Freud Civilization and its discontents Civilization and Its Discontents Criticisms Uninformed. Freud is uninformed as to the coming events of the twentieth century, especially the Second World War and the Holocaust. This work was published in 1930. In 1931 when they published a second edition, Freud added a final sentence speculating whether Eros or Death would come out as stronger in the coming years. This was as Hitler was coming to power, and it was becoming clear to Freud and to others what a menace they were in for.
But even Freud could not have foreseen what horrors really were in store, and if he had, it might have altered his opinions of Eros and Death. Had this book been written in the context of World War II, Freud might have fundamentally altered his theory to state that the Death drive is the stronger, using Nazi death camps as evidence. This even seems probable, since before Hitler came to power, Freud left this last question out, and with the knowledge of things to come, who knows what else might have changed. As well as WWII, Freud didnt see the full run of communism, and while he was on the money with his analysis of why it fails, he didnt have the perspective of the actual progress of communism past 1939. Misinformed.
Freud bases a good amount of the theory in this book on events that may or may not have happened 50,000 years ago with prehistoric man. On multiple occasions, Freud goes back to the hunter-gatherer days to illustrate how civilization developed. For example, according to Freud, one of the first developments in civilization was when the proverbial sons killed their father and learned the value of cooperation, while at the same time becoming burdened with guilt and remorse. While its possible that this is historical fact, Freud doesnt really substantiate these claims with any evidence, and we are only left to assume that thats how history went. This is an especially important point because Freud extrapolates a number of his fundamental theories (guilt/remorse, law, community, etc.) from these prehistoric examples, and if there were no truth to them at all that might invalidate his theories. Illogical.
One of Freuds assertions is that society severely restricts sexual options for mature individuals, and so the importance as a source of happiness of the sexual life of an individual diminishes (pp.60-61). This is not necessarily true, because just because sex is restricted doesnt mean it doesnt make the individual(s) feel as good. On the contrary, restricting sex might even make the pleasure that much more intense, for example someone who has sex five times a day might not be as fulfilled by it as someone who has sex much less often. This of course does not justify societys oppression on the individuals sex life, but it might warrant a closer look if in fact sex is not as pleasurable, as Freud explores in the footnote on page 61. Perhaps sex is not as good for some other reason (mans bisexual nature seems to be an intriguing one), but blaming society doesnt really work here. Incomplete. Freud attributes the mechanism of civilization to the libido, and states that all of the members of the society are libidinally bound. There is more to societal relationships than these aim-inhibited-love friendships, and Freud even acknowledges this, but he does not expand.
He mentions that we work together in a society because of common interests: to cooperate and be more efficient with work. But the common interest angle takes a back seat to the libidinally joined model of society. He also contradicts himself by saying that we are incapable of loving everybody, yet we are all joined libidinally, whether we like it or not.