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Beyond the Human Condition

4 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0646039947
ISBN-10: 0646039946
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Editorial Reviews


'These writings in many ways further basic evolutionary concepts and thus are seen by some as controversial, but the majority of scientists, anthropologists and sociologists whom I know to have considered these works have become very excited...the scientific validity of Mr Griffith's work is supported in every way possible, from archaeology, primatology, genetics and evolutionary facts...In my opinion, Mr Griffith's work is of the highest scientific merit.' -- Dr Harry Prosen, Professor of psychiatry and former President of the Canadian Psychiatric Association

'On 29 Sept 1992, Jeremy Griffith presented his new book, Beyond The Human Condition, at a special Kenya Museum Society lecture. Once in a long while you come across an "aha" book. Every few pages of Jeremy Griffith's biological synthesis of human behaviour stretching back millions of years, I found myself, a scientific layman, saying, "aha, that makes sense!"' -- Doug Rigby, Swara, East African Wildlife Society magazine

'I found Beyond interesting and logical but there is much to think about.' -- Professor Shirley Strum, Professor of Anthropology at San Diego University

'It is your [the listeners'] responsibility as citizens to read Beyond The Human Condition.' -- Brian Carlton (Spoonman), Australian radio personality'

'Mr Griffith's work is extraordinarily insightful and I am quite pleased to have the benefit of his wisdom.' -- James Balog, an award-winning photographer for National Geographic magazine

'I too have always been puzzled by the innate cruelty that seems to be incorporated in much of human nature, particularly in our dealings with the other creatures of the earth. I commend you for probing this phenomenon.' -- Daphne Sheldrick, renowned African conservationist and founder of the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust, Nairobi

'...It is a book which touches the core of our existence, probing and forcing the reader to address the human condition--why we are who we are. Highly recommended for those who choose to ask that question.' -- Elaine Briggs, Portfolio, Executive women's magazine

'Your book is certainly thought-provoking and will no doubt be the subject of much debate within the scientific and general communities. My congratulations.' -- R. J. L. Hawke, Prime Minister of Australia

'Fortunately, there are also some thinkers of such stature that their thoughts may genuinely change the way of the world. With his new book Jeremy Griffith is seeking to join these many significant works, it [Beyond] prompts responses from the reader like "why didn't I think of that?"...It is a bold and inspiring work.' -- Mark Thornton, The West Australian newspaper

‘Beyond…contains an interesting and thoughtful combination of materials and I hope it will be successful and widely read.’ -- Professor Adrienne Zihlman, Professor of Anthropology at UCLA Santa Cruz (15 Jan 1992)

‘[Griffith] gives us a genuinely original and inspiring way of understanding ourselves and our place in the universe.’ -- Professor Charles Birch, Templeton-prize winner and world-renowned biologist

From the Author

This book is dedicated to the vision of Sir Laurens van der Post:
'... for I had a private hope of the utmost importance to me. The Bushman's physical shape combined those of a child and a man: I surmised that examination of his inner life might reveal a pattern which reconciled the spiritual opposites in the human being and made him whole ... it might start the first movement towards a reconciliation.'
Laurens van der Post, The Heart of the Hunter, 1961.

And that of Sir James Darling who acknowledged that:
'...the future lies not with the predatory and the immune but with the sensitive who live dangerously...the truly sensitive mind is both susceptible and penetrating: it is open to new ideas, and it seeks truth at the bottom of the well. It is the development of this sort of mind which it should be the object of the educational process to cultivate.'
James Darling, The Education of a Civilized Man, 1962.
And that of Dr Louis Leakey who believed:
'... that knowledge of the past would help us to understand and possibly control the future.'
Mentioned by Dr Mary Leakey in her book Disclosing the Past, 1984.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 203 pages
  • Publisher: WTM Publishing and Communications (November 1, 1991)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0646039946
  • ISBN-13: 978-0646039947
  • Product Dimensions: 8.2 x 5.3 x 0.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #844,886 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Jeremy Griffith (1945-) is an Australian biologist who has dedicated his life to bringing fully accountable, biological understanding to the dilemma of the human condition--the underlying issue in all human life of 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?' has seemed depressingly inexplicable. Even in our everyday behaviour, why, when the ideals of life are to be cooperative, selfless and loving, are we so ruthlessly competitive and selfish that human life has become all but unbearable and our planet near destroyed? How could we humans possibly be considered good when all the evidence seems to unequivocally indicate that we are a deeply flawed, bad, even 'evil' species?
For most people, trying to think about this ultimate of questions of whether we humans are fundamentally good or not has been an unbearably self-confronting exercise. Indeed, the issue of the human condition has been so depressing for virtually all humans that only a rare few individuals have been sound and secure enough in self to go anywhere near the subject. Nurtured by a sheltered upbringing in the Australian bush (countryside), Jeremy is one of those rare few. His 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 of the human condition and produce the breakthrough, human-behaviour-demystifying-and-ameliorating explanation of it, which is presented in all his publications, including his 2015 summa masterpiece, 'FREEDOM: The End Of The Human Condition'

