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SOCY 151: Foundations of Modern Social Theory
- Freud on Sexuality and Civilization
Freud’s brand of critical theory adds important dimensions; he argues that we can better understand our consciousness through the process of psychoanalysis–the talking cure, dream work, etc–and we can cure ourselves through this process as well. We discuss Freud’s early days in Vienna developing psychoanalysis as a clinical approach alongside Jung, Ferenczi, and others in their tight-knit circle. They develop the ideas of the id, ego, and superego as well as the antithetical drives, the love drive (Eros) and the death drive (Thanatos). Later, Freud applies these concepts to society as a whole in his books Totem and Taboo, and Civilization and Its Discontents. His argument in Civilization and Its Discontents calls to mind Nietzsche; he argues that the repression of urges and drives allows civilization to bloom and flourish, but the same repression is problematic on the level of individual psychology as well as on the level of civilization.
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Foundations of Modern Social Theory
SOCY 151 - Lecture 15 - Freud on Sexuality and Civilization
Chapter 1. The Importance of Nietzsche’s Approach [00:00:00]
Professor Iván Szelényi: Good morning. I have to get started because there is, of course, a lot to be said about Sigmund Freud. Actually it’s a shame I have only fifty minutes for it and not two or three lectures. Just before I get into Freud, I just want to tell you that I did send the questions already; emailed it to you. So if you check your email, you have the questions for next Thursday. And I strongly encourage you to attend the lectures and the discussion sections. Those questions are not necessarily very easy. So you may want to get more exposure beyond the readings to have a good handle on it.
And let me just very, very briefly come back to Nietzsche, before we go on to Freud. Though I have enough on Freud, more than enough for today. But I would like to still kind of wrap it up and to say what the bottom line is. And the big question is, to start with, what is genealogical method? What is new in Nietzsche’s approach? And it should be clear from the writings and from the lecture, and I think from the discussion sections–right?–that what he’s suggesting, that in the genealogical method you will take an ideal and a moral principle, what you think is the right idea, and then he will show that one can think about this idea differently; and historically they did think differently. And his major example is good. You think an idea of what good is; it’s uncontestable, easy to agree? Well I will show you that in history the notion of good–and it’s opposite, what is not good–has been constructed differently. So the point of departure, first of all: well, there is the Judeo-Christian morality of good and evil. I will show–I will go back to time, I’ll go back to the antiquity–and I will show that the notion of good was completely different. Right? That is the genealogical method.
But to do it consistently, he really should be claiming that going back to the antiquity–I’m not suggesting that the good in antiquity was the real good. Right? It’s just a comparative study, which relativizes the idea of good in your mind today, to make you aware that good has been thought about differently in different times. And, in particular, of course, his main focus is on the notion of morality in modern society. And he said well there is something unique about this modern society; namely that morality somehow is internalized into us, and we kind of accept our own subjugation and our oppression because these values are so deeply invested into us. So that is, in a way–right?–the genealogical method; not to have, as I said in the lecture, a critical vantage point. Try to get a way that I will give you the real universal definition of good, and I will criticize any question of morality from a universal concept of morality. That’s not what he does. Right?
His major aim is to show that all moralities, all conceptions of moralities–all conceptions what is justice, what is fair, what is humane–has been manufactured–right?–in the workshop of ideals. And this workshops of ideals is a dark place where actually coercion, torture, is being used to manufacture these seemingly great ideas. It’s all about control over humans. That’s in a nutshell–right?–what Nietzsche is trying to do.
So let me just make a step back to Marx and foreshadow a step forward to Freud. So this Nietzsche has really little disagreement with Marx’s theory of alienation. He said, “Well, as long as Marx is saying that in the modern world we are alienated because we are not masters of our own fate, I agree with him.” Right? We are alien in this world and we do not have power over our life. External conditions act like as if it were nature, a thunderstorm, and determines our life. He agrees with this diagnosis–right?–of modernity.
