by Professor Harry Prosen
‘In the whole of written history there are only two or three people who
have been able to think on this scale about the human condition.’
Prof. Anthony Barnett, zoologist, author and broadcaster, 1983
The truth is I am inadequate to write this Introduction, but everyone is, so I will do my best.
Firstly, to immediately put into context the fabulous significance of what Australian biologist Jeremy Griffith has achieved with this book: it delivers the breakthrough biological explanation of the human condition, the holy grail of insight humans have sought for the psychological rehabilitation of our species. It brings the compassionate, redeeming, reconciling and transforming understanding of our lives that the human race has lived in eternal hope, faith and trust would one day be found and have so assiduously pursued since we first became conscious beings some 2 million years ago! So this is, in short, the most momentous event in human history!
I once read that the great philosophers each had an acute grasp of their own small piece of an unthinkably huge and interlocking puzzle, but nobody has ever put the pieces together into a single coherent system (Steve King, ‘Post-Structuralism or Nothing’, 1996; see <www.wtmsources.com/135>). Well, that is no longer the case because Jeremy provides that great unifying, make-sense-of-everything synthesis—for not only does his treatise explain the human condition—our species’ capacity for what has been called ‘good’ and ‘evil’ (in chapters 1 and 3)—his ability to plumb the great depths of this most foreboding of all subjects has meant that he has also been able to provide the fully accountable explanation of the other great outstanding mysteries in science of the meaning of human existence (chapter 4), the origin of our unconditionally selfless moral instincts (chapters 5 and 6), and why humans became conscious when other animals haven’t (chapter 7). And in unlocking those insights, he has in turn been able to make sense of every other aspect of our troubled human condition, including the strained relationship between men and women, sex as humans practice it, the origin and nature of politics, religion, and so many other human phenomena (chapter 8). Indeed, preposterous as it must seem, what this book effectively does is take humanity from a state of bewilderment about the nature of human behavior and existence to a state of profound understanding of our lives. It truly is a case of having got all the truth up in one go. Understanding of our species’ troubled human condition has finally emerged to drain away all the pain, suffering, confusion and conflict from the world—and, given our plight, its arrival couldn’t be more timely or serious. If there was ever a case of cometh the hour, cometh the man, this is it! Grand statements and syntheses about human behavior certainly deserve cynicism; as a senior editor of biology at Nature journal, Henry Gee, has said, ‘Hardly a month goes by without my receiving, at my desk at Nature, an exegesis on the reasons how and why human beings evolved to be this way or that. They are always nonsense’ (The Guardian, 7 May 2013). But you only have to read a few paragraphs of this book to recognize its extraordinary profundity and authenticity, for in addressing the underlying, core issue in human life of our species’ conflicted human condition, and never departing from that course, it unravels the whole riddle of what it is to be human.
So, yes, it is with great trepidation that I attempt to write this Introduction, but I hope that my background as a professor of psychiatry with over 50 years’ experience working in the field, including chairing 2 departments of psychiatry and serving as president of the Canadian Psychiatric Association—and my 10 years of knowing the author—might allow me to provide the reader with a helpful insight into this greatest of all books. And by the greatest of all books I do include within that comparison the Bible, which, as it turns out, and as many believed, is also entrenched in truth, but, unlike this book, was written in pre-scientific times and thus unable to provide the scientific basis for all those profound truths. In fact, there is really only one book in the world now: this book. It is so all-explaining and all-solving that it is, in effect, the new science-based Bible for the human race! It is an extraordinary statement to make but one the Nobel laureate physicist Charles H. Townes was anticipating would one day be possible when he wrote that ‘they [science and religion] both represent man’s efforts to understand his universe and must ultimately be dealing with the same substance. As we understand more in each realm, the two must grow together…converge they must’ (‘The Convergence of Science and Religion’, Zygon, 1966, Vol.1, No.3). Yes, this is the book we have been waiting for—the book that saves the world.
The explanation of the human condition, which Jeremy has found, is THE key to a fully unifying understanding of our ‘universe’; it is, as I’ve mentioned, the insight from which all the other mysteries about human life unravel. What needs to be stressed, however, is that finding that explanation depended on overcoming a very great psychological hurdle—which Charles Darwin actually alluded to when, towards the end of The Origin of Species, he wrote that ‘In the distant future I see open fields for far more important researches. Psychology will be based on a new foundation…Light will be thrown on the origin of man and his history’ (1859, p.458 of 476). Yes, while Darwin shed illuminating light on the origin of the variety of life, there biology has been stalled—and for a very good reason—because the next step for biologists involved ‘far more important’ (in terms of difficulty) ‘research’. For ‘light’ to ‘be thrown on the origin of man and his history’, the issue of our species’ seemingly highly imperfect condition had to be explained, but the ‘psycholog[ical]’ difficulty was that the human condition has, in fact, been so unbearably self-confronting and depressing a subject that, as the Australian zoologist, author and broadcaster, Professor Anthony Barnett, admitted in the opening quote to this Introduction, only a rare few individuals in recorded history have been able to go anywhere near it. Indeed, as Jeremy explains in chapter 2:4, the fundamental reason science has been what is referred to as ‘reductionist’ and ‘mechanistic’ is because it has avoided the great overarching, all-important but unbearably confronting and depressing issue of the human condition and instead reduced its focus to only looking down at the details of the mechanisms of the working of our world—the great hope being that understanding of those mechanisms would eventually make it possible to explain, understand and thus at last be able to confront the human condition. Which is all very well, but the problem was that to assemble that liberating explanation from the hard-won insights into the mechanisms of the workings of our world, a biologist was going to have to emerge who could face our species’ psychosis! Mechanistic science had to do all the hard work of, as it were, finding the pieces of the jigsaw puzzle, but unable to look at the whole picture its practitioners were in no position to put it together—that task required someone sound and secure enough in self to look at the whole picture, to confront the human condition, which, as emphasized, is no mean feat in itself, but one which Jeremy was able to accomplish.
