Sigmund Freud contemplates a bust of himself, sculpted for his 75th birthday by Oscar Nemon
GL SOCI/SOSC 2660E 6.0
PERSPECTIVES ON HUMAN NATURE
Student Information Web Site
Prof. Donald Carveth
Last update: March 2nd, 2012
IMPORTANT NOTES AND DATES TO REMEMBER
THURSDAY, DECEMBER 1st, 2011: First term test.
TUESDAY, DECEMBER 6th, 2011: essay DUE.
THURSDAY, MARCH 29th, 2012: Second term test
MONDAY, APRIL 2nd, 2012: Last day for submission of second term work: essay DUE
NOTE: Do NOT email essays but print and deliver hard copies to C213 (slot in door).
ACADEMIC INTEGRITY AT YORK UNIVERSITY
SEE fall/winter important dates: http://www.registrar.yorku.ca/enrol/dates/fw11.htm
Acclaimed philosopher Martha Nussbaum argues it is. She’s the latest sage to raise the alarm against higher education's growing obsession with knowledge you can take to the bank.
Exam Information Page - Perspectives on Human Natureclick here for.....
Carveth, D. (1992) The Borderline Dilemma in Paris, Texas: Psychoanalytic Approaches to Sam Shepard.
Forster, Sophia E. & Donald L. Carveth (1999). Christianity: A Kleinian Perspective
Carveth, D.L. (2005).
The Passion of the Christ:
Psychoanalytic and Christian Existentialist Perspectives. In:
Passionate Dialogues: Critical Perspectives on Mel Gibson's The Passion of
the Christ. Ed. D. Burston & R.
First Term Material
Martin Buber, "What is Man?" in Buber, Between Man and Man, especially Part II: From Aristotle to Kant
(available at Frost Library Reserve Desk on 2 hour loan)
Pdf. File available here: Buber
How does Buber distinguish between an epoch of homelessness and an epoch of habitation?
Do you think we are currently living in 'homelessness' or in 'habitation', or both? Why?
Some useful links:
THE PROBLEM OF EVIL: IF GOD IS OMNISCIENT, OMNIPOTENT, AND BENEVOLENT,
WHY DOES HE PERMIT INJUSTICE AND THE SUFFERING OF THE INNOCENT?
Plato's Allegory of the Cave (modernized)
Art and Existentialism
age projects its own image of man into its art."
Here are some links to modern artists, a number of which are mentioned in Barrett's chapter "The Testimony of Modern Art," in his Irrational Man, pp. 42-65.
How would you describe the images of humans in the paintings and sculptures of the various artists below? What do these images tell us about the human condition in the twentieth century and beyond?
“The first man who, having fenced in a piece of land, said "This is mine," and found people naive enough to believe him, that man was the founder of civil society. From how many crimes, wars, and murders, from how many horrors and misfortunes might not anyone have saved mankind, by pulling up the stakes, or filling up the ditch, and crying to his fellows: Beware of listening to this imposter; you are undone if you once forget that the fruits of the earth belong to us all, and the earth itself to nobody.” Discourse on the Origin of Inequality (1754)
Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel
Hegel taught us to understand the history of ideas in terms of a dialectical development in which men react against the views held by their predecessors and correct any one-sidedness in these views by going to the opposite extreme that, alas, is equally one-sided. --W. Kaufmann
None of the major thinkers of the past two centuries, including Freud, can be understood without some understanding of Hegel.
The Phenomenology of Spirit
Walter Kaufmann on Hegel and Christianity
"Hegel's treatment of Christianity in his last years has often been misunderstood. Among religions, he considers it supreme insofar as it seems to him to come closest to the truth comprehended ultimately in his philosophy. ... In its relation to philosophy, however, religion is as a child compared to a man: it is an anticipation in less developed form of what finds mature expression in philosophy. ... When Hegel avails himself of Christian categories, he never implies acceptance of the Christian faith in the supernatural, in miracles, or in the incarnation and resurrection; he merely finds the Christian myths more suggestive and appropriate anticipations of his philosophy than the myths of other religions. ... That he ... became a precedent for theologians like Tillich and Bultmann is undeniable. But if one should consider the procedure of all three reprehensible, there are still important differences in Hegel's favor. What he did very occasionally, en passent, ... they have made their full-time occupation. ... Above all, far from treating the latest philosophy as a remarkable anticipation of Christianity, provided only that the latter were radically reinterpreted on the basis of this philosophy, Hegel presented the very opposite picture: in his system Christianity was treated as an anticipation in mythological form--on the level of vague notions and feelings--of truths articulated in philosophy." Kaufmann, W. (1965). Hegel: A Reinterpretation. New York: Doubleday, section 65, pp. 271-275.
