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Benjamin Kohli

Professor Noel
Business 1050
April 25, 2017

My Renaissance by Ben Kohli


There were many readings this semester that changed my perspective of life,
however, my renaissance came during the Sigmund Freud reading, entitled Wealth
in Civilization. In this reading, Freud did an exceptional job at explaining not only
why humans chose to be communal in civilizations, but he also explained why
religion found its way into society. Although, this reading might be somewhat
offensive to Christians, or any other religion, however, to me, it was very
informative and it caused me to question many things that I was brought up
believing.
One of the first topics Freud discussed, in the reading, was the importance of
man knowing the history of the past. He explained, that the less a man knows about
the past and present, the more insecure his judgements of the future will be. This
principle is very simple to understand, however, for the large majority of the
population, this is not the case. The simple truth is that, for the most part, man is
only concerned with the present. We must take heed to this warning, otherwise, just
like the old saying goes, history will repeat itself.
Another topic that Freud presented, which had a remarkable effect on me,
was when he discussed the relationship between man and civilization. He argued
that, man is virtually an enemy of civilization. This statement seemed strange at
first, but after giving it much thought, it made a lot of sense. In a way, civilization
was created as a means to control mans natural impulses. Without civilization,
man has the natural tendency to be anti-social and anti-cultural. These tendencies,
when left uncontrolled, can cause man to not only become destructive, but also a
tyrant, taking what they wish and not abiding by any moral laws.
Furthermore, Freud also explained that in order for civilization to work, their
leaders must be individuals who can set a positive example to the masses as well as
be recognized, by the masses, as their leader. If a leader does not possess these
qualities, then the masses will not be induced to perform the work required for a
civilization to not only function, but also prosper. In addition to what has already
been mentioned, Freud also comments that there are two widespread human
characteristic that created the need for regulations in civilization. The first, being
that men are not spontaneously fond of work and the second, being that arguments
are of no avail against their passions.
In addition to what has already mentioned, Freud also believed that at its
deepest level, civilization was responsible for the detachment of man from his
primordial animal condition. In other words, because of civilization, man was able
to grow and progress both intellectually as well as physically and was able to
create a separation between human and animal conditions. This idea, when
presented in this manner, really fascinated me and caused me to look at civilization
from a critical perspective. It is interesting to imagine a world in which man lived
and acts in a primordial animal fashion. In a way, it almost seems impossible to
fathom!
Moreover, Freud also explained that as civilization continues to grow and
develop, which it is constantly doing, it is possible that what is deemed civil today,
might be considered just as unacceptable as cannibalism is now. Also, he argues
that there are countless civilized people who would shrink from incest or murder,
however, when it comes to their avarice, their sexual lust, or their aggressive urges,
as long as they can remain unpunished, they will do these acts. This idea did not
seem new to me, however, it did make a good point that men are truly savages.
Without society and its regulations, men would rule like tyrants, doing as they
please, with little thought given to what is morally right or wrong.
When it came to the topic of religion, Freud explained that it quite possibly
was the most important item in the psychical inventory of a civilization. He argued
that the religious ideas presented in religion were, at the most intimate level,
merely illusions. In addition, he also argued that religious ideas arose from the
same need as all of the other achievements of civilization. These needs being the
necessity of defending oneself against the destructive forces of nature. From this
principle I also learned that just like civilization, which its principal purpose is to
defend us against nature, so too is religions purpose.
My renaissance truly occurred when Freud discussed several points as to
why religion might not be true. He explained that religion came from the need of
protection against the forces of nature. This need, similar to the way a child
requires his fathers protection, created the existence of a fatherly figure known as
a god. Furthermore, he argued religious doctrines are outside of the jurisdiction of
reason. He explained, that because the truth must be felt inward, it is not rational
by any means. Similarly, he also mentioned that all religious doctrine is full of
contradictions, falsification, and revisions. Furthermore, he explained that in
religion it is forbidden to raise the question of their authentication at all.
In conclusion, after giving this reading much thought, Im left with a feeling
of suspicion. Although, at the present time, I plan on continuing to be religious,
however, I have many questions that need to be answered. Through the process of
critical thinking, I hope to find the answers to these questions. In addition, I also
now believe that its important to question everything and when searching for truth,
its extremely important to not only think rationally, but also objectively. Im
sincerely grateful for Freuds ideas that he presented in Wealth in Civilization.