1. ABOUT THE HUMAN CONDITION
AND ITS RESOLUTION
WTM FAQ 1.13 Is this idea original or new? / How does biologist Jeremy Griffith’s ‘instinct vs intellect’ explanation of the human condition differ from other theories that recognise these elements?
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 occurred—which 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.
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The following is another similar answer we at the WTM have given to the question ‘So what’s new about this information?’:
In THE Interview Jeremy Griffith points out that the elementary situation of our conscious mind defying our cooperative instincts was recognised by Richard Heinberg when he summarised that ‘everywhere in religion and myth there is an acknowledgment that we departed from an original innocence’, ‘there is the recognition that human consciousness has been separated from the divine source’. The problem has been that in those pre-scientific times there was no ability to explain what caused our divisive condition because we didn’t know about the difference in the gene-based and nerve-based learning systems.
Some 3,500 years ago, the exceptionally honest, denial-free thinking prophet Moses went as close as you could possibly go without science to actually explain the human condition when he said we took the ‘fruit’ ‘from the tree of…knowledge’ and were ‘disobedient’ and became perpetrators of ‘sin’, obviously meaning we developed a conscious free will that defied our already established instincts that had been controlling our lives, and as a result we became sufferers of psychologically upset, divisive, angry, egocentric and alienated behaviour.
And with regard to what’s happened in the last century or so, Jeremy explains in THE Interview that while all contemporary thinkers have had the benefit of science having revealed the difference between the gene-based and nerve-based learning systems, and have therefore had the means to truthfully explain the human condition, those who did recognise the basic instinct vs intellect elements didn’t take their thinking far enough to actually explain the human condition. And those who have been attached to the false savage instincts excuse—which is the great majority of scientists—obviously haven’t been thinking truthfully, so they couldn’t hope to explain the human condition. (You can read about mechanistic science’s false biological arguments in Video/Freedom Essay 14 & Freedom Essay 40.)