His problem with Marx is that Marx comes to a solution. Right? Marx says, “Well, I know what human emancipation will be. I know what good society will be, and I know who will get us there.” Right? “The proletariat.” And he said, “This is churlish; that’s no good.” Right? “I won’t do that. I won’t fall into this trap.” Right? “I will not manufacture another ideal, because my workshop, where ideals would be manufactured, would be also a workshop which smells”–right?–“and which is full with coercion, and I would subject others to torture–mental or physical torture? In the good old days it was physical torture. Today it’s worse: it is mental torture.” Right? That’s in a nutshell–right?–what he’s trying to achieve.
And, of course, there is no Freud, there is no Weber, and there is no Michel Foucault; there is really no modern and post-modern social theory without Nietzsche’s insight. This is a radicalization of critical theory. Right? Critical theory–we talked about this, from Hegel to Marx–was a critique of consciousness; that what is in our mind is a distortion of the reality. Right? And therefore they were trying to subject human consciousness to critical scrutiny. Nietzsche does it the most radical way. He said, “I am capable to show”–right?–“the shortcomings of our consciousness, without showing you what is the right consciousness.” Right? That’s the project.
Now Sigmund Freud has a lot of similarities with this. Right? He’s also a critical theorist, and he says, “Well, what is in our mind comes very deep down from the repressed. And I will show you”–right?–“how, if this causes you neurotic responses, I can actually cure you, by the way; just I let you understand what has been repressed in your life experience, and then you can do something about yourself.” So that’s in a nutshell Sigmund Freud’s contribution. So it basically follows closely to Nietzsche’s ideas. And in the piece particularly what I asked you to read today–one of the pieces, right?–Civilization and its Discontents, he’s struggling very much with the problem Nietzsche is struggling with. He shows modern civilization as repression. Right? At the same time he does not want to reject civilization. Right? And he’s tormented–right?–how to evaluate civilization. Right? And well he probably is not going as far as Nietzsche, Nietzsche does. We will see that when it comes.
Okay, this is Sigmund Freud. And it’s good advertising: don’t smoke. You have his cigar. He has actually oral cancer. He was suffering from it during the last twenty years of his life, and eventually committed suicide; and the cancer obviously had something to do with his cigars. So don’t smoke. Right? Well Freud was one of the giants of nineteenth and early twentieth century thought. Many people who would name the intellectual giants of this time, nineteenth century, would name three names: Charles Darwin, Karl Marx and Sigmund Freud. Right? These are the three thinkers which made us rethink ourself–who we are, where we come from, and what is the nature of the society we live in?–the most radical ways.
Chapter 2. Freud in a Historical Context [00:10:29]
Okay, let me talk very briefly about Freud’s life. He was born in 1856, in what is now the Czech Republic, Moravia, southern part of the Czech Republic, in a small city called Freiberg. His father was a Jewish wool merchant; he was already married to his third wife–was about twenty years his junior. He was a pretty dominating figure. The mother was, on the other hand, a very sensitive human being. In some ways Freud’s troubled relationship with the aging authoritarian father, and with the soft-spoken, kind, forthcoming, and warm mother, does explain a lot about his thinking about human life.
Very soon after he was born, they moved away from Freiberg. First briefly they were in Leipzig and then they moved to Vienna, and this is where Sigmund Freud received his education. In 1873 he enrolled at the University of Vienna. He was studying law for awhile. He got very bored with it. So he shifted into medical school, and received his medical degree in ‘81, and worked in the major university hospital in Vienna, which is called General Hospital.
In ‘85, very briefly he went to study to Paris. And this was very crucial for his change because he became interested here in neurology, and especially became interested in a therapy what French psychiatrists was use, and that was hypnosis, to treat hysteria. And sort of he came back to Vienna and he decided that he will now become a neurologist, interested particularly in hysteria, and will use hypnosis as a therapy.
He also married in ‘86–it was a lifelong and, you know, very peaceful marriage–Martha Bernays, who was a granddaughter of the chief rabbi of Hamburg. So he’s coming from a deeply Jewish family, but he himself had very little faith in his life. He began to practice psychotherapy, and he set up an office in Bergstrasse 19; 19 Bergstrasse in central Vienna. Here it is the house today where Sigmund Freud started to practice, and practiced there until 1938. And this is where psychoanalysis was born–so an important house.
