Freud Essay Based On A Mythical Monster

Freud Essay Based On A Mythical Monster-77
It is an argument whose apparent obviousness, even banality, bothers Freud, who remarks several times on just how self-evident are the claims of his first five chapters, before he tackles the more novel theme of the death drive.117), the place of animals and animality within its exposition introduces latent complications that risk putting this “common knowledge” into question.

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However, a “desire for freedom” may also arise ] by civilization and may thus become the basis in them of hostility to civilization.

The urge for freedom, therefore, is directed against particular forms and demands of civilization or against civilization altogether.

Freud’s most explicit avowal of the logic at work here comes two years after , in the paragraph immediately following Freud’s allusion to the “feeble animal organism” of man’s ontogenic/phylogenic past.

A country that has “attained a high level of civilization,” Freud avers here, is one in which “wild [] flourishes” (92 [451]).

However, at the core of this initial engagement with the central problematic of the book an unacknowledged yet critical tension arises between two competing conceptions of animality.

The first conception, while it is initially broached in this chapter, goes on to have a pervasive presence throughout the rest of the text and as others have shown.It consists in the attempt to code and circumscribe certain aspects of man’s being as “animal.” This conception is heavily marked by Freud’s adherence to a certain modality of evolutionary biology and may be summed up, using Philip Armstrong’s term, as “therio-primitivist” (Armstrong 142ff.).That is to say that while Freud, good Darwinian that he is, readily and repeatedly acknowledges that man is just another animal, when he invokes the putative “animality” of the human he does so in a tendentious way, .Animals and animality are not, then, just points of reference in the development of Freud’s declared theses on man and civilization.They are also potential “pressure” points at which distinct theoretical orientations and assumptions overlap and which can, under scrutiny, imperil the cogency of Freud’s argument.The real theoretical value of these notes has tended to be overlooked.In them, it is not this or that conception of the human/animal relation that is at stake.Freud then goes on to distinguish between two different urges towards individual freedom and their relation to civilized life.One type of urge — exemplified by an individual revolt against an injustice — may be, Freud claims, entirely compatible with the development of civilization and beneficial to the community as a whole. What has tended to be left unaddressed, or at least uninterrogated, is the extent to which the text’s most fundamental claims with respect to these two categories, and to the struggle between them, are conceptualized, illustrated, or articulated with reference to animals and animality.If at a manifest level is Freud’s most sustained meditation on the nature of man, it also the Freudian text that is perhaps most densely and dependently subtended by propositions and presuppositions about “the animal.” It is these easily overlooked yet significant theoretical perspectives, and the latent implications they have for the economy of Freud’s main argument, which I wish to examine here.


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