The Human Condition
(The average reader might do well here with an internet search on the phrase 'human condition' so as to see how much misinformation there is out there as opposed to the biology and anthropology underlying this 'interview'.)
1 - What is meant by 'the human condition'?
'The human condition' is a phrase typically used with respect the generality of situations that humans face in 'getting along with each other and the world', situations that are difficult to encompass in some way because of hang-ups or
predispositions of one kind or another or just simple ignorance -"What did I do to wrong her?", "Why can't we get along with each other?" and "The beauty of a flower, isn't that proof of God"? -illnesses of a sort, mental and real, our own or society's,
mental or real, and how they weigh upon us and society about us. The human condition is, for example, the material of poetry in general and the lyrics of most music ('rap' included) and various other 'secular' or even religious
situations -lovers in warring religions, for example, and the irony in the contemporaneity of both most abject and most excessive 'lifestyle and quality of life' as in some parts of Africa and
anywhere in the US. Perhaps the most obvious examples come right off any daily newspaper -the 'irresolvability' of the Israeli-Palestinian problem, letters to Dear Abby and Ann Landers (and their answers) -or the dog next door, run over and killed
because your neighbor had a fight with his wife and forgot to close the gate. And there are more general examples too -the individual
saddling his friends and relatives with his aches and pains or complaints on government: "They (whoever) ought'a do (whatever)" and "You can't change human nature". Various expressions of frustration, 'unrequited love', 'the seven deadly sins' -'the
human condition' is some one aspect or another of these items.
2 - Why does it always seems to have a sorrowful or 'negative' cast to it? -examples otherwise?
'Discomfiture', in general -mental or physical, is antithetical to our evolutionary nature which is, more correctly (and genetically), 'the pursuit of best well-being and viability', so when we come up against anything that
is 'troublesome' to that pursuit in some way, we tend to linger on its 'resolution' -or at least wonder "Why can't we -" and "If only -". When there is no such problem, on the other hand, we automatically get on with the routine of life.
Examples otherwise? -the typically superficial and essentially momentary 'happiness in another's good fortune' and 'glee at your team winning!', for example -not generally bagged as 'human condition', but schadenfreud in particular and extreme:
'happiness in another's misfortune', which, by its very substance, reflects completely consistent 'negativity'.
The irony in one's 'once being aware of the human condition' (most sophisticated sense implicit) is that he will probably also see how 'noise in the system due to those who don't understand it' impinges and intrudes upon 'the well-being and quality of
life of those that do'. A further peculiarity of the 'neonate ignorance and pecking order' underlying the human condition then, is that knowledge of those two properties and their implications eventually drives the
life-form to 'optimizing the nature and course of the life-form and its geological time-frame' -'the minimization of pejorative consequences of the present upon the well-being and viability of the continuing life-form'. Worse still then, those
that do understand must, eventually, inevitably and 'justifiably', find themselves 'pecking upon those that do not understand' -more 'evolutionary aristocratization' therein.
3 - What is the source or evolutionary nature of 'the human condition'?
We are evolved out of ignorance and continue to be born in ignorance, and that means that even as we discover and amass knowledge -the 'if this, then that-ness' of matter and existence, 'new situations' and 'new ignorances' will always present something
of a problem to someone as long as we exist.
The material of a 'human condition', on the other hand, has to have come into existence the moment any first man communicated 'bother by something he couldn't get a handle on', were that a caveman communicating frustration at trying to
flake a blade into existence or the absence of 'life' in a man fallen suddenly dead before him -nor does it end with that ignorance, for lying at the bottom and convoluting the whole is the inseparable combination of sex and pecking order -all of us, therefore, subject to consequences of our own and each other's 'ignorance'.
4 - What is the origin of the phrase? -and where is somebody likely to encounter it?
The idea or concept could not have existed before man had evolved enough intellectual capability to 'ideate his discomfiture' with some ability, however primitive, to 'express' that ideation to someone -suicide a high-order example. The phrase itself is a fundamentally philosophical concept, perhaps first 'formally' discussed by some budding Immanuel Kant or such. 'The human condition' is, more properly, a phrase which is, when
used, meant to identify some one or other particular situation as 'another example of the class of such situations of the human condition'. It is, in this sense, not in
general use except perhaps as a write-off of some one or other particular 'irresolvable or wonderment' -(eg) "That's the human condition"! 'Substance/material', on the other hand, is that of novelists, pundits, essayists, coffeehouse politicians and soft
scientists in general 'who range more or less freely among those various problems and situations consequent of ignorance and ambiguous language'.
5 - What does 'the human condition' mean to 'the man on the street'?