Chapter 3. Psychoanalysis and Other Breakthroughs [00:14:06]
So after ‘86–right?–he began to collaborate with another psychologist, Joseph Breuer. And Breuer was not using the hypnotic method. What he did, he did something what he called “the talking cure.” This is something what you occasionally do, or your friends do with you. Right? If something is on your chest, then you call your friend and you say, “I need somebody to talk to.” Right? There is some real big trouble in you; you want somebody to listen. Right? Now this is exactly what Breuer did. He did ask his patients to talk to him. Right? And it turned out that this talking cure was very effective, as you’ve probably all experienced. Right? When something is on your chest and you have a good friend who’s willing to listen and does not rush to give you advice–right?–this is whom you want. Right? Just to listen and nod, to be sympathetic, and try to understand you and let you talk, and ask the good questions, but not to give advice. Right? That’s what Breuer discovered.
Well in 1895 they co-authored the book Studies in Hysteria. And now they actually in the book suggest that there must be a new therapy. Don’t put people asleep but make them talk and let them freely associate, and through this free association you throw words in. And then they’re beginning to freely associate to this world, you actually can uncover–they’re beginning to use the term–unconscious. There is an unconscious level in each individual, and with this free association you can dip into the unconscious. And, in fact, it was Freud who, in doing this, practicing this with patients, also began to understand that a lot of stuff in the subconscious has something to do with sexuality; that it is, you know, unsatisfied, unachieved sexual desires, which are kind of repressed into the subconscious. And when, through these free associations, he was digging into the unconscious, he began to discover a lot of sexual stuff.
And then one year later it is–right?–a very important day in the history of modern social thought. In 1896 he finally has a name for what he does, and he calls it psychoanalysis. And here it is. If you have not seen this picture yet, you should. This was the famous couch. That’s where the patient had to lay down, and Freud was sitting in an armchair and listening to what they got to say, and asking just a couple of probing questions.
But the essence of psychoanalysis is–right?–that you do not solve the problem for the patient. The patient has to find its own solution. The psychoanalysis will know what the problem is eventually, will lead you there, bring it from the subconscious into the conscious, and then it is, as it becomes conscious, you suddenly realize you can deal with it.
Now about the later work, just very briefly; it’s voluminous. In 1899 he published a book which is called Interpretation of Dreams. And it’s to a large extent his analysis of his own dreams, but also the dreams of some of his patients. His father just passed away, and with the death of the father he had a great deal of guilt, why he had this hate feeling of his father. It was a hate/love relationship, but strongly motivated by hate. And he began to analyze himself and trying to figure out what his problem with his father was, and what his relationship with the mother and father was. And Interpretation of Dreams is a very important step in this direction. And the fundamental idea in this path-breaking book, that in fact dreams are not accidental. Dreams are the time of this little window of opportunity when some of the stuff from the unconscious tries to come up into the conscious. So therefore what he did, he made people to remember their dreams, and then he tried to help them, from the material which was surfacing from dreams, to understand their subconscious.
In 1905 there is another major breakthrough. He’s publishing The Pathology of Everyday Life in which–you all know this term–the Freudian slippage; when somebody, just by accident, got something wrong, slips his tongue and says something differently than it should. Freud does show that very often it’s actually also the subconscious putting his head up; and it’s an indication what is in your subconscious, what is repressed in you. It was just not an error what you did. Right? Beyond these errors he can see the subconscious coming up.
And then, of course, the same year another major breakthrough–probably next to the discovery of psychoanalysis, the most important breakthrough–the “Three Essays on the Theory of Sexuality”. And now he is moving towards what some will say–call a pan-sexualist understanding of the mind. Well it’s probably pushing it too far; most who are do not believe in Freud. But there are still many, many people who do believe in Freud. Right?
There are people who practice psychoanalysis. You know, just ten, twenty years ago, everybody has his analyst. Right? Interestingly, I think somehow this is a little going out of fashion. But I think there are still people–you must know people–right?–who have their analyst–right?–and they go every other week to the analyst, lay down on the couch and they speak their mind, and then they’re kind of relieved. Well I would say if you have problems of depression, why don’t you try it? Actually I think it certainly does you less damage than taking these bloody pills, what can–no, not that psychoanalysis cannot cause you trouble. Because these psychoanalysts, of course, all know because of Freud’s theory of sexuality, that all these problems in us is depressed sexual desires, and everything has to do something with our early childhood experiences; for boys, with the love of your mother, and jealousy of your father and–right?–and with girls, the other way around. Well so if you go to an analyst, in no time you will start figuring out why you really, really hate your father, or you hate your mother. And well I’m not so sure that’s the best thing what can happen to you. But anyway, that’s what he was doing.
