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/edu/ - Education

'The weapon of criticism cannot, of course, replace criticism of the weapon, material force must be overthrown by material force; but theory also becomes a material force as soon as it has gripped the masses.' - Karl Marx
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Civilization and Its Discontents is a book by Sigmund Freud, the founder of psychoanalysis. It was written in 1929 and first published in German in 1930 as "The Uneasiness in Civilization". Exploring what Freud sees as the important clash between the desire for individuality and the expectations of society, the book is considered one of Freud's most important and widely read works, and was described in 1989 by historian Peter Gay as one of the most influential and studied books in the field of modern psychology.

Feel free to post your thoughts, lectures, secondary reading material.

A reading group gets together Saturdays around 22 UTC and this is the next text to be discussed.


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After my first shitty reading, two main topics have made me restless.

The first one is the fact that many ideas in the text are highly ideological and historically contingent (eg. how some of his ideas reflect the knowledge we had at that time regarding science and history) and what that means to the "validity" of Freudian psychoanalysis today. Some terms are still being used, such as ego, id, death drive, anal fixation, and "talk therapy" is still the main form of psychological therapy. Is it time to re-engage in the same process Freud did to "discover" these behavioral patterns and to do away with the old ones?

The other question that has made me restless is somewhat related to the first, but it's about the marxist reading itself of Freud. Marxists tend to reduce things to the economical and the collective, this is a trend that even Marx criticized in other marxists of his time. Emma Goldman remarked about how the marxists kill the individual and cannot conceive of an autonomous entity. I think it's true to a large degree, because marxism is in large part a theory of the collective, not of the individual. This, in a way, makes marxists blind to the individual motivations when they depart too much from the typical motivators of profit and power (power for profit).

Freud fills this gap somehow and reveals a way in which materialist dialectics can be applied to the human psyche to perhaps discover patterns that make it useful to understand the individual, and provide a framework that might help to understand humanity at the level of individuals as they relate to the collective, hence provide a more complete vision of Marxism. But then that raises the question of how reliable can these mental investigations be. Freud was not a marxist, but he did employ some form of materialist dialectics, however crude. The open-ness of his investigations are respectable of course, but in the honest process of scientific open-ness some concepts became essential characteristics of humanity, such as the libidinal, the death drive, the anal retentiveness. The problem here being that the way concepts are framed set the structure of how the content (the psyche) will be interpreted, and historically contingent concepts to describe wildly different states of mind are no doubt problematic and could become counter-productive.

To further complicate things, to make this analysis I am relying upon the critique of ideology made by psychoanalytic marxist philosophers such as Zizek. Like a ouroboros I have bitten my own tail. Marxist analysis isn't ideology-free either, how can we claim to free ourselves from the baggage of the past with concepts that were developed in a specific historical period, namely marxism and psychoanalytic theory in the 18th and 19th century respectively? But then we are left with nothing. Even if we accept a contemporary interpretation of marxism, we are left without a theory of the individual, except the clinical and vulgar empirical psychology of academia, poster child of the reproducibility crisis and of missing the forest for the trees.

The main mistake of the psychological research of academia is the same that is criticized by Hegel way back; it assumes that human behavior can be studied in isolation. Our scientific understanding is woefully inadequate to understand something as complex as the psyche. There are too many variables, from culture, to age, to genetics, to sugar levels, to beliefs, and psychology pretends to isolate them all when the subjects are placed in a plain room with minimal stimuli.

A truly marxist psychoanalysis must start at the assumption that the individual does not exist in a vacuum, but that they are embedded in their context. It must also integrate the latest information we have about neurology and other fields of biology. And of course, must derive its study of the individual as individuals exist in the world, taking into consideration the effect of ideology and historically contingent phenomena. But even after applying the most marxist analysis, we're still left short with an explanation on why people develop fetishes, why people develop anxieties, etc. Something like Freud's original analysis is still necessary.

And thus I arrive back to where I started. At this point, I see no escape but to wrangle with Freud. Perhaps his ideas will (or have) set the stage for a more concrete form of the study of the psyche, after all he is considered the "father of psychology", and perhaps it is useful to study in the same way Darwin is in the study of evolutionary biology.


I don't know if I'm sure what exactly your problem is, but it seems to me like you're struggling to find a point of contention with Freud that justifies the dogma and backlash against him that you're familiar with by laypeople and pop culture. The reality is that Freud isn't the dogmatic sex obsessed hedonist that liberal academia makes him out to be, and that 99% of the things he claims were hardly controversial, even in his time. it's sensationalism that took the other 1% and made him out to be this dogmatic vulgar pagan, when realistically speaking, his mentality and form of presentation is not that far off from the detached analysis of your average everyday physician.


I agree with what you're writing.

My problem is actually not with Freud, but with modern Freudianism (if it even is a thing, I have no idea). The question I seek to resolve is "What is the use of Freud today?". Some of the things he writes are ideological and might not be true today, like the development of anal retentiveness. Others are still true and still "obviously true". These are my thoughts as I am now discovering "the real Freud" as opposed to the pop-culture Freud.

My conclusion, (which, as a good pseud I had formulated before reading any Freud, and this essay/book is the only thing I've read of Freud so far), is that Freud's systematic and open analysis of the psyche is the useful kernel of Freudian psychoanalysis. Like a set of lenses with which to identify patterns in the human psyche.

Now, after reading this short piece, I wonder if even those "lenses" are ready to be discarded for more modern formulations of them. Do away with "anal retentiveness" and oedipal complexes and bring new patterns and analogies into the toolbox of psychoanalysis.