In The Structure of Scientific Revolutions (1970), science historian Thomas Kuhn noted that ‘revolutions are often initiated by an outsider—someone not locked into the current model, which hampers vision almost as much as blinders would’ (from Shirley Strum’s Almost Human, 1987, p.164 of 297). And when it comes to addressing the problem of the human condition this need to think independently of the existing details-only-focused, whole-view-of-the-human-condition-avoiding, mechanistic framework could not be more critical. For someone to be able to explain, and, through that explanation, bring reconciling, ameliorating understanding to our troubled human-condition-afflicted lives, they obviously had to be thinking from a position outside that conventional mechanistic paradigm. The situation certainly brings to mind Einstein’s famous comment that ‘We can’t solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them’! I might say that I think we have always known that profound insight into human nature wasn’t going to emerge from the ivory towers of intellectualdom, rather it was going to come from the deepest of deep left field, somewhere where some extraordinary untainted clarity of thought might still exist, such as from the backwoods of Australia where these answers are actually from.
So what exactly is the human condition, and why has the human race, including the mechanistic scientific establishment, been so committed to avoiding it, to living in such complete denial of it—and what have been the consequences for Jeremy, the outsider who dared to break such an entrenched, fiercely held doctrine?
To draw on Jeremy’s own penetrating description, the human condition is our species’ extraordinary capacity for what has been called ‘good’ and ‘evil’. While it’s undeniable that humans are capable of great love and empathy, we also have an unspeakable history of greed, hatred, rape, torture, murder and war; a propensity for deeds so shocking and overwhelming that the eternal question of ‘Why?’ seems depressingly inexplicable. Even in our everyday behavior, why, when the ideals of life are to be cooperative, selfless and loving, are we so ruthlessly competitive, selfish and aggressive that human life has become all but unbearable and our planet near destroyed? How could humans possibly be considered good when all the evidence seems to unequivocally indicate that we are a deeply flawed, bad, even ‘evil’ species?
But as my profession has taught me only too well, for most people, trying to think about this ultimate of questions of whether humans are fundamentally good or not has been an unbearably self-confronting exercise. Indeed, while the term ‘human condition’ has become fashionable, its superficial use masks just how profoundly unsettling a subject it really is. Again, the truth is, the issue of the human condition has been so depressing for virtually all humans that only a rare few individuals in history have been sound and secure enough in self to go anywhere near what the human condition really is. So for Jeremy to so freely and accurately talk about it as he does in this book, he clearly must be one of those rare few. Nurtured by a sheltered upbringing in the Australian ‘bush’ (countryside), Jeremy’s soundness and resulting extraordinary integrity and thus clarity of thought, coupled with his training in biology, has enabled him to successfully grapple with this most foreboding of all subjects for the human mind of the human condition and produce the breakthrough, human-behavior-demystifying-and-ameliorating explanation of it.
This ability exists in stark contrast to the current paradigm of thought that permeates science (and indeed all aspects of human life) which has had no choice but to avoid—in truth, deny—the seemingly inexplicable and unbearably confronting and depressing question of the human condition, meaning other scientists have remained failure-trapped in trying to explain it. If you can’t confront the issue you’re in no position to solve it. In fact, the human condition has been such a fearful, unconfrontable subject that science as a whole has become the purveyor of extremely dishonest theories that seek to falsely account for, and thus dismiss, our paradoxical nature. As Jeremy explains in chapter 2:11, there can not be a more dangerous example of this dishonesty than the theory that appears in biologist E.O. Wilson’s 2012 book, The Social Conquest of Earth—a theory that evasively trivializes the human condition as nothing more than selfless instincts at odds with selfish instincts within us.
Given we haven’t been able to acknowledge the immense role denial of the issue of the human condition has played in human life (because obviously we couldn’t be in denial and admit we were in denial), I am going to, with Jeremy’s permission, pre-emptively employ some frightfully accurate references and quotes (including Jeremy’s clarifications and interpretations within the square brackets in the quotes) that appear in this book to illustrate just how terrifying the human condition has been for virtually all humans, and thus why humanity, including its scientific fraternity, has had to live in almost complete denial of the subject. Yes, ours has been a culture of such pervasive dishonesty that it became nearly impossible for the real, human-race-liberating, biological explanation of the human condition to be unearthed.
