, who I regard as the pre-eminent philosopher of the twentieth century, and who, like Marais, was from South Africa, had an honest denial-free ability to acknowledge the involvement of our moral instincts and corrupting intellect in producing the upset state of the human condition. As we can see from this passage from Sir Laurens’s writing in 1984, he bravely acknowledged that ‘before the dawning of individual consciousness’ humans lived in a state of ‘togetherness’a state that he said we have had such a hunger to return to that it has been ‘like an unappeasable homesickness at the base of the human heart’. He wrote: ‘This shrill, brittle, self-important life of today is by comparison a graveyard where the living are dead and the dead are alive and talking [through our soul] in the still, small, clear voice of a love and trust in life that we have for the moment lost…​[there was a time when] All on earth and in the universe were still members and family of the early race seeking comfort and warmth through the long, cold night before the dawning of individual consciousness in a togetherness which still gnaws like an unappeasable homesickness at the base of the human heart.’ In an even more explicit reference, Sir Laurens also recognised the actual ‘war’ that exists between our original innocent instinctive self and our newer conscious intellect writing, ‘I spoke to you earlier on of this dark child of nature, this other primitive man within each one of us with whom we are at war in our spirit.’

We can see that while Sir Laurens was able to clearly recognise the ‘war’ between our original, innocent, instinctive soulful ‘child of nature’ and our newer ‘individual conscious’ intellect or ‘spirit’, he didn’t provide the critically important, reconciling and redeeming, good biological reason WHY the ‘war’ occurred.

I should note here that in recognising the relative innocence of the Bushmen people of the Kalahari, Sir Laurens defiantly rebelled against the practice of denial of the truth that we humans did once live in an upset-free innocent state prior to the emergence of the human condition. (This defiance and the persecution of Sir Laurens that resulted from it is described in F. Essay 51.) For example, he wrote in 1961 that ‘There was indeed a cruelly denied and neglected first child of life, a Bushman in each of us.’ He even described the relatively uncorrupted harmony and sensitivity of the more innocent state of the Bushman, writing in 1958 that ‘He [the Bushman] and his needs were committed to the nature of Africa and the swing of its wide seasons as a fish to the sea. He and they all participated so deeply of one another’s being that the experience could almost be called mystical. For instance, he seemed to know what it actually felt like to be an elephant, a lion, an antelope, a steenbuck, a lizard, a striped mouse, mantis, baobab tree, yellow-crested cobra, or starry-eyed amaryllis, to mention only a few of the brilliant multitudes through which he so nimbly moved. Even as a child it seemed to me that his world was one without secrets between one form of being and another.’

Echoing Sir Laurens’s sentiments was the Swiss-born philosopher Jean-Jacques Rousseau, who expressed what we all do intuitively know is the truth when he wrote that ‘nothing is more gentle than man in his primitive state’ and that ‘Man is born free but is everywhere in chains’. While Rousseau never used the term ‘noble savage’, these quotes show why he was associated with that concept. The English novelist and poet D.H. Lawrence also truthfully recognised our species’ lost state of sensitive innocence when he wrote that ‘In the dust, where we have buried / The silent races and their abominations [their unbearably confronting and condemning innocence] / We have buried so much of the delicate magic of life’.

 

Jean-Jacques Rousseau, DH Lawrence and Fyodor Dostoyevsky

L-R: Jean-Jacques Rousseau (1712–1778), D.H. Lawrence (1885–1930), Fyodor Dostoevsky (1821–1881)

 

When Sir Laurens spoke of the relatively innocent Bushmen seeming ‘to know what it actually felt like to be…​a striped mouse, mantis, baobab tree’, I’m reminded of the great Russian novelist Fyodor Dostoevsky’s 1877 intuitive remembrance of our species’ bonobo-like time in innocencea time when, as he wrote: ‘The grass glowed with bright and fragrant flowers. Birds were flying in flocks in the air, and perched fearlessly on my shoulders and arms and joyfully struck me with their darling, fluttering wings. And at last I saw and knew the people of this happy land. They came to me of themselves, surrounded me, kissed me. The children of the sun, the children of their sunoh, how beautiful they were!…​Their faces were radiant…​in their words and voices there was a note of childlike joy…​It was the earth untarnished by the Fall; on it lived people who had not sinned…​They desired nothing and were at peace; they did not aspire to knowledge of life as we aspire to understand it, because their lives were full. But their knowledge was higher and deeper than ours…​but I could not understand their knowledge. They showed me their trees, and I could not understand the intense love with which they looked at them; it was as though they were talking with creatures like themselves…​and I am convinced that the trees understood them. They looked at all nature like thatat the animals who lived in peace with them and did not attack them, but loved them, conquered by their love…​There was no quarrelling, no jealousy among them…​for they all made up one family.’ This description of being ‘conquered by their love’ is so like the description given by the bonobo researcher Vanessa Woods, when earlier it was mentioned that she said the bonobos ‘love you with such helpless abandon that you love them back. You have to love them back’. Again we see how accurate our memory is, if we don’t deny it, of what life was like ‘before the fall’.

