Sigmund Freud Quotes on Society & Civilization (13 Quotes)


    ...the first man to use abusive language instead of his fists was the founder of civilization.

    Our knowledge of the historical worth of certain religious doctrines increases our respect for them, but does not invalidate our proposal that they should cease to be put forward as the reasons for the precepts of civilization. On the contrary Those historical residues have helped us to view religious teachings, as it were, as neurotic relics, and we may now argue that the time has probably come, as it does in an analytic treatment, for replacing the effects of repression by the results of the rational operation of the intellect.

    The first requisite of civilization is that of justice.

    One... gets an impression that civilization is something which was imposed on a resisting majority by a minority which understood how to obtain possession of the means to power and coercion. It is, of course, natural to assume that these difficulties are not inherent in the nature of civilization itself but are determined by the imperfections of the cultural forms which have so far been developed.

    Civilization is a process in the service of Eros, whose purpose is to combine single human individuals, and after that families, then races, peoples and nations, into one great unity, the unity of mankind. Why this has to happen, we do not know the work of Eros is precisely this.


    The first human who hurled an insult instead of a stone was the founder of civilization.

    The liberty of the individual is no gift of civilization. It was greatest before there was any civilization.

    No matter how much restriction civilization imposes on the individual, he nevertheless finds some way to circumvent it. Wit is the best safety valve modern man has evolved the more civilization, the more repression, the more need there is for wit.

    Sublimation of instinct is an especially conspicuous feature of cultural development it is what makes it possible for higher psychical activities, scientific, artistic or ideological, to play such an important part in civilized life. If one were to yield to a first impression, one would say that sublimation is a vicissitude which has been forced upon the instincts entirely by civilization. But it would be wiser to reflect upon this a little longer. In the third place, finally, and this seems the most important of all, it is impossible to overlook the extent to which civilization is built up upon a renunciation of instinct, how much it presupposes precisely the non-satisfaction (by suppression, repression or some other means) of powerful instincts. This cultural frustration dominates the large field of social relationships between human beingswe know already that it is the cause of the antagonism against which all civilization has to fight.

    Civilization began the first time an angry person cast a word instead of a rock.

    Civilization has little to fear from educated people and brain-workers. In them the replacement of religious motives for civilized behaviours by other, secular motives, would proceed unobtrusively....

    It is impossible to overlook the extent to which civilization is built upon a renunciation of instinct.

    Civilized society is perpetually menaced with disintegration through this primary hostility of men towards one another.


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