Compare And Contrast Freud And Tolstoy

1224 Words 5 Pages
Freud, Tolstoy, and the Meaning of Life The idea of the self becomes more and more popular in the 20th century. With this idea comes the question of whether or not life has a meaning, and if so, what is the meaning? This question is attempted by many great thinkers of the time including Leo Tolstoy, Sigmund Freud, and C.S. Lewis. Each of these thinkers aim to understand the nature of the question and hopefully answer it. In particular, Freud and Tolstoy are very convincing in their arguments, but Tolstoy is able to take a step back and see the value of life in the mundane. Tolstoy and Lewis agree that there is meaning in life, while Freud claims there is no such thing. Throughout A Confession, Tolstoy recounts his journey to understanding. …show more content…
On religion, Freud states “The whole thing is so patently infantile, so foreign to reality, that to anyone with a friendly attitude to humanity it is painful to think that the great majority of mortals will never be able to rise above this view of life” (Freud 39). Building off of this, Freud expands to say that many are obsessed with finding the meaning of life, but he claims that one can only find such answers through religion. By extension, Freud is claiming that the thinkers before him who have found a meaning in life are too naive to accept the fact that it has none. However, Freud discusses what the purpose and intention of human lives based on their behavior. He claims “what decides the purpose of life is simply the programme of the pleasure principle” (Freud 43). Freud goes on to list a number of examples of how someone may behave in relation to this principle. This cold dismissal of anything other than science explains Freud’s attempt to explain human behavior through it. He does this through boiling down all human desires and actions down to two driving forces. These forces are that of pleasure and …show more content…
The so called death drive is an instinct present in humans that compels them to destroy, and this surfaces in society as aggression towards others. Through this, Freud also argues against the religious doctrine of love your neighbor. He states that there is difficulty in following this doctrine, as one should not love someone that is a complete stranger to them, as this is an injustice to those deserving of his or her love. This commandment is rejected by Freud on the grounds that it is not a mutual one. By mutual, he means that it is unbalanced compared to the doctrine “love thy neighbor as thy neighbor loves thee” (Freud 93). He states this on the grounds that without a mutual act, loving your neighbor will lead to harm. Yet another attack on Tolstoy and faith is present in his argument that through scientific advancement, mankind has improved their surroundings endlessly, and claims “man has, as it were, become a kind of prosthetic God” (Freud

Related Documents

Related Topics