Section – 1INTRODUCTIONDefinition of Civilization Civilization occurs when a society moves to an advanced state of social development with complex legal, political and religious organizations.
There are several definitions for civilization, for instance, “the people slowly progressed from barbarism to civilization”; “the quality of excellence in thought and manners and taste”; “a man of intellectual refinement”; “humans living together in an organized way”. Freud defines, “civilization is a process in the service of Eros, whose purpose is to combine single human individuals, and after that families, then races, peoples, and nations into one great unity, the unity of mankind. But man’s natural aggressive instinct, the hostility of each against all and of all against each other, opposes this programme of civilization.” Thus, it is clear that civilization means, the change of human behavior from primitive, barbarized state to state of controlled and well-mannered conduct. Or as Freud brings out, civilization is based on the permanent subjugation of human instincts. In that perspective a civilized man is the one who represses his own natural desires and act according to the established rules, norms, traditions and social order.
Definition of FreedomIn that context of civilization, primitive man had the freedom of their instinctual life. They could satisfy their natural desires whenever and wherever they wanted, without having the sense of guilt and shame. Animal freedom, which exists in animal kingdom, comes into same terms with human freedom in that stage as human could fulfill their desires as animals do, which is signified by the devoid of a second thought of whether that behavior is ‘right’ or ‘wrong’, ‘good’ or ‘bad’.Section – 2Sigmund Freud’s Analysis of Civilization Freud used theories called pleasure principle, reality principle and structure of human psyche in order to bring out the way in which human represses their instincts in their process to civilized state. Freud likened the mind to an enormous iceberg, of which consciousness is only the small exposed tip.
The massive structure of the iceberg that lies beneath the surface is the vast region of the unconsciousness. To Freud unconscious was both a reservoir of instinctual drives and a storehouse of all the thoughts and wishes we conceal from conscious awareness because they cause psychological conflicts. All organic, biological, animal instinctual drives, which are not in control of the human beings, are in this vast region of unconscious.
When civilization consciousness develops with the knowledge of physical and social environment, and it enforces the limits and extents to these, primary drives. Further Freud divided the human psyche into three separate but interacting elements: the id, the ego and the super ego. Freud described the id as a reservoir of psychic energy, the pool of biological drives that arise from our needs for food, water, warmth, sexual gratification, aggression, avoidance of pain, and so forth.
And he believed that these drives direct all human behavior. The id is an unconscious force, with no link to objective reality. It seeks one thing only: the discharge of tension arising from biological drives. The id’s exclusive devotion to gratification without regard for logic or reason, reality or morality, is called the pleasure principle.
According to Sigmund Freud human beings are essentially biological creatures with strong instincts, one among them is aggression, it as Freud calls: “an original self subsisting instinctual disposition in man . . . the greatest impediment to civilization.” At this point the difference between primitive and civilized man arises. Primitive man could satisfy his bodily needs in his id, as it is, whenever and wherever he wanted.
Thus he could achieve his freedom fully in his gratification of his primary needs. But even at that age, the ego begins to develop soon after birth and it plays a major role in mediating between the id and reality. And wherever the id operates according to the pleasure principle, the ego operates according to the reality principle: taking in to account past experiences, it seeks the best time to obtain the most pleasure with the least pain or damage to the self. But with the civilization, when morals and rules come in to practice the role of ego becomes more prominent. The idea of the super ego comes here. The super ego is the component of personality that represents the ideals and moral standards of society as established in the process of socialization of human beings.
It works according to the morality principle with reason, circumspection and pride, always efforts to protect the society. It is the voice of conscience that forces the ego to consider not only the real but also the ideal. It constantly commands the sexual and aggressive urges be shifted, and pleasure be postponed in the pursuit of lofty ideals of moral perfection. It backs these commands with rewards for ‘good’ behavior (feeling of pride and self esteem) and punishment for even thinking about ‘bad’ behavior (feeling of guilt and inferiority). And this primal guilt is, according to Freud, the origin of civilization.
