University of Colorado at Denver
Religions owe their compulsive power to the return of the repressed; they are reawakened memories of very ancient, forgotten, highly emotional episodes of human history. I have already said this in Totem and Taboo; I express it now in the formula: the strength of religion lies not in its material, but in its historical truth.
—Freud to Lou Andreas-Salomé, January 6, 1935
It is in keeping with the course of human development that external coercion gradually becomes internalized... Every child presents this process of transformation to us; only by that means does it become a moral and social being. Such a strengthening of the super-ego is a most precious cultural asset in the psychological field. Those in whom it has taken place are turned from being opponents of culture into being its vehicles [werden aus Kulturgegnern zu Kulturträgern]. (XXI, 11; XIV, 332)
To speak of "morality," as Freud does here, is to express in popular terms what psychoanalysis calls the internalization [Verinnerlichung], through education, of the fundamental precepts of one's culture (XXI, 12; XIV, 334). What becomes internalized in this process are the "mental assets of culture," i.e., the measures of coercion intended to reconcile men to one another and compensate their suffering (XXI, 10; XIV, 331). When, at the end of the passage quoted above, Freud speaks of the bearers or vehicles of culture [Kulturträgern] as the end-product of this process, he invokes a connection in German between making one's life "bearable" [erträglich] by identifying with one's culture, and being a "bearer" [Träger] of culture precisely through this identification. The decisiveness of this connection will become apparent later in the text when Freud announces his hope that we reform education so that, through it, one will at the same time make one's life bearable and become a bearer of the culture that has transformed one into a "moral and social being."
The father himself constitutes a danger for the child, perhaps because of its earlier relation to its mother. Thus it fears him no less than it longs for him and admires him. The indications of this ambivalence in the attitude to the father are deeply imprinted in every religion, as was shown in Totem and Taboo. When the growing individual finds that he is destined to remain a child forever, that he can never do without protection against strange superior powers [fremde Übermächte], he lends those powers the features belonging to the figure of his father; he creates for himself the gods whom he dreads, whom he seeks to propitiate, and whom he nevertheless entrusts with his own protection. Thus his longing for a father is a motive identical with his need for protection against the consequences of human powerlessness [Ohnmacht]. The defence against childish helplessness is what lends its characteristic features to the adult's reaction to the helplessness which he has to acknowledge—a reaction which is precisely the formation of religion. (XXI, 24; XIV, 346)
In this way, Freud concludes that religious ideas have arisen from the need common to all cultural achievements: the necessity of providing "defence" against the crushingly superior force of nature (XXI, 21; XIV, 343). By helping the individual to achieve psychical mastery [Bewältigung], if not physical control, over the vulnerability of his situation, these ideas serve to rob nature of at least some of her power. Thus, the God or gods who are fashioned in this process are given a three-fold task that is identical to that of cultural achievements in general: to exorcize the terrors of nature, to reconcile men to the cruelty of fate, particularly as it is shown in death, and to compensate them for the sufferings and privations that communal life has imposed on them (XXI, 18; XIV, 339). Notice how nothing in this account necessitates the conclusion that Freud draws—namely, that the relationship between religion and culture must be fundamentally altered. Indeed, Freud acknowledges that apologists of religion could use the psychological grounding [Begründung] that psychoanalysis offers to "give full value to the affective significance of religious doctrines" (XXI, 37; XIV, 360). For Freud, psychoanalysis is nothing but a method of research, an "impartial [parteiloses] instrument, like infinitesimal calculus" (XXI, 36; XIV, 360), and thus underdetermines any effort, like Freud's in The Future of an Illusion, to "take sides" [Parteinehmen] (cf. XXI, 32; XIV, 355). As Freud will reiterate in his treatment of the "Question of a Weltanschauung" in the New Introductory Lectures on Psychoanalysis, psychoanalysis is unable to create a Weltanschauung of its own, but adheres to the scientific approach (XXII, 158, 181; XV, 170-171, 197).
I am reminded of one of my children who was distinguished at an early age by a peculiarly marked matter-of-factness. When the children were being told a fairy tale and were listening to it with rapt attention, he would come up and ask: "Is that a true story?" When he was told it was not, he would turn away with a look of disdain. We may expect that people will soon behave in the same way towards the fairy tales of religion, in spite of the advocacy of "as if." (XXI, 29, XIV, 351)
Given his approach, we should not be surprised to read Freud's argument that criticism has whittled away the evidential value of religious documents, that natural science has shown their errors, and thus that as the treasures [Schätze] of scientific knowledge become more accessible, fewer people will cling to the store [Schatz] of religious ideas (XXI, 38; XIV, 362). Nor is it surprising that Freud should explain the refractoriness of religious ideas to rational evaluation [vernünftige Anerkennung] as a matter of wish-fulfillment—indeed, fulfillment of the oldest, strongest and most urgent wishes of mankind (XXI, 30; XIV, 352)—so that, properly speaking, they are illusions in Freud's sense, rather than errors.
