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

By İlham Dİlman | Go to book overview

9
Must Psycho-analysis
Explain Religion Away?

9.1 FREUD'S CONCEPTION OF RELIGION AND THE
GOD HE REJECTS

What can psycho-analysis make of religion? Can psycho-analysis help a patient in his religious, spiritual problems? In Professor Phillips's words: can it regard gods or demons as ultimate—as 'last things?' (see Phillips 1993, p. 188).

I want to begin by summarizing Freud's view of ethics, in its negative character, and compare it with his view of religion. Human beings in their very nature are selfish and aggressive; morality is a product of culture alien to human nature and opposed to it. It is imposed on us in opposition to our nature. It has the advantage of making communal life and co-operation possible, but at a cost to the individual. Even when it is no longer externally imposed, it is still imposed on the individual by a part of him which sides with it: the super-ego. It is thus a force of repression and any belief to the contrary—that is, the idea that moral qualities are to be admired for what they are in themselves—is a deception. For morality prevents us from being ourselves. Since, however, it is nevertheless beneficial in that it regulates human conduct in community life, the only way to be moral without selfdeception is to see through the pretentions of morality and accept its strictures voluntarily. This then is an enlightened choice as opposed to a surrender.

Freud thus allows the possibility of being both moral and oneself at the same time. But he makes morality into something one at best tolerates. He can see nothing in its values—theoretically, not personally—to which one can give one's heart without being

-163-

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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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