And he–in fact, he discovers I think an intriguing idea–and I think psychologists to this day are struggling with it, how much truth there is to it–the so-called Oedipus complex. And you know what the Oedipus complex is. King Oedipus, by accident, marries his own wife–own mother–and it turns out own mother–and that’s of course a big tragedy. Right? You are not supposed to–this is incest, which is–virtually all civilizations prohibit incest. Well, and this is Oedipus complex, that we are always in love with our parents of the opposite sex, and jealous of the other parent. Right? And the Oedipus complex also means that we have a desire to kill our father in order to have the love–in fact, sexual love–of our mother, if we are boys, and vice-versa for girls. Well I think everybody would agree this probably pushed the idea a bit too far, but there is clearly an interesting–a very important insight in the argument.
Then, in the later work, he is moving more towards metapsychology. Now he tries to explain the functioning of society, rather than just individual psyche. The first major step in this direction is 1913, when he published the book Totem and Taboo. And this is about the origins of a fairly primitive society–the transformation from a kinship network to a tribal, larger tribal society. And he explains in this book the origins of first complex society as the brothers come together and they kill their father. And the father exercised in the kinship relationship absolute power. And in fact he also believed that in these early kinship-based societies, there was even no incest taboo. So the father actually could have sex with his daughters as well. Now the brothers come together, they kill the father, and they create the first civilization. They’re beginning to repress desires and share power among themselves. That’s Totem and Taboo.
Then he writes two important conceptual pieces, “Beyond the Pleasure Principle”, 1920, and “Ego and Id”. And I asked you to read some of it, 1923, which are kind of important conceptual elements. And I think this all cumulated in his Civilization and its Discontents, 1930, which arguably, if you are not interested in individual psychology but the theory of society, this is his most important book. It was a very big success and has not been out of print ever since.
‘38, he has to leave Vienna. He had a similar hate/love relationship to the city of Vienna as towards his father, as many people did. But by ‘38, the Nazis took it over. Gestapo actually interviewed his daughter, beloved daughter, Anna, and sort of he saw the writing on the wall. It’s time to leave; if you are Jewish, you don’t want to live in the Third Reich. And he moves to London, and just a year later he actually commits suicide. It is an assisted suicide. His doctor helped him to get rid of the pain he was struggling with for a very long time.
Well, a bit about the psychoanalytic movement. Freud’s ideas were, of course, outrageous ideas, very controversial. Nevertheless very early on, already in 1902, there were a group of very young and able people, which included people like Sandor Ferenczi and Carl Jung and Ernest Jones, who wrote a wonderful biography of–the definite biography–of Freud. If you want, of course, a very pro-Freudian perspective, but read it, it’s a great book indeed. And they start together, in Bergstrasse 19, in Vienna, every Wednesday. This was called the Wednesday Psychological Circle.
Then in 1908 this becomes the Vienna Psychological Society–a bit of a misnomer because in no time it’s beginning to spread around the world. And there are psychoanalytic societies all over the world, until this very day. And if you want to become an analyst, it’s not enough to have a medical degree; you have to go through years of very rigorous training, what these psychoanalytic societies will monitor. Freud was also a very difficult person to get along. He basically had fallouts with everybody. First, probably the most important of his early associates, Adler; already in 1911 they break up. Then with Jung. Adler, Jung; next to Adler are the dominant figures of psychology in the first two or three decades of the twentieth century. Then even later on he breaks with Ferenczi, who was a pretty loyal guy, was not easy to get a fallout with him, but Freud managed this one. He could make enemies everywhere. Okay, then really the person who was running the show became his daughter, Anna Freud, who lived a long life and held up the torch and carried the cause of psychoanalysis.