Scientific work is the only road which can lead us to a knowledge of reality outside ourselves. It is once again merely an illusion to expect anything from intuition and introspection; they can give us nothing but particulars about our own mental life, which are hard to interpret, never any information about the questions which religious doctrine finds it so easy to answer. It would be insolent [frevelhaft] to let one's own arbitrary will [die eigene Willkür] step into the breach and, according to one's personal estimate, declare this or that part of the religious system to be more or less acceptable. (XXI, 31-2; XIV, 354)
But Freud goes further than this. Addressing the right or justification [Recht] one has for believing what one believes, Freud says that "no reasonable person [vernünftiger Mensch] will behave so irresponsibly [so leichtsinnig benehmen] or rest content with such feeble grounds for his opinions and partisanship [Parteinahme]" (XXI, 32; XIV, 355). With respect to questions of religion, Freud asserts that people are "guilty of every possible sort of dishonesty and intellectual misdemeanor [aller möglichen Unaufrichtigkeiten und intellektuellen Unarten schuldig]" (ibid). And Freud demonstrates his correspondingly low estimation of those who created religious doctrines [Lehren] when he writes of how remarkable it would be "if our wretched, ignorant and downtrodden ancestors had succeeded in solving all these difficult riddles of the universe" (XXI, 33; XIV, 356).
Critics persist in describing as "deeply religious" anyone who admits to a sense of man's insignificance or powerlessness [Ohnmacht] in the face of the universe, although what constitutes the essence of the religious attitude is not this feeling but only the next step after it, the reaction to it which seeks a remedy for it [eine Abhilfe sucht]. The man who goes no further, but humbly acquiesces in the small part which human beings play in the great world—such a man is, on the contrary, irreligious in the truest sense of the world. (XXI, 32-3; XIV, 355)
In this passage we should notice the way in which Freud endorses the particular acknowledgement of human vulnerability that marks the scientific/irreligious attitude. Freud is willing to plea for the renunciation of wish and the acquiescence in fate [Wünschverzicht und Ergebung in das Schicksal] that this attitude represents (XXI, 36; XIV, 359), if only because religion has failed in its cultural task of comforting the majority of human beings, of reconciling them to life, and of making them into "vehicles of culture [Kulturträgern]" (XXI, 37; XIV, 360). Quite the opposite, Freud sees a vast number of people who have gone so far in their hostility to culture [Kulturfeindschaft] that they want nothing to do with culture or instinctual-limitation [Triebeinschränkung] whatsoever (ibid).
The case is similar to what happens when we tell a child that new-born babies are brought by the stork. Here, too, we are telling the truth in symbolic clothing, for we know what the large bird signifies. But the child does not know it. He hears only the distorted part of what we say, and feels that he has been deceived; and we know how often his distrust of grown-ups and contrariness [Widersetztlichkeit] actually take their start from this impression. We have become convinced that it is better to avoid such symbolic disguisings of the truth in what we tell children and not to withhold from them a knowledge of the true state of affairs commensurate with their intellectual level. (XXI, 44-5; XIV, 368)
These reformations [Umbildungen] of religious doctrine, which you have condemned as half-measures and compromises, make it possible to avoid the cleft between the uneducated masses and the philosophic thinker, and to preserve the common bond [Gemeinsamkeit] between them which is so important for the safeguarding of culture [Sicherung der Kultur]. With this, there would be no need to fear that people would discover that the upper strata of society "no longer believe in God." (XXI, 52; XIV, 376)
Freud's interlocutor takes himself to have shown that the attempt to radically alter the relationship between religion and culture—as Freud advocates—is to replace a proven and emotionally valuable [affektiv wertvolle] illusion with one that is unproven and without emotional value (ibid).
