Why War? Freud and Einstein Talk

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Sigmund Freud's response to Albert Einstein's intricate questions about war and man's violent human nature are very complex and sophisticated. Freud begins by strongly substituting the term "might" with "violence." He than briefly discusses man's aggressive human nature, making an analogy to the animal kingdom to convey man's reasons for going to war. Freud states that group force was used in small communities to decide points of ownership, then came physical force, and now the weapon's have arrived. (Freud, 20) Freud, unlike Einstein, tends to look more to the past for answers, while Einstein has a tendency to stay in the present while contemplating the future.

Freud's answer finally arrives after discussing the history of everyone from the Mongols and Turks to the Romans and French. In paragraph 24, Freud says, "There is but one sure way of ending war...the establishment...of a central control which shall have the last word in every conflict of interest." This must have been a very bold statement in the early 1930's, yet less than 10 years later the United Nations was formed, and since, has almost don't what Freud visualized. Although, as we learned in March of 2002, the U.N. apparently doesn't have the last word in ever conflict of interest.

Next, Freud discusses man's instinct for war and violence. He says that there are two kinds of human instincts: "those that conserve and unify... `erotic'...or `sexual'...and, secondly, the instincts to destroy and kill." He calls these instincts "Love and Hate." (Freud, 25) I did not, while reading this view, wholeheartedly agree to this until I got to paragraph 30, where I felt the second part of this idea led. Freud clearly and ingeniously states that man is divided into the leaders and led. Therefore, the led (the majority) depend on the leaders to guide them, bowing to their every command, while the leaders (politicians and the Church) make all of the decisions. This has been so since the dawn of man, I believe, yet it has never been clearer to me until reading it in Freud's words.

Are his words implying he is optimistic or pessimistic? While reading his letters I felt he was optimistic. He did not seem lost or confused, in fact, I almost sensed he was amused and enjoying himself while writing his thoughts. I've never known anyone to feel pessimistic while expressing themselves, no matter what the topic may be.

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