A Species In Denial
by Jeremy Griffith, published 2003
The revolutionary Australian bestseller: A Species In Denial is Australian biologist Jeremy Griffith’s third and most definitive work at the time of publishing (2003) on the human condition after 30 years writing on the subject. Launched at the Australian Museum in Sydney in June 2003, the book has become a bestseller in Australia and New Zealand where it is continues to sell well; in fact, its distributors describe it as one of those rare books, like dictionaries, that keeps selling.
With a Foreword by Charles Birch, Emeritus Professor of Biology and Templeton Prize Winner, A Species In Denial has received first rate reviews:
‘A Species In Denial is a superb book, it brings out the truth of a new and wider frontier for humankind, a forward view of a world of humans no longer in naked competition amongst ourselves and with all others.’ John Morton, Emeritus Professor of Zoology, Auckland University
‘I am a professor of psychiatry… [and] I am most enthusiastic about Griffith’s new paradigm and would assure readers not to pass it by. I consider it one of, if not the most important contribution to both understanding and ameliorating The Human Condition thus far written.’ Professor Harry Prosen, past president of the Canadian Psychiatric Association
‘A breakthrough in understanding the human condition.’ Dr John H Champness, Australian psychologist and educator
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Contents (528 pages)
Deciphering Plato’s Cave Allegory–an explanation of how a biological understanding of the human condition can liberate humanity from its ‘cave-like’ state of denial.
Resignation–looks at the most important psychological event in human life. If humans are living in a state of deep psychological denial, then the question arises: are we born with this denial, and if not, when and how do we adopt it? This essay explains how adolescents begin trying to understand the dilemma of the human condition, however, with humanity unable–until now–to explain this deepest of issues, they eventually learn they have no choice but to resign themselves to a life of denial.
Bringing Peace To The War Between The Sexes and The Denial-Free History Of The Human Race–some of the deepest wounds in human life have been caused by the lack of understanding in the relationship between men and women. The bitterness, heartache, suffering and the damage to children has been immense. Through understanding the human condition, it is now possible to answer these questions and bring peace to the ‘war’ between the sexes–and give a true account of human history.
The Demystification Of Religion–a powerful demonstration of how understanding the human condition and the phenomenon of resignation demystifies previously impenetrable aspects of human life, in particular, the world of religious metaphysics and dogma.
Why are we the way we are? Can science explain our contradictory nature?
Charles Darwin’s The Origin of Species connected humans with nature, but since then biology has been stalled, unable to address the dilemma of the human condition–our capacity for good and evil. If the universally accepted moral ideal is to be cooperative, loving and selfless, why are we humans so competitive, aggressive and selfish? Ignorance about ourselves, about why we behave the way we do, has been an immense affliction. In fact, without being able to understand and to reconcile our contradictory behaviour we have had little choice but to block out the whole depressing subject and live in a state of denial.
In A Species In Denial biologist Jeremy Griffith argues that only by understanding why we have become less than ideally behaved can we at last safely face the truth about our condition and learn to live in full harmony with ourselves and with others. The ‘truth sets us free’, but it had to be the whole truth that explains rather than criticises us.
Griffith suggests that, in fact, there is a biological explanation for why humans are angry, egocentricand alienated. Human ‘sin’, or ‘upset’ as he terms it, has been a necessary and unavoidable stage in our upward evolutionary development. Life isn’t driven by a competitive model of ‘survival of the fittest’, but rather by a drive towards greater cooperativeness and integration. With the accumulated knowledge of science we can finally understand how, despite appearances, we have been a part of this process, and it is this liberating insight which finally brings about the maturity of the human race.
‘To date human intelligence has largely been concerned with the art of denial, not with truth…most people are deaf to the truth.’ Jeremy Griffith
Extracts from A Species In Denial
‘Good or bad, loving or hateful, angels or devils, constructive or destructive, sensitive or insensitive, what are we? Throughout our history, we have struggled to find meaningin the awesome contradictions of the human condition. Neither philosophy nor science has, until now, been able to give a clarifying explanation. For their part, religious assurances such as “God loves you” may offer comfort but do not explain why we are lovable. The real problem on Earth is humans’ predicament or condition of being insecure, unable to confront, make sense of and deal with the dark side of human nature. The real struggle for humans has been a psychological one.’ (p.27)
A 1000 word summary of the central concept in A Species In Denial
The area of inquiry in which Jeremy Griffith has made a key contribution is the subject of our human condition, and exploring how this condition has coloured every aspect of our world view. It is a biological treatise on the human condition which he defines as: ‘If the universally accepted ideals or morals are to be cooperative, loving and selfless, then why are we humans so competitive, aggressive and selfish? What is the reason for humans’ divisive natures?’
Griffith uses the following line from William Blake’s poem Tiger, Tiger Burning Bright to illustrate this dilemma: ‘When the stars threw down their spears / And watered heaven with their tears / Did he smile his work to see? / Did he who made the lamb make thee?’
