In The Future Of An Illusion, Sigmund Freud Gives A Genealogical

1541 WordsApr 26, 20177 Pages
In The Future of an Illusion, Sigmund Freud gives a genealogical account of religion in which he describes the religious illusion being born out of mankind’s inherent state of helplessness. Religion sedates the masses through a childlike neurosis, where deity plays the role of the surrogate father, offering protection and comfort, allowing culture to maintain the status quo. However, despite the significant role of the religious illusion for both society and the individual, Freud is optimistic that it can be overcome and replaced by scientific and secular ideals. In this essay, I will give an account of Freud’s pessimism regarding the problem of religion, which is expressed through his genealogical account of religion and the concerns…show more content…
The realities of nature and fate plague the existence of every man and from which they are powerless to escape. The most salient is the “painful riddle of death”, for no man can escape the reality of his eventual annihilation. As a result, man, in his most helpless and desperate state, attempts to combat these natural forces by humanizing them. In this way, man may defend, rebel, appease, and bribe these inevitable forces. This process of humanizing nature culminates in the attribution of father-like characteristics to nature. In doing so, man creates a surrogate father in deity. This deity offers protection, wish fulfillment, and answers to life’s most prudent questions. In this state, man becomes docile and submits to the demands of culture. Based on this genealogical account of religion, Freud’s interlocutor voices skepticism over the possibility of mankind outgrowing the religious illusion. First, he argues that the moral system of culture depends on the religious illusion, without it chaos would erupt. Reason is incapable of suppressing the instinctual desires of man; only the word of God is capable of that task. Therefore, we should follow the philosophy of “As if”, that is to say, we must adhere to the religious illusion as if it were true, for the practical maintenance of society. Second, if man is in a state of perpetual childlike neurosis, then to deprive him of the illusion that sustains it
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