Raskolnikov's Rebirth: Psychology and the Understanding of Good and Evil

By İlham Dİlman | Go to book overview

6
Psycho-Analysis and
Ethics: The Self in Its
Relationship to Good
and Evil

6.1 MORALITY AND HUMAN NATURE: FREUD'S VIEW
AND ITS REVISIONS

Freud's view of morality is well known. He sees morality as opposed to our nature as human beings. To be oneself or authentic one has to give due recognition to what belongs to one's nature. One who sides with morality, therefore, takes sides against one's own nature which is instinctive in character. Morality is thus a force of repression and prevents men from becoming themselves.

Freud makes it clear that he does not advocate licence in holding this view. He regards morality as beneficial insofar as it regulates human conduct in community life. He distinguishes between 'voluntary self-control' and 'repression' and advocates accepting the discipline of morality. One can do so without being taken in by its pretentions and without submitting to its repression. To do so is to learn to accept discipline without giving up on who one is. Freud thinks of this as learning to renounce the prospect of immediate pleasure for the sake of long-term and abiding objectives.

He sees the opposition between instinctive human nature and the morality which comes to us from our culture as a conflict within us. For that morality too becomes part of us, in the form of the super-ego, as we side with its demands, imposed on us in our childhood. But although those demands are thus 'internalized' they still remain 'external' to the ego. The super-ego thus brings pressure on the ego to ignore the demands made on it by the id which represents the inclinations of our instinctive nature. It is thus the agent of repression within us.

-93-

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Raskolnikov's Rebirth: Psychology and the Understanding of Good and Evil
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Brief Contents vii
  • Detailed Contents ix
  • Preface xiii
  • Acknowledgements xv
  • Summary of the Book's Argument xvii
  • 1: Science and Psychology 1
  • 2: 'the Psychology of Moral Behaviour' 23
  • 3: Psychology and Morality 45
  • 4: Self-Knowledge and Change in Psycho-Analytic Therapy 65
  • 5: Happiness 79
  • 6: Psycho-Analysis and Ethics 93
  • 7: Good and Evil 121
  • 8: Love and Hate 151
  • 9: Must Psycho-Analysis Explain Religion Away? 163
  • 10: Dostoyevsky's Raskolnikov 187
  • Bibliography 207
  • Index 211
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