Although the conception of the dialectic as a three-step movement from thesis to antithesis and finally synthesis is Fichte's rather than Hegel's, this model legitimately articulates the Hegelian dialectic provided one understands that both thesis (the immediate) and its negation (which is not necessarily its contrary) are cancelled and yet preserved and elevated in the synthesis (mediation) that represents their sublation (sublimation). The idea is not as complicated as it sounds. Berger's conception of the social construction of (social) reality as composed of the three "moments" of externalization, objectivation and internalization is derived from Hegel. Here the thesis "Man makes society" gives rise to the antithesis "Society makes man." This looks like a contradiction but Berger offers us a dialectical synthesis in which we can understand that both are true on a higher level. Similarly, in Being and Nothingness (1943) Sartre argues man is radically free. But in theCritique of Dialectical Reason (1960) he depicts man as determined by a wide range of social, economic, historical, familial and psychological conditions. Has Sartre changed his mind? Is he in contradiction? No, for a proper understanding of Sartre's philosophy is a dialectical one in which by interrogating the categories "free" and "determined" we can come to understand that on a higher level human beings are both.
The Essence of Christianity - Google Books
The Communist Manifesto by Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels
The Two Marxisms, by Alvin W. Gouldner
On the recent revival of
interest in Marx due to the latest 2007-8 crisis of capitalism, see the
Pelz, W.A. (2012),
Marx: A World to Win.
P. (2006). The Meaning of Marxism.
T. (2011). Why Marx was Right. New Haven & London:
Terry Eagleton: Mythologies of Marx (21st May 2011, Subversive film festival Zagreb) - YouTube
Terry Eagleton reviews ‘How to Change the World’ by Eric Hobsbawm · LRB 3 March 2011
Erich Fromm (1961) Marx’s Concept of Man
Leon Trotsky: The ABC of Materialist Dialectics
Trotsky (1904), on “substitutism,” prior to his conversion to
Bolshevism: “Lenin’s methods lead to this: the party
organization at first substitutes itself for the party as a whole;
then the Central
Committee substitutes itself for the organization; and finally a single
‘dictator’ substitutes himself
for the Central Committee.”
Isaac Deutscher (1949), Stalin: A Political Biography: "He [Stalin] knew that the amalgamated opposition could not but founder on the scruple that had already defeated Trotsky, that it would not carry the struggle beyond the ranks of the party. The opposition would not even dream of constituting itself into a separate party; for it accepted the axiom that only a single party could exist in the Soviet state ...." Pelican, 1966, p. 309.
FRONTLINE The Warning
Long before the meltdown, one woman tried to warn about a threat to the financial system.
See how Alan Greenspan’s “religious” faith in unregulated “free market” capitalism (“the Invisible Hand”; “trickle down economics”; “greed is good”; etc.), a faith bred by his devotion to the philosophy of Ayn Rand, brought a nation and much of the world to its knees, and how a group of patriarchal males stifled the warnings of a courageous woman who was right.
SECOND TERM MATERIAL
Peter Berger's The Sacred Canopy (1965)
Some questions to consider when reading Berger:
1. Why is religion and its decline of such concern for
3. How would you describe Berger's method or approach to the study of religion?
4. If relativizing is the essence of sociological perspective, is Berger consistent in his relativizing method?
5. What is an "epistemologically privileged position"? Does Berger epistemologically privilege "anomy"?
For a critique of Peter Berger’s theory and the related ideas of Ernest Becker, see: Carveth, D. (2004). The Melancholic Existentialism of Ernest Becker. Free Associations Vol. 11, Part 3, No. 59 (2004): 422-29.
