Freud's View of Civilization

Topics: Death drive, Epic of Gilgamesh, Libido Pages: 7 (2423 words) Published: April 14, 2005
Freud's view of civilization emerges from his understanding of the struggle between Eros and Death. Freud expresses the existence of two contrary instincts, Eros and Death, via starting from the speculations on the beginning of life and biological parallels. While Eros preserves the living substance and joins it into larger units, such as societies, Death dissolves these units and brings them back to their primeval state. The death drives appear to be regressive, striving for a return to a less differentiated, less organized state of tensionlessness. In contrast, Eros (which embraces sexual and life-preserving instincts) is progressive in seeking ever more differentiated forms of organized life and even the widening of differences in it as between the organism and its surroundings. Freud explains the life as concurrent or mutually opposing action of, and therefore balance between Eros and death instincts. Beside this, civilization works with Eros in order to combine individuals to form families, then families to form nations and then great unity of mankind. Actually, the founding of families aroused from the permanent need of male for genital satisfaction. As a result of this, the male wanted his sex object, the female near him, while also the female did not want to leave from her children and had to stay with the stronger male. After that, the sons discovered that a union could be stronger than a single individual by overpowering their father. Because of that, the sons imposed some restrictions to work to each other in order to preserve the new state. Therefore, there are two foundations of the communal life of the human beings: the power of love between man and woman, and woman and her child, and the compulsion to work created by external necessity. The first one of these foundations is the result of Eros and the other is the result of the death instinct, which serves for Eros to combine individuals. However, in most cases death distinct opposes to civilization because of the results of death instinct. Because the death instinct directs towards the external world and it occurs as an instinct of aggressiveness and destructiveness. In this way the instinct enters the service of Eros, such that the organism destroys other things instead of destroying itself. However, restriction of these instincts directed towards other things speeds up the process of destroying itself. In civilized society, we have restrained our inclination to aggression through the rule of law and the imposition of authority (both internal and external), to ensure the maximum security and happiness for all. While we originally entered society precisely to be protected from nature, escape the forces of mutual aggression and self-destruction, the necessity to thwart our aggressive instincts has caused great unhappiness and development of guilt. In addition, Freud supports that the civilization is largely responsible for our misery and we should be much happier if we return the primitive conditions. Because the aggressiveness caused by death instinct is tried to repress by the rule of law, imposition of the authority or ongoing result of these, superego. Freud identifies an overwhelming sense of guilt as one of the central problems threatening modern civilization since individuals have consequently begun to rebel against civilization with an aggression that exceeds the level of aggression originally suppressed, threatening the disintegration of society, and attributes it to the operation of the superego, an internal psychical agency that monitors the intentions and actions of the ego, keeping the aggressive instincts of the latter in check. Essentially, the aggression that was initially directed outside of the self is redirected into the self. A part of the ego separates from the rest to form the superego. Conflict between the ego and superego creates guilt, a need for punishment. Another term for the superego is conscience. Freud traces the formation of...
Continue Reading

Please join StudyMode to read the full document

You May Also Find These Documents Helpful

  • Essay about Freud's View of Religion
  • Freud's Essay
  • Factors on civilization Research Paper
  • Civilization and its discontents Essay
  • The Foundation of Modern Civilization Essay
  • Contradiction of Civilization Essay
  • The View Essay
  • Examine Freud’s View of Religious Belief. Essay

Become a StudyMode Member

Sign Up - It's Free