The Meaning Of Religion Essay, Research Paper
In Sigmund Freud s book, Civilization and Its Discontents, his explanation of society s drive towards violence and death helps signify the importance of the book s title. Freud believes that people have a deep desire for violence and death and that society uses any opportunity to satisfy those desires. Those desires, since they are not always fulfilled, are what keep civilization from being content.
Freud points to the history of human life and sees a huge amount of violence and destruction. He believes the reason that society puts so many restrictions on sexuality is that it is trying to take sexual energy and convert it to a more general love for humans, which can then help counteract our destructive drives and thus make us more content. But he thinks that these efforts to counteract our violent tendencies have had very little success.
Freud further explains his reasoning about civilization and its discontents by saying that it is our struggle for life over death that keeps society going. He writes, and now, I think, the meaning of the evolution of civilization is no longer obscure to us. It must present the struggle between Eros and Death, between the instincts of life and the instincts of destruction, as it works itself out in the human species. This struggle is what all life essentially consists of, and the evolution of civilization may therefore be simply described as the struggle for life of the human species. What this means is that civilization will always be fighting between life and death. Freud therefore suggests that since civilization will never win the fight of Eros, people will always be discontent.
In conclusion, Freud s book explains his thoughts on how civilization will never reach an absolute happiness because of its struggle against its own primitive nature. The struggle that Freud describes is circular: civilization wants to be moral, so they fight against their instincts of violence and destruction, but in order to fight against these desires, one must use the same desires. Seeing that it doesn t make sense for civilization to combat violence and destruction with violence and destruction, Freud has good reason to believe that civilization will never be successful, or better yet, civilization will always be discontent.
When trying to decipher what is reality and what is not, one must turn to Rene Descartes philosophy for explanations. Rene Descartes once stated, “I am, [therefore] I exist.” This statement holds the only truth found for certain in life and because of that, all other self-proclaimed truths are problematic. This is because thinking about our thoughts is an automatic validation of these thoughts. However, this is due to the fact that it is easier for us to believe ourselves, even if we don t make any logical sense to anyone else. This would mean that our existence is a truth, and may be the only truth, causing all other truths to be false.
Descartes believes that it is from our experiences that we hold beliefs that we find to be our personal truths, but they may not be truths at all. From our experiences, we have learned to understand life with reason and logic; we have established our idea of reality; and we believe that true perceptions are what we sense and see. But it is our sense of reason and logic, our idea of reality, and our perceptions, that may be wrong. They are our personal beliefs, but they may not stand true to anyone else. This makes it very problematic to have a thought of reality because it shows that our reality is only true to the person that thinks it. Besides the established truth that we exist, there are no other truths that are certain because any subjective truth may be easily refuted.
Another reason that thinking about reality may be problematic is because every person possesses his or her own truth that may be contradicting to another person s belief. A truth, or one that is true for all, cannot by achieved because of the constant motion of circumstances of who said it, to whom, when, where, why, and how it was said. What one person may believe a dog is a man s best friend, another may believe that a dog is a man s worse enemy. Our perception of what is true depends on our own experiences, and how something becomes true for us. All perception, besides the perception of existence, is uncertain of being true for all individuals. Every thought, besides the idea that we think, has the possibility that it may be proven wrong. The ideas and objects that we encounter are determined true by personal evaluation in the relationships of those ideas and objects in connection with our being. The relationship of the ideas and objects in connection with another person s life may be different to my own beliefs, but this only makes them untrue to me and not to the other person.
“I am, [therefore] I exist,” Descartes said, may be the only statement with any validity of our certainty. We cannot test the validity of our reality, reason, logic, and perception in relation to all individuals, but we can test the validity of our existence by thinking, therefore, being.