The most famous account ever given of the human condition actually forms the centerpiece of Plato’s most acclaimed work, The Republic, in which humans are metaphorically depicted living as prisoners in a dark cave, deep underground, so fearful are they of the issue of the imperfection of their lives that the sun has the power to reveal. As Plato wrote, ‘I want you to go on to picture the enlightenment or ignorance of our human conditions somewhat as follows. Imagine an underground chamber, like a cave with an entrance open to the daylight and running a long way underground. In this chamber are men who have been prisoners there’ (c.360 BC; tr. H.D.P. Lee, 1955, 514). Plato described how the cave’s exit is blocked by a ‘fire’ that ‘corresponds to the power of the sun’, which the cave prisoners have to hide from because its searing, ‘painful’ light would make ‘visible’ the unbearably depressing issue of ‘the imperfections of human life’ (ibid. 516-517).
In terms of how unbearably confronting—in fact, suicidally depressing—grappling with the issue of the human condition has been, the great philosopher Søren Kierkegaard is said to have given the most honest description of that worse-than-death experience, writing in his aptly titled 1849 book, The Sickness Unto Death, that ‘the torment of despair is precisely the inability to die [and end the torture of our unexplained human condition]…that despair is the sickness unto death, this tormenting contradiction [of our ‘good-and-evil’-human-condition-conflicted lives], this sickness in the self; eternally to die, to die and yet not to die’ (tr. A. Hannay, 1989, p.48 of 179). The famous analytical psychologist Carl Jung provided an equally stark description of the terrifying nature of the human condition when he wrote: ‘When it [our shadow] appears…it is quite within the bounds of possibility for a man to recognize the relative evil of his nature, but it is a rare and shattering experience for him to gaze into the face of absolute evil’ (Aion: Researches into the Phenomenology of the Self, 1959; tr. R. Hull, The Collected Works of C.G. Jung, Vol. 9/2, p.10). The ‘face of absolute evil’ is the ‘shattering’ possibility—if humans allow their minds to think about it—that they might indeed be a terrible mistake.
It follows then that to confront the human condition has been an impossible ask for most people—as another great philosopher, Nikolai Berdyaev, acknowledged: ‘Knowledge requires great daring. It means victory over ancient, primeval terror…it must also be said of knowledge that it is bitter, and there is no escaping that bitterness…Particularly bitter is moral knowledge, the knowledge of good and evil. But the bitterness is due to the fallen state of the world…There is a deadly pain in the very distinction of good and evil, of the valuable and the worthless’ (The Destiny of Man, 1931; tr. N. Duddington, 1960, pp.14-15 of 310). Trying to think about our corrupted, ‘fallen’, seemingly ‘evil’ and ‘worthless’ human-condition-afflicted state has been an ‘ancient, primeval terror’, a ‘deadly pain’, ‘the bitterest thing in the world’ for virtually all humans—‘knowledge of good and evil’, of the human condition, ‘requires great daring’. No wonder Professor Barnett said to Jeremy back in 1983 that ‘you are being very arrogant to think you can answer questions on this scale. In the whole of written history there are only two or three people who have been able to think on this scale about the human condition’ (from a recorded interview with Jeremy Griffith, 15 Jan. 1983).
It is perhaps not surprising then that the human-condition-avoiding, denial-based, mechanistic or reductionist scientific establishment, along with the human-condition-avoiding public at large, have found Jeremy’s human-condition-confronting work deeply heretical, an anathema to be dismissed and even persecuted. Indeed, the persecution of Jeremy and his work was of such ferocity that it led to what was at the time the biggest defamation case in Australia’s history, a case that, after 15 long years, resulted in the vindication of Jeremy’s work. I know all this only too well because I was one of the international scientists who gave evidence in Jeremy’s defense during the trial, where I was able to vouch for the veracity of Jeremy’s biological thinking on the basis of the extensive studies and work I have carried out over many years on empathy within both humans and bonobos, as well as from all my experience in the field of intensive psychotherapy.
The extreme paradox of this situation should be apparent to the reader—as humanity’s designated vehicle for enquiry into our world and our place in it, science’s ultimate objective and responsibility has been to find understanding of the human condition, so to treat the eventual discovery of its explanation as an anathema, to the point of persecuting it, is ridiculously counter to the whole purpose of science. The fundamental goal of the whole human journey of conscious thought and enquiry has been to find the reconciling, redeeming and rehabilitating explanation of our species’ troubled condition, so to reject it when it arrives is madness of the highest order!
