Saturday, April 2, 2016

Civilization and Its Discontents by Sigmund Freud Annotations and Other Notes Part 1

This is something of an anomaly when it comes to ever approaching a book with annotations but when it comes to serious material like Civilization and Its Discontents it is warranted, what with my fondness for philosophical writings and the psychological.

Right off like in Interpretation of Dreams (which I read in 2006), Sigmund Freud, is a master at getting your attention and attacking the discourses brought to mind on his book's title. He begins with relating that due to society's constraints we all invariably develop certain discontents. All brought out in, us, due to our search for happiness or experience of trying to diminish as much as pain as possible in our lives, all while we live under the system created by society. How people approach this is vastly complex and often riddled with struggles. 

Let's get to it. Sigmund Freud mentions there are a couple of paths open to people of all walks of life in order to attain happiness and they are:

#1: Distancing people in life so that you do not get hurt. If you do not get hurt that can be called a type of happiness. 
#2: Using intoxicants like drugs and beer or any alcohol. These though can be detrimental in the long-term not only to your psyche but to others close to you.
#3: Another method to happiness Sigmund Freud brings up is one used more commonly by artists and scientists/inventors. That is creative outlets that artists and scientists employ by way of sublimating their imagination or inner impulses. All in a creative way rather than a way that is socially unacceptable. The interesting thing here is that this path actually somehow can relieve the stress or misery of other individuals. A perfect example is when people listen to music and find solace in it. While on another spectrum is when people read books and they heavily derive pleasure from reading a good story. 

The only problem is even art can only do so much. It's limited. It's not strong enough to keep away people's misery and thus technology, books, music, and all other artistic pursuits are defective. At best temporary. Even more daunting is the fact that even creative individuals are limited in the amount of pleasure they get in creation simply over the reason that those who create cannot really derive as much pleasure from creating than giving in to the full-on original impulses they may have had. Sure creating gives them some enjoyment but it is not the same as having given in to the original impulse.
#4: Those who will be hermits or recluses. This is almost like #1 but here a hermit has completely renounced human contact with everyone in society. The bad thing is many people will frown down upon those who pursue this option simply for the seeming madness it seems to suggest. Needless to say, for any one who wishes to pursue this option things will not end pretty.
#5: Finding happiness or avoidance of pain through falling in love and eventually giving in to sexual love. It's interesting that Sigmund Freud mentions this is the most healthy option since it actually fully activates the natural impulses humans have in the most natural way. Though he does bring up even this option could be potentially filled with pain if for some reason your lover stops loving you or he/she dies.
#6: Those who pursue aesthetic beauty. It's not surprising that throughout the eons people may have had an interest in visually appealing things. Perhaps over us attaining pleasure or satisfaction from it. It's strange, indeed, since beauty for beauty's sake contains no real value but nonetheless as humans we are drawn to it whether in art, film, music,or literature.
#7: Finally, while I personally and even Sigmund Freud would agree this is not a good logical option. This option has to be mentioned since even today some people though misguided choose it. And it is religion. Those who are religious whether in Christianity, Buddhism, Hinduism, Islam, or Judaism are essentially stating they are willing to give in to having some hope in the unknown simply because through this they will be part of a collective experience and through this they wont have to be alone. Unfortunately like Sigmund Freud mentions it is infantile thinking simply because some individuals are basically saying they are willing to kneel to religion out of the hope of gaining some amount of happiness on the basis of looking forward to an afterlife that might possibly not even exist. Either that or basically feeling like you need others to complete you. In this case, it seems you have no belief in yourself and need others to make your worth which seems all very saddening, indeed. It's very distorted thinking in my opinion but that is all I can say since at the end of the day people should come to their own conclusions as to why religion is obviously flawed. 

Therefore here are some lines that I believe perfectly illustrate the point of why religion is flawed in one's search for happiness or diminishing of pain:

Religion interferes with this play of selection and adaptation by forcing on everyone indiscriminately its own path...-Sigmund Freud

Its technique consists in reducing the value of life and distorting the picture of the real world by means of delusion-Sigmund Freud

Personally these insights from Sigmund Freud are not entirely new to me since I do employ #1, #2, and #6 in daily life, but I did get better perspective on them through reading Civilization and Its Discontents.

You can buy Civilization and Its Discontents off on Digital

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