Civilization and Its Discontents
December 19, 2009 5 Comments
I’ve been reading Civilization and Its Discontents, which is one of the last pieces of literature written by Freud and considered to be one his best. Difficulty of reading any historical psychological research is in its scientific relevancy, which Freud avoids in this work by focusing on the knowns rather than speculate on the uknowns.
The punchline if you haven’t guessed from the title is that civilization as a construct is destructive to the happiness of the individual. Reason for this is in order to live in a society one has to suppress libidinal instincts and live within rules that are counterintuitive to the human psyche and condition. In order for man to work and focus on non narcissistic pleasures we establish order and redirect pleasure towards other engagements such as love for family, neighbor, etc. This then becomes the strongest source of discontent. There is even greater discontent in the destruction made possible by cultural formations. Because of the cohesive unity between families, nationalities, nations, continents, there has been massive brutalities committed across the world.
This leads to some questions; would we be better off in an uncivilized society? how will civilization evolve in our modern and highly interconnected world? what do you think?