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Tuesday, May 5, 2020

The Discontents of Freud

Now that I am a certified pessimist, I can empathize with Sigmund Freud’s discontents—I am talking about his final book Civilization and Its Discontents in which he pours out all his pessimism: he examines the senseless slaughter of the First World War and the Russian communist revolution, and his own financial difficulties, his stomach ailments, his fight with cancer and presents a bleak picture of mankind. Life, he notes, is not being possible without suffering and that there are three ways by which a man might try to alleviate his suffering: first, intoxication; second, seclusion, which might not work for most people because we are, by nature, gregarious creatures; third, sublimation, which entails giving vent to aggressive impulses in socially acceptable ways (sports or work). He rejects the religious idea that man should love his enemies and agrees with the saying, homo homini lupus (man is wolf to man)—man is naturally inclined to enslave other men and to destroy all those who cannot be enslaved.

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