Sigmund Freud, a psychologist in the 20th century, published his views about sexuality and children. He coined different phases that a human will go through as they develop. According to Freud, each stage has to be resolved before the next one starts. If someone gets stuck in a stage, they could have developmental problems later in life. The first stage is oral, occurring from birth to one year; where the infant fixates on their mouth by biting, sucking, breastfeeding, etc. This can sometimes come up later in life as people who bite their nails or smoke. The second phase is anal, where from one to three years a child is very impressionable on potty training. The way you are trained also develops some of people’s later relationships with authority. The phallic stage is next, when children are three to six years old. This is the Oedipus complex, where sons are attracted to their mom and daughters are attracted to their father. This is resolved through identification, and this phase is also where the concentration on the genital areas appears. Freud goes into other stages such as latency and genital, but those are for puberty and doesn’t so much concern a child. As it can be seen, Freud brought some revolutionary thought into his time. All of his findings were experimental, and came with a lot of controversy.
In “The future of An Illusion”, many citizens are left to fend for themselves on a path of self-destruction. Freud believed that the most pivotal assets to having superior mental abilities can be attributed to a good set of morals as well as art and ideals. Freud believed that the physical yields of a society as well as the skills and actions of a society are the “Narcissistic Ideal.” A society based on these ideals has a clear and definable direction to which that society is going. He also believed that religion clearly outlines, as well as supports, a proper moral path for citizens to follow.
It is asserted in various religions that the individual is the enemy of society in various definitions. It is wrong for a citizen to give in to his/her more primal urges such as sexual acts or envy. Should these individuals renounce these primal urges, some sort of divine reward is secured for themselves. Freud believed that these urges, though they can be recognized, cannot be completely renounced. Citizens believe in religion for various reasons. Most simply, religion stemmed back from our ancestors and it is wrong to question the elder. Freud believes that it is our duty as citizens to question what our ancestors are informing us with, especially if it really is fact.
Freud also has a theory that Gods are needed to explain the natural terrors, and satiate our fears of natural phenomena that citizens are unable to control, death and natural disaster just being a few examples. Citizens are able to project the shortcomings of the world around them on religion because he/she/it would be an overlying fated power. In many monotheistic religions, God is seen as an omniscient and omnipotent father figure in the way that it would lead citizens through the greater challenges life presents them with.
In all, Freud hopes that in the future of civilization, “science will go beyond religion, and reason will replace faith in God.” Although, his reasoning is understandable, one must also respect that this theory could be viewed as cynical to those who follow religious practices. Freud attempts mainly to separate from any blurred lines of reality as much as possible. Such psychoanalysis of citizens of his time, as well as separation of his theories from spirituality is quite distinct from other writers we have studied thus far this semester and should be noted.
If anyone is interested, I stumbled upon a Ted Talk. Personally I enjoy Ted Talks because they are quick, entertaining, and mind opening. With what has recently been going on, in the world, in the United States, and right here in little Geneseo, I believe this one is pretty relevant. Sally Kohn is a lawyer, journalist, and political commentator, not to mention a lesbian. She has appeared on Fox News multiple times. This is her view on emotional correctness versus political correctness and where we, as a community, have gone wrong. (There is some swearing)
Kohn talks about the power of respecting each other on a personal level. We may not all agree on certain things, however, we need to “stop talking around each other, and start talking to each other.”
The other day, Mrs. Foreman showed examples of how slaves struggled to be heard. How they turned to art and print to appeal on an emotional level, not just a legal stance.Douglass, however, was filled with fire and passion in his fourth of July speech in Rochester. Yet, some of the stories he tells about women being ripped from children and the physical abuse reach the audience on an emotional level. Douglass goes on to call out the Catholic church claiming their actions in the slave movement are sacrilegious and contradictory. He concludes with “I will not enlarge further on your national inconsistencies. The existence of slavery in this country brands your republicanism as a sham, your humanity as a base presence, and your christianity as a lie.”