 

Nikolai Berdyaev

Nikolai Berdyaev (1874–1948)

Cover of ‘The Destiny of Man’ by Nicolas Berdyaev

 

The Russian philosopher Nikolai Berdyaev also bravely acknowledged that ‘The memory of a lost paradise, of a Golden Age, is very deep in man’. He was also approaching the truth about the actual cause of the human condition when in 1931 he wrote that ‘man is an irrational, paradoxical, essentially tragic being in whom two worlds, two opposite principles, are at war’, and in describing these two principles, writing that ‘The human soul is divided, an agonizing conflict between opposing elements is going on in it…​the distinction between the conscious and the subconscious mind is fundamental for the new psychology’. Yes, that ‘distinction’ certainly is ‘fundamental for the new psychology’. So Berdyaev has identified it allthe instinct being at war with the intellectbut again, what’s missing is the reconciling explanation of what it actually is about ‘the distinction between the conscious and the subconscious mind’ that causes them to be in ‘agonizing conflict’.

 

Erich Neumann

Erich Neumann (1905–1960)

Cover of Erich Neumann’s book ‘The Origins and History of Consciousness’

 

The German psychologist Erich Neumann was another who recognised the battle and rift between humans’ already established non-understanding, ‘unconscious’, instinctual self and our newer ‘conscious’ intellectual self. In his 1949 book The Origins and History of Consciousness, Neumann wrote that ‘Whereas, originally, the opposites could function side by side without undue strain and without excluding one another, now, with the development and elaboration of the opposition between conscious and unconscious, they fly apart. That is to say, it is no longer possible for an object to be loved and hated at the same time. Ego and consciousness identify themselves in principle with one side of the opposition and leave the other in the unconscious, either preventing it from coming up at all, i.e., consciously suppressing it, or else repressing it, i.e., eliminating it from consciousness without being aware of doing so. Only deep psychological analysis can then discover the unconscious counterposition.’ Yes, when we destroyed the Garden of Eden-state of original innocence we were so ashamed we ‘repress[ed] awareness of the existence of that original innocent state to the extent that almost everyone is now only subconsciously aware of it, with the result that for almost everyone ‘only deep psychological analysis’ can reach that awareness. Almost all humans have lived in fearful denial of the corrupted state of the human conditionand the fact of the matter is that practising such extreme dishonesty has made it impossible to think truthfully and effectively about the human condition. Only an approach that is free of denial/​alienation could reach all the truths about the human condition that are being presented in these videos/​essaysand such denial-free, honest and effective thinking could only be achieved through either the ‘deep’ therapy that Neumann has referred to, or, in my case, through never having had to resign to blocking out and denying the truth of our species’ original innocent state. (Resignation to living in denial of the human condition is explained in F. Essay 30.) Thankfully, now that our corrupted state is explained and defended, denial of it, and all the dishonest thinking that flowed from it, can end!

We can see that despite Neumann’s description of the conflict between instinct and intellect the key question persists: why did the ‘elaboration’ of ‘the conscious’ self cause it to ‘fly apart’ from the ‘unconscious’ instinctive self?

 

Paul Maclean

Paul MacLean (1913–2007)

Paul Maclean’s Triune Brain

MacLean’s concept of the triune brain

 

In the 1950s the American neurologist Paul MacLean developed his theory of ‘the triune brain’, which states that humans are a mentally unbalanced species because of an inadequate coordination between our emotional old brain and our cognitive new brain. MacLean proposed that humans have not one brain but three, each originating from a different stage of our evolutionary history. He said there is the inner original reptilian brain that comprises the brainstem and cerebellum, which he said tends to be rigid, compulsive and ritualistic, intent on repeating the same behaviours over and over. Then there is the middle ‘limbic’ brain, which he said comprises the amygdala, hypothalamus and hippocampus and is prominent in lower mammals and is concerned with emotions and instincts, in particular feeding, fight or flight reactions, sexual behaviour and maternal care. And, thirdly, he said there is the outer neo or cerebral cortex brain of higher mammals, which is concerned with reason, invention and abstract thought. MacLean said that ‘the three evolutionary formations might be imagined as three interconnected biological computers, with each having its own special intelligence, its own subjectivity, its own sense of time and space, and its own memory, motor, and other functions.’ Because of the independence between these three brains MacLean saw them as frequently being dissociated and in conflict, with the lower limbic system that rules our altruistic value judgments and emotions even capable of hijacking the higher mental functions when it so chooses.

However, MacLean failed to explain what it is about the different intelligences and resulting subjectivities and senses of time and space and memories that actually causes the conflict between these two particular brains. (More is explained about MacLean’s theory, and also about the other thinkers’ theories that are mentioned in this short presentation, in the longer presentation in F. Essay 53.)

