“Thou Shalt Love Thy Neighbour As Thyself” Essays Example
In the book, ‘Civilization and its Discontent ‘, Sigmund Freud, talks about the basis for relationship between individuals in a civilised society. Though a civilised society may ask of its members, to love thy neighbour as thyself; Freud says that, it is impossible and not practical. Loving an unknown, anonymous neighbour as thyself will only bring one disadvantages. The biblical commandment cannot withstand the supressed aggressiveness of the civilised society. When one try’s to find evidence for biblical love, in today’s society, it is easy to notice that a majority of the people, spend more time on social networks to chat with distance friends , but they do not have time to interact and help their immediate neighbours at home and work. Love for most people is a way to satisfy their needs and ego.
Civilisation has put restrictions on our natural instincts. Freud tells that natural instinct give us true happiness. The social structures that we created, in the name of civilisation, prevents us from achieving long lasting happiness, well-being and content. In the first chapter of the book “Civilisation and its Discontent”, Freud begins by describing values and ideals, on which humans constructed religions. According to Freud, religion was created by civilisation. Though it may appear that these values and ideals were made by some mystical power, in a mystical way, one can find logic and analytics in it. Freud tells that, since human motives are often not trustworthy, it is better if one adopt analytical way, rather than mystical way of thinking. People following a religion, often try to align their actions based on the religion’s values and ideals. According to Freud, religion would not have arisen, if there were no civilisation. Peoples desire to organise their lives and stop living a life of uncertainty, gave birth to civilisation. To keep up with civilisation, man began to depend on values and ideals. These ideals and values, later gave birth to religion. Religion was a way to organise ones action, and value. With organisation, civilisation grew and religion was born. (Milestone document.com)
Human psychic is often in the pursuit of happiness and tries to avoid pain and displeasure. Unfortunately this is not all ways possible. How much ever one try, our bodies, will one day fall apart, and we all will die. This thought of the unavoidable destruction and the suffering associated with relationships, will prevent us from getting true happiness. Given that, we cannot get what we want, a civilised mind begins to negotiate with its instinct and tries to create a mental illusions. Religion is this illusion, which the mind creates, to forget the lurching forces of destruction in the world and gain happiness. Religion is a way of negotiating happiness with our mind. Many of the religious ideal like:” Love thy neighbour as thyself” are unrealistic and illusions. Moral codes imposed by this ideal, restricts people from destructive action. Religion and culture distrusts civilisation. (Faculty.georgetown.edu)
Freud describes civilisation as “the whole sum of the achievements and the 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 relationship. Freud describes achievement as, the work done by man to safeguard against diseases, ability to fly, talk over distance, etc. All these achievement are directed towards fulfilling his wants. These achievement define our civilisation. Civilisation has demands, like: beauty, cleanliness, self-esteem, and encouragement of one’s mental faculties. To meet these demand we set up illusionary ideals like: “Love thy neighbour as thyself.” Religion is a social demand of civilisation. In religion, power of an individual is replaced by power of the community. To meet this demand of religion, the members of a civilisation must sacrifice their instinctual tendency for aggressiveness. In other words, this means, every individual in a civilisation, undergoes restrictions, so as to fit into the community. When instincts gives important to the individual, civilisation gives importance to the group. An individual’s desire for pleasure as governed by instinct, was understood as impermanent by the civilisation and it was replaced by a more permanent love for mankind. Thus civilisation prevents an individual from enjoying personal happiness by calling them as selfish, and brought in the concept of sharing. By loving mankind in general, one can avoid loving individuals or objects that are less permanent. Thus in religion, love for mankind displaces the erotic love, and this is considered by Freud as the major deformation of religion. This is because civilisation impairs sexuality and sensual happiness. Religious love is less risky than loving a single individual. Feud explains, religions love as a modified and inhibited form of genital or sensual love. Thus religious love is less satisfying than sensual love. (Gradesaver.com)