Some Resources Re: The God Debate
Richard Dawkins, The God Delusion, Part 1
Richard Dawkins, The God Delusion, Part 2
Christopher Hitchins, God Is Not Great, Part 1
Christopher Hitchins, God Is Not Great, Part 2
Eminent Atheist Changes His Mind: The Antony Flew Story
A Change of Mind for Antony Flew
Alistair McGrath: Atheist Turned Christian
Hitchins/McGrath—Religion: The Centre vs. The Fringe, Part 1
Hitchins/McGrath—Religion: The Centre vs. The Fringe, Part 2
Winner of Templeton Prize Attacks Dawkins
Review of David Berlinski’s The Devil’s Delusion
The Thinking Atheist | Watch Free Documentary Online
Eagleton, T. (2009). Reason, Faith, and Revolution:
Reflections on the God Debate. New Haven & London:
False Testament: Archaeology Refutes the
Bible's Claim to History - Criticism
Harper's Magazine, March, 2002 by Daniel Lazare
Glen Tinder (1989) asked in an Atlantic Monthly article, Can We Be Good Without God?
In "Discreet Charm of Nihilism" (The New York Review of Books, 45, 18, November 19, 1998), Czeslaw Milosz writes: "Opium for the People: Religion, opium for the people. To those suffering pain, humiliation, illness, and serfdom, it promised a reward in an afterlife. And now we are witnessing a transformation. A true opium for the people is a belief in nothingness after death--the huge solace of thinking that for our betrayals, greed, cowardice, murders ... we are not going to be judged."
"For many, the trauma of
It is only fair to point out that
those who planned the Holocaust, and those who slammed shut the doors of the
Nearly two hundred years'
experience of the moral failings of this humanity-turned-divinity have been
enough to convince most that it has been a failed experiment. While some
continue to argue that
--McGrath (2004), pp.183-4.
May 3, 2009 God Talk
'Opposition to religion occupies the high ground, intellectually and morally,' wrote Martin Amis recently. Over the past few years, leading writers and thinkers have published bestselling tracts against God. John Gray on why the 'secular fundamentalists' have got it all wrong. John Gray The Guardian, Saturday 15 March 2008
Thou canst not prove thou art immortal, no,
Nor yet that thou art mortal--nay my son,
Thou canst not prove that I, who speak with thee,
Am not thyself in converse with thyself,
For nothing worthy proving can be proven,
Nor yet disproven: wherefore, thou be wise,
Cleave ever to the sunnier side of doubt.
--Alfred Lord Tennyson (1809-92), Ancient Sage
"To say it for all my colleagues and for the umpteenth million time (from college bull sessions to learned treatises): science simply cannot (by its legitimate methods) adjudicate the issue of God's possible superintendence of nature. We neither affirm nor deny it; we simply can't comment on it as scientists. If some of our crowd have made untoward statements claiming that Darwinism disproves God, then I will find Mrs. McInerney and have their knuckles rapped for it (as long as she can equally treat those members of our crowd who have argued that Darwinism must be God's method of action)."
--Stephen Jay Gould (1941-2002)
"It is a melancholy truth that most of us are wrong most of the time about the way the world is going. We watch it, we hear about it, we experience it, and usually we don't know what it means. Of all the smug and foolish delusions that were part of conventional wisdom when I was young in the middle of the 20th century, two stand out in memory. One was the idea that nationalism was a 19th century concept, on its last legs. The other was that religion, as a force in worldly affairs, was slowly but inevitably fading away. At times I was stupid enough to believe both of these preposterous fallacies; but then, so was nearly everyone else."
--Robert Fulford (2001), National Post
On the other Hand, Los Angeles Times religion writer William Lobdell tells the story of finding and then gradually losing his Christian faith.
Chris Hedges’ definition of fundamentalism includes the intolerant and dogmatic atheism of the likes of Sam Harris, Christopher Hitchens and Richard Dawkins: Fundamentalism Kills
Dietrich Bonhoeffer (February 4, 1906 – April 9, 1945) was a German Lutheran pastor, theologian and martyr. He was a participant in the German resistance movement against Nazism and a founding member of the Confessing Church. He was involved in plans by members of the Abwehr (the German Military Intelligence Office) to assassinate Adolf Hitler. This led to his arrest in April 1943 and execution by hanging in April 1945, 23 days before the Nazi surrender. His view of Christianity's role in the secular world ("religion-less Christianity") has become very influential.