Chapter 4. The Ego and the Id [00:29:26]
So let me have a look at the book on The Ego–not Ergo, I’m sorry, it’s The Ego and the Id. Right? This is a Freudian slippage, right? I have to correct this one. Well there are, he said–here is beginning to move. The initial idea is there is subconscious or unconscious and conscious elements what constitute the human sexuality. And now he wants to have a clearer conceptual apparatus to deal with this. And he has, well our perception system has three components. One is the ego, the other one is id, and the third one is superego. And we will deal with all of this. Right? And therefore what is interesting, what is the interaction between ego, id and superego. And Discontents and Civilization deals with this a great deal. He’s also talking about the two classes of instincts, what guides life, and that’s also important for Civilization and its Discontents.
Well he said initially we made a distinction between the conscious and the unconscious. And the idea of unconscious came from the theory of repression, that we have unconscious because some of the experiences we do not recall; for instance, our sexual desire towards our mother, which was prohibited, it’s pushed into our subconscious; and other unpleasant experiences in our life we want to forget and we put into subconscious. That’s repression. We repress undesired experience.
Here unconscious–right?–coincided with what is latent and what wants to become conscious, wants to enter the conscious. It’s only suppressed, and it is psychoanalysis which helps you to bring this into consciousness. But he said, “well all that is repressed is unconscious.” That’s quite true. You know? If you had bad memories, you tend to forget it and put it into the unconscious. But–the big discovery was–but not all that is unconscious is necessarily repressed. There are stuff in the unconscious which was there before it was in consciousness. He said the later, which is unconscious only descriptively, not dynamically–dynamically meant it was depressed. But there is an element of subconscious which is there only descriptively. Right? This is what he called preconsciousness; before–it was never in the conscious. Right? It is just deep down in you. And well and he said, “We restrict the term unconscious to the dynamically unconscious repressed.”
And now the two, this repressed unconscious and the preconscious, together will constitute, I suppose, the id. Now we can now turn, have different concepts now, Freud said, conscious, preconscious and unconscious, and the question is what is the relationship between those? So what is ego? He said, “Each individual, there is a coherent organization of the mental process, and this is what we call ego.” Right? Well it is to this ego that consciousness is attached. What is consciousness in us is what is ego. He said, “It is also a mental agency”–right?–“which supervises and constitutes the process of thinking”; he said, “which goes to sleep, but, at the same time, exercises control even over your dreams.” That’s your ego.
And the ego is the agents of repression. The ego will repress stuff which is in the way of the ego to act, that will push it into the unconscious. Well he said, “Therefore our therapy was to try to bring into the ego what was unconscious”–right?–“and what was repressed.”
But there is something else which is not repressed, which also has a very important drive, and this is id. Right? Id is what is deeply down in your–those desires, the drives which come out of you. And they are not–some of it is not, has never been repressed. It is just by nature in you, for instance sexual drives. Right? “So I propose to call the entity, which starts out from the system preconscious and begins by the preconscious, the ego, and call the other part of the mind, into which this entity extends and which behaves through it as if it were unconscious, the id.” It’s unconscious but not repressed; or a combination of repressed and preconscious.
Well he said, “The ego is very sharply separated from the id. It’s really the id is below the ego.” And that’s a very–this is probably the best to grasp, what he said: “The ego’s relationship to the id is like a man on a horseback”–right?–“after the rider is obliged to guide the horse where the horse wants to go.” Right? This is the id. Right? So the ego will be on the horse–the horse is the id–but occasionally if you don’t want to follow the horse, you let the horse go where the horse wants to go. Right? You try to control the horse, but there is so much you can do, about the horse. It’s a very important idea in mature Freud.
And then there comes the superego. Right? He said, “The ego is not merely a part of the id.” Right? “There also exists a grade in the ego which may be called the ego-ideal, or the superego.” Right? And the part of this ego is firmly connected to the consciousness. And well the superego–right?–is the, he said, “is part residue of earlier object choices of the id, but it represents an energetic reaction formation against those choices.” It is what tells you what you should be, not what you are. The ego tells you who you are. Right? The ego tests the world of reality and tests what you can achieve under the conditions of reality. Right? The superego is that part of your consciousness which actually will tell you that what you should be. Right? Adam Smith, you remember Adam Smith, the theory of moral sentiment. There is somebody inside of you who is watching you and makes a judgment on you whether this is right or wrong. The idea of superego is very similar–right?–to this Adam Smithian idea.
