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A Species in Denial Paperback – October 1, 2004
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'Like to improve your understanding of the human condition? Ever wondered about our contradictory capacity for good and evil? Jeremy Griffith believes he has the answer to the riddle of humanity. To why humanity's progress is stalled in a state of unknowing...A Species In Denial, with a foreword by Charles Birch, traverses wide ground indeed. From deciphering Plato's cave allegory, to human denial, to bringing peace to the war between the sexes, to the denial-free history of the human race and the demystification of religion.' -- John McConnell, The Sydney Institute Quarterly
'Jeremy Griffith is an Australian biologist but his range of interests and his store of knowledge seem almost infinite... The chapter called Resignation is brilliant in its insight into human nature and what we call the idealism of the young... It's worth reading the book for this essay alone but, of course, there's so much more. Those who need brain food will find it here. It can't be said of many books that the world looks different after you've read them. It can be said of this book.'-- Antonia Hilderbrand, Toowoomba Chronicle
'A book that confronts the way we think about life...People like [Griffith] used to be drummed out of town by the vicar...Griffith gives the serious reader plenty to ponder...There is never any doubt of the courage of [Griffith's] stance in writing this book because of his commitment to his fellow man and the future of the planet.' -- Pat White, Wairarapa News, New Zealand'
'10/10. Prepare to be confronted...Prepare to be enlightened.' -- Wendy O'Hanlon, Noosa Times'There is no doubt that Jeremy is talking about the big stuff.' -- Katie Wilkie, The Land's 'Friday Magazine'
'A breakthrough in understanding the human condition.' -- Dr John H. Champness, Australian psychologist, 2003
'A most enlightening treatment of the human situation.' -- Dr Arthur Jones, former Anglican Bishop of Gippsland, Victoria, Australia
'A superb book, it brings out the truth of a new and wider world.' -- John Morton, Emeritus Professor Zoology, Auckland University, New Zealand
'Boy! what a book ... Should be in hotel rooms like the other book.' -- Ambi Kaur, Melbourne, Australia - reader response, 2003
'Offers so many insights into our divided selves.' -- Ronald Conway OAM, distinguished Australian psychologist
'Reading it with great interest and excitement, I can't put it down.' -- Jeremy Shaw, retired Anglican Priest, Auckland, New Zealand, 2003
'A most important contribution to human understanding.' -- Professor Harry Prosen, former President of the Canadian Psychiatric Association
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Top Customer Reviews
The problem here is that this fails to explain why non-human animals would also behave in ways that we would consider immoral. Several animals, like polar bears, have been known to kill and eat their young. Old bonobos molest young bonobos. Chimpanzees go to war over territories. I think you'd be hard pressed to write all of that off as behavior that results from insecurity and psychosis brought on by failure to come to grips with a dawning of higher consciousness.
When the Griffith talks about the angst of teenagers coming to grips with the good and evil sides of human nature I think he makes some valid points. When he talks about putting an end to all immoral behavior by simply coming to grips with our burgeoning consciousness I think he's over simplifying things to a enormous extent.
I found the book very enlightening and in the end life changing. I particularly enjoyed the introduction which gives you a good feel for what the human condition is and how and why humans have had to deny it until the explanation of it was found.
The other chapter that really helped me was the "Resignation" chapter. This is a key concept of this explanation that all humans need to get their head around as it is such an unlocking point for understanding our current human behavior throughout the world.
I thoroughly recommend this book to anyone who has a genuine interest in understanding human behavior but I would say that his more recent book "Freedom, The End Of The Human Condition" is more comprehensive.
Griffith seems to be hung up on the idea that much of what we do in our ordinary lives is "an attack on innocence". This includes apparently loving sexual relations. (There is no doubt that some men use sex as a weapon, but I see no evidence that this tendency runs beneath consensual intercourse.)
Seeing this "attack on innocence" as a prime motivator of human behaviour leads Griffith to a remarkably convoluted "explanation" for homosexuality which is one of the weakest points in the book.
Also, by feeling that he alone has the answers to the world's problems, Griffith seems to have come to believe that the world is being swamped by something he calls "exhaustion" and crushed by some kind of oppressive "pseudo-idealism". And he believes that post-modernism, in its rejection of absolute truth, is the most dangerous form of this phenomenon. Where he sees a negative, I see a positive. The world is breaking away from old certainties and we are becoming more honest in our expression of our imperfections. Much of what he sees as spreading "exhaustion", I see as a dropping of pretence about our psychological state and a number of movements towards healing.
He is right to point out the dangers of fundamentalism and dogma, but have not his own ideas become a fundamentalistic dogma? The evidence for me is in a reading of his books in chronological order, with this one being the most angrily defiant. I find an application of Jung's theory of projection very useful to uncovering the flaws in "A Species in Denial".
Don't get me wrong, I think this book digs as deeply into the nature of the human condition as any book available at the moment, but Griffith has not applied Occam's Razor to his ideas. There are simpler explanations for the human condition which can be constructed from the basics he outlines. At least that is what I've come to believe, after studying his work for the last 16 years.
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