“Love Thy Neighbor as Thyself”
“Love thy neighbor as thyself.” The fundamental question is whether you love yourself or not. You can love the neighbor only if you love yourself. In the essay, Civilization and Discontents, Freud analyzes and evaluates the deeper meaning of the commandment, questioning the message and its affects on our society. By inquiring about the origins and cause of the commandment, Freud questions our very ability to love, and the root of our suffering. Freud evaluates the commandment throught an egotisitcal and negative perspective, trying to justify his thoughts in a realistic way. He opposes the idea of a universal love, dismissing it as wishful thinking and an idealistic view.
In his essay, Civilization and Discontents, Freud counters the commandment “Love Thy neighbour as thyself” stating that this responsibility and duty is what is preventing us from gratifying our desires. “My love is something valuable to me which I ought not to throw away without reflection.” (Freud p. 66) According to Freud, the commandment is impossible to fulfil, because such an enormous inflation of love can only lower its value. By loving ones neighbor as much as ones own family, is in a sense disrespect to the ones we love most. By providing and caring for strangers as much as we do ourselves, we would be exhuasted and drained of love. How is it possible to universally love all things created; and yet distinguish the ones we love most? This is Freud’s argument; that our society has needlessly added on to our suffering by, in a sense, punishing us with a pressure which cannot be fixed by loving “thy neighbour” but is in actuallity created from the very command of loving “thy neighbor”. The love life of the individual is concerned with the love-object, but society needs you to work for its aims, and so pulls you away via duty and responsibility from gratifying your desires. Freud realizes and acknowledges that a universal love is simply wishful thinking....
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