Well psychoanalysis, he said, was criticized for ignoring the higher values in human life and talking only about sex and so on and so forth. He said, “This is all wrong; we are very aware of the existence of the superego. And there is a complex interaction between ego, id and superego.” Well the ego is essentially repressive. It essentially represents the external reality, the external world as such. The superego, on the other hand, represents the internal world, your own view what you would want to be, though you cannot be, partially because your drives are dirty–right?–and your ego does not let you to achieve that. Right? So actually what belonged to the lowest part of the mental life–right?–this suppressed stuff, is turned into what is the highest in the human mind–right?–the superego.
Well there are also two classes of instincts. One instinct, what he discovered early in the work, is what he calls libido–right?–the sexual desire and the desire to live and survive and self-preservation. But there is another instinct in us; he discovers it somewhat later in life, and this is the death instinct, Thanatos. So there are Eros and Thanatos. One is what makes us live. The other is destructive, wants to bring us to death. And the human life and the human history can be understood as a struggle between the Eros and Thanatos, as such. Sadism is a good example of Thanatos, he said.
Chapter 5. Civilization and Its Discontents [00:40:02]
Okay, let me move to Civilization and Discontents. And there are the major highlights: about ego development, religion and purposes of life. Civilization as restriction of sexual life. About ego development. There is not that much I have to add or interpret here. Well he said the ego eventually evolves in us; it’s not just given in us. Right? It’s sharply differentiated. I can say, “This person has a strong ego.” You present your ego very strongly, and your id is being hidden from, if I can put it with Erving Goffman,–right?–the id is in the back stage. You don’t show it–right?–the id, but what you want to present is your ego. But this evolves gradually–right?–in the process of human development. You can see as ego gradually develops in a child and takes the form as it is.
And one important process in this, as you move away from the pleasure principles to the reality principle. Right? “Is there a purpose of human life?”, he asks. “Well only religion can answer, talk to you about the purpose of life. I, as a psychologist or a social analyst or social scientist, I cannot tell you what the purpose of life is.” What is the purpose of life now? He comes very close to the utilitarian idea. Right? We almost hear John Stuart Mill speaking to him. Happiness; we are all striving to be happy. Right? But unfortunately the problem is it is much easier to be unhappy than to be happy. Right?
And, because we are confronted with the problems, that in fact unhappiness is much likely to be our fate than achieve what we want to be, happiness. This pleasure principle is transformed into a reality principle. We say, “Well, that is the reality what we have to accept.” And we have to escape this. We need to have this reality principle to bring our unhappiness under control. To be able to survive the sufferings, we have to have a sense of reality. And this is the taming of the ego. This now becomes very close to Nietzsche, as close as Freud ever will be. Right? And the sublimation of instincts–that’s all what civilization is all about. Right? The feeling of happiness is derived from the satisfaction of wild intellectual impulses, untamed by the ego. The blond beast–right?–that’s where the real pleasure comes from.
But it has to be tamed. Right? Here it comes. Right? Very much the Nietzschean idea. And this is happening through the–if you want to escape it, then you do it, you become maniac, or intoxicated. If you cannot face the reality, then you drink. Right? It was too much, so I go to the pub and I order a double scotch–right?–and then I relax. Right? Intoxication is the way how to avoid reality; I get drunk. Many people get drunk. A very bad idea because actually it will make it worse. Your unhappiness, as soon as the first few minutes of happiness is past, will be just worse.
Well, and another way to do it is sublimation–right?–of the instinct–to suppress and ennoble in some ways these instincts that were–actually you move into the sphere of fantasies; you fantasize rather than live out your depressed desires. And this is the mechanism of fantasy, which creates art and science; and the most noble human activities are actually sublimated unsatisfied desires–right?–which came from the ego–came from the id; the ego confronted with reality and then suppressed it, and then was sublimated into these higher elements.
