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New Meetup: Civilization and Its Discontents

From: Steve
Sent on: Thursday, January 7, 2010 8:43 PM
Announcing a new Meetup for Plato's Cave - The Orlando Philosophy Meetup Group!

What: Civilization and Its Discontents

When: Sunday, February 7,[masked]:00 PM

Austins Coffee
929 West Fairbanks Avenue
Winter Park, FL 32789

Civilization and Its Discontents (Sigmund Freud)


Civilization is limitless multiplication of unnecessary necessaries.
? Mark Twain

Civilization is a race between education and catastrophe.
? H. G. Wells

Civilization begins with order, grows with liberty and dies with chaos.
-Will Durant

It is only uncivilized world which would worship civilization.
?Henry s. Haskins

The path of civilization is paved with tin cans.
?Elbert Hubbard

Civilization is a movement and not a condition, a voyage and not a harbor.
?Arnold Toynbee

The aim of civilization is to make politics superfluous and science and art indispensable.
?Arthur Schnitzler

Civilization is the encouragement of differences. Civilization thus becomes a synonym of democracy. Force, violence, pressure, or compulsion with a view to conformity, is both uncivilized and undemocratic.
? M. K. Gandhi

The word 'civilization' [Kultur] describes the whole sum of the achievements and regulations which distinguish our lives from those of our animal ancestors and which serve two purposes?namely to protect men against nature and to adjust their mutual relations
- Sigmund Freud

What is Civilization and how does it shape the human mind?

Immanuel Kant saw civilization as a ceremonial aspect of culture, and saw culture as achieved by means of a sustained effort culminating in the great achievements of art and thought. In a more radical perspective, Friedrich Nietzsche saw civilization as subjugation and saw culture, in contrast, as the artistic and intellectual flowering of intact natures. The period between 1920 and 1939 saw the rise and spread of the idea of popular culture and the notion that culture is a means of fulfilling human life.

In "Civilization and Its Discontents", Sigmund Freud describes civilization and its paradoxical nature of being the tool we have created to protect ourselves from unhappiness but also our largest source of unhappiness. People become neurotic because they cannot tolerate the frustration which society imposes in the service of its cultural ideals. Sigmund Freud enumerates the fundamental tensions between civilization and the individual. The primary friction stems from the individual's quest for instinctual freedom and civilization's contrary demand for conformity and instinctual repression. Many of humankind's primitive instincts (for example, the desire to kill and the insatiable craving for sexual gratification) are clearly harmful to the well-being of a human community. As a result, civilization creates laws that prohibit killing, rape, and adultery, and it implements severe punishments if such commandments are broken. This process, argues Freud, is an inherent quality of civilization that instills perpetual feelings of discontent in its citizens. He sees as an implicit danger in civilization, one that if "not compensated for economically, one can be certain than serious disorders will ensue." Thus civilization creates discontent and mental pathology within its members.

Join Plato's Cave philosophers as we try to define 'civilization' and address the merits and demerits of our human participation in civilization and culture.

Be sure to check the Plato's Cave files sections and message board to prepare for our discussion.


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