Freud - Essay Example

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The definition of civilization as a process existed in the classical period. It was defined as an act of refinement of cultures, characters, perceptions and political times. This is because the lower…
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Task: Civilization and Discontents Civilization can be defined both as a means to an end or an end in itself. The definition of civilization as a process existed in the classical period. It was defined as an act of refinement of cultures, characters, perceptions and political times. This is because the lower caste of these societies were viewed as barbaric and lived below ample standards of what quality life meant. However, in modern times civilization is described as an end. It is expressed as the state of advancement of society in terms of culture, science, technology, literature, intellect, social relations and political systems Civilization, as a word, can be used to express refinement or a period in history.
It is worthy, first, to understand the need for civilization and its importance in qualitative measures and quantitative measures. Civilizations were established to improve modes of relationships among human beings. This was because, in the prehistoric times, an action of an individual was guided more by his instincts and wishes. Apart from that, civilization was meant to improve material prosperity of individuals. This was obtainable through improvement of science and technology, which in turn increased their economic productivity.
Freud argues that the objective of such changes was due to the inherent human trait of search for happiness. The search for happiness is achieved by what he describes as utility and yields of pleasure (Freud 41). However, he states that such an effort is always a futility, as an increase in happiness is never achieved. Civilization is thus not responsible for human happiness.
Friedman’s main argument primarily focuses in religion. He describes religion as an imposed delusional feeling that seeks to detach individuals from reality. This feeling, however, cannot be depicted scientifically. It operates in the idea that suffering of the human community can only be alleviated by a trust to an external source of help. In trying to achieve this, individuals escape the reality of their lives. The problem of religion in this case is that it imposes only one way of attainment of happiness. In reality, ways of attaining satisfaction should be many and, thus, the individual is tied to his misery if that one way fails (Freud 32).
Second, Friedman also discusses art as a source of unhappiness among individuals. Art’s affectivity relies on the imagination of creative people who release their pieces of work for consumption by these individuals. Through art, individuals try to master reality by creating images of how it is suppose to be. However, reality is always too strong for such fantasies and the individual involved never achieves his satisfaction. In relation to this, he attributes work as a cause of anxiety and exhaustion. Individuals are made to strive towards societal set standards of success. The individual ignores happiness, which one is striving after, and believes that achieving such a goal will make one happy. This is rarely true as the individual mostly ends up frustrated (Freud 27).
Third, Friedman argues that the pursuit of technology and science does not ensure equal satisfaction among individuals. People aim at manipulating the world through science and technology (Freud 35). They in turn grow towards attaining god-like character, which is never a guarantee for their happiness. The concept of these technologies, ironically, tends towards valuing natural concepts such as beauty and order. This means that the civilization itself cannot achieve its purpose without considering basic ways of attainment of happiness. Closely related to this, is man’s aim at orderly social relationships of societies. These orderly societies create conflict between an individual’s wishes and the societies’. Consequently, an individual’s happiness is compromised.
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Freud, Sigmund. Civilizations and its Discontents. New York, NY: Hogarth Press, 1962. Print. Read More
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