Matthew Arnold (1822-1888): Poet, Educator, Literary Critic
Author of Culture and Anarchy
Wm. Barrett's discussion of Hebraism and Hellenism is based on
Søren Kierkegaard, Friedrich Nietzsche,
Martin Heidegger, Jean-Paul Sartre, Simone de Beauvoir
Søren Kierkegaard 1813-1855
"...What I really lack is to be clear in my mind what I am to do, not what I am to know, except in so far as a certain understanding must precede every action. The thing to do is to understand myself, to see what God really wishes me to do; the thing is to find a truth which is true for me, to find the idea for which I can live and die."
A Kierkegaard Anthology. Ed. R. Bretall.
(Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1973), pp. 4-5
"If a human being were a beast or an angel, he could not be in anxiety. Because he is a synthesis, he can be in anxiety. ... Anxiety is freedom's possibility, and only such anxiety is through faith absolutely educative, because it conumes all finite ends and discovers all their deceptiveness." The Concept of Anxiety.
"But Abraham had faith and therefore he was young, for he who always hopes for the best grows old and is deceived by life, and he who is always prepared for the worst grows old prematurely, but he who has faith -- he preserves eternal youth." Fear and Trembling.
"Each generation learns from another, no generation learns the essentially human from a previous one. In this respect, each generation begins primitively, has no other task than what each previous generation had, nor does it advance further ..." Supplement to The Concept of Anxiety..
"The biggest danger, that of losing oneself, can pass off in the world as quietly as if it were nothing: every other loss, an arm, a leg, five dollars, a wife, etc. is bound to be noticed." The Sickness Unto Death.
R. (1950). The Meaning of Anxiety, chapter 2, Philosophical
Interpreters of Anxiety, pp. 29-51.
much-needed critical assessment of Kierkegaard’s authoritarian approach to religious
faith, see: Kaufmann, W. (1959). From
Shakespeare to Existentialism.
What does Kaufmann see as the danger inherent in Kierkegaard’s notion of subjective truth?
How do you feel about Abraham’s faithful willingness to sacrifice his son?
Referring to Kierkegaard's 'stages on
life's way', would you define yourself as an aesthete, an ethical person, or
as a religious person?
Some Kierkegaard links:
Friedrich Nietzsche 1844-1900
Nietzsche often expressed his thoughts in the form of aphorisms, or short, compact sentences that captured profound insights into the human condition.
A good selection of Nietzsche's works is
collected in The Portable Nietzsche. Ed. Walter Kaufmann. (
Nietzsche and Christianity
Some Nietzsche links:
(1) Barrett, Irrational Man, Chp. 8, pp. 177-205.
(2) Kaufmann, W. (1959). From Shakespeare to Existentialism. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, chapter 11, “How Nietzsche Revolutionized Ethics,” pp. 207-217. KaufmannNietzsche.pdf
questions to consider:
How do ‘noble morality’ and ‘slave morality’ differ, according to Nietzsche?
Nietzsche's passionate atheism was the making of me | Giles Fraser | The Guardian
Martin Heidegger, 1889-1976
Being, Time & Death
Heidegger's phenomenological existentialism remains one of the most influential philosophical projects of the twentieth century, despite the controversy surrounding his political activities in the 1930s.
The Jewish Question - Martin Heidegger - NYTimes.com
Is Heidegger's philosophy atheistic, theist (mono or poly), agnostic, pantheistic, panentheistic, or what?
What is the distinction between 'being' and 'Being'? Why is this distinction important for Heidegger?
Why does Barrett fail to mention Heidegger's Nazi phase?
It is from Heidegger that Berger (1965) derives the concept of "marginal experience" -- e.g., a brush with death, or the death of a significant other, the shock of a natural disaster, or of emigration -- that can awaken one from the state of self-alienation in the "nomos" or socially constructed world and induce an "ec-static" state. Like Pascal and Kierkegaard, Heidegger offers a critique of das Man, the anonymous "one" who seeks escape from the existential anxiety intrinsic to freedom and authentic selfhood as being-toward-death through the distraction offered by social conformity, cliches and "idle talk".
