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Civilization and Its Discontents

Sigmund Freud captured the reasoning behind civilization and the subsequent discontent in the individual and the society and attributed to sublimation as the enabling factor. Freud postulated that instinctive suppression or repression of the desires of the individual desires, goals and objectives, especially if out of the reach, enable societal co-existence. This duly leads to cohesive and harmonious co-existence of humanity giving rise to civilization. However, the fact that a certain desire is out reach of certain persons in the society gives rise to discontent in the individual.

The ideological conception behind Freud’s sublimation is based on instincts, which he contends that it is the avenue to advanced success in activities of pyschicality, satisfaction, or on the other hand frustration. Freud asserts that instinctive perceptions are either overruled or asserted by prolonged or enhanced reflection, with the impression thus created judged against the societal norms and ethics. Finally, Freud contends that civilization renounces instinct, thus extrapolating the sense of frustration through suppressed instincts, which in turn is reflected in the humane social engagements. It is this frustration, which is associated with civilization, that human beings which causes human friction in an attempt to repel its adverse effects especially through letting it steam out.

The individual plays a core part in the establishment and development of a civilization. Based on the postulation of the interactions of the id, the ego and the super-ego, Sigmund Freud developed a means of assessment via which individual actions can be measured. The id represents the primitive personality in man, who seeks to pursue a self-centered path. The ego is the catalyst that informs the reasoning personality in man that takes care of others and the interests of the individual. The super-ego is the moral parameter that informs the consideration of the welfare of others. It is these concepts that inform the instinctive and subsequent behavior of most characters in humanity.

These concepts inform the humane desire to be loved, accorded security and ultimately attain a comfortable and satisfied lifestyle. The fact that it is impossible to achieve the highest levels of satisfaction and comfort means a digression into the fundamental instincts that elicit a form of sublimation as a counter measure to the denial of the basic and fundamental instincts. The shift from the pursuit of the aggressive and beyond-our-means desires is caricatured by the unconscious part of the brain. The result is sublimation which later leads to the venting off of emotions and letting off accumulated steam through substitution; an act which sees the individual indulge in intellect-informed activities which are endorsed by the super-ego and regarded as moral by the society.

The adoption of a psychological approach enables Freud capture the society in the realms of harmonious and cohesive existence. Based on the intelligence behind the choice f activities, Freud constructs the reality, as it exists in individual and societal behaviour, institutionalized ideal, the accepted cultural norms and practices and ultimately civilization. The aim of his argumentative approach is to invoke the readership to associate with daily experiences, information and common practices, thus appealing to the logic of the readership. Freud entwined the individual to civilization and sought to expound on how individualism is linked to the rise of civilization. In his work, Freud noted that most of the actions are motivated by the pursuit of pleasure, love, security and prosperity and that civilization is built on egoism.

Civilization is the fruit of culture; where culture is a way of living, traditions and rules that define the identity of an entity in the social continuum. Social institutions are built not on safe havens, but many dangers abound with rules and limits governing them being the only route to assure harmony and cohesion. To achieve this, the individuals that make up the civilization have to give up certain desires, interests and alter some to accommodate the needs of other or to subscribe to the morally accepted cultural norms and practices of the society.  The constant relationships and connectivity of all entities in the culture is thus sustained through constant recurrence of sublimation, and efforts to cohere in these social institutions inform the constant let up routes, which could be through intellectual actions, or other acts morally accepted by the society. Freud as the vehicle to civilization points out repression or hiding of the interests, though the suppressed emotions, desires and wants could be changed or placed at a lower level in a concerted effort to accommodate others.

The fact that instincts are repressed gives rise to discontent in civilization. Freud contested that if humanity was to act in a society that was not bound by a moral code, then the results would be scandalous. Through continued sublimation, discontent arises. Discontent in civilization is mostly due to the banners posed by the societal moral code and is substituted by creative activities to alleviate the feeling of frustration or prohibition. The activities invoke a form of ego cleansing, taking away the feeling of guilt, thus acting as a means to avoid pain and suffering which could have resulted in the subsequent punishment meted out by the civilization. The substitutes cushion the instinctive actions of the individual against the backdrop of the exact activity he would have resulted into doing. This validates the social acceptance of the substitutes over the instinctive acts, probably asserting that civilization involves the consideration of not just the individual but of all entities within the social arena.

The arguments postulated by Sigmund Freud seem logical and acceptable. To begin with, recounting experiences and initial encounters in day-to-day life, instincts always give a self-centered but flawed conception. Indeed, if the actions of humanity were to be informed by instincts then it would be a ridiculous world. In addition, the fact that Freud develops a platform that explains the sub-conscious attempts of the mind based on real life experiences shows just how close it is to capturing the civilized mannerism of the reality. Thirdly, the fact that Sigmund Freud connects the human mind to the cohesive and harmonious co-existence asserts that the individual has as much responsibility as the colleagues to the society. Finally, Sigmund Freud, through sublimation, explains why there yet to be chaos in the world in the understanding that resources are scarce and limited, thus only a few persons get their hands on these limited resources.

To conclude, it is imperative to mention that Sigmund Freud philosophical works on civilization and discontent is a perfect reflection of the society. The angle, through which he constructed his philosophy- i.e. from the individual, precipitates a valid assessment of civilization by the contributions of the single person to the whole society. In addition, Freud appreciates the importance of understanding the operations of the human mind, and by practically citing real examples in real life encounters, sets the mood for a perfect atmosphere for the examination of civilization.

Though, his attacks on Christianity might not go down well with most theologists, the ideology that humanity does not purport to seek redemption but rather seeks happiness and satisfaction can not be ignored as a statement that captures the desire of humanity. Indeed, religion is manifest in the search for happiness not in the immediate circumstances but on the future. In addition, his psychoanalytic approach establishes the conflict between the instincts entangled in the rigid structures that pillar the social system. Unable to undo the structures and penetrate into a world of happiness and comfort, humanity only resorts to sublimation- according te Sigmund Freud.

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