Freud’s opinion that human hostility is intrinsic in nature and responsible for the failures of civilization can be attributed to the after effects of World War I. Freud’s work was written in 1930s when Europe is experiencing a large debt from sustaining World War I. Financial interest rates collapse as world leaders collect their debts (Lecture). As Europe battles extreme poverty and debt, Freud sees that human impulse led to war. He realizes that “the existence of this inclination to aggression…is the factor which disturbs our relations with our neighbour and which forces civilization into such a high expenditure [of energy]” (Freud 69). According to Freud, humans are naturally barbaric and violent. Humans suppress these feelings to create a sense of security. Freud attacks this system, referring to the commandment “Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself” (Freud 65). He notes that this rule is impossible to follow because humans are naturally harsh. Mankind is not composed of “gentle creatures who want to be lo...
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...ertelet that they would help him; I even tried to convince myself” (Levi 168). Instead of wallowing in their state as Sigmund Freud does, Primo Levi looks for ways to be optimistic and instill hope in his companions.
In Sigmund Freud’s Civilization and Its Discontents and Primo Levi’s Survival in Auschwitz determine the roots of human pugnacity. Freud, possibly reacting to the aftermath of World War I, determines that brutality is a natural. Humans are born with but is subdued by organized living. Primo Levi’s narrative, however, demonstrates how humans become beast-like when their humanity is taken from them. To Sigmund Freud, belligerence is rooted in the natural state of human beings and are detrimental to civilization, while Primo Levi infers from his observations in Auschwitz that violence and aggression come from an individual’s humanity being stripped away.
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