Civilization and Its Discontents

Tracing the Origin of Morality/"Morality"

Friedrich Nietzsche's "The Genealogy of Morals" and Sigmund Freud's "Civilization and its Discontents," have similar goals. Both men want to expose what they see as the impediments of society on the freedom of the individual. Both attack and condemn organized religion as a disguise for the helplessness that individuals feel in the face of society, and as an historically destructive force that has divorced men from their knowledge of their true selves and renders them impotent in their present lives. Both essays, at their core, struggle with the concept of morality, how it came to exist in society and how it came to govern our present. While the present is the subject of both essays, Nietzsche and Freud necessarily delve into the past of both society and the individual to explain their disparate definitions of morality and what these interpretations mean for their contemporaries. While Nietzsche sees morality as a concept developed by society, Freud instead sees morality as a natural process existing in the individual before he joins society, and in human relations before civilization. Nietzsche sees the past as an explanation for the continuing development of morality, whereas Freud sees the past as...

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