I will moderate my zeal and admit the possibility that I, too, am chasing an illusion. Perhaps the effect of the religious prohibition of thought may not be so bad as I suppose; perhaps it will turn out that human nature remains the same even if education is not abused in order to subject people to religion... But you must admit that here we are justified in having a hope for the future—that perhaps there is a treasure [Schatz] to be dug up capable of enriching culture and that it is worth making the experiment of an irreligious education. (XXI, 48; XIV, 371-2)
Asking hypothetically whether infantilism is destined to be overcome [der Infantilismus ist dazu bestimmt, überwunden zu werden?], Freud indicates that the experiment he has in mind requires that we admit to ourselves the full extent of our helplessness [Hilflosigkeit] and insignificance in the machinery of the universe [Geringfügigkeit im Getriebe der Welt] (XXI, 49; XIV, 373). Indeed, Freud says that the sole purpose of his book is to point out the necessity of this forward step into hostile life which he calls "education to reality" [die Erziehung zur Realität] (ibid). Relying only on the assistance [Hilfsmittel] of scientific knowledge, the human beings who emerge from Freud's irreligious education are ones who withdraw their expectations from the next life, concentrate their powers on this earthly life, and thereby succeed in creating "a life that is tolerable for everyone and a culture that no longer oppresses anyone" [das Leben für alles erträglich wird und die Kultur keinen mehr erdrückt] (XXI, 50; XIV, 373-74).
The primacy of the intellect lies, it is true, in a distant, distant future, but probably not an infinitely distant one. It will presumably set itself the same aims as those whose realization you expect from your God (of course within human limits—so far as external reality [...] allows it), namely the love of man and the decrease of suffering [die Menschenliebe und die Einschränkung des Leidens]... We desire the same things, but you are more impatient, more exacting, and—why should I not say it?—more self-seeking than I and those on my side. You would have the state of bliss begin directly after death; you expect the impossible of it and you will not surrender the claims of the individual [wollen den Anspruch der Einzelpersonen nicht aufgeben]. Our God, logos, will fulfil whichever of these wishes nature outside us allows, but he will do it very gradually, only in the unforeseeable future, and for a new generation of men. He promises no compensation for us, who suffer grievously from life... [I]n the long run nothing can withstand reason and experience, and the contradiction which religion offers to both is all too palpable. Even purified religious ideas [die geläuterten religiösen Ideen] cannot escape this fate, so long as they try to preserve anything of the consolation of religion [Trostgehalt der Religion] (XXI, 53-4; XIV, 377-78).
Here Freud provides an important qualification of his earlier distinction between the essence of religiosity [Wesen der Religiösität] and irreligiosity "in the truest sense." Earlier he described religiosity as seeking a remedy [Abhilfe] for human vulnerability and the irreligious individual as "humbly acquiescing" to his limitations with respect to fate. Here, too, Freud insists that the truly irreligious person will do without the consolation [Trostgehalt] of religion—which he thinks even "purified" religious ideas promise—and when, shortly after this passage, he invokes "Our God, logos," a second time, he stresses the importance of accepting with resignation [in Ergebung hinnehmen] what this less-than-almighty God can offer us (XXI, 54-5; XIV, 378-79). And yet it is clear that if the irreligious person does not demand a remedy or redress [Abhilfe] of his human vulnerability, he nonetheless looks to the assistance [Hilfsmittel] of science "to gain some knowledge about the reality of the world, by means of which we can increase our power [Macht] and in accordance with which we can arrange our life" (XXI, 55; XIV, 379).
It is well known that at an earlier date [religion] comprised everything that played an intellectual part in men's lives, that it took the place of science when there was scarcely yet such a thing as science, and that it constructed a Weltanschauung, consistent and self-contained to an unparalleled degree which, although it has been profoundly shaken, persists to this day. (XXII, 161; XV, 173)
However, at the very least, Freud's account of "the advance in spirituality/intellectuality [der Fortschritt in der Geistigkeit]" achieved by Moses' ethical monotheism erodes his claim, in The Future of an Illusion, that even refined religiosity offers consolation to individuals, and thus remains "self-seeking." If the "dematerialized God" of Moses signifies, in Freud's words, "a triumph of intellectuality [Geistigkeit] over sensuality [Sinnlichkeit]," and opens the door to further alterations in the idea of God (XXIII, 113-15; XVI, 220-222)—indeed, to a dynamic tradition of such changes, culminating perhaps in the God of Spinoza—then the refined and sublimated religiosity of ethical monotheism cannot be thought of as a source of consolation in any ordinary sense. For Freud to insist that it remains a source of consolation would appear to be, as Paul Ricouer has argued, an obstinate refusal of intellectualized religious belief, born from passionate unbelief.