 

Arthur Koestler

Arthur Koestler (1905–1983)

Cover of ‘Janus: A Summing Up’ by Arthur Koestler

 

Finally, during the 1970s the Hungarian-born British scientist-philosopher Arthur Koestler both identified the elements of instinct and intellect involved in the human condition, and sought an explanation for how they might have produced the human condition by referring to Paul MacLean’s concept that ‘the brain explosion [in humans] gave rise to a mentally unbalanced species in which old brain and new brain, emotion and intellect, faith and reason, were at loggerheads’. As a commentator described it, ‘At a public lecture I listened to Arthur Koestler airing his opinion that the human species was mad. He claimed that, as a result of an inadequate co-ordination between two areas of the brainthe “rational” neocortex and the “instinctual” hypothalamusMan had somehow acquired the “unique, murderous, delusional streak” that propelled him, inevitably, to murder, to torture and to war.’ This recognition of humans having an old instinctive brain and a newer cognitive brain that are at ‘loggerheads’ because of ‘an inadequate co-ordination between’ the two was on the right track to explaining the human condition, answering the question that Koestler raised of how we ‘somehow acquired’ our ‘unique, murderous, delusional streak’but again the reconciling and redeeming good reason for the ‘inadequate co-ordination’ was not provided by either MacLean or Koestler.

 

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So these are some of the honest thinkers referred to in F. Essay 53 who recognised the fundamental instinct vs intellect elements involved in producing our psychologically upset human condition. Other such thinkers referred to in F. Essay 53 include Julian Jaynes, Christopher Booker, William Wordsworth, Ralph Waldo Emerson, William Blake, John Milton, Robert A. Johnson and Bruce Chatwin.

As a result of this presentation, I hope you, the listener or reader, have now some understanding of why we had to use the ‘savage instincts’ excuse, and will now agree that the instinct vs intellect explanation of the human condition that I presented in the previous video/​essay is indeed the obvious and real explanation of the human condition. And if it is that now desperately needed reconciling and thus psychologically healing and transforming explanation for our angry, egocentric and alienated liveswhich it clearly isthen you, and everyone else, can enjoy that dreamed-of transformation of your life from a human-condition-stricken state to a fabulous human-condition-free one, which Tony Gowing describes in the next video/​essay (5), and I will further describe in F. Essay 15. Yes, the ‘unappeasable homesickness at the base of the human heart’ for the ‘togetherness’ that existed ‘before the dawning of individual consciousness’ that Sir Laurens van der Post wrote so wonderfully and truthfully about, can finally be ‘appeas[ed]. As the great poet T.S. Eliot accurately described our human journey from ignorance to enlightenment: ‘We shall not cease from exploration and the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started and know the place for the first time.’

(Again, the source of all the quotes used in this presentation can be found in F. Essay 53, which is the comprehensive version of this presentation.)

 

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Jeremy’s clarifying and redeeming explanation of the difference between instincts and intellect is briefly described in Video/​F. Essay 3, and presented in detail in chapters 3:33:4 of FREEDOM.

 

Discussion or comment on this essay is welcomedsee below.

 

 

 

These essays were created in 2017-2019 by Jeremy Griffith, Damon Isherwood, Fiona
Cullen-Ward, Brony FitzGerald & Lee Jones of the Sydney WTM Centre. All filming and
editing of the videos was carried out by Sydney WTM members James Press & Tess Watson
during 2017-2019. Other members of the Sydney WTM Centre are responsible for the
distribution and marketing of the videos/​essays, and for providing subscriber support.

 

LEAVE A COMMENT





Please note, we encourage constructive discussion about this information and so reserve the right to moderate or decline posts that we feel are not relevant or inappropriate. In particular, with the subject of the human condition being so confronting, malice can easily occur, and where comments are deemed to be motivated not by objectivity but by malice, they will be declined. It has to be appreciated that the possibility of malice toward this subject matter is very real, and we have a responsibility to manage that as best we can.

  • Grant Barlow on July 11, 2018 at 12:58 pm

    I love to see pictorially the return to Life beyond this deluded state we suffer in and thankfully understanding the fall away from truth we will now be able to reconcile our minds back to our Original thoughts. I have your Book FREEDOM and the smaller version. Thanks

  • carlos on July 14, 2018 at 11:26 am

    The clarity of this along with the evidencing of our cooperative nature really blew me away. This knowledge is transformational in every respect.

  • Sally on July 14, 2018 at 4:25 pm

    What an incredible video and essay. Reading those wonderful descriptions of our Edenic past stirs a deep emotion that I didn’t know existed in me, and I find myself visualising a time when we humans did live in a harmonious, peaceful state, which I never thought would be possible. Sir Lauren’s Van Der Post’s words about how we lived in a ‘togetherness which still gnaws like an unappeasable homesickness at the base of the human heart’ really struck a chord. Thank you Jeremy Griffith for yet another profound piece of writing. I really can see why we had to believe in the savage instincts excuse for our seemingly ‘bad’ behaviour and how now that the true ‘instincts versus intellect’ explanation has been provided we can really know we are in fact good and not bad and return to our Edenic past that we have had to bury so deep inside – it’s a truly exciting time to be alive, to know we can transform our lives from living strangled by the horrors of our psychological human condition to being free of that and live lovingly and cooperatively like we have yearned to be able to do.