In that it is an essentially philosophical phrase, it's the specifics of situations that people commonly relate to and and are important to them, not that 'generality'. The human condition in this especially negative sense is a measure of our ignorance
with respect to what we know about ourselves as 'a life-form in its configuration space' -biology, anthropology, the resource/environment, government/economy and 'the nature and course of human evolution and progression', as the idea of that whole and
its parts varies thruout the world. Thus, for example, 'the human condition' of an isolated Amazonian aborigine turns upon the primitively simple elements of such life, but that of an environmentalist or 'human rights specialist'
may entail the entirety of complex consequences attaching 'logging of the aborigine's forests for civilized, free-enterprise-capitalism furniture' -the deaths of orangatangs and 'western improvement of aboriginal life' among them.
'The human condition', clearly, is a function of what one knows about 'the nature and course of the life-form on the planet' and what he can do about 'the particular situation of interest'.
6 - What does 'the human condition' have to do with form of government or economics?
'Form of government and economics' (any) is inherently based upon 'belief' principles of some kind, but it is a fact of thus-far human evolution that there are no such 'principles' that are not intrinsically warped by their very 'pecking-order-based' origins and the ambiguities of language -due, in other words, to the ignorances and dispositions of their originators, formulators and executors.
The further situation then is that not only is there something of 'a human condition' endemic (the individuals) of peoples and nations, but one compounded by typically profound differences between their 'autonomous' governments
and economics due to natural resources, geography, climate et cetera, -'diasporatively cheap natural resources and labor' a still-continuing problem.
In the long run, and inherently, mankind will learn to 'do what is necessary to optimize his life-form existence by successively minimizing the energy-wasting and noisome chaff of the human
7 - What relationship is there between science and 'the human condition'?
The more we understand 'the nature of ourselves in our configuration space', the less opinionated we become and the less likely we are to be 'contributing
elements to a human condition'. The problem is that we are literally 'born in ignorance' and raised in a world of people likewise born and raised -which means then, that there is a very nearly overwhelming amount of
misinformation, opinion, predisposition et cetera regarding what we 'know' about ourselves and how we 'should' deal with each other -or there wouldn't be the mass of troubles there is in the world today. However circumstantially, that includes scientists
as principals too, because, in general, virtually all institutionalization today has origins NOT in 'a life-form-and-configuration-space laboratory of working scientists', but in 'the neonate ignorance and pecking order of
our primitive ancestors'.
The scientist today, in other words, is a scientist only in his laboratory (-the mathematician, at his blackboard), and otherwise 'only human' outside the lab where 'pecking-order-based lifestyle and quality of
life' (money -example) drives him and everyone else.
The scientist however -like it or not, is 'stuck' with being the only person in position to understand the consequences and implications of his genetic imperative and deliberative capability, the only one in position of eventually and inevitably being driven and having to learn that 'the life-form has no choice but to optimize the nature and course of its
evolution and progression by the heuristic manipulation of government'.
8 - What prognosis is there for 'the human condition'?
Given the fact of 'neonate ignorance', there cannot but always be something of 'a human condition'.
But given, further, the aristocratization intrinsic of 'deliberative capability' and the fact of an inevitably enclosing and limiting geological time-frame, mankind is both 'stuck' and driven to 'optimize the nature and course of his viability as a life-form on the planet'. 'Barring cataclysmic strike by some asteroid' then, the more the organism learns about itself and its
configuration space, the more it learns what 'pejorative' it has done to genetic imperative end:
-the more it is driven to further knowledge regarding the interrelationship of the momently nature of its viability and its geological time-frame toward that end -'a machine that goes heuristically by itself'. Thus
the purely physical dynamics of this phenomenon is manifest in/by 'successively minimizing existential entropification' by successively extracting as much information possible while 'wasting' as little
system-energy/information possible -as long
as that configuration space supports that 'evolving humanity and optimization' -in black and white terms: the more we learn about the nature of ourselves in our configuration space (a 'black box'), the less populated and existential our lives become -conserving configuration-space information- and the more efficient and purely intellectual our lives have no choice but to become'
- "How much better life might be now had we known better then"
Or to put it still another way-
The more we defer (a) 'the upset of (human-absent) natural order by pecking-order-based human existence' to (b) 'inevitably optimizing the nature and course of the human organism', the more we shorten the physically evolutionary distance
between (c) 'looking back and seeing what pejorative done to our existence at that time' and (d) 'immediacy of appreciation and correction now' and (further) the more immediately (e) 'we improve our life-form well-being and
quality of life and geological time-frame'. -Or to put it still another way, the idea of wealth and ownership beyond 'base-domain human requirements' is fundamentally antithetical to best well-being and viability in the nature and course of the
[-Nor does this begin to touch upon the subspeciation consequent of rate-limitation.]
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First posted: January 9, 2004; Last modified: December 31, 2005