Thursday, April 24, 2014

Theme: Freud

  • I understand why Freud at the end of Civilization and Its Discontents said that he couldn’t preach an alternative to the social order as it was, even as he saw it heading for total disaster. Once he jettisons the idea of the good, it becomes almost impossible to envisage political struggle. The political thinker smuggles it back in, even when she or he accepts its explicit rejection, because some idea of the good seems to be a necessary condition for the possibility of politics. But I wrote the book believing that the abandonment of the good still left a small opening for thinking politics. And I don’t see any other way of doing it than focusing on the opposition between the good and enjoyment. Once we accept that the good is antithetical to our enjoyment, is a barrier to our enjoyment, it becomes possible to think politics beyond the good.Read more
  • When I was younger, in college and grad school, I'd read that someone my current age had won the lottery, and it just seemed so pointless. What would they do with twenty years of money coming in that could possibly make their, or anyone's, life better? There they would be, beaming out of the front pages of the New York Post, their slovenly decrepitude accentuated by the big checks and grins so appropriately transfigured into the harsh half-tone dots of the giant photo.Read more
  • When Freud devised the “talking cure,” he envisaged it as having a therapeutic effect, not only on individuals suffering from neurosis, but also on society as a whole. By enabling patients to talk freely about their repressed (and often socially unacceptable) fears and desires, Freud believed he was contributing to the creation of a more tolerant society.Read more
  • Many philosophers consider the era of “modern” philosophy to begin with René Descartes’s Discourse on Method (1637) and Meditations on First Philosophy (1641). In these works, Descartes aims to ground human knowledge of the external, material world.Read more
  • When I first found the sprawling diary in a Berlin archive, I wasn’t quite sure what to make of it. It was full of insight, but littered with self-pity. Political reportage on the terrible drama of twentieth-century German history often yielded to inflexible Social DarwinismRead more
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