  • Joseph on July 15, 2018 at 11:51 am

    Excellent essay. One to read and reread constantly unlocking simple truths and untangling confusion each time. The struggle lessens. Thanks again to the good folk of WTM.

  • Itshak knafo on July 15, 2018 at 2:49 pm

    The amazing simple true about life. And we can learn it just by looking at others behavior…… Inc monkey’s

  • John jnr on July 15, 2018 at 3:43 pm

    This is an intriguing video and essay. I particularly enjoyed the part where Jeremy Griffith explains that this clash (between instincts & intellect) would’ve occurred in ANY species that was transitioning from an instinct controlled state to an intellect or conscious mind controlled state – there would’ve been an inevitable shitfight no matter which species went through it! It just so happened to be us! Amazing insights, thanks.

  • Arlene Stern on July 18, 2018 at 10:36 pm

    These arguments are very interesting. But the question I believe remains. Are we better off now than we were before we attained”consciousness?”
    Is the introduction of war and conflict made us better as a “species?” I’ll take innocence! Thank you!?!!!

    • Susy on July 19, 2018 at 10:57 am

      Hi Arlene. A natural question when you first come across this Arlene (especially as a soul-sympathetic woman) but in time you will more deeply appreciate as I did, that firstly, without understanding, there was no avoiding the conflict/battle between our instinctive and intellectual selves once consciousness emerged two million years ago, and it would be the same for any animal. And secondly, and most importantly that it was actually an incredibly heroic and necessary and important journey to find self-understanding (which we now have), despite it being unavoidably corrupting. That’s the amazing thing about what Jeremy has explained, he has actually explained the human condition, the really good reason why we became so angry, selfish and upset, and with that understanding we can finally reconcile the ‘good’ and ‘bad’ sides in each of us and in all the opposing poles across any subject. What is possible now for all humans is to live completely reconciled, peacefully and in harmony with both our conscience and our conscious brain, which is an incredibly empowered and wonderful situation for us and the whole planet! Through this biological understanding we can finally legitimately move on from the human condition, we can all be truly free. You might find the WTM’s FAQ section helpful, I certainly did, I’ve put a couple of links below. Hope you keep following your interest in this Arlene, it’s truly incredible information, it just makes sense of everything!
      https://www.humancondition.com/wtm-faq-what-is-the-explanation-of-the-human-condition/
      https://www.humancondition.com/wtm-faq-why-does-understanding-solve-everything/

  • Debra hogan on July 19, 2018 at 9:48 pm

    Thank you for sharing very informative very insightful

  • Greg on August 2, 2018 at 2:17 pm

    Bloody hell that clears the air, sorts our situation out. Thank you. I still thinking about it all. Bonobos are my brother – and sister! I would like to go and see them.

  • Sam Sam Belfield on August 11, 2018 at 10:39 am

    As a long-time member of the WTM I’m very familiar with Jeremy’s understandings of the human condition but what is so incredibly powerful about this 4th video/essay is how it provides unchallengable confirmation of the instinct vs intellect explanation of the human condition, for where all our human insecurity that has been driving our behaviour has been coming from, and for how all the terrible upset in us humans can at last now end. This 4th video/essay, together with the preceeding 3rd one, are breathtakingly brilliant. It just has to be a fact that there has never been anything remotely as powerful appear on planet Earth as these two videos/essays!

  • scott on October 2, 2018 at 11:59 pm

    I believe I lost my 24 yr old son to this dilema…if I had this information 3 months ago I believe he would be still with us….he was a deep thinker….and faced this without the tools to resolve….hung himself….appeared to have every thing going for him…..I’m curious as to if this approach to exsistance has a theory on afterlife…does our conscience mind go on? will / could I communicate with my deseased son? Facinating work by the way

    • WTM Admin on October 3, 2018 at 7:31 pm

      Dear Scott, we’re very very sorry to hear about your son. The psychological agony and suffering the human condition has caused is unthinkable. It sounds like your son was a deeply sensitive and courageously honest person. To try and answer your question, Jeremy explains in para 840 of FREEDOM that it’s hard for us to imagine how loving and empathetic humans once were but the emotion of love would have been so powerful that everyone would have been ‘near to us’ and remained ‘near to us’ after they died. So in earlier times although people died physically, their entire spirit lived on with us. Love and feeling and emotion and togetherness was everywhere and in everyone. It is only in more recent times that humans have become much more alienated and disconnected from our all-sensitive and loving soul, and thus needing to believe in a physical ‘afterlife’. But now that it is possible to understand the human condition and that we are actually good and not bad, in fact a profound part of the development of order of matter on Earth, it can be understood that each and every human life is extraordinarily significant and meaningful and that their efforts and real essence of their being do carry on and endure. To quote Jeremy from his 2003 book A Species in Denial regarding afterlife, “The spirit of humans, the enormous courage that they have exhibited on the journey to enlightenment through the incredible darkness, loneliness and hardship of having to live in denial, lives on in each of us and is carried on in all subsequent generations.” And he includes this beautiful passage from Sir Laurens van der Post: “We make a great mistake when we think that people whose lives have been intimately woven into our own, cease to influence us when they die…The dead become part of the dynamics of our spirit, of the basic symbolism of our minds. They join the infinite ranks of the past, as vast as the hosts of the future, and so much greater than our own little huddle of people in the present” (The Face Beside the Fire, 1953, p.63 of311). You can read the full section on ‘afterlife’ here: https://www.humancondition.com/asid-afterlife-explained
      Thank you for your appreciative message Scott and we hope this is of some help.

