Love Thy Neighbor as Thyself
The fundamental question is whether you love yourself or not. You can love the neighbor only if you love yourself. In the essay, Civilization and Discontents, Freud analyzes and evaluates the deeper meaning of the commandment, questioning the message and its affects on our society. By inquiring about the origins and cause of the commandment, Freud questions our very ability to love, and the root of our suffering.
Freud evaluates the commandment throught an egotisitcal and negative perspective, trying to justify his thoughts in a realistic way.He opposes the idea of a universal love, dismissing it as wishful thinking and an idealistic view. In his essay, Civilization and Discontents, Freud counters the commandment “Love Thy neighbour as thyself” stating that this responsibility and duty is what is preventing us from gratifying our desires. “My love is something valuable to me which I ought not to throw away without reflection. ” (Freud p. 66) According to Freud, the commandment is impossible to fulfil, because such an enormous inflation of love can only lower its value.By loving ones neighbor as much as ones own family, is in a sense disrespect to the ones we love most.
By providing and caring for strangers as much as we do ourselves, we would be exhuasted and drained of love. How is it possible to universally love all things created; and yet distinguish the ones we love most? This is Freud’s argument; that our society has needlessly added on to our suffering by, in a sense, punishing us with a pressure which cannot be fixed by loving “thy neighbour” but is in actuallity created from the very command of loving “thy neighbor”.
The love life of the individual is concerned with the love-object, but society needs you to work for its aims, and so pulls you away via duty and responsibility from gratifying your desires. Freud realizes and acknowledges that a universal love is simply wishful thinking. Freud states that this commandment calls for the impossible, that such a feat is unrealistic. I agree with Freud, that it would be impossible, but not because the value of that love would be lowered, but because you cannot love another unless you have learned to love yourself.If you become capable of loving yourself, love for the neighbor will come of its own accord.
What Freud considers wishful thinking of a universal love, can be accomplished and attained, but only if we learn to look inwards before focusing our attention to others, through a forced love. Love out of guilt and pressure, is no love at all, but a burden. Love is an emotion, and is in the control of the individual. Love is limitless and abundant, regardless of how many you love and care for you cannot loose the value of the emotion.Because for each person and individual the feeling of love varies. The commandment can be taken as a positive and beautiful message, rather than one of burden and guilt. The question is not if you can love your neighbor, but if you can love yourself.
Sigmund Freud evalutated the commandment, “love thy neighbor as thyself” criticing the real meaning behind such an impossible feat. Freud recognizes the natural behavior of human beings to be one of aggression, and such a commandment condemns even the thought of aggression.This, he realizes, leads us to opression of our true nature, and is a big contributor to our suffering and guilt. Could it be that are society wants to control this aggression, and to make it so there is oppression over the people. By oppressing people mentally, there couldbe a benefit to our society, inorder to make us act in certain ways. By scaring us into a certain mind set, we can be “controlled” and manipulated to submit to our civilizations rules.What Freud does not discuss, is that if we were to come back to the true meaning of the commandment, we would not be lead to oppression, guilt, or suffering.
Instead we would be a much more peaceful and loving group of individuals. The commandment, “Love thy neighbor as thyself” has a beautiful and simple message. To love yourself, and with that love and understanding of oneself will come a universal love for everyone else. Without appreciating who you are, and your true potential who could you see the beauty in anyone else?Freud questions the basis of this commandment, wanting to know if this is the root of our suffering.
In a sense it is a contributor to our suffering, because we have misinterpreted the meaning, and taken it either in the literal sense of having to love all neighbors, or a negative sense and labeling it as impossible. Freud, and others like him have taken the time to debate and question, examine and analyze why we are the way we are, and how we came to be the civilization we are today. By asking these questions we are broadening our view on society and our “boxed” outlook on life.