In this struggle between pleasure principle and reality principle, defense mechanism comes in to forward in its process of blocking harmful impulses and reducing the anxiety, which arise as a result of the struggle between id and superego The most basic defense mechanism is repression: pushing unacceptable id impulses back into the unconscious. Thus, according to Sigmund Freud, this act of repression or subjugation of human instincts happened in the process of civilization. With civilization humans imposes values, norms, rules and orders on themselves thus they act as a barrier in fulfilling human instincts. When the ego loses the struggle of reconciling the divergent demands of the id and the superego, the reality comes in the form of anxiety.
Id impulses are always repressed in order to get rid of this persisting anxiety. In Civilization and its Discontents (1930), Freud argued that civilization itself came about through such a re channeling of primitive drives. What is done there is, displace the forbidden impulses and redirect them toward the pursuit of socially desirable goals. Section – 3DiscussionThus, in the light of Sigmund Freud’s theory of repression, human being is not free enough to fulfill his own desires in his civilized state and always struggle over suppressing his basic instincts. Organizations such as religion, law, family, politics arise with civilization, establishing more and more rules, orders, norms and traditions. So whenever the id asks for a fulfillment of an instinct, superego imposes social values and orders, which it has learned in the process of socialization by restricting the human’s freedom of fulfilling instincts. This changes of instincts is the changes of the mental order in civilization.
The animal drives become human instincts under the influence of external forces such as society, family, religion, politics and so forth. Psychoanalysts use concepts as sublimation, projection, repression, displacement, denial to describe the way in which human redirect or repress their primary drives in the civilized society and free from the sense of guilt.For instance, a man who has had many extramarital affairs may begin to accuse his wife of being unfaithful, thereby transferring his own shortcomings to her. Similarly, people who constantly accuse the young for being sexually promiscuous may simply be projecting their own sexual urges to others.
And further sublimation is a kind of displacement in which illicit urges are redirected toward the pursuit of socially desirable form. Freud suggests that Leonardo Da Vinci’s urge to paint Madonna was a sublimated expression of his longing for reunion with his mother, from whom he had been separate at an early age. In this manner, it is the society and social order that decide the way in which the primary drives of human is satisfied. With this redirecting and control, animal man becomes a human man who transforms his desires from immediate satisfaction to delayed satisfaction, pleasure to restraint of pleasure, joy to toil, receptiveness to productiveness, absence of repression to security and so forth. According to Freud, this transformation from pleasure principle to reality principle is the source of civilization. It is the society, family and other social organizations that train human from their very early ages to control and suppress their primitive urges and behave according to social norms and values.
Freud’s personality development theory shows the shaping of adult personality by early life experiences. For instance psychoanalytic theorists consider toilet training to be a developmental training point because it usually represents the child’s first encounter with society’s rules regarding acceptable behavior. And with civilization social organizations impose taboos such as incest taboos, monogamous marriages, place rules on age of marriage, forbid pre marital and extra marital relationships and thus, control the sexual instincts of humans. For instance before colonization, polygamy, polyandry was some of accepted forms of marriages in Sri Lanka, but with British ruling and order system marriage was limited only to monogamous marriage.
Like this due to these taboos human cannot satisfy his sexual urges whenever and wherever they want, and it is a repression over their instinctual freedom. Family is very important in this process of civilization. The family precedes society. Families were formed at an early stage in the process of human evolution. Families were formed sexual activity that is no longer appeared in cycles like those of animals.
Once sexual desire was constant males found it desirable to keep females (their sexual objects) around all the time. The female found this arrangement desirable because it protected her children.In this way family, traditions, norms and values always control human beings.