  • Melody on October 26, 2018 at 4:26 pm

    I am seeing our whole “beginning” existence and it all so clearly and it is a relief to be able to let go of “excuses” however it is so true that knowledge of ourself can begin to set us free to live happily and peacefully the most difficult part for us then is how to live with and among others? Understanding racism, greed, anger, ego, becomes easy then but the sadness for those who do not see it is unbearable as we with understanding continue to “nurture children of seeming anger and hatred.”

    • Susan Susan on October 27, 2018 at 10:14 am

      The relief, peace and transformation this information brings to each of us and the world around us is incredible Melody I agree and I do also empathise with your struggle. However what I think will help is understanding that while this biological understanding of the human condition really is the universal solution to all the problems we face, including being able to adequately nurture our children, it does have a slow start-up phase. Sure, it may take some time for people to realise that this is what it says it is, as with any new scientific breakthrough in history, but once this catches on, the infectious enthusiasm and selfless love it liberates will spread like wildfire. As Jeremy writes in paragraph 1236 in ‘FREEDOM’, “Although this new world for humans, which the World Transformation Movement has been established to facilitate, will, as has been stated, have a slow beginning because humans initially find it difficult even taking in or ‘hearing’ discussion about the human condition, once the WTM is discovered, word of it and what it offers every human and the world will spread like wildfire—as the exceptional denial-free thinking prophet Teilhard de Chardin wrote, ‘The Truth has to only appear once…for it to be impossible for anything ever to prevent it from spreading universally and setting everything ablaze.’” And as Tony Gowing says in Freedom Essay 5, ‘Humans are thinking, rational beings so when all the logic points in one direction then there is really no choice but for every single human to take that path, and eventually they will. It will be slow for a start because humans hate and resist change, but nonetheless change does happen when an idea’s time has come.’ This change will happen Melody given we don’t let these ideas die. We can take a lot of counsel and reassurance from the history of new ideas in general, as the science historian Thomas Kuhn said ‘In science…ideas do not change simply because new facts win out over outmoded ones…Since the facts can’t speak for themselves, it is their human advocates who win or lose the day’ (see para 141 of ‘FREEDOM’). We just need to stay steadfast in our support of this momentous breakthrough in humanity’s journey and it will just be a matter of time before this change sweeps the world, every single little effort we take in supporting this all-liberating paradigm into being helps it grow just a little bit more and is so precious. It might seem superhuman, but as Albert Camus said ‘tasks are called superhuman when men take a long time to complete them, that is all’! (see para 1265 of ‘FREEDOM’). All the very best to you Melody and I hope that is of some help.

  • Robert Gendron on November 9, 2018 at 5:46 am

    Intuitively I knew this or learned this ideology a long time ago. Unfortunately I only just began to explore why we can use the rules of what God would want from us and the teachings of Jesus. God wants us to love each otherwise the rest means nothing and when you die here you’ll be answered… The message would have been different back then, society standards back then were not evolved, we have evolved and learned but only a small percent are aware or believe that the bible hasn’t been finished. Did we create God or did God create us.? I asked these questions and it wasn’t fun but deep inside I knew the answers. LOL, I believe my God wants me to be peaceful and loving but also bold and candid.

  • Lydia P on November 16, 2018 at 8:34 am

    What these videos explain are so good, and actually amazing to me that I think all the years we go to school to learn could be replaced simply by them. I really do think that. Amazing to find this website and what’s on it. Where has it been? I want to know. I walk around like I’m not touching the ground.. this is all a big relief to me. Relief and amazement relief and amazement that’s me. THANKYOU

    • WTM Admin on November 16, 2018 at 8:36 am

      We completely agree Lydia. This information is such a relief and so important that we in the WTM are thinking of making a documentary, which we hope will let the whole world know of all these world-saving answers. So if anyone out there knows of personnel or of resources to help us make and market this documentary, please get in touch with us at the Sydney WTM Centre.

  • Kent Clark on November 21, 2018 at 12:58 am

    Please read and comment. It leads to great discussions.

  • Christy on November 25, 2018 at 6:05 am

    I think the teaching is awesome 🌠💓🌠

  • Elma on December 18, 2018 at 1:58 am

    Phew! A lot to comprehend. Now I am looking forward to understanding how the human race can go forward.

