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Civilization and Its Discontents Civilization and Its Discontents by Sigmund Freud
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Civilization and Its Discontents Quotes (showing 1-30 of 56)
“Most people do not really want freedom, because freedom involves responsibility, and most people are frightened of responsibility.”
Sigmund Freud, Civilization and Its Discontents
“It is impossible to escape the impression that people commonly use false standards of measurement — that they seek power, success and wealth for themselves and admire them in others, and that they underestimate what is of true value in life.”
Sigmund Freud, Civilization and Its Discontents
“It sounds like a fairy-tale, but not only that; this story of what man by his science and practical inventions has achieved on this earth, where he first appeared as a weakly member of the animal kingdom, and on which each individual of his species must ever again appear as a helpless infant... is a direct fulfilment of all, or of most, of the dearest wishes in his fairy-tales. All these possessions he has acquired through culture. Long ago he formed an ideal conception of omnipotence and omniscience which he embodied in his gods. Whatever seemed unattainable to his desires - or forbidden to him - he attributed to these gods. One may say, therefore, that these gods were the ideals of his culture. Now he has himself approached very near to realizing this ideal, he has nearly become a god himself. But only, it is true, in the way that ideals are usually realized in the general experience of humanity. Not completely; in some respects not at all, in others only by halves. Man has become a god by means of artificial limbs, so to speak, quite magnificent when equipped with all his accessory organs; but they do not grow on him and they still give him trouble at times... Future ages will produce further great advances in this realm of culture, probably inconceivable now, and will increase man's likeness to a god still more.”
Sigmund Freud, Civilization and Its Discontents
“Life, as we find it, is too hard for us; it brings us too many pains, disappointments and impossible tasks. In order to bear it we cannot dispense with palliative measures... There are perhaps three such measures: powerful deflections, which cause us to make light of our misery; substitutive satisfactions, which diminish it; and intoxicating substances, which make us insensible to it.”
Sigmund Freud, Civilization and Its Discontents
“It is that we are never so defenseless against suffering as when we love, never no helplessly unhappy as when we have lost our loved object of its love.”
Sigmund Freud, Civilization and Its Discontents
“Beauty has no obvious use; nor is there any clear cultural necessity for it. Yet civilization could not do without it.”
Sigmund Freud, Civilization and Its Discontents
“My love is something valuable to me which I ought not to throw away without reflection.”
Sigmund Freud, Civilization and Its Discontents
“A love that does not discriminate seems to me to forfeit a part of its own value, by doing an injustice to its object; and secondly, not all men are worthy of love.”
Sigmund Freud, Civilization and Its Discontents
tags: love
“When a love-relationship is at its height there is no room left for any interest in the environment; a pair of lovers are sufficient to themselves”
Sigmund Freud, Civilization and Its Discontents
“We are so constituted that we can gain intense pleasure only from the contrast, and only very little from the condition itself.”
Sigmund Freud, Civilization and Its Discontents
“The commandment, 'Love thy neighbour as thyself', is the strongest defence against human aggressiveness and an excellent example of the unpsychological [expectations] of the cultural super-ego. The commandment is impossible to fulfil; such an enormous inflation of love can only lower its value, not get rid of the difficulty. Civilization pays no attention to all this; it merely admonishes us that the harder it is to obey the precept the more meritorious it is to do so. But anyone who follows such a precept in present-day civilization only puts himself at a disadvantage vis-a-vis the person who disregards it. What a potent obstacle to civilization aggressiveness must be, if the defence against it can cause as much unhappiness as aggressiveness itself! 'Natural' ethics, as it is called, has nothing to offer here except the narcissistic satisfaction of being able to think oneself better than others. At this point the ethics based on religion introduces its promises of a better after-life. But so long as virtue is not rewarded here on earth, ethics will, I fancy, preach in vain. I too think it quite certain that a real change in the relations of human beings to possessions would be of more help in this direction than any ethical commands; but the recognition of this fact among socialists has been obscured and made useless for practical purposes by a fresh idealistic misconception of human nature.”
Sigmund Freud, Civilization and Its Discontents
“we are threatened with suffering from three directions: from our body, which is doomed to decay..., from the external world which may rage against us with overwhelming and merciless force of destruction, and finally from our relations with other men... This last source is perhaps more painful to use than any other. (p77)”
Sigmund Freud, Civilization and Its Discontents
“One thing only do I know for certain and that is that man's judgments of value follow directly his wishes for happiness-that, accordingly, they are an attempt to support his illusions with arguments. [p.111]”
Sigmund Freud, Civilization and Its Discontents
“The time comes when each of us has to give up as illusions the expectations which, in his youth, he pinned upon his fellow-men, and when he may learn how much difficulty and pain has been added to his life by their ill-will.”
Sigmund Freud, Civilization and Its Discontents
“Man has, as it were, become a kind of prosthetic God.”
