Civilization and Its Discontents, by Sigmeund Freud Essay example

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“Civilization and Its Discontents” is a book written by Sigmund Freud in 1929 (originally titled “Das Unbehagen in der Kultur” or The Uneasiness in Culture.) This is considered to be one of Freud’s most important and widely read works. In this book, Freud explains his perspective by enumerating what he sees as fundamental tensions between civilization and the individual. He asserts that this tension stems from the individual’s quest for freedom and non-conformity and civilization’s quest for uniformity and instinctual repression. Most of humankind’s primitive instincts are clearly destructive to the health and well-being of a human community (such as the desire to kill.) As a direct result, civilization creates laws designed to prohibit…show more content…
Freud theorizes that this oceanic feeling is a regression into an earlier state of consciousness before the ego had differentiated itself from the world of objects. Freud also theorizes that the religious oceanic feeling arises from “the infant's helplessness and the longing for the father” and “imagine[s] that the oceanic feeling became connected with religion later on.” In other words, the oceanic feeling is not a genuine religious experience, though people experience it that way. Throughout the rest of the book, Freud addresses the conflict between civilization and the individual. He starts with the fundamental paradox of civilization: we created civilization as a tool to protect ourselves from unhappiness; however it is our largest source of unhappiness. He also points out that contemporary technological advances have been a mixed blessing for human happiness. He also asks what the purpose of civilization is if it is not to satisfy the pleasure principal. He later concedes that civilization has to make compromises of happiness to fulfill its primary goal of bringing people into peaceful relationships with each other, by making them subject to a higher, communal authority. Freud included a cornucopia of various themes in this book. The first of these is the recurring theme of the primal father and his psychological heritage. This is one of Freud’s most controversial cultural speculations. Freud proposes that human societies were
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