Kohn states “Political persuasion begins with emotional correctness.” One could argue Natural Law would go hand in hang with emotional correctness. Emotional correctness is feeling compassion and empathy for others around you. The power of emotional correctness could lead to reforms based off of natural law, providing better lives for blacks, Muslims, Syrians, and many more effected by racism and segregation today.
In class, we were discussing what Thoreau meant about being truly awake in his book, Walden. In paragraph 14 of “Where I lived and What I Lived for” he writes,
“Little is to be expected of that day, if it can be called a day, to which we are not awakened by our Genius, but by the mechanical nudgings of some servitor, are not awakened by our own newly-acquired force and aspirations from within, accompanied by the undulations of celestial music, instead of factory bells, and a fragrance filling the air—to a higher life than we fell asleep from; and thus the darkness bear its fruit, and prove itself to be good, no less than the light” (Thoreau, 1854).
We are not truly awake if we are content to live in a manner that does not fulfill us. It is so much easier to exist in a state of half-consciousness, where our actions are not derived from true inspiration. By living as others direct us, we abandon our inner callings and instead turn to work on something that holds no meaning. Thoreau changed his whole world in order to “live deliberately”; to shake off the mindless drone of purposeless life. He sought the meaning of what it is to be truly awake and shared what he discovered with us all.
Thoreau’s mission of trying to wake people out of their mindless monotony is still ongoing. In 2014, The Huffington Post published an article that aligned with Thoreau’s beliefs about living. I invite you to read it and share what you think.
Both William Loyd Garrison and Henry David Thoreau both agreed on the fact that slavery was unjust and a violation of our most basic human rights. However they differed marginally on their ways of opposing.
Most notably Thoreau touched upon slavery in his essay Civil Disobedience. Here he concluded that should a government be unjust we are well within our rights to withhold our obedience. He questions when rebellion is justified, and in the case of him refusing to pay taxes to a government that supported war and slavery, things he found morally abhorrent, he felt justified. His problem with most reformers is the fact that they typically petitioned the government, thus recognizing an authority that it holds over them, and honoring the will of the majority. This is also applied to voting, because it only honored the will of the majority, when it was his view that the individual was the only decider of right and wrong. By simply refusing to pay their quota to the treasury the individual had the ability to not support their government in their decisions, in a clear nonviolent manner.
Similarly Garrison also advocated for nonviolent protests, and stressed passive resistance. He also called for immediate emancipation of all slaves, and said they could assimilate properly. Garrison was viewed as one of the most outspoken radical abolitionists, despite his passive resistance tactics. Whereas Thoreau was viewed as a spokesperson for abolition, he mostly restricted his help to the cause to the local and individual level, while Garrison published 1,820 issues of the Liberator. Garrison was more interested in reaching the majority of people in the farthest reach he could obtain.
The main characteristic difference we can find between the two despite their major similarities is Thoreau’s stress on the individual and resistance to the government. Although Garrison opposed slavery, he wrote as if pleading the government to make changes, where Thoreau was more inclined to just disregard the governments authority until they earned his disobedience. Garrison was moved to devote all of his energy and resources to a tireless crusade for abolition.
A student of Emerson, Margaret Fuller was one of America’s first major feminist writers, authoring Summer on the Lakes and Women in the 19th Century. She is well known for her literary criticism and journalism; she contributed to The Dial , a quarterly periodical that related ideas and opinions inherent to New England transcendentalism. Though Fuller never met Thoreau in person, she was connected to him through shared ideals and Emerson. The closest the two ever came to meeting was when Thoreau, sent by Emerson, visited the seen of her death. Thoreau later wrote to Emerson about this visit and we were able to find, at least a piece of, what he wrote here.