Professor Barnett, who passed away in 2003, didn’t mention to Jeremy who he considered to be the ‘two or three people who have been able to think on this scale about the human condition’, but I think we can deduce that they would have been Moses, Plato and Christ. We have already seen the extraordinary soundness and integrity of Plato’s thinking in his ability to so clearly describe humans’ existence in a ‘cave’-‘like’ state of denial of ‘our human condition’. In fact, Plato’s honest, truthful, human-condition-confronting clarity of thought was such that he actually fully anticipated the rejection, indeed persecution, that would occur when someone eventually found the truthful, compassionate, all-liberating but at the same time all-revealing explanation of the human condition. To quote from a summary of Plato’s cave allegory from the Encarta Encyclopaedia: ‘Breaking free, one of the individuals escapes from the cave into the light of day. With the aid of the sun [living free of denial of our human condition], that person sees for the first time the real world and returns to the cave with the message that the only things they have seen heretofore are shadows and appearances and that the real world awaits them if they are willing to struggle free of their bonds. The shadowy environment of the cave symbolizes for Plato the physical world of [false] appearances. Escape into the sun-filled setting outside the cave symbolizes the transition to the real world…which is the proper object of knowledge’ (written by Prof. Robert M. Baird, ‘Plato’; see <www.wtmsources.com/101>). For the description of what would happen when the ‘mess[enger]’ tries to ‘free’ the cave prisoners ‘into the sun-filled setting outside the cave’, Plato wrote that when ‘he [the cave prisoner] were made to look directly at the light of the fire [again the fire corresponds to the power of the sun which makes visible the imperfections of human life], it would hurt his eyes and he would turn back and take refuge in the things which he could see, which he would think really far clearer than the things being shown him [the mechanistic scientific establishment would prefer its human-condition-avoiding, dishonest theories]. And if he [the cave prisoner] were forcibly dragged up the steep and rocky ascent [out of the cave] and not let go till he had been dragged out into the sunlight, the process would be a painful one, to which he would much object, and when he emerged into the light his eyes would be so overwhelmed by the brightness of it that he wouldn’t be able to see a single one of the things he was now told were real. Certainly not at first. Because he would need to grow accustomed to the light before he could see things in the world outside the cave [initially the cave prisoners would find it impossible reading about and absorbing the truthful descriptions of the human condition; they would suffer from a ‘deaf effect’]’ (The Republic, 515-516). Plato went on to say that ‘they would say that his [the person who tries to deliver understanding of our human condition] visit to the upper world had ruined his sight [they would treat him as if he was mad], and that the ascent [out of the cave] was not worth even attempting. And if anyone tried to release them and lead them up, they would kill him if they could lay hands on him’ (517; or see all these quotes in The Republic highlighted at <www.wtmsources.com/227>). Yes, as any psychotherapist knows, denials do fight back with a vengeance when faced with annihilation.
Of course, in today’s civilized world more subtle means of eliminating threats to the mechanistic, human-condition-avoiding, denial-based ‘cave existence’ were employed in the campaign of persecution against Jeremy for being the person who ‘escapes from the cave into the light of day’ and then ‘dragged [humanity] out into the sunlight’. This persecution was the focal point of the aforementioned legal battle undertaken to defend Jeremy’s work, in which three judges in the New South Wales Court of Appeal unanimously found that an earlier ruling in a lower court did ‘not adequately consider’ ‘the nature and scale of its subject matter’, in particular ‘that the work was a grand narrative explanation from a holistic approach, involving teleological elements’, and other important submissions ‘were not adequately considered by the primary judge’ including that the work can make ‘those who take the trouble to grapple with it uncomfortable’ because it ‘involves reflections on subject-matter including the purpose of human existence which may, of its nature, cause an adverse reaction as it touches upon issues which some would regard as threatening to their ideals, values or even world views’! (For details of the persecution and court case, including this vindicating ruling, see <www.humancondition.com/persecution>).
The journey that Jeremy and those advocating his work have been on to bring these human-race-saving understandings to the world, which has culminated in this absolutely astonishing book, has been a long and torturous one, but one that makes for fascinating and revealing reading, so I will now present for the reader a very brief summary of Jeremy’s early life, his writing and his unrelenting efforts to free our species from its incarceration in Plato’s terrible cave of human-condition-denying, alienated darkness.
Born on December 1, 1945, and raised on a sheep station (ranch) in rural New South Wales, Australia, Jeremy was educated at Geelong Grammar School in Victoria, a school whose visionary approach to education has produced such notable alumni as Rupert Murdoch and HRH The Prince of Wales. He gained first class honors in biology in the state matriculation exams and in 1965 began a science degree at the University of New England in northern New South Wales. While there, Jeremy played representative rugby union football, making the 1966 trials for the national team, the Wallabies (see <www.humancondition.com/jeremy-rugby>).
Deferring his studies in 1967, Jeremy undertook the most thorough investigation ever into the plight of the Tasmanian Tiger (thylacine) (see <www.humancondition.com/tasmanian-tiger-search>)—a search that was to last more than six years, before concluding the ‘Tiger’ was indeed extinct. His findings were internationally reported, with articles appearing in the American Museum of Natural History’s journal, Natural History (see <www.humancondition.com/natural-history-tiger>), and Australian Geographic (see <www.humancondition.com/australian-geographic-tiger>). His search also featured in an episode of the national television series A Big Country (see <www.humancondition.com/big-country-tiger>).
In 1971 Jeremy completed his Bachelor of Science degree in zoology at the University of Sydney and the following year, in the same self-sufficient spirit with which he had undertaken the ‘Tiger’ search, he established a successful furniture manufacturing business based on his own simple and natural designs, which pioneered the use of bark-to-bark slabs of timber (see <www.humancondition.com/griffith-tablecraft>). On the subject of creativity, I should mention that Jeremy is also an accomplished artist (see <www.humancondition.com/jeremy-art-work>).
