Ultimately, I wish to read the text’s implicit instabilities not as mere deficits of thought but, in part at least, as symptomatic indices of a certain, problematic “constraint” exercised upon thought by the human/animal relation itself.
Ultimately, I wish to read the text’s implicit instabilities not as mere deficits of thought but, in part at least, as symptomatic indices of a certain, problematic “constraint” exercised upon thought by the human/animal relation itself.Tags: Introduction Thesis And ConclusionShort Essay On Old CustomsThesis Crm TelecommunicationSteps In Problem Solving In MathPersonal Narrative Essay ExperienceWhat Is The For Writing A Book Report
In taking up these concerns my purpose is not to try to identify in a single or univocal Freudian position on the so-called human/animal relation, which could then be applauded or condemned depending on its relative anthropocentricity.
On the contrary, what I am concerned with examining in are precisely the underlying variances and tensions that mark Freud’s thinking in this regard.
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.
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.Like so much else in Freud’s thinking, however, his attitude to civilization and acculturation is deeply marked by the influence of the evolutionary biologist Ernst Haeckel and to the famous Haeckelian principle that “ontogenesis recapitulates phylogenesis.” As the chapter goes on, Freud is emphatic that civilization is not a phenomenon that happened once and for all in man’s phyletic past.Rather, the evolution from “natural” animal organism to civilized being is to be recapitulated in the ontogenesis of each new life we call “human.” His most striking articulation of this claim in chapter 3 appears, almost in passing, during the celebrated discussion of technics and of man’s development into a “prosthetic god”: ), in the natural, unacculturated condition of the defenceless suckling, the earlier appearance of a feeble theroid ancestor.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 ).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.As Bleakley emphasizes, this claim is nothing less than the correlative of Freud’s central, metapsychological argument that man’s “cultural advancement” is achieved precisely at the cost of his “instinctual or animal body [being] cultured or tamed [...] through the [...] mechanisms of sublimation and displacement” (32).The crucial discussion of freedom takes place towards the end of the chapter where Freud is considering civilization’s function of regulating relationships among individuals — “adjust[ing] the mutual relations,” as he described it in the initial definition of ) requires the inhibiting of certain individual wishes, liberty must, he proposes, have been “greatest before there was any civilization,” before, that is, man had emerged from his purely theriod condition (ibid).Freud only begins to tackle in depth the struggle between civilization and the drives in the third chapter.Here, he elaborates what he sees as civilization’s key characteristics, finishing up his exposition with an initial reflection on man’s supposedly unique cultural disaffection within it — owing, Freud argues, to man’s tendency to cling to individual freedom against the demands of collective living.