Freedom: Expanded Book 1—The Nature and Role of Denial-Free Thinking
Part 10:2 The Three Varieties of Thinkers
From all that has been presented about the difficulties of thinking about the human condition it should be clear that human thought has fallen into three categories. There has been thinking undertaken in an unresigned, denial-free, truthful and thus effective, prophetic way; thinking that tried to do so as truthfully and honestly as possible from a position of having resigned to living in denial of the human condition; and thinking in a way that was fully committed to the resigned strategy of denying the issue of the human condition. Put simply, you could confront the human condition, you could avoid it but try to be as honest as possible, or you could determinedly deny it.
For example, earlier in Part 4, when looking at the history of biological analysis of our human situation, we saw how Darwin took honest, truthful thinking about humans’ biological origins as far as it was able to go without confronting the human condition. Then we saw how E.O. Wilson, Robert Wright and others developed a biological account of human behaviour that was committed to denying the issue of the human condition.
It needs to be emphasised here again that the key, yet totally denied, issue in understanding human behaviour as it has existed for some two million years under the duress of the human condition is alienation. As R.D. Laing said, ‘Our alienation goes to the roots. The realization of this is the essential springboard for any serious reflection on any aspect of present inter-human life.’ Acknowledgment or ‘realization’ that ‘our alienation goes to the roots’ is ‘the essential springboard for any serious reflection on any aspect of present inter-human life’. To not recognise the element of alienation when attempting to understand and talk about human behaviour is really as absurd as trying to understand and talk about how bread is made while not admitting the process involves flour. The problem has been that precisely because ‘our alienation goes to the roots’ we haven’t been able to acknowledge that truth, make that ‘realization’. We haven’t been able to be alienated and not be alienated—which is precisely why what was needed to look into alienation and thus human behaviour was freedom from alienation. Alienation can’t investigate itself. We can’t be living in a state of denial/insecurity about the human condition/psychosis (which literally means soul-illness, derived as the word is from ‘psyche’ meaning ‘soul’ and ‘iasis’ meaning ‘abnormal state or condition’)/truth-evasion/alienation/corruption/dysfunction/upset/hurt and at the same time not be living in a state of denial/insecurity/psychosis/soul-illness/truth-evasion/alienation/corruption/dysfunction/upset/hurt. We can’t be committed to being false and at the same time be committed to being honest. We can’t lie and simultaneously tell the truth. We haven’t been able to acknowledge our condition while we couldn’t confront it. Alienation has been the denied ‘elephant in the living room’ of the lives of humans, the main feature of human behaviour in the world today, but the one that hasn’t been able to be universally acknowledged—until now. It is only now with the dignifying understanding of the human condition found that it becomes both safe and necessary to acknowledge alienation, and the degrees of it, in order to undertake ‘serious reflection on…[all] aspect[s] of present inter-human life’.
There is much to learn about in the new denial-free world, most of all about alienation, its characteristics and the extent to which it exists within us all. The main distinction that can and must be made is that between unresigned, denial-and-alienation-free minds, and resigned, denial-practicing, alienated minds. A denial-free thinker is someone who was sufficiently free from hurt in their infancy and childhood to not have to resign themselves to living in denial of the issue of the human condition in their adolescence. Not living in such denial meant that the denial-free, truthful, effective thinkers or prophets were thinking in a completely different way to resigned, denial-practicing, evasive, ineffective minds.
While this freedom from denial, or alternatively, commitment to it, has been the main difference that has existed in human minds there has also existed degrees of soundness within the two categories. While denial-free thinkers or prophets could think truthfully because they had avoided Resignation, they did vary in how sound they were and thus how easily and effectively they were able to confront and think about the issue of the human condition, and any subject related to it, which is virtually all subjects. We have already seen in the analysis of the life of Moses and other Old Testament prophets how some of them were more able to confront God/the integrative ideals ‘face to face’ than others. Similarly, amongst those individuals who had to resign themselves to living in denial of the issue of the human condition there has existed a spectrum of soundness whereby some were more sound and as a result could afford to think more truthfully than others.
To illustrate the overall situation, a mind could be just sound enough to have avoided Resignation and yet that mind would be almost totally different in the way it thought to the mind of someone who was nearly as sound as that person but not quite sound enough to have avoided Resignation. In this instance, the resigned mind had become committed to denial of the human condition and any issues that brought the subject into focus, while the other mind hadn’t. One mind had become committed to and practiced in lying while the other hadn’t. In terms of the issue being looked at here of being able to find understanding of the human condition, once a mind became resigned to denial its ability to find that understanding, despite its attempts or intentions to do so, was severely limited.
The first two categories of thinkers mentioned above were denial-free thinkers and those who were resigned to living in denial but were sound enough to try to think honestly about issues related to the human condition. Because both these categories were involved in thinking honestly they can be termed as Unresigned Prophets and Resigned Prophets. The Resigned Prophets, those who tried to think from a basis of honesty even though they were not sound enough to avoid having to resign to living in denial of the human condition obviously ran the risk of becoming psychologically destabilised, dangerously depressed. Trying to think truthfully and honestly when you weren’t sound enough to do so required great courage but such thinkers could and have managed to contribute valuable insights about human life—they have managed to be prophetic, hence their description, ‘Resigned Prophets’.
(Before going on it should be emphasised once again that with understanding of the human condition we can know that while humans differ in their degree of alienation as a result of their differing encounters with and participation in humanity’s heroic battle to find sufficient knowledge to liberate our species from the human condition, all humans are equally good and worthwhile. No one is inferior or superior. In fact, as mentioned earlier, the concepts of good and evil disappear from the conceptualisation of ourselves and therefore from our languages.)
With this overview of there having been three fundamental categories of thinkers—Unresigned Prophets, Resigned Prophets and Dishonest Thinkers, with the latter being those who are resigned and committed to denying the issue of the human condition—we are now in a position to look more closely at Unresigned Prophets, those few people in recorded history who have been able to confront and think honestly about the human condition.