Comparing the Views of Socrates and Sigmund Freud's 'Civilization and Its Discontents'

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Socrates on Civilization and Its Discontents Instinctual Drives and Appetites Freud says that life is the individual's quest for instinctual freedom, which is denied to him by society. He calls this quest for instinctual freedom the "programme of the pleasure principle". (Freud, 8). The pleasure principle is satisfied through gratification of the individual's instincts. However, what Freud calls primordial, instinctual drives which man must express at the cost of his own sanity are merely appetites, base passions of the body. (Freud, 8). These base passions, these instincts are not to be satisfied through gratification but to be transcended through reason. Man's quest in life is to know the good, obtaining virtue through that knowledge, and deriving happiness from virtue. The Repression of Man's Essential Nature by Society Freud believes that people are forced to repress instincts by society and would otherwise behave as beasts. This is reminiscent of Glaucon's claim that morality is only a social construction, the source of which is the desire to maintain one's reputation for virtue and honesty. This claim was illustrated through Glaucon's tale of the Ring of Gyges, where the just are given a ring which makes them invisible, with which to proceed to do all of the things they are restricted from doing while visible, such as stealing, killing, and sleeping with anyone at his pleasure. (Plato, 360b). Hence, if the fear of man's judgment and retribution by society were

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