Note, I'm not talking about the contemporary Freudeans that have systematized Freud which is what we receive in pop culture and it is also taught in colleges in some areas. I am talking about the concepts that Freud develops.

Some of the things I can't even relate from my own lived experience. For example, I've never had children, nor been around them as an adult for long periods of time.


<The communists believe that they have found the path to deliverance from our evils. According to them, man is wholly good and is well-disposed to his neighbour; but the institution of private property has corrupted his nature. The ownership of private wealth gives the individual power, and with it the temptation to ill-treat his neighbour; while the man who is excluded from possession is bound to rebel in hostility against his oppressor. If private property were abolished, all wealth held in common, and everyone allowed to share in the enjoyment of it, ill-will and hostility would disappear among men. Since everyone’s needs would be satisfied, no one would have any reason to regard another as his enemy; all would willingly undertake the work that was necessary. I have no concern with any economic criticisms of the communist system; I cannot enquire into whether the abolition of private property is expedient or advantageous.* But I am able to recognize that the psychological premisses on which the system is based are an untenable illusion. In abolishing private property we deprive the human love of aggression of one of its instruments, certainly a strong one, though certainly not the strongest; but we have in no way altered the differences in power and influence which are misused by aggressiveness, nor have we altered anything in its nature.

<*Anyone who has tasted the miseries of poverty in his own youth and has experienced the indifference and arrogance of the well-to-do, should be safe from the suspicion of having no understanding or good will towards endeavours to fight against the inequality of wealth among men and all that it leads to. To be sure, if an attempt is made to base this fight upon an abstract demand, in the name of justice, for equality for all men, there is a very obvious objection to be made — that nature, by endowing individuals with extremely unequal physical attributes and mental capacities, has introduced injustices against which there is no remedy.

Sentences that wouldn't exist in a world without cocaine:
<It is as if primitive man had had the impulse, when he came in contact with fire, to gratify an infantile pleasure in respect of it and put it out with a stream of urine. The legends that we possess leave no doubt that flames shooting upwards like tongues were originally felt to have a phallic sense. Putting out fire by urinating — which is also introduced in the later fables of Gulliver in Lilliput and Rabelais’s Gargantua — therefore represented a sexual act with a man, an enjoyment of masculine potency in homosexual rivalry. Whoever was the first to deny himself this pleasure and spare the fire was able to take it with him and break it in to his own service. By curbing the fire of his own sexual passion, he was able to tame fire as a force of nature. This great cultural victory was thus a reward for renunciation of an instinct. Further, it is as if man had placed woman by the hearth as the guardian of the fire he had taken captive, because her anatomy makes it impossible for her to yield to such a temptation. It is remarkable how regularly analytic findings testify to the close connection between the ideas of ambition, fire, and urethral erotism.

Freudians are a disgrace and should be purged from any left-wing group. Kill yourself, OP.


Why are you the only one allowed to read Freud?


I think the very questions you're asking are a part of the problem. you're trying to figure out some kind of way to "do away with" Freud and abstract out the "good parts", when that's not really how you should be thinking about it. what you need to be asking firstly before you get to any of these other questions, is WHY freud is saying any of the things he's saying in the first place. it's easy to dismiss him as a pseud and a charlatan trying to get attention, but then that still leaves open the question of why anyone would listen to him in the first place. are ALL Freudians just pseuds looking for attention? in order to critically read someone, you have to find the ways in which they contradict themselves. that is, find the ways in which they fall into superstition and ignore even their own logic when it comes to subjects where they couldn't see the implications of their own statements, this is how you arrive at the real evolution of an idea. that is, dialectically. which exactly what Marx did to Hegel when he transposed dialectics onto the political economy in ways Hegel couldn't. in other words, don't just look for things to dismiss as superstitious and ignore them. rather, find the ways in which Freud contradicts his own statements WHEN he falls into superstition. identify the contradictions in Freud's statements, resolve them, and this abstract unity that you're looking for will find itself. don't think too much about where to draw the line from the perspective of an objectivity that you don't even have access to (nor does anyone else).


If you dont interact with wide world around you you´ll just become sheltered at best and incestuous at worst. Its through the challenges of explaining against the contrarians that our understanding strengthens and grows. You dont train for a marathon by watching someone run


Completely agree. To be clear, I don't think Freud was a hack, he very clearly was a very thorough thinker and a scientist at heart. There's nothing yet with which I particularly strongly disagree. I look forward to reading more Freud and see how he develops these ideas more concretely. Here he seems to be using concepts that he develops elsewhere to "psychoanalyze civilization". I'd need to read where and how these concepts originate to form a coherent critique.


>I think the very questions you're asking are a part of the problem. you're trying to figure out some kind of way to "do away with" Falun Gong and abstract out the "good parts", when that's not really how you should be thinking about it. What you need to be asking firstly before you get to any of these other questions, is WHY Falun Gong are saying any of the things they are saying in the first place. it's easy to dismiss Falun Gong as pseuds and charlatans trying to get attention, but then that still leaves open the question of why anyone would listen to them in the first place. are ALL Fulunfags just pseuds looking for attention?


Falun Gong is an arm of the imperialists and funded by the CIA, I do understand why they say what they say.
Freud, and psychoanalysis in general, on the other hand, is being repressed in imperialist society by faithful shock troopers such as you, except where they can use it to control us and sell us products.


the difference is that PsychoAnalysis isn’t an ethical doctrine. Cults are.


>There's nothing yet with which I particularly strongly disagree.
You agree that people have perfect memory within them? You agree that telepathy is a real thing?


Show me where in this text Freud implies either of those.


About to go live reading the last chapters.

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