An upbringing nurtured with real, unconditional love (it is to the nurturing from Jeremy’s mother, and to the good fortune of having a father who was not oppressively egocentric, that we really owe these world-saving insights) in the sheltered isolation of the Australian bush left Jeremy deeply troubled and perplexed by all the selfishness, aggression, dishonesty and indifference on the one hand, and all the suffering on the other, that he inevitably encountered in the innocence-destroyed, human-condition-embattled, psychotic wider world. In time, he realized that trying to save animals from extinction or trying to build ideal furniture wasn’t going to make a difference to the extraordinary imperfection in human life and that he would have to get to the bottom of the issue of this seeming complete wrongness of human behavior, which is the issue of the human condition. And so it was while building his furniture business that Jeremy first began to write down his ever developing thoughts about the problem of the human condition. Indeed, since the early 1970s Jeremy has spent the first, often pre-dawn, hours of each day thinking and writing about the human condition. After some 10 years of extraordinarily profound, honest, human-condition-confronting-not-avoiding, effective thinking during his late 20s and early 30s, Jeremy was ready to present to the world his fully accountable, but, for virtually everyone else, unbearably self-confronting insights into human behavior. It was an amazing decade of clear thinking, confirming Einstein’s belief that ‘a person who has not made his great contribution to science before the age of 30 will never do so’ (Selig Brodetsky, ‘Newton: Scientist and Man’, Nature, 1942, Vol.150).
However, since producing his all-explaining synthesis, the problem Jeremy has encountered has been how to present it in such a way that people could access its confronting truthfulness; it’s all very well to find the redeeming, reconciling full truth about humans, but when everyone has been living in determined denial of all the elements that comprise that compassionate full truth, how do you get them to overcome that denial and hear it? Recall that Plato said that when the ‘cave’ ‘prisoners’ are ‘free[d] of their bonds’ they ‘would be so overwhelmed by the brightness of’ the ‘light’ of understanding of ‘our human condition’ that ‘at first’ they ‘wouldn’t be able to see a single one of the things’ revealed as ‘real’. It is Jeremy’s journey to find a way to overcome this ‘deaf effect’ difficulty that reading about the human condition initially causes that has led to this presentation of his synthesis in FREEDOM. As you will see, his strategy in this book is to encourage readers to watch introductory videos to FREEDOM at <www.humancondition.com/intro-videos>, and also be prepared to patiently re-read the text, so you can, as Plato said, ‘grow accustomed to the light’. Of course, this strategy was arrived at after much trial and error—over 30 years, in fact, of presenting his synthesis in slightly different ways in a series of articles and books, beginning in 1983 with submissions to Nature and New Scientist (which were rejected, with the then editor of Nature, John Maddox, telling Jeremy that his starting point teleological argument that there is an underlying order in nature ‘is wrong’—as I will mention again shortly, in chapter 4, Jeremy explains why the truth of the order in nature has been denied by human-condition-avoiding, mechanistic science); then, in 1988, Free: The End Of The Human Condition; Beyond The Human Condition (1991); A Species In Denial (2003), which was a bestseller in Australia and New Zealand but still failed to attract any real interest from the scientific establishment; The Human Condition Documentary Proposal (2004); The Great Exodus: From the horror and darkness of the human condition (2006); Freedom Expanded (2009); The Book of Real Answers to Everything! (2011); and now, in 2016, FREEDOM: The End Of The Human Condition. (All the earlier works referred to here are freely available to be read or printed at <www.humancondition.com/publications>.)
Despite the difficulty of presenting such a confronting treatise, Jeremy’s books have attracted the support of such accomplished thinkers as Australia’s Templeton Prize-winning biologist Professor Charles Birch, one of New Zealand’s foremost zoologists, Professor John Morton, and the pre-eminent philosopher Sir Laurens van der Post. The proposal to make a documentary about the human condition (The Human Condition Documentary Proposal), in which Jeremy outlined all the main biological explanations contained in his synthesis, also received over 100 endorsements from many of the world’s leading scientists and thinkers, including professors Stephen Hawking and the aforementioned Nobel Laureate Charles H. Townes (see <www.humancondition.com/doco-responses>).
But while Jeremy’s work has drawn praise and garnered impressive commendations from some exceptional thinkers able to acknowledge his insights, he has, as mentioned, also had to withstand the enormous cynicism, indifference and even persecution that humans’ historical resistance to engaging the subject of the human condition produces. Indeed, it was soon after he began writing that Jeremy realized that not only was the scientific establishment failing its responsibility to address the issue of the human condition, but that, like the rest of humanity, it was treating the whole issue as an anathema. As a result, Jeremy established, in 1983, a non-profit organization dedicated to the study and amelioration of the human condition, now called the World Transformation Movement (WTM) (<www.humancondition.com>). So fearful, however, has humanity been of the issue of the human condition that a vicious campaign was launched in 1995 to try to shut down Jeremy’s work and bring the WTM into disrepute, which Jeremy, along with fellow WTM Patron, renowned mountaineer and twice-honored Order of Australia recipient Tim Macartney-Snape and the other supporters of the WTM, determinedly resisted—the result of which was the then biggest defamation case in Australia’s history, against the two biggest, left-wing (described by Jeremy as dogmatic, pseudo idealistic, ‘let’s pretend there’s no human condition that has to be solved and the world should just be ideal’, dishonest) media organizations in Australia, including its national public broadcaster. As mentioned, in 2010—after 15 long years—Jeremy and Tim were vindicated, enabling Jeremy to concentrate solely on producing new works such as Freedom Expanded, and now this, its condensation and Jeremy’s summa masterpiece, FREEDOM: The End Of The Human Condition. (Note, this book was first published in 2014 under the title IS IT TO BE Terminal Alienation or Transformation For The Human Race? and with content that was specifically tailored to a scientific audience. In 2016 the book was recast for general release under its current title FREEDOM: The End Of The Human Condition.)