Well he has a very nice quotation from Goethe on an unpublished poem, and not surprisingly unpublished. This says: “The people who have science and art also do have religion. Those who do not have either science or art have to have religion.” Well it’s a very interesting idea. In fact, I don’t think it is totally obvious how you have to interpret it, especially the first part. I think there’s a way one can interpret the first sentence: Wer Wissenschaft und Kunst Besitzt hat auch Religion. It basically means well, you know, science and art is a sort of a religion, and if you are actually a scientist or an artist, you have your religion; you even don’t have to be religious. But if you have no science or no art, in order to make sense of the life you need religion. Right? And that’s–I think it’s not surprising that he never published the poem.
Well Freud pushes far. He’s also anti-religious, and he said well indeed religion is just mass delusion, because it does create the impression–right?–that you can actually mold reality; that there is purpose of life–probably not on this earth but beyond that–and you will be able to achieve that. That’s why he calls it ‘mass delusion’. You don’t confront reality. Right? You do not develop your reality principle sufficiently.
And, of course, he also calls this infantile; infantile because you create the figure of the god, the father god. And he said this is exactly the young infant’s reaction how to respond to danger, and the reality, to hope that you will get protections from your father. And he said this is exactly what religions are calling upon. My–you know, when you address God as “My Father.”
Okay, there are different sources of unhappiness. First of all the nature is a source of our unhappiness–is superior. And one part of nature is particularly a source of unhappiness: our own body. And, you know, if you are getting sick and old, like Freud did, you will appreciate more and more how much unhappiness comes from your body; what you don’t necessarily feel right now, but wait fifty more years and you will. Okay, and there is–the biggest unhappiness actually comes from human relations. It’s again something which resembles very much the young Marx–alienation, as alienated from your fellow human beings. And, of course, very much to Nietzsche–right?–that the problem is in human relations.
Well now the question is how on earth we can solve this problem of human relations? And because we have this big problem–right?–in human relations, people start blaming civilization, like Nietzsche did. And well but he said it is, in fact, conceivable that man in earlier ages, rather than in modernity, actually were happier than they are today. Well yes, noble savages–right?–the happiness in the state of nature, Rousseau. He said, “Well that’s not an unreasonable argument.”
But how does civilization develop? Well he said–suggests, he’s proceeding towards more and more control over the external world, but also towards extension of the number of people included in the community; therefore more and more control over other people. Right? This is sort of civilization is a technology, how to be able to control more people; control nature and more people. Yes, we already talked about Totem and Taboo. You will see these on the internet. Anyway, all culture, all civilizations, are coming from repression. And this is a very important insight; very similar to Nietzsche’s critique–right?–of morality. And in particular civilization restricts sexual life.
Well the important aim of civilization, to bring many people together into a society. And the limit of uninhabited [correction: uninhibited] sexual love. Right? It restricts sexual life. He said this was–the high mark was reached in Western European civilization. It’s again almost–you read almost Nietzsche–right?–here. A choice of an object is restricted to the opposite sex, and most extra-genital satisfactions are forbidden as perversion. But even heterosexual genital love is restricted. Only sexual relationship, on the basis of solitary, indissoluble bond between one man and one woman is what is accepted in Western civilization, not in other civilization. And that is the most repressive system of sexuality. Right? Well–right?
And there is actually more to it, rather than repression of sexuality. You know? It has to restrict all other kind of drives which is coming from the id. It teaches you–right?–to love your neighbor and even your enemy, which is in his view–right?–impossible. But well we have to control somehow aggressivity. Homo homini lupus; man is the wolf of man. Right? This is kind of Hobbesian theory of human nature–deeply down we are actually.
There is also a critique of Marx. Marx thinks there is an easy solution. You eliminate private ownership and homo homini lupus will be solved. He said this is naïve, this does not happen. Well I don’t have time to work on this, though it’s a very interesting idea: Nazism, and why you dislike particularly which is close to you. Well I think I’ll probably just have to leave this here, and just finish with the note suggesting that he is actually very troubled. He shows the repressive nature of civilization, but he does not want to buy into the Nazi anti-civilization. Right? And he said, “Well I am not suggesting the superego is not necessary–superego is necessary–but I’m concerned about the superego to be tyrannical.” Right? “And let’s try to find a middle way”–right?–“in which let’s not be naïve. The id gives bad impulses and they have to be controlled by the superego, but the superego can go too far and too much.” So kind of tries to walk a narrow way between Marx and Nietzsche. All right? Thank you.
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