In trying to connect Margaret with a section of Walden, we looked at “Reading” paragraph 12 where it says, “It is time that we had uncommon schools, that we did not leave off our education when we become men and women.” Given the fact that Fuller was clearly educated, even a professor, we believe that she would no doubt support this notion of Thoreau’s. We thought it was also important that Thoreau was progressive enough to include women in that statement, seeing as how women didn’t often pursue advanced education at that time, let alone education after education, and as Margaret was a feminist, we thought she would have really appreciated that inclusion.
The Political Economy is a complex term that is challenging to define clearly. The term politics rooted in the definition, “of, for, or relating to citizens” whereas the term economy is rooted in “household management”. Today this term is defined as the study of production and trade in relations with customs, government, and distribution of national income and wealth. Philosopher John Ruskin’s theory on the origins of political economy is utilized to further our understanding in addition to Karl Marx’s input on this matter.
John Ruskin believed the political economy was a theoretical response to the vast expansion of manufacturing industry in the late eighteenth century and the consequent rise to power of middle-class entrepreneurs. The subsequent product is the oppression of the working class. One that is caused by the division of labor proposed by philosopher Adam Smith.
Karl Marx takes this concept further by highlighting specific weaknesses in the political economy. For one, it does not factor in the labor that is exerted by the laborer, instead it considers only the capitalist’s labor production needs. This system does not explicitly define the value of labor, of capital, and the connection between capital and land.
“Political economy throws no light on the cause of the division between labor and capital, and between capital and land. When, for example, it defines the relationship of wages to profit, it takes the interest of the capitalists to be the ultimate cause, i.e., it takes for granted what it is supposed to explain.”
Secondly, it does not predict the evolution of ideal situations turning harmful. Performing self-actualizing work such as crafting arts will eventually lead to patrons or interested consumers. The artist then becomes a businessperson due to their product’s success. Eventually, he or she will expand their business and prey on smaller ventures. Competition was fair at first, but then it grows into a monopoly. This is all driven by greed in wanting more from our products and to want even more from labor.
“Precisely because political economy does not grasp the way the movement is connected, it was possible to oppose, for instance, the doctrine of competition to the doctrine of monopoly, the doctrine of the freedom of the crafts to the doctrine of the guild, the doctrine of the division of landed property to the doctrine of the big estate – for competition, freedom of the crafts and the division of landed property were explained and comprehended only as accidental, premeditated and violent consequences of monopoly, of the guild system, and of feudal property, not as their necessary, inevitable and natural consequences.”
Karl Marx, in The Power of Money once claimed:
“If money is the bond binding me to human life, binding society to me, connecting me with nature and man, is not money the bond of all bonds? Can it not dissolve and bind all ties?”
This quote explains that Marx believes money is what ties the human race together and to this planet. Marx eludes how money has a divine power, comparable to how we use religion to guide us through daily activities. Marx focuses on how having money can be very beneficial to the individual, providing them with whatever they desire, even the capability to bring things from the “realm of imagination” into actual existence. This could go as far as saying money can create power and happiness.
Locke states in The Second Treatise of Civil Government in chapter V on property:
“Thus in the beginning all the world was America, and more so than that is now; for no such thing as money was any where known. Find out something that hath the use and value of money amongst his neighbours, you shall see the same man will begin presently to enlarge
Locke believes that money is an ideology that doesn’t need to be in paper form in order for it to be created and used by society. However, he states that people will begin to covet whatever is being used to hold value, in order to become as wealthy as possible. This idea of holding the most wealth ties in with Marx’s idea that more money leads to power and happiness, while having less goods results in property. Moreover, with the creation of money Locke seems to believe that individuals use it to advance themselves in society; a theme Marx noted and worked to prevent. Previously, people only used and took what was necessary for survival, there was no need to have the most of one good because everyone provided for themselves and traded numerous goods equally. When something is created as a universal trade, such as money, people remove themselves from nature by becoming greedy and taking more than what is needed.
