Human Nature

 

Written by Australian biologist Jeremy Griffith, 2011

 

We define ‘human nature’ through references to human behaviour, but human nature is much more than that.

 

It actually refers to our species’ less-than-ideally-behaved, seemingly-imperfect, even ‘good and evil’-afflicted, so-called human conditionas in ‘it’s only human nature for people to be competitive, selfish and aggressive’. As such, we sometimes assume human nature is unchangeable, but it isn’tbecause when the underlying psychological insecurity that causes our troubled HUMAN CONDITION is resolved, the long dreamed-of transformation of the human race occurs!

 

And, MOST WONDERFULLY, this greatest of all breakthroughs in the human journey of conscious thought and enquiry has arrived! Yes, biology is finally able to provide us with the exonerating, ‘good-and-evil’-reconciling, ‘burden-of-guilt’-lifting and thus rehabilitating, human-race-transforming explanation of our human condition-afflicted human nature! (And it should be mentioned that this explanation of our species’ deeply psychologically troubled condition is not the psychosis-avoiding, trivialising, dishonest account of it that the biologist E.O. Wilson has put forward in his theory of Eusociality, but the psychosis-addressing-and-solving, real explanation of it.)

 

Is it human nature to be competitive, aggressive and angry?

 

Yes, the agonising, underlying, core, real question about human behaviour has always been 'is human nature good or evil? Are humans good or are we possibly the terrible mistake that all the evidence seems to unequivocally indicate we might be?’ Our human nature is such that while we are capable of great love we also have an unspeakable history of brutality, rape, torture, murder and war. Despite all our marvellous accomplishments, we humans have been the most ferocious and destructive force that has ever lived on Earthand the eternal question has been ‘why?’ Even in our everyday behaviour, why have we humans been so competitive, selfish and aggressive when clearly the ideals of life are to be the complete opposite, namely cooperative, selfless and loving? In fact, why are we so ruthlessly competitive, selfish and brutal that human life has become all but unbearable and we have nearly destroyed our own planet?! How can we possibly explain the apparent 'evil' in human nature?

Unable, until now, to truthfully answer this deepest and darkest of all questions about human naturein fact, about our human conditionof are we humans fundamentally good or bad, we learnt to avoid the whole depressing subject, so much so, in fact, that the human condition has been described as ‘the personal unspeakable’, and as ‘the black box inside of humans they can’t go near’. Indeed, the famous psychoanalyst Carl Jung was referring to the terrifying subject of the human condition when he wrote that ‘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 in The Collected Works of C.G. Jung, Vol. 9/2, p.10). Yes, the ‘face of absolute evil’ in our ‘nature’ is the ‘shattering’ possibilityif we allowed our minds to think about itthat we humans might indeed be a terrible mistake!

So even though the issue of the human condition has been the real, underlying issue we needed to solve if we were to exonerate and thus rehabilitate human nature, we have been so fearful of the subject that instead of confronting it and trying to solve it we have been preoccupied denying and escaping it. The truth is that while much attention has been given to the need to love each other and the environment if we are to ‘save the world’, the real need if we were to actually succeed in doing so was to find the means to love the dark side of ourselvesto find the reconciling understanding of our ‘good-and-evil’-afflicted human nature that was causing so much suffering and destruction! Carl Jung was forever saying that ‘wholeness for humans depends on the ability to own their own shadow’ because he recognised that only finding understanding of the dark side of human nature could end our underlying insecurity about our fundamental goodness and worth as humans and, in so doing, make us ‘whole’. The pre-eminent philosopher Sir Laurens van der Post was making the same point when he said, ‘True love is love of the difficult and unlovable’ (Journey Into Russia, 1964, p.145) and ‘Only by understanding how we were all a part of the same contemporary pattern [of wars, cruelty, greed and indifference] could we defeat those dark forces with a true understanding of their nature and origin’ (Jung and the Story of Our Time, 1976, p.24).

True compassion was ultimately the only means by which peace and love could come to our planet and it could only be achieved through understanding. Drawing again from the writings of van der Post: ‘Compassion leaves an indelible blueprint of the recognition that life so sorely needs between one individual and another; one nation and another; one culture and another. It is also valid for the road which our spirit should be building now for crossing the historical abyss that still separates us from a truly contemporary vision of life, and the increase of life and meaning that awaits us in the future’ (ibid. p.29). Yes, only ‘true understanding of the nature and origin’ of our species’ ‘good-and-evil’-afflicted, even ‘fallen’ or corrupted condition could allow us to cross ‘the historical abyss’ that ‘separate[d] us’ from a ‘compassion[ate], reconciled, ameliorated, ‘meaning[ful] view of ourselves. One day there had to be, to quote The Rolling Stones, ‘sympathy for the devil’one day, we had to find ‘true understanding’ of the ‘nature and origin’ of the ‘dark forces’ in human nature. Indeed, the great hope, faith, trust and in fact belief of the human race has been that redeeming, psychologically rehabilitating and thus transforming understanding of our human-condition-afflicted human nature would one day be foundwhich, most relievingly, it now finally has been! Yes, this ‘future’ that Jung and van der Post looked forward to, of finding understanding of human nature, is finally here! (Again, it has to be stressed that this explanation of our deeply psychologically troubled condition is not the psychosis-avoiding, trivialising, dishonest account of it that E.O. Wilson has put forward in his theory of Eusociality, but the psychosis-addressing-and-solving, truthful, real explanation of it.)

 

So, what is the wonderful, psychosis-addressing-and-solving, truthful explanation of the human condition that brings about the complete change in human naturein fact, the long dreamed-of transformation of the human race?

 

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