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 Civilization and Its Discontent Study Guide (Choose to Continue)

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Civilization and Its Discontent : Chapter 4

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Summary of Chapter IV

Freud gives the history of how primal man evolved civilization to improve his life. Love and necessity were the two ingredients of civilization. Families were part of the ape-like prehistory of human civilization. It became obvious that banding together for work was also helpful but required new behavior. Sexual love as the strongest instinct and greatest pleasure made genital eroticism a central goal, but a love-object is not a stable focus for society because of possible loss. Though sexual love is the basic love of civilization, it had to become sublimated and differentiated into different bonds, such as parents and children, siblings, co-workers, and so forth. It is a paradox. On the one hand, civilization has to inhibit sexual expression, and on the other, the sex-love drive is responsible for the growth of larger groups. Once the larger groups form, the primal sexual energy has to be withdrawn from individuals and families for the use of society's aims.

 

Commentary on Chapter IV

Freud assumes that sexual love is the primary sort of human love and that all other love is sublimated or “aim-inhibited affection” (p. 49). This means the sex drive is transformed into affection for various people without the aim of having sexual relations with them, though sex is the most basic biological urge. The idea of sublimation of sexual love into universal love as taught by the church was one way to solve the problem, but Freud thinks this is a mistake, because it does not discriminate whether a person is worthy of love. It is not possible to love every neighbor as oneself, and it rarely happens. Instead, people inhibit their sexual desire and store it in the unconscious where it causes problems.




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