Freud and Nietzsche on Human Nature and Society Essay
Their actions stem either from hunger, which is the internal need to preserve the individual/ego, or from love, I. E. When a person utilizes external objects to satisfy his desires. And even when humans try to impose some form of rational thought over their desires, they fail miserably. While the concept of civilization was constructed to protect people, according to Freud “Civilization is built to reduce suffering, yet civilization is the cause of our misery. This being the case, the only impact rational thought has, is to cause further pain and suffering, as opposed to acting based on instinctual desire alone, which gives a person the chance at omen pleasure, even if for a short while.
While Fraud’s picture tends to be more annalistic, Nietzsche view is slightly less cynical. Although he states that our civilization is based upon suffering, It is that exact suffering which can help us achieve new heights. According to him, our nature is divided into two aspects – creature and creator.
The creator in us is unrelenting in the quest for knowledge, even if that knowledge will only cause more suffering; while the creature in us is content with far less, but hates those who rise above their ‘rank’ in life. It is up o each individual to choose which form of suffering he prefers – that of the ignorant creature who despises that which he cannot comprehend; or the suffering of the creator, caused both by the limitations of modern society, and by the constant need to question his knowledge and beliefs as he evolves.
In line with his previous assessment, F-reed criticizes the limitations that modern society places on individuality, by which he means their sexuality. After all, external desires are usually fueled by the libido, and repressing those sexual desires causes humans to channel their energies via other means, such as “aggression and self-destruction”. By this logic, the value we place upon relationships represses our basic human desire (libido), as the constructs Of these relationships are not designed in a way that caters to this basic need.
And every attempt to further restrict this desire does nothing than cause frustration at the inability to achieve it. In a similar vein, Nietzsche criticism on society is nothing more than a reflection of his analysis, previously stated. What society values is knowledge, and the ability to reach new heights in all aspects of life. And according to IM, it is this hunger for knowledge which causes so much strife in civilization. For whether it be the creator or the creature, each will pity themselves, and act accordingly.
The creature will pity himself, and try to outgrow his annalistic nature – and by doing so, will create a system of morals and values to guide him along that path. But, once on that path, which is nothing more than the ‘path’ of the creator, he now feels pity at his inability to be satisfied, due to the restraints of society, and his constant thirst for more knowledge. And as he so eloquently puts it – “Pity against pity then! ” So, it is he knowledge we humans value so greatly that causes both the frustration we feel, and the effects this frustration has on all our subsequent actions.
When it came to religion, neither philosopher was very fond of the subject. Freud, for example, was known to say that a person’s sense of guilt is nothing more than their expression of anxiety, and its lack of diagnosis is common in everyday life. The role that Christianity then plays, is to allay that Sense of anxiety, by ‘resolving’ one’s self of sin, I. E. Guilt. Furthermore, he claims that the construct of religion was made in response to the obvious superiority of
Nature, and is nothing more than a defense mechanism relating to the egotistic need for protection. And lastly, Freud questions the validity of the logic behind this religion, specifically the concept of “love thy neighbor as thyself”. This concept, he claims, directly contradicts the inherent nature of man, which is not loving, but rather aggressive and selfish. One way or another, Freud did not like this religion (or any other, for that matter). Nietzsche has a slightly different opinion on the subject.
He asserts that Christianity is the method in which the “lesser people”, those who live redundantly by their creature instinct, validate their suffering, without using it to rise to new heights. It keeps the masses in a state of constant suffering and weakness – instead of using it as fuel to evolve into something greater. In fact, Nietzsche states that “almost everything we call ‘higher culture’ is based upon the capitalization and intensification of cruelty (page 1 59)” – the cruelty being the way Christianity encourages suffering for sufferings own sake.
Now that we’ve compiled theses glowing commendations of society, what suggestions then, do these great thinkers have to rectify the situation at and? Let us start with the more morbid approach, that being Freud. His philosophy is based on the fact that every action a person takes is based on some sort of desire, whether it be internal or external. This being the case, Freud would most likely recommend that society let go of all the restraints that inhibit these desires, as it’s a losing battle to fight it navy’s.
Only by allowing a person to act upon his impulses, no matter how taboo they might be, would civilization finally be at peace with its nature, and the base desires that come with it; because “the indestructible feature of human nature will allow”, no matter which direction society may try to run. Now, there is yet hope for happiness, as Nietzsche has a brighter opinion as to the capabilities of mankind. For, it is he who says that man is capable of elevating himself to great heights, even if he will be unhappy regarding the affect this will have upon his relationship with society.
His recommendation, then, would be to allow those ‘Free Spirits” to roam wherever they may choose, and not have society judge them for their individuality’ and success. For while it may be lonely at the top, the benefits of this superiority of knowledge far surpasses the perceived happiness one may feel while functioning as a creature, surrounded by likened folks. Although there appear to be many similarities between Freud and Nietzsche, their core beliefs are vastly different.
Fraud’s was based on the libidinal binds of man, and how people channels pent up sexual energy towards other activities. When man’s pleasures aren’t fulfilled, he becomes continually frustrated, and eventually ‘explodes’. His obvious solution being, have fun! Once man has fun, clearly all will be well. But Nietzsche, on the Other hand, based his hilltop’s on the ‘Will to power – the ability for every individual to (eventually) raise themselves from creature to creator.
He believed the main driving force in humans is the ambition to reach the highest possible position in life, and the achievement of this goal. And that is the definition of the will to power. The clear disparity between this, and Fraud’s bleak view on humankind is qua tie astounding. The pursuit of knowledge can be a dangerous thing, as shown by Nietzsche, and this case is no different. The analysis of humanity by Freud and Nietzsche has shown the many flaws of unman race, and neither has an enthusiastic prognosis regarding the potential for the further growth of society.
Whether the cause be pent up sexual frustration, or the inability to deal with the constraints of society, according to these two philosophers, humans have many issues to deal with. They only differ in their view of what the problem is, and how to go about fixing it. Ironically, if either of these two would see a therapist themselves, I wonder if they might find many of their views stemming from their own personal history, and not from their observations of the world around them.