Philosophy of Political Power

  • September 29, 2010 · 7:00 PM
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Lecture 11 – Freud’s Theory of Human Nature and Civilization: Sigmund Freud’s pessimistic vision of man, as described in Civilization and Its Discontents, contrasts vividly with the optimistic visions of both Rousseau and Marx. As we have seen, Rousseau believes that human nature is characterized by and innate propensity for compassion and identification with others; under the correct legal and educational system, that natural propensity can become regnant throughout society. Marx criticized the dehumanizing impact of capitalism, but he anticipates that the communist will usher in an age of harmony and personal fulfillment, free of the alienation that enslaves men in industrial capitalist society. Remove the perverse and alienating influence of private property, and humankind will achieve its natural condition of integrity, bliss, and true freedom. Freud harbors no such optimistic view of human nature or of man’s ability to achieve happiness and contentment. He sees the human personality as irremediably split among three constituent parts- the id, ego, and superego-that incessantly fight each other for domination. The most powerful of these is the id, which manifest itself in part as the lust for aggression and domination over others. According to Freud, man’s inevitable lot is pain and suffering, arising both from his own psychic alienation and from his victimization by other human beings. His efforts to escape from suffering through intoxication, isolation, or sublimation are inevitably self-defeating. Socrates, Plato, Aristotle, Machiavelli, Marx, Ghandi - these exceptional thinkers and others sculpted, piece by piece Western political thought from its inception. In so doing, they grappled with such imposing questions as: What is the correct relationship of the individual to society? What is the connection between individual freedom and social and political authority? Are human beings fundamentally equal or unequal? See below link for more information..... Regina will lead the group and we will have one lecture per meeting.

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  • A former member
    A former member

    Nice group of people.

    September 30, 2010

  • Michael

    Thank you Regina for facilitating an engaged meeting touching upon Freud's somewhat bleak notion of human character.

    September 30, 2010

  • TERRY E.

    The question is...which do I take into the voting booth, my ID, EGO, or SUPEREGO?
    Great night out..thanks Regina for keeping it under control...Terry

    September 30, 2010

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