  • Martin Vierdag on December 19, 2018 at 9:54 pm

    I’ve for a long time believed we live in eternal conflict because we have as all mammal a survival instinct, but through evolution developed the cerebral cortex that has made us aware of our own mortality. Thus putting us in conflict through mortality awareness and survival instinct.

  • Finch on December 21, 2018 at 9:12 am

    This is very poweful reading

  • John tembo on January 9, 2019 at 10:19 am

    Thank you Jeremy for every thing which you given to me now am understand am happy

  • daryn stockwell on January 11, 2019 at 2:29 pm

    Man does not have instincts, animals do but man does not. Name me one instinct that man has? Man has the law of God written on his heart as he was created in Gods image.

    • RJ on January 11, 2019 at 4:59 pm

      What I now understand from immersing myself in this information, is that aside from basic instincts like hunger etc., humans have an instinct for love and cooperativeness just as Moses described in the Essay above, which is what is meant by we were ‘created in God’s image’. Once we became conscious, a battle began between our instinct and intellect which caused the human condition and all the upset in our lives.

  • Veronica Louise Dickson on January 16, 2019 at 9:26 am

    Thank you

  • Pollyanna on March 10, 2019 at 10:41 am

    I read it, I get it but the concept does no stay… I will read continue until I have full clarity that clears the struggling . Turmoil of the mind emotional behaviour…
    Thank you

    • Genevieve Genevieve on March 11, 2019 at 10:53 am

      Hi Pollyanna, your comment reminded me of this similar reaction to reading about the human condition quoted in Video/F. Essay1 ‘[When I first came across this information] it was not an easy read. The core concepts kept slipping from my mental grasp, at the time I put it down to bad writing, however a second reading revealed something the Author had indicated from the outset—your mind doesn’t want to understand the content [actually, doesn’t want to confront it]. The second read was quick and painless…[and I was then able to see that] The cause of the malaise [in humans] is exposed, remedied and the reader is left with at the very least an understanding of themselves, and for me something of an optimism for the future’ (‘Fitzy’, Humanitus Interruptus – Great Minds of Today, 21 Oct. 2011; see http://www.wtmsources.com/106).

      I encourage you to persevere and also to be in touch with us if you have any questions or thoughts you’d like to discuss, as talking with others can help progress things enormously.

  • Margaret on May 6, 2019 at 9:57 pm

    Such a wonderful explanation of the cause of deep seething anger & self-condemnation that most people seem to have, but is suppressed and only surfaces now and then. The ‘ condemning’ for defying our instincts comes from within each one of us, but of course religions of the world have grasped this and helped to keep us ‘imprisoned’. The way I see it is that instinct vs intellect resulting in conflict within was inevitable and necessary for the now conscious human to adjust and move spiritually into an intuitive way of being. This is where many humans are at this moment i.e. consciously connecting back to source and infinite spirit within and eventually finding in ourselves Plato’s pre-conscious ‘garden of eden’ but this time fully conscious, living blessed and in spontaneity, bringing out the moral, wonderful, and meaningful that is basic to our nature. Our future will be as conscious individuals living a moral, loving being in uncorrupted harmony with all in this universe, but also as one ‘family’. Everything comes in 3’s. This is no exception. Instinct, Intellect, and Intuition. Thank you for this insight into the cause of the conflict. Just reading these essays and pinpointing the cause, will in itself have huge healing impact, but as you have explained, we need to persevere, to fully grasp it.

  • adrian on June 14, 2019 at 2:46 pm

    Interesting interpretation of evolutionary conflict between instincts and consciousness. Could be correct. Do we have any genetic and/or physical evidence that we had bonobo-like ancestors. Genetics demonstrate that modern day chimps and bonobos come from a different branch of the evolutionary tree than us – as in the split happened earlier in time. We are the only survivors of our branch. We may well have had bonobo-like ancestors or normal chimp-like ancestors. My interpretation of what I have watched and read is that you are using historical philosophical and religious writing as ‘proof’ that your interpretation is the correct one.
    Your extrapolations to human sexuality and relationships seem to be well ‘your extrapolations’.

    • Tommy on June 15, 2019 at 9:41 am

      Hi Adrian. You must be pretty new to this so it will be an exciting journey of discovery for you! Check out essay 22 for the fossil discovery evidence and essay 27 for explaining human sex and relationships, you’ll find everything you need there for your questions. You have every right to be sceptical, and if at any point what is being put forward isn/t completely rational and logical and anchored in first principle biology, then just throw it over your shoulder, but I think you will find the more you look into it, the more you will find it stacks up. It does have a holistic approach and as we are so used to a mechanistic view of the world, which denies the existence of the human condition, it does take time to let it all sink in, but it is all totally accountable. The whole subject area has been so off limits, and so there are corroborative references used in ‘Freedom’ from all kinds of sources including philosophy, science and religion which is typical of a holistic approach, especially in regard to the subject of the human condition which has, as I say, been an off-limits subject. It is also where science and religion cross over and so it makes sense that there are a lot of references from the humanities (ultimately religion had to be demystified and reconciled with science, which this info is all about). it will also help to note the support from eminent psychiatrist Prof Harry Prosen and other thought leaders listed on the WTM’s hompage such as Prof Stephen Hawking as well as, importantly, from members of the public. I mention the latter because as you will see the more you absorb this stuff, the more you’ll discover first hand just how accountable, rational and logical it is, it makes sense of all of human behaviour including your own and that is the real test for me.