To learn more about the WTM, which is based in Sydney, and about Jeremy’s role as founder and patron, see <www.humancondition.com>.
As I have said, Jeremy’s journey in bringing understanding to the human condition and protecting the integrity of that explanation—a 40 year saga—has certainly been a protracted and torturous one (indeed, the persecution was so terrible it left Jeremy seriously debilitated with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome from 1999 to 2009), but bringing understanding to the human condition is the only rational path forward for the human race! Indeed, as a reflection of the looming psychological crisis for the human race that is the end result of having to live ever deeper ‘underground’ in Plato’s horrible ‘cave’ of ‘human condition’-avoiding, dishonest, alienated darkness, and the now desperate need for the reconciling, redeeming and psychologically transforming light of understanding of the human condition, the following initiatives have all taken place in the last 18 months (as at February 2014 when this book was first published under the title IS IT TO BE)! (The sources of the following quotes are provided when Jeremy refers to them in par. 603.)
- in December 2012 an American billionaire pledged $200 million to Columbia University’s ‘accomplished scholars whose collective mission is both greater understanding of the human condition and the discovery of new cures for human suffering’; and,
- in January 2013 the European Commission announced the launch of the ‘Human Brain Project with a 2013 budget of €54 million (US$69 million)’ with a ‘projected billion-euro funding over the next ten years’ with the goal of providing ‘a new understanding of the human brain and its diseases’ to ‘offer solutions to tackling conditions such as depression’; and,
- in April 2013 the President of the United States, Barack Obama, announced a ‘Brain Initiative’, giving ‘$100 million initial funding’ to mechanistic science to also find ‘the underlying causes of…neurological and psychiatric conditions’ afflicting humans; and,
- in April 2013 BBC News Business reported that ‘Lord Rees, the Astronomer Royal and former president of the Royal Society, is backing plans for [Cambridge University to open] a Centre for the Study of Existential Risk [meaning risk to our existence]. “This is the first century in the world’s history when the biggest threat is from humanity,” says Lord Rees’. The article then referred to Oxford University’s Future of Humanity Institute that was established in 2005, which is ‘looking at big-picture questions for human civilization…[and] change…[that] might transform the human condition’, quoting its Director and advisor to the Centre for the Study of Existential Risk, Nick Bostrom: ‘There is a bottleneck in human history. The human condition is going to change. It could be that we end in a catastrophe or that we are transformed by taking much greater control over our biology’!
There are two points I would make about these very recent initiatives. Firstly, establishing a center to study the human condition is precisely the initiative Jeremy took 30 years ago when he created the self-funded WTM, an act of prescience that evidences his clarity and integrity of thought—the WTM even has the now much sought-after domain name ‘humancondition.com’. Secondly, while the fastest growing realization in the world has to be that humanity can’t go on the way it is going—indeed, as Bostrom said, the great fear is that we are rapidly approaching an endgame situation, a ‘bottleneck in human history’, where the human species is either ‘transformed’ or ‘we end in a catastrophe’—and so these initiatives are admirable in their goal to address the underlying, real problem afflicting the human race of the human condition, they are still attempting to do so from the same old reductionist, mechanistic position, which, as Jeremy explains in chapter 2, is an approach committed to avoiding the real psychological nature of the human condition, and as such is self-defeating; it is doomed to fail. An opinion piece by Benjamin Y. Fong of the University of Chicago that was published in The New York Times in 2013 made this very point: ‘The real trouble with the Brain Initiative is…the instrumental approach…[such biological reduction is] intent on uncovering the organic “cause”…of mental problems…rather than looking into psychosocial factors…By humbly claiming ignorance about the “causes” of mental problems…neuroscientists unconsciously repress all that we know about the alienating, unequal, and dissatisfying world in which we live and the harmful effects it has on the psyche, thus unwittingly foreclosing’ the ability to ‘alleviate mental disorder’ (‘Bursting the Neuro-Utopian Bubble’, 11 Aug. 2013; see <www.wtmsources.com/151>). To summarize what Fong has said here and elsewhere in his article, mechanistic, ‘reduction[ist]’ science’s ‘synthetic’ focus on the ‘organic’ rather than the ‘psychological’ nature of our problems can only end in denying humans ‘the possibility of self-transformation’. It is only Jeremy’s approach of confronting the real, psychological nature of the human condition that could hope to find, and now has found, the reconciling and human-race-‘transform[ing]’ understanding of the human condition—and yet it is his approach that has been treated as heretical, an anathema and a threat by the mechanistic scientific establishment!! My sincere hope, however, is that with our species’ predicament now so dire, the scientific establishment will finally acknowledge and support Jeremy’s human-race-saving insight into the human condition—and the other critically important insights made possible by his power to unravel our species’ psychosis.