That religion also brought the Jews a far grander conception of God, or, as we might put it more modestly, the conception of a grander God. Anyone who believed in this God had some kind of share in his greatness, might feel exalted himself... All such advances in intellectuality have as their consequence that the individual's self-esteem [Selbstgefühl] is increased, that he is made proud [stolz zu machen]—so that he feels superior to other people who have remained under the spell of sensuality. Moses, as we know, conveyed to the Jews an exalted sense [Hochgefühl] of being a chosen people. The dematerialization of God brought a fresh and valuable contribution to their secret treasure [geheimen Schatz]. (XXIII, 112-15; XVI, 219-222)
To explain why this advance in intellectuality, and subordination of sensuality, should raise a people's self-regard, Freud analyzes it as a substitutive satisfaction within the libidinal economy. Although the instinctual renunciation required for such intellectuality is experienced as painful, the ego gains pleasure in recognizing that it is capable of this renunciation: "The ego feels elevated [Das Ich fühlt sich gehoben]," Freud writes, "it is proud of the instinctual renunciation [es wird stolz auf den Triebverzicht], as though it were a valuable achievement" (XXIII, 117; XVI, 224). Here the ego is operating toward super-ego as the child once acted toward his or her parents: "Just as in childhood, the ego is apprehensive about risking the love of its supreme master [Oberherr]; it feels his approval as liberation and satisfaction and his reproaches as pangs of conscience [als Gewissenbisse]. When the ego has brought super-ego the sacrifice of an instinctual renunciation, it expects to be rewarded by receiving more love from it. The consciousness of deserving this love is felt by it as pride [als Stolz]" (XXIII, 117; XVI, 224-225). But though the ego operates here according to the childhood pattern, the narcissistic character of its pride means that the "supreme master" of its devotion has already been internalized, that its authority is an internal figure. With this account of the narcissistic motivation for intellectualized religion, Freud can maintain that his refined interlocutor is "self-seeking" on a deeper level, as uncovered by psychoanalysis.
Thus we are faced by the phenomenon that in the course of the development of humanity sensuality is gradually overpowered by intellectuality and that men feel proud and exalted by every such advance [die Menschen sich durch jeden solchen Fortschritt stolz und gehoben fühlen]. But we are unable to say why this should be so... Perhaps men simply pronounce that what is more difficult is higher, and their pride [Stolz] is merely their narcissism augmented by the consciousness of a difficulty overcome. (XXIII, 118; XVI, 226)
This narcissistic aetiology of intellectual pursuits is not confined to the argument of Moses and Monotheism. In Civilization and its Discontents, for example, Freud says in passing that "the narcissistic man, who inclines to be self-sufficient [der eher selbstgenügsame Narzißtische], will seek his main satisfactions in his internal mental processes [in seinem inneren seelischen Vorgängen]" (XXI, 83-4; XIV, 442). To be sure, Freud's discovery of narcissism within intellectual pursuits is fascinating independently of his polemic against religion, but the problem here is that it has the effect of collapsing any essential distinction between religion and science—a distinction that seems "sacred" to Freud. We cannot help but wonder how one is to make sense of Freud's concept of "illusion" if the development of intellect is itself an outgrowth, through sublimation, of religious ideas and pursues the same psychological pattern of finding more and more sublime father-substitutes.
Long ago [man] formed an ideal conception of omnipotence and omniscience which he embodied in his gods. To these gods he attributed everything that seemed unattainable to his wishes, or that was forbidden to him. One may say, therefore, that these gods were cultural ideals. Today he has come very close to the attainment of this ideal, he has almost become a god himself [beinahe selbst ein Gott geworden]... Man has, as it were, become a kind of prosthetic God. When he puts on all his auxiliary organs he is truly magnificent; but those organs have not grown on to him and they still give him much trouble at times. Nevertheless, he is entitled to console himself [sich zu trösten] with the thought that this development will not come to an end precisely with the year 1930 A.D. Future ages will bring with them new and probably unimaginably great advances in this field of civilization and will increase man's likeness to God still more [die Gottähnlichkeit noch weiter steigern]. (XXI, 91-2; XIV, 450-451)
Here we need not appeal to psychoanalysis for an account of how an individual's self-regard is affected by his culture's conception of God. For the manifest content of this passage is precisely Freud's narcissistic satisfaction with scientific-technological culture—so much so, in fact, that he admits to the consolation provided by man's "likeness to God" [Gottähnlichkeit]. But if the "prosthetic God" of scientific culture can be viewed, following Freud's narcissistic aetiology, as a cultural development of ethical monotheism and other religious ideas, what does this mean for "Our God, logos," whom Freud expects to combine intellectual primacy and love of humankind?
