Archive for the ‘Freud’ Category

I have no answer

September 10, 2009

When I ask myself why I have always behaved honourably, ready to spare others and to be kind whenever possible, and why I did not give up doing so when I observed that in that way one harms oneself and becomes an anvil because other people are brutal and untrustworthy, then, it is true, I have no answer.

Sigmund Freud, writing to James Putnam, neurologist

To say, ‘I have no answer’ to the question, ‘Why should I be good?’ is hardly a small matter. It leaves the sort of vacuum that coercion or anarchy (or both) will fill – as we see.

The decline of religious belief?

September 8, 2009

The more the fruits of knowledge become accessible to men, the more widespread is the decline of religious belief.

Freud, Sigmund, The Future of an Illusion.

Plainly wrong – unless one is a myopic, condescending, Western intellectual

Rumours of the death of God have been greatly exagerrated.

God as wish-fulfilment

August 24, 2009

[Religious ideas] are illusions, fulfillments of the oldest, strongest, and most urgent wishes of mankind. The secret of their strength lies in the strength of those wishes. As we already know, the terrifying impression of helplessness in childhood aroused the need for protection – for protection through love – which was provided by the father; and the recognition that this helplessness lasts throughout life made it necessary to cling to the existence of a father, but this time a more powerful one. Thus the benevolent rule of a divine Providence allays our fear of the dangers of life; the establishment of a moral world-order ensures the fulfillment of the demands of justice, which have so often remained unfulfilled in human civilization; and the prolongation of earthly existence in a future life provides the local and temporal framework in which these wish-fulfillments shall take place… It is an enormous relief to the individual psyche if the conflicts of its childhood arising from the father-complex – conflicts which it has never wholly overcome – are removed from it and brought to a solution which is universally accepted.

Sigmund Freud, Future of an Illusion

Two problems for Mr Freud: 1. I didn’t want there to be a God. I was a reluctant convert. People like me don’t fit his theory. 2. His logic is this: People are weak and God (or the idea of God) is strong. God doesn’t exist just because we feel his need. Therefore God doesn’t exist.

I accept the two premises without the conclusion – it is an invalid argument; a non sequitur. Whether I feel the need for God or not does not affect whether God exists or not. Many atheists loudly proclaim they feel no need for God and are perfectly happy without Him.