  • Clayton on June 18, 2019 at 8:23 pm

    I think I get the rational of our current behaviour being that our developed conscious mind has taken over our instinctual former behaviour. So what is the solution to changing to the calm, blissful way of life that has been described we lived many eons ago?

    • Tommy on June 19, 2019 at 11:32 am

      Hi Clayton, What Jeremy has presented in his instinct versus intellect explanation of the human condition in essay 3 (https://www.humancondition.com/freedom-essays/the-explanation-of-the-human-condition/) is the most awesome breakthrough and I’m so glad you’ve found it! This explanation finally provides the biological understanding for why we are the way we are — divisively rather than cooperatively behaved, and why we left our original innocent, ‘blissful’ state as you say. So with the human condition solved, where we can understand and defend the dark and troubled side of ourselves we can begin to legitimately heal ourselves and our planet bringing about a new, transformed ‘blissful’ all-together world, free of suffering, for everyone. This is an extract from FAQ 1.3 which I always find helpful: “The result of this conflict between our instinct and intellect was an undeserved sense of guilt and insecurity that caused us to become psychologically defensive, angry, alienated and egocentric, the upset state we refer to as the human condition—a state we sought to alleviate through a competitive, selfish and aggressive bid for the reinforcement we could gain from winning power, fame, fortune and glory. But now that we can explain and understand this conflict and the guilt it produced, all those insecure, defensive behaviours are obsoleted, brought to an end, and we free ourselves from the human condition.” It takes time to absorb all this stuff Clayton as we’re pretty damn scared of the whole subject of the HC but I hope you keep going as it’s so worth it!

  • Francesca on June 19, 2019 at 8:31 pm

    Great discussions. I appreciate the logic on the overview.
    To be CALM and FOCUSED without fear and prejudices, we need to ACCEPT the fact that we are more than the powers of be, during any time within the human experience would like us to understand.
    The we need to ACT this realization towards each other?The CHOICE of ACTION is ultimately within each of us.

  • Peter on December 13, 2019 at 8:15 am

    I feel very infused about the potential of what you’re trying to promote here. If it’s a good as I suspect it to be (I’ve only seen the first four videos) then it must go viral and be seen by EVERYONE.
    I myself believe Buddhism holds the answer to world peace and harmony and I suspect your findings will be in line with the Dharma.
    In a nutshell, given we all wish for two things, to be happy and to avoid suffering, we need to recognize our equanimity and realise that we should want for others the very same happiness we wish for ourselves. We need to have love for others with love being the wish for universal happiness for all.
    My happiness is no more important than anyone else’s.

    • Lizzy on December 13, 2019 at 6:10 pm

      Sooooo glad you feel like that Peter because so do I! I’m fairly new to all this info but these essays and videos are just so helpful and I couldn’t agree more that they should go viral and be seen by ‘EVERYONE’!! This is v different from Buddhism thou, actually any religions, because it’s all about knowledge, no faith at all and it’s all about understanding why we haven’t been able to be happy and why we’ve had to be selfish, and why there has been so much suffering, and how thru understanding all that we can both end suffering and bring happiness, peacefulness and selflessness back to the planet. I was talking to a friend about it all and they really stopped to think about it when I said that this defends reality, and it really does. And yeah they aksed me whether the WTM is a religion and I actually sent them this FAQ as it’s very clearly put: https://www.humancondition.com/wtm-faq-is-this-some-sort-of-religion/ Anyway it’s so awesome you’re on this journey it really does just get better every day!

  • Bertie de Leeuw on January 5, 2020 at 11:40 pm

    After having seen the Forth video I wan t to comment again, because I do not think we make a choice beteren consious thinking and instinct, but what our consious mind does is choose beteren different insticts is originating from different stages of the development of our genes and brains. People who are lucky enough tot have been raised in a warm and loving family and have experienced the advantages of that state willl indeed be more doctrined, as you call it, to this state and party alsof be consiously able tot see the benefits of this situation. Coniousness of zelf, hoever is another thing altogether. It is often looked upon as a perception of yourself as an individual, in contrast to as part of a group. One light alsof look upon selfconsiousness as sering both poneself as an infividual, following an individual path or tao, and part of a group having a longer history together as members of a group, like religion, race or family of whatever group one deels a part of. The problem with the evolution theory was not asuch the fact that we have a family that may go back further thab mom and dad, because this concept was already known for ages before, but the selfish gene theory, that states that the best path to follow in evolution is to spread as many of your genes as possible. So selfishness seemed to be the only logical way to behave and Mauve this could be extended to close relaties, but certainly not a religious group. What is untrue in this perception is that we are more than a collection of individual genes. And 98 percent of our genes are even higly similar to those in Chimpansee, so why bother about some of our personal anomalie genes and how they might evolve over centuries, diluted from the rest of ourselve, when we are no longer alive? While we are in fact very much relatied at gene level to most people living in our vicinity anyway. We are like a song of genes, as Han Brunner user to dat, on a piano. The beauty of the song does not depend on the keys on the piano, but on the way it is played. And the fact that we only have one song to sing and then it ends, frees us from guilt of making wrong descisions. They only can make the song more interesting if we can bring Iit to a good end.