1 See Sigmund Freud and Lou Andreas-Salomé, Letters, edited by Ernst Pfeiffer, New York: Basic Books, 1960, pp. 204-5. Freud explicates this point a few years later in Moses and Monotheism: "We too believe that the pious solution contains the truth—but the historical truth and not the material truth... That is to say, we do not believe that there is a single great god today, but that in primeval times there was a single person who was bound to appear huge at that time and who afterwards returned in men's memory elevated to divinity" (SE XXIII, p. 129). The echo here of Nietzsche's second essay of On the Genealogy of Morals in unmistakeable.
2 See T.S. Eliot, "The Future of an Illusion, by Sigmund Freud," originally published in Criterion, VIII, Vol. 3, 1929, pp. 350-53, reprinted in Sigmund Freud, Critical Assessments, Vol. III, edited by Lawrence Spurling, London and New York: Routledge, 1989.
3 There have been numerous critics to heap abuse on Freud for these defects, as Peter Gay has catalogued in A Godless Jew: Freud, Atheism and the Making of Psychoanalysis, New Haven and London: Yale Univ. Press, 1987. Whatever we think of these various criticisms, we can surely understand Gay's lament that Freud's views of religion lack the subtlety he lavished on analyzing neuroses, p. 12.
4 Recently this contemporary situation has been analyzed as a "clash of civilizations" in Samuel P. Huntington's The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of World Order, New York: Simon & Schuster, 1998.
5 George W. Bush's inaugural address to the nation, January 20, 2001.
6 To his "fellow-unbelievers [Unglaubengenossen]" Freud dedicates the lines from Heine's Deutschland:Den Himmel überlassen wir
Den Engeln und den Spatzen.
(Heaven we leave to the angels and the sparrows)
Citations from Freud will refer first to the Standard Edition's English translation by James Strachey, volume and page number, then to the German of Freud's Gesammelte Werke, volume and page number. Thus, here I cite Freud's Future of an Illusion (XXI, 50; XIV, 374).
7 See, for example, Peter Gay's comments on this point in A Godless Jew. My disagreement with Gay on this point does not extend to his basic argument in the book, which is that psychoanalysis could only have been created by an atheist in the conventional sense—or "godless Jew," as in Freud's own words to Oskar Pfister. For me the question is whether Freud's conventional atheism, "grounded" psychoanalytically, does not rest on a valorization of reason that is every bit as illusory as conventional theism.
8 Though we have been alerted to the special significance of this technological perspective by Heidegger's meditations in such essays as "The Question Concerning Technology," and "The Word of Nietzsche: God is Dead"—in Martin Heidegger, The Question Concerning Technology and Other Essays, trans. William Lovitt, New York: Harper & Row, 1977—the perspective itself is at least as old as that of Plato's Socrates in the Republic, reforming religious/mythic ideas for the sake of a politike techne.
9 On the importance of Freud's refusal to distinguish between culture and civilization, see Paul Ricouer's discussion in Freud and Philosophy, translated by Denis Savage, New Haven and London: Yale Univ. Press, 1970, pp. 248-49.
10 With some reservation I am here following the lead of Strachey in translating Freud's Trieb as "instinct," if only because its more accurate rendering as "drive" does not allow for as felicitous an adjectival form as "instinctual."
11 Here, especially, Freud's argument evokes its classical precursors—for example, the view of Plato's Socrates, in Gorgias and Republic, that polis form because no human individual is self-sufficient [autarkes], but stands in want of many things [...].
12 Freud underscores the ultimacy of human vulnerabilty in his account by having his imagined interlocutor take note of the emphasis he places on it theoretically, and question its compatability with the analysis of Totem and Taboo (XXI, 22; XIV, 344).
13 See, for example, Erich Fromm's Psychoanalysis and Religion, New Haven and London: Yale Univ. Press, 1950, for a psychoanalytic defense of what he calls "humanistic religion" as opposed to "authoritarian" religion.
14 Freud's understanding of the term, "Weltanschauung," is itself illuminating: "In my opinion, then, a Weltanschauung is an intellectual construction which solves all the problems of our existence uniformly on the basis of one overriding hypothesis, which, accordingly, leaves no question unanswered and in which everything that interests us finds its fixed place" (XXII, 158; XV, 170-171).
15 More precisely, Freud signals that these arguments are ones that others before him have presented "more completely, forcibly and impressively," his own contribution being to provide some psychological grounding to these critiques (XXI, 35; XIV, 358).
