Thursday, October 11, 2007

Are we broken or beautiful?

Today I read a selection from Freud's book, "The Future of an Illusion," in which he describes how religion is an illusion created by man in order to cope with the mysteries of nature. This is called the "God of the Gaps," which Freud thinks will be destroyed by science and its systematic destruction of mystery in this world. An interesting assumption. Do I think he's completely correct? No, not really. He does, however, give me some good food for thought. Still, that's not the point of this post.

While discussion the God of the Gaps in class with a friend, we ended up talking about two particular topics I'm very interested in. Here's the first:

Freud's writings, if they're correct, destroy God. My buddy seemed to think that without God, there is no hope. There is no future. If the only thing that exists is the here and now and there is no afterlife, it's a bleak life indeed. I hold that the community of people surrounding us can be a source of light in the case that there is no God and we can still put our efforts forth to make something bigger and better than ourselves. The bottom lying question in this debate is this: Do we have to have to have something bigger than ourselves to focus on in order for us to be happy, optimistic people? If we focus solely on ourselves and nothing bigger than ourselves, can we be truly happy?

Second question:

What is our nature as humans? As we were discussing this, I was talking about how, even if there is a God, we should be doing good for good's own sake. If it is our motives that matter, we shouldn't be doing things in order to store up treasures in heaven or expect anything in return. Rather, we should be doing good and expecting nothing in return. We should be doing good for good's sake. That's my personal opinion on the matter. My friend raised an objection, however. Is it possible for us to do good for good's sake? He argued that no matter what we do, we will always have a motive of self-benefit. We can never just do good things and not expect anything in return. It's an interesting question. One that I don't really know if I can answer. Any thoughts?

1 comment:

lindsey said...

Oh Freud! Oral fixation and phallic stages aside, I agree with him to some extent.

For some people I think religion is a neurosis. They project their fears on to some sort of divinity or perhaps they're looking for the strong father figure. But Freud was on my midterm which means I don't remember that much about him anymore. ;-)

I'm going to take a stab at your questions...why not?

"If we focus solely on ourselves and nothing bigger than ourselves can we be truly happy?"

Oh man...I just realized I was about to spout some sort of Durkheimian idea. I have no opinions of my own any more...

What do you define as "truly happy"? I think "truly happy" is truly relative.

I can conceive of individuals who would be happy simply by themselves in and of themselves.

Personally, what is bigger and more important to me, what brings me happiness is working towards a better community. But then again, that hope and optimism comes from my belief in my ability to change the world. :-)

Second question-

I don't think you ever can do good just for good's sake. It's always for God or karma or love or selfish reasons (such as making yourself feel better). I'm racking my brain for one example of doing good for good's sake, but it feel there are always other motivations involved. But I don't think that makes good deeds any less good.

Wow. That was some major stream of consciousness commenting. I'm sorry. ;-)