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Relationship between Individual and Society Essay


In his book, Freud compares societal development of civilization with the supernatural development of individuals. He focused on an individual’s inner self and the effect of civilization on the development of different cultures globally. According to Freud, the progress of one person does not necessarily lead to the development of the whole society.

He thought that the societal arrangement often culminates in individual problem. Additionally, he thinks that, the problem between an individual and the society, or the tension amid the civilization and the discontent cannot be solved. Instead, he sees the problems that result from the relationship between the desires of an individual and the prohibitions in the community as inherent.

He used the term discontentment to show how the human beings are not satisfied with world, and he linked this dissatisfaction with civilization, which cannot be altered. Moreover, Freud thinks that the social arrangement, which is the civilization processes, causes problems to individuals since it asks too much from them.

Hence, people are very unhappy because the civilized society demands a lot. For instance, in his book, he used cultural aspects such as the heterosexuality, monogamy, and sanctioned unions to prove the extent of unhappiness amongst individuals (Freud 11)

Freud thought that the problem could only be solved if the individuals change their civilized lives, by returning to the pre-social position of nature. However, he thought that the solution could not be found since there can never be a balance that can lead to a society where all people live in harmony.

This is attributable to the supposition that there exists a conflict between the inner individuals and the societal structure due to civilization. Civilization will lead to the oppression of people’s needs, which leads to unhappiness. The discontent will vary since some will be unhappier than others will, but civilization is by its essential nature irreconcilable in numerous situations with people’s needs (Freud 40).

According to Freud, civilization makes individuals’ experience problems in three ways. He referred to the problems as uneasiness, which the humans feel through suffering. Firstly, the source of the uneasiness is the “superior power of the nature” (Freud 58). This first source shows how the introduction of the scientific stages makes the individuals to be helpless in the external, which is not mastered perfectly.

This helplessness results from the separation of nature caused by the power of technology. The second unease according to Freud is the weaknesses of the human bodies, which are susceptible to deaths and sufferings. Freud thought that the feebleness is due to the increased awareness of many things that the humans cannot accomplish with technology.

Susceptibility results when the humans try to overpower nature using the technology fantasies, which the civilized culture encourages, and the resulting disgust in this culture for sickness and old age. The third Source of unease according to Freud is the inadequacy rules, which make the individuals to adjust to the relationship between the individuals, the country, and the civilized society.

This also involves how the society deals with conflicting desires. The problem arises because other individuals are not tolerant and the modern thinking causes this because of its rigidity. Apart from the difficulties in coping with the modern culture, the problem is worsened by the modern culture, which provokes it, and intensifies by the forms of individualism, which are produced for people within it (Freud 58).

Fraud also argued that the biggest problem resulting from civilization is the increase in the sense of guilt. This entails the guilt that result from the resentment towards the individuals who implement restrains on the drives through resentment of authority; thus, typifying the origin of Oedipal. Particularly, aggressiveness is internalized, and directed against “the self” (Freud 60).

Freud discovered that civilization, which individuals used to make resolutions, directed their lives towards the moral, and the rational road that society, said they should follow. From his analysis, the introduction of civilization in the nineteenth century would become a web of rationalization and self-deceit. According to him, unconscious forces, which individuals do not have much control over them, govern them (Freud 60).

Hobbes’ View

Hobbes argues that human nature is not good naturally. According to his view, he admits that the human nature leads to conflicts that result from tensions in the society. In order to find the solution to the problems, countries have to guide their people through absolute power. He differs with Freud since he does not believe in the supernatural power that shape individuals.

According to him, individuals want to live autonomously from the state because of the enmity that exists between the individuals. This independence is because of our personal interests of winning and surviving. He argues that in the state, individuals commit sins and hence, there is need powerful individuals who can improve the society.

Hobbes does not share the same view as Freud’s since according to him; individual problems are caused by their nature and not the society system. This was shown in his argument in the Leviathan. According to him the humans’ union through depending on each other, is moral duty. This is different with the way Freud looked at the issue.

This is because Hobbes perspective is more philosophical and moral while Freud’s’ perspective is more psychological. Hobbes focuses on what the society should do, but Freud focuses on what the society does. Unlike Freud, Hobbes does not believe that Social arrangement cause problem to individuals. To him, the causes of individuals’ problems are the humans’ nature, which he considers bad (Somerville & Santoni 45).

Aristotle’s View

According to Aristotle, people are the cause of the existing social forms since the individuals focus on the appropriate social trends. Thus, in solving problem, the individualistic position is vital according to him. Aristotle differs with Freud since like Hobbes; he focuses on the solutions by saying what should be done instead of what is happening.

Aristotle differs with Freud’s view regarding the effects of the social relationship on the individuals. According to him, Social system cannot cause problems to the individuals. Instead, he thinks that individuals can cause social problems. Additionally, he thought that if individuals try to correct their wrong behaviors, the whole society could be good. He also thought that an individual could be good even if the society is bad.

However, he also thought that the lives of individuals are always connected to the society. For instance, in his speculations of politics, he gave a description of the merits of different states and the obligations of the individuals. He thought that the successes of a state depend on the quality of its people.

He believes that human behaviors are natural and hence, society cannot influence them, but they can influence the society. Hence, through the individuals’ participation in the societal affairs, they develop each other while developing the whole society (Somerville & Santoni 78).

Works Cited

Freud, Sigmund. Civilization and its Discontents. New York, NY: Martino Fine books, 2011. Print.

Somerville, John. & Santoni, Ronald. Social and political Philosophy: readings from Plato to Gandhi. Graden City, PA: Anchor Books, 1963. Print.

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