‘FREEDOM’—Chapter 3 The Real Explanation of The Human Condition
Chapter 3:2 We cannot endure being faced by the problem of the human condition forever
Before presenting this dreamed-of, human-race-transforming explanation of the human condition, the following extraordinarily honest words from Nikolai Berdyaev’s 1931 book, The Destiny of Man, provide a powerful summary of all that was just said in chapter 2 about the stalled, festering state of science, and thus of the human race.
Firstly, in regard to our species’ overall plight, Berdyaev wrote that (and part of this extract was referred to in par. 181) ‘The memory of a lost paradise, of a Golden Age [our species’ pre-human-condition-afflicted state of original cooperative, loving innocence], is very deep in man, together with a sense of guilt and sin and a dream of regaining the Kingdom of Heaven…We are faced with a profound enigma: how could man have renounced paradise which he recalls so longingly in our world-aeon? How could he have fallen away from it?’ (tr. N. Duddington, 1960, p.36 of 310). When it came to our consciousness-induced psychosis, he recognised that ‘Philosophers and scientists have done very little to elucidate the problem of man’ (p.49). ‘[P]sychologists were wrong in assuming that man was a healthy creature, mainly conscious and intellectual, and should be studied from that point of view. Man is a sick being…The human soul is divided, an agonizing conflict between opposing elements is going on in it…the distinction between the conscious and the subconscious mind is fundamental for the new psychology’ (pp.67-68). Significantly, Berdyaev also acknowledged how our species’ immense fear of the human condition has blocked access to finding understanding of it, writing that ‘Knowledge requires great daring. It means victory over ancient, primeval terror. Fear makes the search for truth and the knowledge of it impossible. Knowledge implies fearlessness…Particularly bitter is moral knowledge, the knowledge of good and evil. But the bitterness is due to the fallen state of the world…Moral knowledge is the most bitter and the most fearless of all for in it sin and evil are revealed to us along with the meaning and value of life. There is a deadly pain in the very distinction of good and evil, of the valuable and the worthless. We cannot rest in the thought that that distinction is ultimate…we cannot bear to be faced for ever with the distinction between good and evil…Ethics must be both theoretical and practical, i.e. it must call for the moral reformation of life…this implies that ethics is bound to contain a prophetic element. It must be a revelation of a clear conscience, unclouded by social conventions’ (pp.14-16). (Note Berdyaev’s accord with Janov’s fundamental point that ‘fear…paralyses thought’ (in par. 221).)
No, ‘we cannot bear to be faced for ever with the’ ‘deadly’ ‘distinction of good and evil, of the valuable and the worthless’—nor with the resulting ‘social conventions’ of having to live with the psychologically ‘sick’ state of alienated denial as our only means of coping with that patently untrue ‘distinction’ between ‘the valuable and the worthless’. Permanent damnation and terminal alienation are simply not acceptable options for the human race, but to find the liberating, exonerating, reconciling and rehabilitating understanding of our ‘divided’ condition, and, by so doing, bring about ‘the new psychology’ and with it the transforming ‘moral reformation of life’, required ‘victory over [the] ancient, primeval terror’ of our condition—a ‘victory’ that could only be achieved by ‘a revelation of a clear conscience, unclouded by social conventions’ of denial, because only those who don’t suffer from the ‘terror’ of the human condition could hope to ‘fearless[ly]’ investigate the subject.
Yes, to find understanding of the human condition necessarily required a truthful, ‘clear conscience’-guided, instinctual approach, not a resigned-to-living-in-denial-of-the-human-condition, alienated-from-the-truth, blocking-out-of-condemning-moral-instincts, hiding-in-Plato’s-cave, ‘intellectual’ approach. It is simply not possible to build the truth from a position of denial/lying. You can’t think effectively, insightfully, ‘prophetic[ally]’, if you’re not being honest.
Indeed, as I pointed out in chapter 2:12, trying to investigate reality while living in denial of any truths that brought the, for most people, ‘deadly pain[ful]’ issue of the human condition into focus, as mechanistic science has done, was an extremely compromised and deficient way of searching for knowledge. In fact, it is a measure of the blindness of human-condition-avoiding, denial-based thinking, and the effectiveness of human-condition-confronting, honest thinking, that when the whole truth about our condition is finally reached, as it now has been, it can appear so straightforward and simple that it seems self-evident. But simplicity has always been a hallmark of insightful thought—as the pioneering biologist Allan Savory observed, ‘whenever there has been a major insoluble problem for mankind, the answer, when finally found, has always been very simple’ (Holistic Resource Management, 1988, 1st edition, p.3). For instance, when Charles Darwin put forward his breakthrough, and necessarily exceptionally ‘fearless’ and truthful-thinking-based insight of natural selection, it was, in hindsight, such a simple explanation that the eminent biologist of the time, the aforementioned Thomas Huxley, was prompted to exclaim, ‘How extremely stupid not to have thought of that!’ (1887; Life and Letters of Thomas Henry Huxley Vol.1, ed. Leonard Huxley, 1900, p.170). So, yes, the author George Seaver was prescient when, in anticipating just how simple the explanation of ‘the riddle of life’s meaning and mystery’, namely the human condition, would be, he wrote that ‘The ultimate thought, the thought which holds the clue to the riddle of life’s meaning and mystery, must be the simplest thought conceivable, the most natural, the most elemental, and therefore also the most profound’ (Albert Schweitzer: The Man and His Mind, 1947, p.311).
But while the crux question facing the human race, of the much-needed clarification of the nature of ‘good and evil’, does have an amazingly simple answer, the implications of it could not be more significant, far-reaching or exciting.