16 T.S. Eliot abuses Freud for failing to give a definition of "illusion," when in fact Freud provides a workable definition of the term as follows: "Thus we call a belief an illusion when a wish-fulfillment is a prominent factor in its motivation, and in doing so we disregard its relations to reality, just as the illusion itself sets no store by verification" (XXI, 31; XIV, 354). See T.S. Eliot's review of The Future of an Illusion, cited above.
17 Ricouer makes this point forcefully in Freud and Philosophy, arguing that ambiguity is written into the heart of religion, which is "archaic in origin and susceptible of an indefinite creation of meaning" (p. 548).
18 Freud uses the last metaphor again in a letter to Princess Marie Bonaparte, dated March 19, 1928: "You are right: one is in danger of overestimating the frequency of an irreligious attitude among intellectuals. I get convinced of that just now on observing the reactions to my [The Future of an] Illusion. That comes from the most varied drinks being offered under the name of "religion," with a minimal percentage of alcohol—really non-alcoholic; but they still get drunk on it..." Reprinted in Appendix A of Ernest Jones' The Life and Work of Sigmund Freud, vol. III, New York: Basic Books, 1957, p. 447.
19 See his lecture on the "Question of a Weltanschauung" in Standard Edition, volume XXII, pp. 166ff.
20 Richard J. Bernstein rightfully points out in his book, Freud and the Legacy of Moses, Cambridge: Cambridge Univ. Press, 1998, that the German title—Der Mann Moses und monotheistische Religion—conveys much better than the English translation what is of foremost concern in the text: namely, the man-made character of religion, and Moses' status as a "great man." Nonetheless, for the sake of familiarity, I will refer to its customary English rendering.
21 Bernstein provides an excellent commentary on the way in which Geistigkeit for Freud signifies both "spirituality" and "intellectuality"—see Freud and the Legacy of Moses, pp. 31ff.
22 More precisely, Ricouer calls this "a refusal to consider a possible epigenesis of religious feeling, that is to say, a transformation or conversion of desire and fear," which seems to Ricouer not "to be based on analysis, but merely expresses Freud's personal unbelief"—Freud and Philosophy, p. 534.
23 Admittedly, I am leaving aside the interesting and equally troubling account of a "phylogenetic" inheritance, including memories of a primordial killing that is the founding of culture. The most interesting discussion of this matter is Jonathan Lear's in chapter three of Happiness, Death and the Remainder of Life, Cambridge, MA, and London: Harvard Univ. Press, 2000, where he criticizes the metaphysics involved in this theory, as well as its regrettable adoption of what Lear calls "the seduction hypothesis."
24 That Freud should stress the narcissistic satisfaction of a refined spirituality in his account of Judaism should not seem strange to us if Moses and Monotheism is, as Ricouer suggests, a matter of Freud overcoming his own narcissistic pride in being a Jew—Freud and Philosophy, p. 244.
25 For our purposes here, we need not explore the intricacies of the internal/external figures that operate in Gewissensangst and other moral pathe according to psychoanalytic theory, as Richard Wollheim does in his remarkable analysis of shame and guilt in On the Emotions, New Haven and London: Yale Univ. Press, 1999, pp. 148ff.
26 Peter Gay draws attention to his calling this distinction "sacred" for Freud, in A Godless Jew, p. 43.
27 There are numerous ancient texts that could be cited to evidence this claim, but one that is especially appropriate to the issues raised by Freud in The Future of an Illusion is Plato's Gorgias, where the logos operating within Socrates' philosophical practice is shown to contribute to "community and friendship" [...] within the logos. For this reason Socrates calls himself the true practioner of the "political art." For an illuminating interpretation of Plato's Gorgias with an eye to these issues, see Hannah Arendt, "Thinking and Moral Considerations: A Lecture," Social Research 38 (1971), pp. 417-46.
28 Paul Ricouer's argument that a psychoanalysis of belief cannot be constructed apart from an interpretation of the texts or cultural productions in which the object of belief announces itself, is one that I take to apply also to Freud's God, logos—which means, then, that the hermeneutic effort wanting in Freud's polemic is not only Biblical exegesis, but the interpretation of Greek philosophical texts in which logos announces itself. See Ricouer's Freud and Philosophy, pp. 544ff.
Robert Metcalf received his doctorate from Penn State University and teaches philosophy at the University of Colorado at Denver. His research and teaching span ancient Greek philosophy, ethics, social and political philosophy, and the history of philosophy.
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