WTM FAQ 1.13  Is Griffith’s ‘instinct vs intellect’ idea original?


There have been many other thinkers throughout history who, like biologist Jeremy Griffith, have recognised that our divisive, competitive and aggressive human condition is a product of a clash between our instincts and intellect. Such thinkers include Moses, Plato and Hesiod, and in more recent times, Richard Heinberg, Eugène Marais, Laurens van der Post, Nikolai Berdyaev, Erich Neumann, Paul MacLean, Arthur Koestler, Julian Jaynes, Christopher Booker, William Wordsworth, Ralph Waldo Emerson, William Blake, John Milton, Robert A. Johnson and Bruce Chatwin.

However, what was missing from the analysis of all these other thinkers was the ability to explain WHY this conflict occurredwhich is that while gene-based naturally selected instincts give species orientations to the world, only the nerve-based conscious intellect can understand cause and effect and thus manage change; so when the fully conscious mind emerged and began managing change from a basis of understanding the instincts were in effect intolerant of such experiments, putting them at odds with the intellect. This understanding of WHY the conflict between our instincts and intellect occurred that Jeremy presents is all-important because it is only this clarifying, redeeming and reconciling explanation of the nature of the struggle between our instinctive self and conscious self that at last brings peace to our divided selves, and transforms the human race.

As Professor Harry Prosen, a former president of the Canadian Psychiatric Association, has said: ‘I have no doubt this biological explanation of the human condition is the holy grail of insight we have sought for the psychological rehabilitation of the human race.’

A short video of Jeremy explaining his crucial human-race-transforming explanation of the human condition is presented in Video/​Freedom Essay 3, while the more detailed description can be found in chapters 3:3–3:4 of FREEDOM. And you can learn about those who have recognised the elements of instinct and intellect in producing our condition in Video/​Freedom Essay 4.