Compare Freud, Plato, Hinduism Essay, Research Paper
Since the earliest civilizations such as The Indus Valley Civilization or the Ancient Greeks, humans created wonderful cities, cultures and made huge steps in science, technology, and thought. One of the oldest, if not the oldest civilization, is the Hindu civilization that offered its account of life, society, individuals and what it is that we humans search for in our lives through the sacred Vedic texts. Another great civilization is the Ancient Greek civilization, which produced a huge amount of works and schools of thought. One of the great philosophers of ancient Greece is Plato who arguably founded the first university in the world. Plato offered his own view on civilization, society, and individuals. Plato wrote many works and one of the most known ones is The Republic . After more than 2000 years Sigmund Freud offered his thoughts on civilization and its relation to the individuals in Civilization and its Discontents. While all these three accounts on society share the view that humans strive for happiness and try to shield themselves from pain and suffering, they differ in the methods they offer to achieve it. Plato favors a rigid control of individuals by social institutions and maintains that happiness is reached through the harmonium of the three parts of the soul. Hinduism disapproves of individualism and emphasizes desire and sense control. Freud maintains that the only way to happiness is through pleasuring our instincts, thus going against Plato and Hinduism. I believe that Freud offers the most accurate account of these three on the relationship between individuals and civilization because he gets into the very nature of humans and his theory maintains that only an unrestricted man can achieve full happiness.
Plato says in The Republic that the highest knowledge is eternal and does not change if our society changes, thus it is unaware of our level of civilization, for you have of been told that the idea of good is the highest knowledge, and that all other things become useful and advantageous only by their use of this. [505a]. Plato believes that individuals cannot achieve full enlightenment without a very restrictive, hierarchical society where the philosophers are the most suited to guide humans towards ultimate knowledge. Excess freedom to Plato is a very negative thing and contributes for worse to the well-being of the society. Continuing in this line of thought, Plato maintains that censorship is a very important tool in creating the ideal society Then the first thing will be to establish a censorship of the writers of fiction. [377c] Plato argues that happiness in an individual can be achieved if the three parts of the soul (in hierarchical order), the rational part, the spirited part and the appetitive part, are in harmonium and the lower parts of the soul are ruled by the above parts and so the rational part of the soul is the most advanced part of the soul and as such should control the other two.
Therefore, always perform your duty efficiently and without attachment to the results, because by doing work without attachment one attains the Supreme. (Bhagavad-Gita 3.19) Hinduism maintains that the soul doesn t die and the body serves only as a transportation medium. The birth, growth, and death are aspects of the body, not the soul. Atma acquires another body after death. (Bhagavad-Gita 2.13) The Atma is neither born nor does it die at any time, it never ceases to exist and it is eternal. Feelings that are perceived through our senses are only temporary and one who wants to be immortal should not pay attention to them but should fulfill his duties. One should also fulfill his duties without worrying about the results, detaching your actions from result. Only this way can one avoid incurring a sin. Attached actions are selfish and bring Karmic bondage, detached action leads one to nirvana and forbidden action is harmful to society. Thus Hinduism emphasizes on desire and sense control.
Freud undoubtedly believes that humans strive after happiness; they want to become happy and remain so. Happiness for Freud is the absence of pain and unpleasure, and the experiencing of strong feelings of pleasure. According to Freud, humans are biological beings guided by instincts and thus pain and unpleasure are experienced only through our sensations which in turn exist only through the way our organism is regulated. Freud seems to agree with Plato in that humans organized into societies are better prepared to protect themselves from two sources of pain which are our body and nature. In the same time Freud argues that society, through advancements in its civilization or methods for creating civilization is the third source of pain and the most difficult one to protect oneself from.
I believe Freud offers a more accurate account of the relationship of individuals with civilization than Hinduism or Plato. Freud builds upon Darwinism and accepts that humans have evolved and also their societies have evolved as well in that humans now control nature and its effects on them better than ever. But all these social and technological gains have introduced new restrictions upon our instincts and freedom thus keeping us from achieving happiness. Freud suggests that freedom to pleasure our instincts is the best way to be happy. Instead, Plato offers a very restrictive society where freedom is a negative aspect of life. Plato favors a strong control of humans by social institutions, which according to Freud are the very reason of our unhappiness. Plato contends that the ultimate truth can be achieved only by a few and the rest of men have to follow the dictate of those who understand the ultimate knowledge. Hinduism maintains that the soul is eternal and passes from body to body through birth and death. Knowledge is very important in Hinduism as well, as said by Lord Krishna: Even if one is the most sinful of all sinners, yet one shall cross over the ocean of sin by the raft of knowledge alone. (Bhagavad-Gita 4.36) Hinduism suggests that repressing our instincts and not paying attention to our senses leads one to achieve a superior stage in life where we know no suffering and we are in a state of tranquility. Hinduism is against individualism, the basis of Freud s analysis, and I believe individualism to be the only way to achieve more than just avoiding pain, to achieve happiness