I want to emphasize what I have just said: the desperation to solve the human condition that is apparent in the sudden emergence of all these admirable yet ultimately futile multi-multi-million dollar-supported Brain Initiatives evidences just how dire our situation is—just how close humanity is to the ‘end in catastrophe’, cornered, ‘bottleneck’, end play situation of terminal alienation. And since Jeremy’s psychosis confronting, solving and ‘transform[ing]’ insights into ‘the human condition’ are all that can save humanity from this fate, this book is all that the human race has standing between it and extinction! That is how important this book is, and why science must now recognize the substance and truth it contains.
And I should point out that not only has Jeremy’s work been treated as heretical by mechanistic science because he dares to look at the real ‘psychological’ nature of the human condition, it has also been resisted because of the two reasons referred to in the ruling by the aforementioned three judges of the New South Wales Court of Appeal. Firstly, rather than being a more mechanistic and less thinking dependent, deduction-derived theory, Jeremy, like Darwin did with his theory of natural selection, puts forward a wide-ranging, induction-derived synthesis, a ‘grand narrative explanation’ for, in this case, human behavior—an approach, incidentally, that led to both Darwin’s and Jeremy’s work being very wrongly criticized by some for not presenting ‘new data’ and a ‘testable hypothesis’, and even as ‘not being science at all’! Secondly, Jeremy’s enormously knowledge-advancing (and ‘science’ literally means ‘knowledge’, derived as it is from the Latin word scientia, which means ‘knowledge’) thinking is based on ‘a holistic approach involving teleological elements’. As Jeremy beautifully explains in chapter 4, the reason that the fundamental truth of the teleological, holistic purpose or meaning of existence of developing the order or integration of matter into ever larger and more stable wholes (atoms into compounds, into virus-like organisms, into single-celled organisms, into multicelled organisms, etc) has been denied by human-condition-avoiding mechanistic science is because it implies humans should behave in an ordered, integrative, cooperative, selfless, loving way. The fundamental truth of holism, which literally means ‘the tendency in nature to form wholes’ (Concise Oxford Dictionary, 5th edn, 1964), confronts humans with the unbearable issue of the human condition, the issue of why don’t we behave in an integrative, cooperative, considerate-of-others, loving way. As Jeremy explains in chapter 4, this order-of-matter developing, integrative process, direction and meaning of existence is a truth we have been so fearful of we have personified it as ‘God’.
Jeremy once sent me a feature article that was syndicated in the weekend magazine of two of Australia’s leading newspapers about the extraordinarily enlightened Australian biologist Charles Birch, who was the head of the biology faculty at Sydney University when Jeremy was a student there, which I will quote because it describes the treatment that has been given to any scientist who dared to recognize the teleological, holistic purpose or meaning of existence. Titled ‘Science Friction’, the article referred to an emerging group of scientists who are bringing about a ‘scientific revolution’ and ‘monumental paradigm shift’ in science because they have ‘dared to take a holistic approach’ and are thus being seen by the scientific orthodoxy as committing ‘scientific heresy’. The article said that these scientists, such as the ‘physicist Paul Davies and biologist Charles Birch’, who are ‘not afraid of terms such as “purpose” and “meaning”’, are trying ‘to cross the great divide between science and religion’, adding that ‘Quite a number of biologists got upset [about this new development] because they don’t want to open the gates to teleology—the idea that there is goal-directed change is an anathema to biologists who believe that change is random’. The article summarized that ‘The emerging clash of scientific thought has forced many of the new scientists on to the fringe. Some of the pioneers no longer have university positions, many publish their theories in popular books rather than journals, others have their work sponsored by independent organisations…universities are not catering for the new paradigm’ (Deidre Macken, The Sydney Morning Herald and Melbourne’s The Age, 16 Nov. 1991; see <www.wtmsources.com/152>). While Jeremy gained a BSc degree at a conventional university, he didn’t continue his studies there to gain a PhD and he has ‘publish[ed his]…theories in popular books rather than journals’—but as this article points out, the very good reason for pursuing that autonomous path is that ‘Universities are not catering for the new paradigm’. In fact, as I mentioned, Jeremy had to create an ‘independent organisation’ to study the human condition from a truthful, non-mechanistic, teleology-recognizing base—and, as I mentioned, his prescience in ‘pioneer[ing]’ this now recognized all-important frontier for science reveals what an extraordinarily capable and eminent scientist Jeremy is; a professor of science in the truest sense. Thomas Kuhn was certainly right when, as I mentioned earlier, he said that ‘revolutions are often initiated by an outsider—someone not locked into the current model, which hampers vision almost as much as blinders would’. Kuhn also recognized that ‘When a field is pre-paradigmatic [introduces a new paradigm, as Jeremy’s work does]…progress is made with books, not with journal papers’ (The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, 1970; from ‘Phillip Greenspun’s Weblog’; see <www.wtmsources.com/154>). And I might point out that just as Jeremy has had to do to create a revolution in science, Charles Darwin was ‘a lone genius, working from his country home without any official academic position’ (Geoffrey Miller, The Mating Mind, 2000, p.33 of 538).
