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Essay/Term paper: Freud and marx

Essay, term paper, research paper:  World History

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Hey! I got an A- on this paper, so I guess it's pretty good!
I put my own personal spin to it in that not only did I compare Freud and
Marx's viewpoints, I stated that perhaps what they saw in society was just
a reflection of their own biases and personal inner feelings.

Humanities Assignment

Freud and Marx it can be argued were both, as individuals,

dissatisfied with their societies. Marx more plainly than Freud, but Freud

can also be seen as discontent in certain aspects such as his cynical view of

human nature. Each were great thinkers and philosophers, but both seemed

unhappy. Perhaps the social ills and trouble each perceived in the world

about them were only the reflections of what each of the thinkers held within

themselves. Each person observes the same world, but each of us interprets

that information in a different way. They both saw the world as being injust

or base. Each understood the disfunctions in society as being caused by some

aspect of human greed or other similar instinct. They did however, disagree

on what the vehicle for these instincts' corrupting influences are. Freud

claimed that tension caused by the stuggle to repress anti-social instincts

eventually was released and caused the social evils he observed. Marx also

saw instincts at work but not the tensions and Id that Freud saw, Marx simply

credited man's greed and the subsequent oppression of other men as the root to

all that was wrong with civilization. It is interesting to note that both

Freud and Marx saw conflict but each traced it back to sources each was

respectively educated in.

Freud was a Psychoanalyst and his understanding of the mind was very

conflict oriented. He saw man as a kind of glorified animal who had the same

desires and needs as any other animal. The only true difference between the

human-animal and other animals was that the human-animal possessed an

intellect. Freud divided man's psyche into three parts, the Id, Ego, and

SuperEgo. What differed the human-animal from any other animal was the

SuperEgo, which arose from man's intellect. The Super-Ego as Freud theorised

it is the values of one's parents internalised. He went further to then

explain that unhappiness in life is caused by the conflict between the Id and

the SuperEgo. As stated, all of Frued's philosophy was very conflict oriented

so it is not difficult to understand then how Freud applied this view

macrocosmically to society as a whole.

Freud addressed this in his essay, "Civilization and It's

Discontents". In it, Freud claimed that civilizations are developed through

the channeling of anti-social erotic and aggressive urges into constructive

outlets. He went further and explained that social ills are caused by those

members of society who are not satisfied with the substitutes supplied by the

channelling of anti-social instincts into social creative energies. Such

repression causes a certain tension which after awhile cannot be repressed

and is released in socially unacceptable behaviour. As Freud explained it,

"Civilized society is perpetually menaced with disintegration through this

primary hostility of men towards one another". Freud saw humanity as being

destined to stuggle as long as humanity exists. In his own words, "This

struggle is what all life essentially consists of and the evolution of

civilizations may therefore be simply describes as the struggle for the life

of the human species".

Although like Freud, he saw conflict within society, Karl Marx had

radically different ideas and perceptions about humanity and civilization.

Marx saw the same things as Freud, but chalked it up to inter-economic

class conflict instead of conflict within one's psyche. This class conflict

was caused by one class, the Bourgeois, which he characterized as having the

great majority of wealth and power and having rule over the lower class, or

Proletariots, which worked for the Bourgeois. This view of economic class

strife was just one stage of Marx's idea that all of history was leading up

to some finality and that at such a time all of man would be able to live in

a Utopia. Marx also applied this idea in reverse and attempted to explain that

the Proletariot class and Bourgeois class have existed in varying forms for

all of mankind's history. He tried to illustrate using the example of slavery

and feudalism that each time a form of oppression by a class of another class

was destroyed a new form took it's place. Marx felt that it was a Communist's

responsibility to awaken the mostly ignorant Proletariot to this and help to

abolish the concept of private property, which he also believed was the

primary means of the Bourgeois to oppress the Proletariot workers. Marx

predicted that Capitalism and it's Bourgeois patrons would eventually become

thin out due to competition and therefore the wealth would become

increasingly more centralised in fewer people's pockets. The spread of wealth

would eventually become so uneven and lop-sided that a revolution would occur

and the Bourgeois would be overthrown. Marx believed that Capitalism was

probably the last form of oppression and once overthrown, everyone would live

as a single society where all men could live in peace without rule over one

another, Utopia.

Freud and Marx although similar in some ways, held very different

views about the world around them. Aside from the obvious difference that

Freud believed the cause of social evils was within man himself and Marx saw

the problem as being an economic one as long as history itself, there are

other more specific differences. Freud saw the conflict as being internal

and therefore expressed within the society in which a man is part of, but

Marx saw the conflict in a more black-and-white sense. To Marx, it was

between two groups of people, the oppressed and the oppressors. Marx however

was also generally more optimistic, especially when it came to predictions

of the future. He saw the underdogs, the Proletariots eventually overcoming

adversity and establishing Utopia. Freud is much less exciting for all he

could divine was that humanity would continue to struggle. Freud seemed

perhaps to believe that the meaning of life was struggling. Freud saw nothing

of the occasional revolutions Marx did, it was all one long struggle to him.

Freud and Marx theorised about and observed the world around them and

interpreted it in the terms and ways they were most accomplished at and

familiar with. The question remains unanswered though, did Freud and Marx

simply observe the true reality of the world and state what they saw, or was

the world about them in actually reflecting themselves.


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