  • Bertie de leeuw on January 6, 2020 at 12:01 am

    In fact we are al passing flowers on a large evolutionay tree, trying to find harmony with our environment. But the tree of life itself is more important than the individual flowers, but would be meaningless without flowers. And would die without sowing seeds. Great challanges still ahead of us, as recources will become more limiting and competition will set us more and more in direction of an egocentir state of mind. Knowledge, however, about why we do what we do will be key in the future as well.

  • John mays on January 9, 2020 at 1:41 am

    Interesting and true about the human condition.
    I am looking forward to finding out what can be done to change us .

    • Giovanni Gobbi on January 14, 2020 at 12:40 am

      Like John Mays said , what can be done to change us ?
      Maybe just wait for environmental collapse ?
      Like a contemporary italian poet ( Lucio Dalla ) said :
      I think that the Pain will change us …

      • Susan Susan on January 14, 2020 at 10:41 am

        Thank you both John and Giovanni for your interest in the WTM. How this biological explanation transforms the human race is presented in the next Video/Freedom Essay 5 and further in Freedom Essay 15. You also may find FAQ 1.4 helpful, it is titled How can everyone’s lives be immediately transformed?

  • Dolores Rillera on January 27, 2020 at 6:20 am

    Thank you for sharing the interesting evolution of man’s consciousness.

  • YouGotta B KiddinMe on January 29, 2020 at 8:14 pm

    Sounds like a bunch of pseudo-intellectual word salad from the religion of Scientism.
    Good luck with all that!

    • Nick on February 12, 2020 at 8:13 pm

      Okay I guess I will start with, I am a 7th grade dropout, but in all actuality it’s more accurate that I am a first grade dropout,considering I didn’t participate even being held back in the first grade L. It was filler anyway. Even the teachers probably didn’t really know if the things they taught were actually true,but just repeating rumors alsoqand s. I just tested out of school it was useless. Right now though ,I’m totally confused…… heck. The concept I’m stuck on is after this and skimming over the broad points I find myself thinks duh! I’ve been saying this for 20 you without saying human condition so much😂 but literally 20 years! I would say to people arguing religion vs science that the two would be merging within a gen and it would be fact instead of faith as topic of discussion.

    • Nick on February 12, 2020 at 8:23 pm

      Just like with the pyramids and the Sphinx.Also other parts of archaeology. I have noticed that. Mainly people that use the word pseudoscience are the ones that are hiding behind false science. Refusing to admit they were wrong.They are coming around now,but only having Their noses rubbed in it so to speak. So then the Sphinx is just over 2000 years old and We are the only Thick and species to walk the planet so far. And good luck with that.

  • Miriam on January 30, 2020 at 3:21 pm

    Phenomenal! It helps a lot to bring in all these thinkers, I’m absorbing a lot here, it’s pretty huge to get my head around to say the least but I’m so relieved, finally something logical and grounded that is making sense of things! Thank you

  • Matilde Daviu on March 7, 2020 at 1:25 am

    Excellent essays written in a comprehensible way to be understand by students of any instructional levels. I truly wish my teens great children would have the opportunity to read this essays. Hope they will understand the commitment to develop consciousness on how we lost the paradise. Thank you very much for posting this.

  • Karl Fransen on April 30, 2020 at 12:32 pm

    We do know a lot of our background and how we have been developing where we are now. Having come to this state of our lives we should go to the essence of the question and ask why we are not going further instead of of meddling with the past. We know what has been but not much of what is going on in the present. The present is the unknown.

  • Deepak Bhatt on May 5, 2020 at 9:59 am

    All living creatures on this Mother Earth having common four instincts for their survival. Food,Sleep,Fear & Reproduction of their Genes. The invention of Fire has benefited Humans to protect them from cold, cook food like basic needs to Rocket Science & Destructive equipment to fight against each other & other creatures. This is high time to Reinvent LOVE which will be followed with Selflessness & Co-operation. Thanks to Jeremy Griffith & WTM Team.

  • Allison on June 29, 2020 at 2:01 am

    All if these ideas are expressed in the bible. The quest for love of others over material and worldly passion and ideology.

  • Dion kichenbrand on July 1, 2020 at 4:25 pm

    It means we must live accordingly to the bible

  • Allan on July 2, 2020 at 2:47 pm

    This was very reinforcing for me. All these other thinkers made the explanation in the last one pretty irrefutable actually. Thank you