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[professor /instructor]


June 2 , 2007

Socrates ' Reaction to Sigmund Freud 's Civilization and its Discontents

Some characteristics of man have remained unchanged over the centuries Freud laments that in his time (p )eople commonly use false standards of measurement - that they seek power , success and wealth for themselves and admire them in others , and that they underestimate what is of true value in life (Freud 35 . I agree with Freud and have had similar thoughts about the sophists . Unfortunately Freud does not seem to agree with

my position on the ultimate value : virtue is knowledge . Perhaps I could convince him otherwise in a friendly dialectic

Freud posits a fascinating concept : in mental life nothing which has once been formed can perish - that everything is somehow preserved and that in suitable circumstances .it can once more be brought to light (42 . Then he would agree with me on the importance of teaching virtue to young students - even if they were later to accede to corruption or incontinence , they could later be redeemed when their virtue was restored . Virtue can only be laid on a foundation of continence . A man continent in all things will find happiness in his life , not , as Freud suggests , as a result of some pleasure principle (40

As friend Xenophon has no doubt related , I have been accused of and condemned to death because of what many said was my impiety - many claimed I had no belief in our gods (Strauss 23 . Nothing could be further from the truth , and I take great issue with Freud 's claim that (t )he derivation of religious needs from the infant 's helplessness and the longing for the father (is ) incontrovertible (Freud 47 . He is placing himself above the gods he claims (t )he religions of mankind must be classed among the mass-delusions of this kind . No one , needless to say , who shares a delusion ever recognizes it as such (60 . He will of course see the fallacy of his argument on perception : if he comes to believe that a belief in religion or deity is a delusion , and improvable , why is his belief less delusional as it is equally improvable

I find it very difficult to believe a man of Freud 's intelligence would believe that (t )here is no golden rule which applies to everyone every man must find out for himself in what particular fashion he can be saved (63 . He must live in terrible times . Certainly we will all follow our individual path , but it is a unique path often influenced by others . Those unique paths can lead to shared destinations : wisdom continence , virtue , and good and the beautiful or noble things (Strauss 81 . There is nothing in my knowledge - and likely Freud 's - to indicate every man is capable of taking such a path , or of following a golden rule

There is shallowness to Freud 's philosophy beyond my comprehension . He is unable to accept the concepts of ...

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