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Transcript of Freud
The "Oceanic Feeling"
This song, sung by Bruce Cockburn, is reflective of Freud's work. The line "Trying to beat the system of the world's events gets you nowhere" portrays Freud's belief that civilization is a necessary evil - without it human instincts would cause our race to be destroyed, especially due to the death instinct. Men are unhappy with civilization due to the restraints it places upon man which inhibit his quest for happiness, causing some to see life with a "black outline, sliding gray scale". However, civilization has become a fundamental means of how humans are able to function.
civilization controls the human pursuit of pleasure
how then can we balance freedom and civilization?
humanity will devolve into chaos without any control
how much control is too much control?
Civilization vs. Uncontrolled Instinct
What it means:
When humans are left uncontrolled , they pursue pleasure with reckless abandon
The id is too powerful for the ego and superego to always control, which is problematic because then primal instincts take over
Violence, sexual instincts, and uncontrolled anger result when the id is allows to run free
The creation of civilization helped keep the id in check
Laws, government, the state, and more work concurrently to tame humanity
The persistence of crime, in the form of murder, assault, robbery, sexual assault, and more prove that humanity needs to be controlled
A government like that of Russia during the communist regime, though, represents the government having too much control
A balance between control and freedom has to be found so that humans can coexist and progress.
Freud & Guilt
Freud describes civilization as largely responsible for our misery and the root of many threats it theoretically repels.
But this is a necessary evil - man cannot control urges of Thanatos and needs civil law to curb instincts.
No instinct and no civilization is preferred - we are trading portions of happiness for portions of security.
Also known as Thanatos
Human instinct of aggression and self-destruction
Instinct in opposition to Eros
Also opposes civilization
The 'Death' Instinct
"...we have much greater difficulty in grasping [the death] instinct; we can only suspect it, as it were, as something in the background behind Eros, and it escapes detection unless its presence is betrayed by its being alloyed with Eros." (110)
Eros vs. Thanatos
EFT GROUP 4: uncivilized M.E.S.S.
What it Means:
In 1123, Romain Rolland wrote a letter to Freud
He spoke of a universal Oceanic Feeling
Freud has not experienced this feeling
He concludes it must be a vestigial feeling left over from infancy.
Guilt arises when an individual perceives they do something bad.
It is the internalization of punishment.
Freud describes it as the tension between the strict super-ego and the ego.
"Then follows the erection of an internal authority, and instinctual renunciation due to dread of it—that is, dread of conscience. In the second case, there is the equivalence of wicked acts and wicked intentions; hence comes
the sense of guilt, the need for punishment."
"It is always possible to bind together a considerable number of people in love, so long as there are other people left over to receive the manifestations of their aggressiveness" (98)
The Struggle Between Eros and Thanatos
"The death instinct must collaborate with Eros through the fence-pole of civilization along which the two vines can grow." -Dr. J.
Pleasure vs. Security
What it means:
"Civilized man has exchanged a portion of his possibilities of happiness for a portion of security" (100)
The Oceanic feeling results from the lack of distinguishing between the self and the surrounding environment. The Oceanic feeling is tied back to earlier times. Infantile helplessness carried over to adulthood for some people who were not able to fully become independent. People who have not let go of the vulnerability of childhood.
Understanding this as a religious feeling came later.
What it Means:
results in destructive and aggressive actions bringing "high degree of narcissistic enjoyment"
often displayed along with Eros through sadism and masochism
To render the human desire for aggression, one's aggressiveness is internalized towards one's own ego, forming the super-ego/conscience
the creation of a community is based upon an "aim-inhibited" love
love for neighbors and members of the community bind everyone together
human interaction is based upon the love for humans by humans
Three Main Characteristics:
Man controlling nature
Love and Community
Civilization is the embodiment of this struggle. It is the fence-post. While it limits freedom to fully exercise Eros, it simultaneously prevents Thanatos from overcoming and subsuming the individual.
What it means:
Rather than base a community upon nationalism or cultural affiliation, Freud claims that communities are held together by love
This is an intriguing idea that escapes notice in most of today's society
The "aim-inhibited" love is a non-sexual form of love that forms between humans, stemming more from mutual respect and regard for human life
"Aim-inhibited" love keeps civilization alive and running because people are able to rely upon each other and can count on help from other
Freud's Renewed Ideas
Freud moves toward viewing civilization as a means for developing the superego and a conscious. The development of guilt as an internal way of controlling immoral instincts is a vitally important part of human development.
Freud's Thought Process
Freud begins with the necessity for civilization to control human impulses of the id. Civilization is a means for curbing the primal instincts of humans. However, we see Freud change his mind through his discourse.
Civilization and Its Discontents: The Song
"Civilization is a process in the service of Eros, whose purpose is to combine single human individuals, and after that families, then races, peoples and nations, into one great unity, the unity of mankind" (111).
"The meaning of the evolution of civilization is no longer obscure to us. It must present the struggle between Eros and Death, between the instinct of life and the instinct of destruction, as it works itself out in the human species... the evolution of civilization may be simply described as the struggle for life of the human species" (111).
The human quest for pleasure conflicts with their additional desire to avoid pain. Pleasure often comes as a rush that results from taking risks. Pain too is a result of risk.
"The love which founded the family continues to operate in civilization both in its original form, in which it does not renounce direct sexual satisfaction, and in its modified form as aim-inhibited affection. In each, it continues to carry on its function of binding together considerable numbers of people, and it does so in a more intensive fashion than can be effected through the interest of work in common." (pg. 57)
"Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself"
"Love is something valuable which ought not to be thrown away without reflection" (91).
"It is an injustice to [the people that one prefers] if [one] puts a stranger on a par with them" (92)
A person cannot possibly love any other person as himself unless he deserves it (most are unworthy) - qualifications include
"if he is so like me in important ways that I can love myself in him" (91).
"if he is so much more perfect than myself that I can love my ideal of my own self in him" (91).
There is not enough love within a person to feel equal amounts of love towards every person which are also equal to the love one feels for oneself
Loving one's neighbor could be dangerous if they do not return such love to oneself - "men are not gentle creatures who want to be loved" (94).
As the love commandment places upon man a feat that cannot be accomplished, it is a cause of great unhappiness and discontent.
What it Means:
Freud's understanding of the nature of guilt is essential to understanding of both the individual and civilization. He draws a comparison between the conscience and civilization- both have mechanisms (guilt & punishment) to prevent any perceived wrongdoing.
Can't Fight This Feeling
"And I can't fight this feeling anymore
I've forgotten what I started fighting for
It's time to bring this ship into the shore
And throw away the oars, forever."
While written as a love song, this is also applicable to the 'oceanic feeling' as described by Rolland and also the struggle between thanatos and eros, which will be addressed later.