1. How did Freud’s conception of the instincts change from his early to his later work? How, on the early and late theories, can we understand the nature of sublimation? How can we understand the primacy of sexuality in our lives? Which theory do you find to be most plausible?
2. Why did Freud think that human morality depends upon the frustration of the human erotic and aggressive drives? Do you think Freud was right?
3. “The fateful question for the human species seems to me to be whether and to what extent their cultural development will succeed in mastering the disturbance of their communal life by the human instinct of aggression and self-destruction…And now it is to be expected that the other of the two ‘Heavenly Powers’, eternal Eros, will make an effort to assert himself in the struggle with his equally immortal adversary. But who can foresee with what success and with what result?
Civilization and Its Discontents, p. 104.
4. Why did Freud think humanity has become more endangered by “the human instinct of aggression and self-destruction?” Is the sexual liberation that began in the 1960s what Freud might have had in mind when he called for Eros to “assert himself?”
5. What is role of external factors (the constraints of necessity and the mores and morals of a political community) and internal factors (conflicts between the drives) in the repression of instinctual drives?
6. What is Freud’s critique of the unlimited pursuit of instinctual gratification as a means of obtaining happiness? Do you find his critique plausible and complete?
7. What is Freud’s critique of religion?
8. What is the origin of conscience? What determines how strong and / or punishing our conscience is?