Psychology of the Human Race

Civilization and its Discontents - Sigmund Freud

One of the good things about taking this online course about Modernism and Postmodernism is that I am being forced to read things that I would generally not read: Freud is one of them. Basically I have no real interest in Freud and after reading this booklet everything that I thought about Freud has pretty much been justified and I have no further interest in reading any more of him. Basically, as I have said before, and as I will say again, the guy is obsessed with sex and seems to think that sex is pretty much the be all and end all of everything. Okay, that might be putting things a little too simplistic, but in another way, the guy simply bases his entire argument on a purely physical view of the world and the spiritual simply does not exist.

The thing that struck me in this text (and there were a couple that do stick in my head) was how he looked on the concept of God the Father. To Freud he sees the concept of God, in particular the Christian God, as being a reflection of our identities with our fathers. Our father's give us birth and thus to Freud it is understandable that primitive man, who has no knowledge of the scientific world, to create a father figure in the form of God who created the world, and in creating the world, created us. This is not surprising coming from somebody who pretty much rejects the spiritual. For those of us who accept the spiritual, we see the physical father as being a reflection of the spiritual father, though to some of us that may not be a very pretty picture. A person who has a vengeful father will see God as being vengeful, and those of us who have a distant father will see God as being distant. However, God is in fact the perfect father, of which all Earthly father's are a pale reflection (and I see a Platonic concept coming out of that, with God being the perfect form of the father, and for those who know Plato, know that these forms aren't something that were conjured up in our minds, but actually existed).

Another thing that he talks about (Freud that is, not Plato) is the idea of relationships, and in particular love. The idea of civilisation, says Freud, is that it is a relationship between the whole, where as the idea of love (here referring to Erotic love, which I do not accept as a pure form of love) is a relation, exclusive, between two people. I note that even though Freud was very much a materialist, he only saw sexual attraction as occurring between two people, and that appears to be because he considers it to be a natural force that provides for the perpetuity of the human race. In a way he sees pride as being the desire to protect one self, while love is the desire to protect the race as a whole (and these two forces, while complimenting each other, also struggle against each other).

However, let me finish off with this concept of love, or more specifically, erotic love. Personally I do not believe that it exists. Love is an outward thing, and while I hear of the four words in Greek for love (storge – love of an object, or a passion for something; phillia – brotherly love; eros – sexual love; and agapae – sacrificial love) I do not believe that Eros is actually a form of love. It is a form of physical attraction, but it is not love, and the reason I say that is because it does not exist outside of any of the other loves, and it is not outward looking, but rather it is inward looking.

Okay, maybe it can be outward looking, but from Plato's source on love (the Symposium) it seems to be a desire to become one with a person, but it is still very much self-serving. The desire to become one with a person may be shared by both of those people, but it is still self serving for both of those people. Love is always outward looking, even if it is the love of sport (though that is also self serving, so that narrows it down to there being only two words in Greek for love). Therefore, the idea of erotic love, with the exception that it helps perpetuate the human race, is a contradiction in that it is not love, but rather that it is lust, even if this lust, or attraction, is a natural thing that enables us to perpetuate our race, and in the long run works for the survival of our race.