Collective teaches the man to work on reality principle according to the rules of the communal, which were established on the good of all in the society. For instance, the freedom of clothing according to one’s wish has to be sacrificed with the civilization. Human had to wear according to the established norms and the culture of the society where they belonged. In civilized societies primitive desires were steered to controlled desires through constraints, prohibitions, taboos and punishments. Consequently, as a whole if we define freedom as the freedom of fulfilling instinctual desires, it is very clear that with civilization human had sacrificed their own freedom, which primitive man had privileged .In the book Civilization and its Discontents Freud states his views on the broad question of man’s place in the world, a place he defines in terms of ceaseless conflict between the individual’s quest for freedom and society’s demand for conformity.
In the explanation of continual conflict between pleasure principle and reality principle, and repression, which arise as a defense mechanism over this struggle, Freud discusses very clearly and logically the way in which human has to pay his own freedom as a price for civilization.However at the same time we have to consider other definitions of freedom in the modern ideologies, such as, freedom is the ability to act freely: a state in which somebody is able to act and live as he or she chooses, without being subject to any, or to any undue, restraints and restrictions – live in freedom; physical freedom – the possibility for a person to go where he/she wants and do what s/he wants; – and more importantly absence of something unpleasant: the state of being unaffected by, or not subject to, something unpleasant or unwanted. At the same time civil liberties, which emphasize equality and implies the ordering of liberty within society so that the freedom of one person does not infringe on the rights of others. So the question arises though the primitive man had the instinctual freedom whether he could satisfy it fully and freely in his primitive state. Freedom in that state always had the threat of nature intransigence and the unpredictable violence of interpersonal relations that are not regulated. The aggressive, conflict fraught and destructive instincts and impulses become self destructive for lack of any norms.
The aggressive trend is a driving force behind the transition to a possible state of coexistence. Desire, instinct in whatever spontaneous form it may be expressed, offers no guarantee of leading to possible pleasure if it is content to act solely on immediate impulse. In this way critics state that infinite freedom is tantamount to the negation of freedom. Primitive man in fact had the best of the bargain, since he or she experienced no restriction upon his or her instincts. On the other hand, his or her certainty of enjoying such happiness for long was minimal indeed. Civilized man has exchanged a measure of happiness for a measure of security.
More precise information on the mores of a present-day savage peoples have taught us that there are no grounds at all for envying them the freedom of their instinctual life. Furthermore some points of Sigmund Freud’s argument also imply this idea and at the same time hint non-repressive civilization. The following quote of Sigmund Freud clears the above argument. “In fact, primitive man was better off in knowing no restrictions of instinct. To counterbalance this, his prospects of enjoying this happiness for any length of time were very slender. Civilized man has exchanged a portion of his possibilities for happiness for a portion of security. We must not forget that in the primal family only the head of it enjoyed this instinctual freedom; the rest lived in slavish suppression.
” (Sigmund Freud, 1930)And at the same time the description of man and the nature of his desires that comes in the Civilization and its Discontents also explain this fact further. “Men are not gentle creatures, who want to be loved, who at the most can defend themselves if they are attacked; they are, on the contrary, creatures among whose instinctual endowments is to be reckoned a powerful share of aggressiveness. As a result, their neighbor is for them not only a potential helper or sexual object, but also someone who tempts them to satisfy their aggressiveness on him, to exploit his capacity for work without compensation, to use him sexually without his consent, to seize his possessions, to humiliate him, to cause him pain, to torture and to kill him. Homo homini lupus man is wolf to man” Thus, it is clear that even though in the sense of instinctual freedom primitive man could privileged self determination with no restrictions, in modern sense of freedom it causes in violating the freedom of the other as one is going to practice his instinctual freedom fully and wholly without considering the rights and privileges of the other. It may put the life of the other in to danger, the wishes, needs and requests of the other might be threatened when one begins to fulfill his animal drives as it is completely ignoring the consent of the other. As a whole, by considering this counter argument it can be concluded that even though primitive man could achieve his instinctual freedom at the prehistoric stage, in the context of modern ideologies of freedom, human being possibly will achieve freedom in different senses with civilization. Bibliography1.
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