Locke and Marx seem to agree on the power of money and its effects on society, how money brings out the negative traits in human character and seems to remove us from what is truly important in a “community.” Locke focuses on how our relationship with the natural order of the world degrades due to coveting money. Marx focuses on how our relationship with each other, in a community, degrades by collecting money. This leads leading to extreme poverty and extreme wealth, with no care for the other side. Marx does imply that with more money you may become a more appealing and powerful person, while it seems like Locke would not support this statement. Overall Locke and Marx appear to believe that your true individual characteristics are more important to a functioning community, to be in balance with nature, than what others have projected onto and instilled with you.
The American dream is that we can all create our own fortune, and with equal opportunity. But why are we so preoccupied with the creation of wealth? Is the only measure of happiness and success, the amount of money you have in the bank?
Locke wrote in The Second Treatise of Government that money could be as a medium to exchange for perishable goods that someone may have in excess. He did not put the worth of every object in terms of money, rather the goods themselves were the objects of value, and money something that we simply agreed to be worth something in terms of goods, for ease of trade.
Yet now all goods are appraised in terms of money, thus leading to the growth of many new dilemmas. Because when the worth of anything can be measured by one sole thing, then that thing is the only object that has any true value. This translates to living beings too, society manages to make humans valued at how much currency they can collect.
In Karl Marx’s manuscript The Power of Money he refers to money as “the general confounding and confusing of all things”. An example of this would be that someone of wealth could easily become an artist, easily buying the materials that they need, and then having the connections to put their work out there and be respected. While someone else could have an affinity for art but not have the notoriety or means to be an artist. Therefore we have the opposite for both of these people, they become what they are not.
Many would point out then that plenty of artists have come from nothing. People like JK Rowling and Eminem started out as nobodies and raised themselves to be who they are now. But they are only considered artists because they have money, so now they are people of worth. Had Rowling written Harry Potter and not sold a single copy of it she would not be considered an accomplished artist, but since she grew a huge fortune from that franchise she is considered one of the best. Many famous artists weren’t considered to possess skills of any merit, and their art never earned them a cent during their own lifetime, like Van Gogh. He committed suicide at the age of 37 after only being able to sell two of his paintings. Yet now he is considered one of the most acclaimed artists of history and his paintings are worth a fortune. So when his paintings had no monetary value he was a failure, but when they’re worth a small fortune, he was a success. Yet the art itself never changed.
The point I’m trying to make is that the only value that we place on talent, and success is how much money we can garner. We live in a world where we are worthless without money.
Passage- “Above all we must avoid postulating “society” again as an abstraction vis-à-vis the individual. The individual is the social being.His manifestations of life – even if they may not appear in the direct form of communal manifestations of life carried out in association with others – are therefore an expression and confirmation of social life. Man’s individual and species-life are not different, however much – and this is inevitable – the mode of existence of the individual is a more particular or more general mode of the life of the species, or the life of the species is a more particular or more general individual life.”-From Marx’s manuscript
Karl Marx’s translated word for “society” actually stems from a German dichotomy which is a combination of society and community. This has a major influence on the passage we reviewed because it is important to understand clearly what the author was originally intending to say. Marx is telling the citizens to be aware that they are the society. We must not allow ourselves to separate this from the individual. The individuals are what makes up society as a whole. No matter how hard an individual may try, they will not be able to separate themselves from what society is, because it is the citizens which define it.
This can be viewed in a negative or a positive connotation. Personally, I see a majority of positive connotation. Citizens are never alone, and predominantly working for the greater good of his/her community. Individualism is clearly not lacking in this idea when other facets of Marx’s manuscript are referenced (as discussed in class). It is our duty as citizens to keep up with society and change it to fit ourselves as we see best fit for the whole.
We discussed the old attitude of “Well that’s just the way things are” when discussing discontent with the current society. We as individuals all have the power to influence what society is. We noted the example of recycling. If more and more citizens were to recycle, our society would change, as we have noticed it to over the course of the past 40 years or so. Changing a society does not have to be a monumental task if every citizen simply makes small changes in his/her way of life in regard to the bigger changes they want to see in the world.