For an excellent critical assessment of Heidegger see: Kaufmann, W.
(1959). From Shakespeare to
Some Heidegger links:
from The Columbia Encyclopedia, Sixth Edition. 2001. Heidegger, Martin
from EpistemeLinks.com (good links page)
Richard Wolin's The Heidegger Controversy - A Critical Reader (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1993) is a good review of the issues surrounding Heidegger's philosophy and politics.
Heidegger: Philosopher and Nazi
From Leo Tolstoy, The Death of Ivan
Ilych, section xii:
Simone de Beauvoir
Existentialism is a Humanism, Jean-Paul Sartre 1946
Questions and considerations:
Is Sartre in contradiction in arguing that we are both determined and free?
Explain the difference between practical or positive freedom ("freedom to") and psychological or negative freedom ("freedom from")?
How does Sartre define being-in-itself and being-for-itself?
What is "bad faith"? What is "good faith"?
Sartre says "Hell is other people." Why?
Sartre says "Man is a useless passion." Why?
What does Sartre mean when he argues that man's "fundamental project" is to be God?
How does Simone de Beauvoir apply Sartrean philosophy to the distinction between the genders?
Hazel Rowley's (2005) biography, Tete-a-Tete: Simone de Beauvoir and Jean-Paul Sartre, tells us a lot about the private lives of these existentialists, especially their manner of dealing with other people and each other. Is such information relevant in evaluating their thought? Is it only to commit the ad hominem fallacy to suggest a possible connection between the philosophy that God is dead and each individual a god-like legislator of values and the shabby, hypocritical and exploitative way they lived their lives? In the same vein, is the fact of Heidegger's nazism irrelevant to an evaluation of his philosophy?
Carveth on Heidegger, Sartre, de Beauvoir & Tillich: "When the Thinker Betrays the Thought". Review of Hazel Rowley (2005), Tète-à-Tète : Simone de Beauvoir and Jean-Paul Sartre.
Hazel Rowley: "Beauvoir, Brazil and "Christina T'"
Sartre Online - The Ultimate Sartrean Resource
The Jean-Paul Sartre Internet Archive
While Sartre’s Being and Nothingness (1943) and Existentialism is a Humanism (1946) reflect a somewhat individualist focus (although ‘the look of the other’ is a central category), his Critique of Dialectical Reason (1960) has a far more systematically sociological orientation, reflecting his attempt to work out an existential neo-marxism.
See : The Search for Method, Jean-Paul Sartre 1960
R.D. Laing & A. Esterson (1964). Introduction. Reason and Violence : A Decade of Sartre’s Philosophy, 1950-1960.
Che Guevara lighting Sartre’s cigar, Havana 1960.
Sigmund Freud (1856-1939)
The Future of An Illusion (1927c), S.E., 21
Civilization_and_Its_Discontents (1930a), Standard Edition 21
The Dissection of the Psychical Personality (1933), Lecture 31, New Introductory Lectures on Psychoanalysis, S.E., 22
Stevenson & Haberman (2004), Ten Theories of Human Nature, 4rth ed., chapter 8, pp. 156-175. Freud: The Unconscious Basis of Mind This was left out of the 5th edition. Stevenson and Haberman apparently didn’t realize that psychoanalysis was enjoying a comeback, not least due to recent brain research. See the couch coming back UP the escalator in the image below.
For a superb, learned, respectful and yet critical and
corrective reading of Freud, see: Sagan, E. (1988).
Freud, Woman, and Morality: The Psychology of Good and Evil.
is the difference between 'manifest' and 'latent' meaning in dream
Why is Freud's "drive" (trieb) theory problematic for existentialists?
In what sense can it be said that Freud eventually added an existential element to his drive-centered theory of religion?
If as Erikson argued psychoanalysis is a theory of epigenesis, why did Freud fail to evolve an epigenetic theory of religion? What would that look like?
