Saturday, April 9, 2016

Civilization and Its Discontents by Sigmund Freud Annotations and On the Meaning of Life Part 3

I now want to focus on the next step of notes I gleaned from reading Civilization and Its Discontents. As Sigmund Freud points out civilization may in fact have been a natural development of so many things working in the direction of human's natural propensity for progress. From man first seeking out sexual or amorous relations to in effect building families, this eventually would lead to the formation of closer knit groups out of necessity. Especially as he realizes that it is necessary so as to better achieve progress. And interestingly out of all this results aim-inhibited relationships (friendships) that are an expansion from sexual/love relationships. This all funnily enough helping to keep society together and further helping to sustain it. Unfortunately for humanity even this is not enough, partly out of an aggressive drive prevalent in all of us that suggests that is a natural instinct. Who knows about this? Though it is hard not to see the logic in it since even I detect certain aggressive drives in me and to be perfectly honest even I see this at times as unreasonable and illogical, but it happens. In other words, I can't help but strongly think Sigmund Freud was onto something. Thankfully with the growth of civilization and these aim-inhibited relationships as well as the building of a family unit, the aggressive drives in us all, is severely limited. Enough for us to function within its framework. Despite its problems that it brings for our search for happiness in its current web. And really I do not think it is all bad, the alternative could just as well be a far worse, perhaps even aimless fate.

Sigmund Freud actually summarizes it beautifully and eloquently:

However, this programme of civilization is opposed by man's natural aggressive drive, hostility of each against all and all against each. This aggressive drive is the descendant and principal representative of the death drive, which we have found beside Eros and which rules the world jointly with him. And now, I think, the meaning of the development of civilization is no longer obscure to us. This development must show us the struggle between Eros and death, between the life drive and the drive for destruction, as it is played out in the human race. This struggle is the essential content of all life; hence, the development of civilization can be described as humanity's struggle for existence.  

Eros: Sigmund Freud in my surmising meant it as love/sexual relationships human beings or the search for fulfillment in love. Destructive drive: I believe he is getting at our aggressive drives or impulses against ourselves or others that would seek to create havoc not only in ourselves but by hurting others. 

Thus it can be said that the rise of civilization stands as humanity's struggle between controlling its negative emotions, impulses, or drives versus its natural instinct for progress in either love or self-pursuit. Death vs. Life, if you will. Always an ongoing balance.

Of course, all this held up through the use of an artificially created moral code also known as morality. Usually it manifests as a sense of guilt in people. It first comes to us as we are younger and our own parents or friends instill it in us through interactions. Whenever we do something that is seen as unacceptable when young this can instill us with a sense of possibly a loss of love if we anger or displease one of them. While infantile it remains in our psyche as we grow. So that before long, when we are adults we carry it onward. Interestingly, whether one is guilty of having perpetuated a wrongdoing or just simply thinking about it, is enough to to cause your super-ego (as in the part of us that carries authority over governing respectable behavior) to see you as guilty. When this happens you are hit uncontrollably with negative emotions. That is if you do not have a weak conscience. That is why more virtuous people have stronger consciences and therefore a higher propensity of guilt. While this all points to a personality essentially nurtured in childhood this couldn't be completely correct, because even children with strict upbringings could potentially not show any effect. So if one has a weak or stronger conscience points to something more innate, something particular and unique to an individual. All vastly interesting. Not only that but morality and conscience found in us seems to all be a civilization construct. Very interesting, indeed.

Finally something not really surprising and that does make logical sense is that our strict conscience develops from our Oedipal complex (early sexual/love for our parents) and also our repressed aggressive impulses. It cannot be said enough that when our mind catches whiff of socially reprehensible thoughts it seeks to punish us with an internal authority created out of our childhood authority.

You can buy Civilization and Its Discontents off Amazon.com on Digital

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