Sigmund Freud, Civilization and Its Discontents
“It is impossible to overlook the extent to which civilization is built up upon a renunciation of instinct....”
Sigmund Freud, Civilization and Its Discontents
“I can imagine that the oceanic feeling could become connected with religion later on. That feeling of oneness with the universe which is its ideational content sounds very like a first attempt at the consolations of religion, like another way taken by the ego of denying the dangers it sees threatening it in the external world.”
Sigmund Freud, Civilization and Its Discontents
“No other technique for the conduct of life attaches the individual so firmly to reality as laying emphasis on work; for his work at least gives him a secure place in a portion of reality, in the human community. The possibility it offers of displacing a large amount of libidinal components, whether narcissistic, aggressive or even erotic, on to professional work and on to the human relations connected with it lends it a value by no means second to what it enjoys as something indispensible to the preservation and justification of existence in society. Professional activity is a source of special satisfaction if it is a freely chosen one — if, that is to say, by means of sublimation, it makes possible the use of existing inclinations, of persisting or constitutionally reinforced instinctual impulses. And yet, as a path to happiness, work is not highly prized by men. They do not strive after it as they do after other possibilities of satisfaction. The great majority of people only work under the stress of necessity, and this natural human aversion to work raises most difficult social problems.”
Sigmund Freud, Civilization and Its Discontents
“Men are not gentle creatures who want to be loved, and 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]. Who, in the face of all his experience of life and of history, will have the courage to dispute this assertion?”
Sigmund Freud, Civilization and Its Discontents
“All neurotics, and many others besides, take exception to the fact that 'inter urinas et faeces nascimur.”
Sigmund Freud, Civilization and Its Discontents
“The element of truth behind all this, which people are so ready to disavow, is that men are not gentle creatures who want to be loved, and 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.”
Sigmund Freud, Civilization and Its Discontents
“I may now add that 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.”
Sigmund Freud, Civilization and Its Discontents
“We have learned, for example, that the more virtuous a man is the more severe is his super-ego, and that he blames himself for misfortunes for which he is clearly not responsible.”
Sigmund Freud, Civilization and Its Discontents
“In this way the ego detaches itself from the external world. It is more correct to say: Originally the ego includes everything, later it detaches from itself the external world. The ego-feeling we are aware of now is thus only a shrunken vestige of a far more extensive feeling - a feeling which embraced the universe and expressed an inseparable connection of the ego with the external world.”
Sigmund Freud, Civilization and Its Discontents
“Suffering comes from three quarters: from our own body, which is destined to decay and dissolution, and cannot even dispense with anxiety and pain as danger-signals; from the outer world, which can rage against us with the most powerful and pitiless forces of destruction; and finally from our relations with other men.”
Sigmund Freud, Civilization and Its Discontents
“I, for example, recently finished writing an article about the latest wave of “home-grown” Islamic suicide-murderers. It was impossible not to notice one thing that their profiles and Web sites had in common. All of them complained about the impossibility of finding a woman, or sometimes a woman of sufficient piety. Meanwhile their public propaganda was hot with disgust and indignation at the phenomenon of female inchastity. The connection between repression and orgasmically violent action appeared woefully evident.”
Christopher Hitchens, Civilization and Its Discontents
“Cilvēku lielais vairums strādā tikai nepieciešamības spiesti, un no šī cilvēka dabiskā riebuma pret darbu izriet pašas smagākās sociālās problēmas.”
Sigmund Freud, Īgnums kultūrā
“The element of truth behind all this, which people are so ready to disavow, is that [humans] are not gentle creatures who want to be loved, and who at the most can defend themselves if attacked; they are, on the contrary, creatures among whose instinctual endowments is to be reckoned a powerful share of aggressiveness. ... It is always possible to bind together a considerable number of people in love, so long as there are other people left over to receive the manifestations of their aggressiveness.”
Sigmund Freud, Civilization and Its Discontents
“In my Future of an Illusion I was concerned [...] with what the ordinary man understands by his religion, that system of doctrines and pledges that on the one hand explains the riddle of this world to him with an enviable completeness, and on the other assures him that a solicitous Providence is watching over him and will make up to him in a future existence for any shortcomings in this life. The ordinary man cannot imagine this Providence in any other from but that of a greatly exalted father, for only such a one could understand the needs of the sons of men, or be softened by their prayers and placated by the signs of their remorse. The whole thing is so patently infantile, so incongruous with reality, that to one whose attitude to humanity is friendly it is painful to think that the great majority of mortals will never be able to rise above this view of life.”
Sigmund Freud, Civilization and Its Discontents
“Homo homini lupus [man is wolf to man]. Who in the face of all his experience of life and of history, will have the courage to dispute this assertion?”
Sigmund Freud, Civilization and Its Discontents

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