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Sigmund Freud on Human Nature Essay

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Sigmund Freud, a noteworthy trailblazer of modern-day philosophy, developed a deterministic view on human nature based on instinct and personality. Unlike other theories, Freud considers us not as humans, but animals with inborn biological drives: a complex species with primitive urges. These urges, he says, are only kept under control by the pressures between peers and the repression of society. Though the word “instinct” can relate to a wide range of impulses, Freud narrowed it down to four main drives: Self-preservation, aggression, the need for love, and the impulse to attain pleasure and avoid pain. These topics along with the model of the psyche embedded within the principles of pleasure and civilization form the most comprehensive theory of personality and human nature ever developed.
The first and perhaps the most important point Freud makes is that Civilization succeeds over instinct. Instinct, he says, is neither good nor bad. Rather, they are classified within those categories according to their relation to the needs and demands of the community. A civilized society demands good conduct and social achievement. Therefore, intellectual development is a standard that would not exist without society. Freud believes that development of human beings requires an explanation similar to that of animals. What seems to be a tireless compulsion toward further perfection is easily understood as a result of instinctual repression based upon civilization. In his famous work “Civilization and its Discontents,” Freud narrows it down to two main human characteristics responsible for the regulations of civilization: men are fond of work and the strength of passion over reason. Fondness of work is fairly self-explanatory; because...


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...on and pleasure principles and their relation to the primary drives of preservation, aggression, love, and pleasure. The pleasure principle is only concerned with the happiness and satisfaction of an individual, where the civilization principle is all about societal needs. Following these it is important to recognize the interworking of these principles within the id, ego, and superego- three components of the human psyche. The id is predominately involved with the pleasure principle, the superego works with civilization, and the ego links both. Between these two principles and the psyche model structure Freud successfully interprets human nature.



Works Cited

Freud, Sigmund. Civilization and Its Discontents. New York: W.W. Norton, 1962. Print.

Freud, Sigmund, James Strachey, and Gregory Zilboorg. Beyond the Pleasure Principle. New York: Norton, 1975. Print.


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