Freud: Civilization & Die Weltanschauung

Sigmund Freud was a controversial Austrian neurologist who is largely considered the founder of the psychoanalysis field of psychology. For this piece, Civilization & Die Weltanschauung, Freud diverts from the field of abnormal psych and the study of sexuality to write about the relationship between economics, civilization, philosophy, religion and science. Freud writes in 1918, around the end of the first World War.

It is clear that Freud is addressing an audience for this lecture, as he uses phrases such as “In an earlier lecture we have emphasized…”, beyond that Freud utilizes rhetoric skillfully to make his point, starting with the first sentence of the lecture in which he defines Weltanschauung,

 I mean an intellectual construction which gives a unified solution of all the problems of our existence in virtue of a comprehensive hypothesis, a construction, therefore, in which no question is left open and in which everything in which we are interested finds a place.

This definition can be applied to all of the topics on which he speaks. He, however, does not think that everything Weltanschauung applies to is created equal. Religion, he says, creates disastrous results by inhibiting thought, whereas he believes that reason/intellect are the human race’s best hope for the future. All of this culminates in Freud’s understanding of civilization and its evolution,  the struggle between death and the force that brings individuals together.

As an earlier poster pointed out, it is clear from Freud’s conclusion that he writes under the influence of war. In 1918 the Great War was coming to a close and Freud’s homeland of Austria was suffering massive losses. He was certainly not alone in seeking the meaning of the struggle between men.

2 thoughts on “Freud: Civilization & Die Weltanschauung

  1. I agree with the idea that religion will have disastrous results. The war was coming to an end and not only would nationalities divide people but so would religion. Those who didn’t have the same religion as the winning countries would most likely receive harsher punishments. Freud wanted them to look passed religions and think critically about what was being done because he was in a losing country that received great loss.

  2. I find Freud’s idea of Weltanschauung very interesting in how his definition of it, I find it how interesting how you said it can apply to nearly everything that he talked about. Freud discussed how philosophy parts somewhat with science, while religion acts as a contradiction to science. The part that you wrote that I found really interesting was “all of this culminates in Freud’s understanding of civilization and its evolution, the struggle between death and the force that brings individuals together.” An important part of war is how it unifies the people of a nation.

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