The PBS Special on Sigmund Freud & C.S. Lewis on The Question of God
aired on Sept. 15 & 22, 2004. A superb website accompanying the program
is online here:
Freud's five main statements regarding religion:
(1) "Obsessive Acts and Religious Practices" (1907). S.E., 9.
(2) "Totem and Taboo" (1913 [1912-13]), S.E., 13. Both (1) and (2) are also in Freud, The Origins of Religion, (London: Penguin Books, 1990), pp. 31-41; 49-224.
(3) "The Future of An Illusion" (1927c), S.E., 21.
(4) "Civilization and Its Discontents" (1930a), S.E., 21. Both (3) and (4) are also in Freud, Civilization, Society and Religion. (London: Penguin Books, 1990), pp. 179-241; 243-340.
(5) "Moses and Monotheism" (1939), S.E., 23; also in Freud, The Origins of Religion, pp. 239-386.
What are the id, ego, and superego? How are they related to each other?
Getting to Know Me: Scientific American December 9, 2010
Psychodynamic therapy has been caricatured as navel-gazing, but studies show powerful benefits
Donald L. Carveth, Ph.D.
Lecture presented to the Oraynu Congregation for Humanistic Judaism
Sigmund Freud contemplates a bust of himself, sculpted for his 75th birthday by Oscar Nemon
It has often been claimed that Freud presents a "pansexualist" psychology.
Is this true?
Although few scholars credited his thesis at the time, in Moses and Monotheism (Standard Edition 23), Freud (1939a [1934-8]) was among the earliest writers to trace the Egyptian origins of biblical themes.
The cartoon on the left above appeared in an International Psychoanalytic Association newsletter a few years ago. It appears to suggest the superior attitude of the smug atheistic psychoanalyst who assumes that "if only Jesus had had a good analysis he might have avoided all that self-defeating crucifixion stuff." Can you imagine such a cartoon featuring Moses or Mohammed on the couch? Note the portrait of Freud where in an earlier era a Christian crucifix might have been found. Since one good favour deserves another, the picture on the right is taken from the cover of Paul Vitz's (1988) Sigmund Freud's Christian Unconscious. If it appears to suggest an impossible synthesis, Forster and I have argued that the Kleinian development of Freudian psychoanalysis renders the integration of a psychoanalytic with a biblical and existentialist anthropology more feasible:
Forster, S.E. & D.L. Carveth (1999). "Christianity: A Kleinian Perspective." Canadian Journal of Psychoanalysis /Revue Canadienne de Psychanalyse 7, 2 (Fall, 1999): 187-218.
as Sartre attempted a synthesis of marxism and
existentialism, and some psychoanalysts have attempted to synthesize
psychoanalysis and Christianity, so an important group of psychoanalytic
writers (Wilhelm Reich, Erich Fromm, Herbert Marcuse and others) have attempted
various syntheses of marxism and psychoanalysis, a
Freudo-Marxism or psychoanalytic-marxism.
Although it is not an easy read, Eugene Victor Wolfenstein’s
(1993), Psychoanalytic-marxism: Groundwork
“The true revolutionary is motivated by feelings of love.”—Ernesto “Che” Guevara
In light of his life as recounted in Jon Lee Anderson’s comprehensive biography, what are we to think of Che’s statement about “revolutionary love”?
Gustavo Gutiérrez Merino, O.P., (born 8 June 1928 in Lima) is a Peruvian theologian and Dominican priest regarded as the founder of Liberation Theology.
Liberation theology originally developed as a Christian response to the conditions in which a great part of the Latin American population live. For Gutiérrez, the centre of the problem in Latin America is sin manifested in an unjust social structure. The theologian puts emphasis on the dignity of the poor.
Liberation theology "has arisen out of the experience of the poor, the oppressed, the "wretched of the earth" in Latin America, with whom [Gutiérrez] lives six days each week."
A Concise History of Liberation Theology
Ignacio Ellacuría (1930-1989)
Jesus was the victim of a lynching
A Conversation with Theologian James Cone, Author of "The Cross and the Lynching Tree"
An early version of this page was created by Mike Palamarek (© 2001). Since then it has been expanded and maintained by Don Carveth.