Professor Name Philosophy 5 November 2012 The Essential Characteristics of Loving The writings of the philosophers that are analyzed in this paper have at least one thing in common. They all are aimed to criticize the present society if not to change it…
Consequently, they do not idealize it but rather assess the state of erotic relationships as such in (their) present condition and make the remarks about potential changes. Sigmund Freud is troubled by the level of neurosis in his contemporaries. Though he emphasizes his neutrality as a physician (“On the Universal Tendency to Debasement in the Sphere of Love” 6), the very nature of his text is performative: they are too rich in anecdotes, interesting cases, and witty quotes to be called totally neutral. According to Freud, present society is on the third level of restriction of sexuality: it controls even those sexual activities that are intended for procreation only (“Civilized’ Sexual Morality and Modern Nervousness” 6). This is dangerous, because in this situation: (1) individual libidinal characteristics (that often differ from the societal demands) are ignored and (2) every man and woman is being torn apart by 2 contradictory yet inescapable desires. One of them is the need of appreciation from fellow human beings, which is impossible when the sexual behavior of an individual is considered inappropriate. Another one is an instinct that Freud associates with love. In “Civilized’ Sexual Morality and Modern Nervousness”, the founder of psychoanalysis describes sexual instinct as almost a living creature that is innate in every human. It is a subject to development, and the problems in the way of this development lead to different types of neuroses (in the article, Freud distinguishes between neurasthenia and psychoneurosis (4). This “animal inside us” is incomparably greedy and cruel: it is “probably more strongly developed in man than in most of the higher animals; it is certainly more constant, since it has almost entirely overcome the periodicity belonging to it in animals” (“Civilized’ Sexual Morality and Modern Nervousness” 5). Freud does not recommend tolerating abstinence, as it suppresses the dangerous sexual instinct. In such cases, the latter is either ‘sublimated’ or resulting in neuroses. However, marriage does not offer any attractive alternatives, as it limits the sexual satisfaction of the couple to the pre-conception intercourses (“Civilized’ Sexual Morality and Modern Nervousness” 8). Following this logic, marriage is a severe stress, especially for women, so that neurotic girls cannot make good party (according to Freud) and are succumbed to the abstinence-related neuroses (“Civilized’ Sexual Morality and Modern Nervousness” 8). In the paper “On the Universal Tendency to Debasement in the Sphere of Love”, Freud develops this theory of sexual instinct. As a physician, he approaches love technically, mainly as a working instrument of the explanation of neuroses: “The highest phase of development of which object-libido is capable is seen in the state of being in love, when the subject seems to give up his own personality in favor of an object-cathexis” (Freud, “On Narcissism” 76). From this quotation, it follows that sexual instinct is always object-directed, and it finds its objects either in the people surrounding an individual or an individual him/herself. The state of balanced, so to speak, “healthy” love is achieved when the two ‘currents’ of this instinct successfully meet each other. The first one, the affectionate current, is connected with the ‘primary object-choice’ ...
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