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

8 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Sally Edgar on March 2, 2006
Format: Paperback
I strongly urge any readers of Jeremy Griffith's book `Beyond The Human Condition' to also look at his 1988 book `Free: The End of The Human Condition' and probably even more significantly his 2003 book `A Species In Denial', which has become a Bestseller in Australia and New Zealand and continues to receive critical acclaim.

These books are also available on - the page for `A Species In Denial' contains an extraordinarily supportive review from one of the world's leading scientists. I also encourage readers to visit the website [...] for even more recent publications and essays by Jeremy Griffith.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
A wonderful book.

The exceptional range of human behaviour - for good and evil- is explained in evolutionary terms.
We are exposed to a mass of information today, about ourselves. We cope poorly with all of this. Conclusions are cast out every minute and behaviour is erratic.
Jeremy Grirrith supports human development and almost caresses us through the mundane and the spiritual with reason and compassion.

Rex Smith
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0 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Aussiescribbler on March 22, 2014
Format: Paperback
Australian biologist Jeremy Griffith has attracted a fair bit of attention over the years with what he claims to be a liberating first principle biological explanation for the human condition, i.e. our species' capacity for good and evil.

For a time I was a supporter of Griffith's theories. Why would I not be attracted to the idea that some great riddle had been cracked which would lead to an end to all of humanity's problems - a reconciliation between the left wing and right wing in politics, between science and religion, between men and women - an end to war, poverty, mental illness? With his first book - "Free : The End of the Human Condition" - Griffith really laid on the hard sell, but the book was genuinely deep and full of references to the fossil record and primate behaviour. Back then I was prone to depression. Reading that book hurt like hell. They say that the truth hurts, so this seemed to be in its favour.

If you want a brief, concise and well-presented introduction to Griffith's theory and what he thinks it means for humanity, this second book - "Beyond the Human Condition" - is the one to read.

The first thing to acknowledge is that Griffith spends little of his time in the book arguing from reason. Much of the text consists of quotes from some of his favourite writers, most notably Laurens van der Post, as well as the Bible. He also paraphrases from popular songs the lyrics of which he wasn't able to obtain the rights to quote. This is not a scientific approach. The fact that Bruce Springsteen once said something in a song does not constitute evidence.
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0 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Gary Clark, Phd. on March 19, 2014
Format: Paperback
Griffith bases much of his thinking in this book on the now discredited theories of the novelist Sir Laurens Van Der Post. Van der Post wrote of the !Kung or Kalahari Bushman very evocatively, but as it turns out inaccurately, in his two famous books "The Lost World of the Kalahari" and "Heart of the Hunter". In more recent times Griffith has also sought to argue that violent behaviour is virtually absent in !Kung society, basing his assertions on Elizabeth Marshall Thomas' "The Harmless People". Marshall's notion of the !Kung being a harmless people is no longer accepted by anthropologists. For example, Richard Lee in his "The !Kung San: Men, Women, and Work in a Foraging Society" reported fifteen cases of non-fatal fights using poison tipped weapons and 22 cases of homicide. He consequently threw into doubt Marshall's more benign view of !Kung social life (I have explained in detail the problems with Griffith's over reliance on Van der Post's and Marshall's work in my Amazon review of Griffith's "A Species in Denial").

"Beyond the Human Condition" gives expression to the rose tinted and over romanticised views of tribal life that developed in the 1970s, 80s and 90s, in both the professional literature and also the popular imagination. Such views have consequently been questioned as more robust cross cultural analysis of lethal violence and homicide has emerged from the anthropological field data. (A good summary of this data can be found in Bruce Knauft's paper "Reconsidering Violence in Simple Societies" in "Current Anthropology" August-September 1987). In "Beyond the Human Condition" Griffith approvingly quotes from Bruce Chatwin's "Songlines", where Chatwin associates the !
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