He argues compellingly that the turmoil and conflict between races, countries, religions; environmental destruction; material inequality; overpopulation; resource depletion; and depression will not fundamentally change at all until we solve this dilemma of the human condition and bring self-understanding to the human situation. As he describes it, humanity has been in a race between self-destruction and self-discovery.
Emeritus Professor of Biology & Templeton Prize winner, Charles Birch.
‘There are two main streams of thought concerning the nature of things including human beings. They can be called the objective stream and the subjective stream...From time to time in history the two streams of understanding meet...In his book A Species In Denial Jeremy Griffith seeks to bring together the two streams of thought...supporters testify to the transforming influence of the [Griffith’s] ideas.’
Emeritus Professor of Zoology & Lay Canon Emeritus of Holy Trinity Cathedral, John Morton.
‘A Species In Denial is a superb book…[that] brings out the truth of a new and wider frontier for humankind, a forward view of a world of humans no longer in naked competition amongst ourselves and with all others.’
A Species In Denial has received many impressive reviews, including the following:
A Most Important Contribution to Human Understanding Amazon.com
A Rewarding Journey Weekend Australian
Challenging Humanity...talking about the big stuff Friday Magazine
Brilliant in its insight into human nature Toowoomba Chronicle
Prepare to be confronted...Prepare to be enlightened Noosa Times
This book is important and breathtaking in its breadth Reading Time
A seminal book about how humans have coped with the psychological burden of their contradictory mindset Southland Times
A Heroic Work Townsville Bulletin
Landmark in understanding The Geelong Advertiser
A new view of why man is like he is and how to change Taupo Weekender
A straightforward scientific treatise Northern Daily Leader
People like Griffith used to be drummed out of town by the vicar Wairarapa News
A Species In Denial has received many appreciative reader responses, including the following:
A superb book John Morton (Emeritus Prof. of Zoology)
A breakthrough in understanding the human condition Dr John H. Champness (psychologist)
A most enlightening treatment of the human situation Dr Arthur Jones (former Anglican Bishop of Gippsland)
It offers so many insights into our divided selves (Ronald Conway OAM, psychologist)
Remarkably interesting and full of food for thought John Bell AM (founder and artistic director of Australia’s national theatre touring company)
A wonderful and important book Harry M. Miller (renowned publicist)
A ‘must read’ for every human Brian Carlton (Executive Producer, Radio 2GB)
Reading it with great interest and excitement...I can’t put it down Jeremy Shaw, retired Anglican Priest
Boy! What a book...should be in hotel rooms like the other book Ambi Kaur
The most significant book since the bible...it is the bravest of books Rob Hanly
I am gob-smacked...thank you Mr Griffith for putting into words what many of us feel, but cannot explain Kim Armstrong
Aaaargh! This book is brilliant! Absolutely insanely brilliant livejournal.com diary
The most advanced thinking in the world! David McCabe Stephens
Reader beware, loaded to gunwhales with penetrating thoughts and confronting truths Mark Stevens
As an explanation of the way humans behave it is with out parallel David Somerville
Deeply honest handbook for the survival of humankind Jonathan McCord
I find it is incredibly deep. It is layer upon layer. It’s so absolutely, undeniably the truth Robert Watkins
The human condition-how fake we are and everything in between! I love this book. It is so much more than a book gish-girl
I have enjoyed the concise and simple explanations Paul Smith
Promotion of A Species In Denial included a full-colour, A3-sized insert in The Weekend Australian on 7 June 2003.
Following its launch, A Species In Denial received some remarkable commendations from eminent people, which we informed the public of through an advertising campaign that ran over the 2003-2004 Christmas period.
A Species In Denial has sold more than 8000 copies and is in its 2nd print run. It was placed on ‘bestseller’ shelves in numerous major book stores around Australia and New Zealand, and appeared in bestseller lists on sites such as Amazon.com.
Qantas Inflight magazine, A Current of Air, with Lisa Forrest (January 2004)
Sydney’s 2SM Drivetime program with Gareth McCray (6.35pm, 4 June 2003)
Darwin’s TOP FM Territory Talk program with Daryl Manzie (9.15am, 6 October 2003)
Sydney’s 2SM with Di Coveny Garland (6.10pm, 14 October 2003)
A Species in Denial was very successfully launched in June 2003, following which Jeremy and Tim went on a national promotional tour. Audio recordings of one of the tour presentations, at Glee Books in Sydney, are available to download.
A Species In Denial was launched in the United Kingdom on 18 October 2004.
Note: There are two print editions of A Species In Denial:
The Australian and New Zealand edition published in 2003, ISBN 1-74129-000-7
The slightly revised UK and USA edition published in 2004, ISBN 1-74129-001-5
528 pages • paperback • 234 x 153 mm • text plus 14 illustrations
biological psychology • Index • Australian