In conclusion—and given Jeremy was so vilified he was made a pariah—I would like to emphasize the height of my regard for him. He is the most impressive person and courageous thinker I have ever met and no doubt ever will. Normally people disappoint you at some point, or on some occasions, but Jeremy never does. Basically he is not egocentric. Being exceptionally well nurtured with unconditional love as a child he is sound and secure in himself and as a result is not preoccupied having to prove his worth all the time like most people are. Free of such selfish self-preoccupation he is selflessly concerned only with finding a way to end all the suffering in others, which has resulted in him focusing on finding the solution to the human condition. And being sound and secure in self has meant that in tackling that issue he has been able to think in an unafraid, truthful and thus effective way about it; as Berdyaev foresaw, it was going to ‘require…great daring’ to find ‘knowledge of good and evil’, understanding of the human condition.
It is quite amazing, in all my years of meeting people and practicing psychiatry, I haven’t encountered a soul like him. He is one of those incredibly rare individuals, a person of intellectual rigor and personal nobility who has the capacity to be completely honest without a personal bent; when you are with him you can feel his passion for the truth, which he embodies. Indeed, meeting Jeremy as I did after reading so much of his work, I realized that he lives 100 percent in the world that he writes about—an immensely inspired, child-like-zest-full, enthralled-with-all-of-life, truthful world where the human condition is at all times being addressed and understood. Unlike everyone I have ever come across, for whom discussion of the human condition is so extremely difficult (almost impossible, one might say), when you talk to Jeremy about the human condition and the biology surrounding it, the world changes, everything seems possible, biology makes sense. Logic—simple and obvious truth—replaces over-complicated intellectual scientific downright rubbish—the vast majority of it. Indeed, science—and biology in particular—is so saturated with evasive, dishonest denial that the denial-free world of understanding that Jeremy introduces us to is so new it is akin to having to start your education all over again! Jeremy’s capacity for unerring and unrelenting honesty is literally staggering, but, as you will see, it is always accompanied by understanding; his is no ‘feel good’, guru-like, false prophet form of totally dubious and ephemeral ‘help’ for humans’ troubled lives, but a get-to-the-bottom-of-all-the-problems, truthful, real, insightful, ameliorating love that the world has been so in need of. And, thankfully, right through all the vehement resistance that he has faced and overcome in the last 30 years of his life, which took him near to death, Jeremy never gave up his responsibility that he saw right from the early years of his completely-nurtured-with-love upbringing to deliver the understanding of human nature that would end all the suffering in the world.
Since coming across Jeremy’s work 10 years ago and realizing its enormous world-saving significance, I have kept one of his pieces of writing with me at all times. Having these insights into what it means to be human brings such clarity and change to everything, that staying in close contact with them in a world that is so distressed and psychologically crippled brings me relief, security and optimism for the future like nothing else I have ever encountered. Jeremy is the ultimate psychotherapist, the psychotherapist for psychotherapists—in fact, all the great theories I have encountered in my lifetime of studies of psychiatry can be accounted for under his explanation of human origins and behavior. I want to emphasize that Jeremy does describe the world exactly as it is with all its imperfections, but just as he describes all the horror of the world he also provides the insight into our condition that makes possible the only real hope, optimism and downright, out-of-your-skin excitement for the future of the human race and our planet—a transformational experience Jeremy introduces us to in chapter 9. Indeed, while the overall significance of this book is its ability to transform the reader—and thus the human race—by presenting the most relieving, uplifting and positive story ever told about humans, the explanation of the human condition in chapter 3 (which is summarized in chapter 1) is so amazingly accountable, insightful and relieving that it alone will transform you.
Yet be warned. While ever hopeful, humans are also great skeptics when it comes to the prospect that anyone could ever actually get in behind what the human condition really is and from there explain and expose everything about us, which means that what typically occurs when someone begins reading this book is that they are expecting it to be like any other—that at best it will only allude to the human condition, rather than going right into and down to its depths! The result of this skepticism and under-estimation is that when someone starts reading this book they usually progress further and further into a state of shock until they are, as author Ian Frazier acknowledged in his comment at the very beginning of the book, ‘staggered into silence’, even, as Plato warned, finding the book ‘so overwhelm[ing]’ they aren’t ‘able to see a single one of the things’ they are ‘now told’ are ‘real’. Importantly, however, this stunned, ‘deaf effect’ situation can, as I mentioned earlier, be overcome by patient re-reading of the text, and, most helpfully of all, by having Jeremy reassuringly escort you through this historically forbidden realm in his introductory videos to FREEDOM at <www.humancondition.com/intro-videos>. Both actions will allow you to, as Plato said, ‘grow accustomed to the light’. This is a fabulous but naturally initially difficult paradigm shift you will be making to a transformed, human-condition-free world.
The importance of the ideas in this book is immeasurable. The depths they enable us to reach in understanding ourselves and our world is bottomless. The great impasse to a full understanding of our existence has finally been breached. This truly is it, the day of days, the coming of our species’ moment of liberation, the implications and context of which Jeremy fully deals with in pars 1278 and 1279.
I am so very, very fortunate to have spent time with Jeremy and to have spoken with him almost fortnightly for 10 years—however, it is not who Jeremy is, but what he has done that is so important and in this regard I commend this book to you with all my mind, heart and soul. You are in for an absolute feast of knowledge, insight and ultimately love like you could never have imagined.
(I am very grateful to Fiona Cullen-Ward and Tony Gowing at the WTM for their assistance in preparing this Introduction.)
Harry Prosen, Wisconsin, USA, 2014