Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Sigmund Freud, Civilization and Its Discontents

I swear I started reading this book months prior, but I only just completed reading it.

It was a book assigned for one of my philosophy classes at UVA. (Of course, I didn't actually read it when it was assigned.) I think it was mainly used to illuminate Freud's Pleasure Principle that simply states that people seek pleasure and avoid pain and that is the only true motivation in life. I tend to agree with that idea that all actions a person takes in life are a result of maximizing pleasure and minimizing pain. Now, the definition of "pleasure" and "pain" is hardly concrete, but I'm not going to get into that.

In general, I like Freud's ideas on civilization as it relates to the individual. And I tend to agree with his point of view that civilization isn't really the best thing to happen to man, but what is one to do about it? Plus, the idea of a neurotic civilization is a real riot!

There are a lot of interesting ideas in this work of Freud. I think it's something that I'll be picking up again in the future. But I'll conclude with a quote that pretty much sums up my view on civilization...

"The liberty of the individual is no gift of civilization. It was greatest before there was any civilization, though then, it is true, it had for the most part no value, since the individual was scarcely in a position to defend it."

With this I'm likely to believe that there must not be a single novel thought in my head.

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