Man by nature, is aggressive, and this instinct is the basic drive, to his psychic energy. If two individuals are satisfied with themselves, by virtue of their common work and interest, they is less need to derive pleasure from sexuality. However the above desirable situation rarely exist. For some unknown reason civilisation wants to covert libido to friendship. Later in the chapter, Freud reveals that, it is not sex that the civilisation is afraid of, but of violence associated with it. In order to avoid violence, it came up with ideals like: Love thy neighbour as thyself. This ideal is clearly opposite to one’s self interest. By promoting this ideal, civilisation can prevent violence. However in the process of preventing violence, the sex life of a civilised man is severely impaired. In the 19th century, not everyone, accepted that, aggressiveness is an inherent part of human psyche. However from the kind of terrorism that the 20th century is facing, it is becoming clearer that, man’s inherent tendency is aggressiveness. However this cruel tendency of aggressiveness is expressed only when provoked. This tendency of man to “reveal himself as a salvage beast” is the greatest threat of civilisation. For this reason, civilisation has put the barrier of “loving thy neighbour as thyself”, with the intent to curb this aggressive instinct “for whom consideration to its own kind is alien”. Though this law can curb brutal and cruel form of human violence, it may not stop cautious and refined form of human aggressiveness. Freud tells, that there are tendencies in human, which will not yield to any civilisation reform. In spite of the sacrifices we make, we will continue to remain unhappy. Cultural restrictions, prevent individuals from attaining true happiness. The inclination to aggressiveness is the greatest impediment to civilisation. The threat of loss of individualistic love, has encouraged man to support civilisations model of group love. However this restriction on expressing outward aggression has made man more inwardly aggressive. As a proof to Freud’s belief that the commandment, ‘Love thy neighbour as thyself” is contradictory, to man’s true nature; we experience exploitation, abuse, torture, pain, violence in one form or the other. The civilisation that man himself created, is now threated by his true nature. Though the commandment may have succeeded in regulating most forms of aggression, it has failed to completely eliminate aggressiveness from human nature. Certain individuals accrue immense wealth, by exploiting the weak. Sometimes we notice aggression by groups, against the others. We see war in the name of religion itself. The Islamic militants, causing terrorism, for reasons that only they can understand, are all examples of aggression. Looking back on history, Christian’s victimising the Jews in Russia, are all examples of aggression. “Love thy neighbour as thyself,” is a commandment that civilised men has accepted, in exchange for aggressiveness. This negotiation may not bring him happiness, but will provide him security. Towards the end of Chapter V, Freud agrees with civilisation, by saying that, though we have sacrificed our instinctual behaviour, we are still better than primitive society. This is because in a primitive society, only the head of the family enjoyed instinctual freedom, at the expense of all other. He tells that, most of the problems in the civilised society are manageable, and few unsurmountable ones are the side effect of civilisation. In the sixth chapter, Freud quotes Schiller: “hunger and love are what moves the world”. While hunger is directed to satisfy ego, love is directed towards to satisfy need for objects. He makes his point, by stating that in sadism, the aim of the individual is not to satisfy his ego, but his object needs. According to Freud, one should love one self, in order to love other. (Freud)
Looking back at evolution, one could see that, man evolved from lower species. Because of this, it may be difficult to eliminate all motivation for aggression, like power. Man’s basic inclination is towards erotic desires and destruction. Freud also remarks that, nationalism, is a form of aggression, where one group define themselves in opposition to other. Such aggressive behaviours are important for the formation of communal identity formation. Thus according to Freud, love and aggressive are expressions of man’s ego.
Freud, Sigmund. Civilization And Its Discontents. New York: W.W. Norton, 1962. Print.
Gradesaver.com,. 'Civilization And Its Discontents Chapters 5-6 Summary And Analysis'. N.p., 2015. Web. 6 Apr. 2015.
Milestonedocuments.com,. 'Sigmund Freud: Civilization And Its Discontents - Explanation And Analysis'. N.p., 2015. Web. 6 Apr. 2015.