Essay // Psychoanalysis: History, Foundations, Legacy, Impact & Evolution

Mis-à-jour le Vendredi, 30 Avril 2021

Hampstead dpurb.com d'purb website Psychoanalysis

Photographie: Danny J. D’Purb © 2008

History and Background

In contemporary psychology, the psychoanalytic movement’s place is both unique and paradoxical. Focussing on the study of the mind as a “software” running on the brain as the “hardware”, psychoanalysis remains the only discipline that truly focuses on the mechanism and processes behind our thoughts. Unlike empirical behavioural science and other “cogno-sciences” that can be fairly barbaric and obstinate in the forced application of the rigid mathematical and reductionist systematic procedures embedded in the classic scientific method when dealing with an entity as complex and organic as the human mind; psychoanalysis has remained focussed in understanding human psychology by capturing it in all its details, depths, dimensions and linguistic aspects.

The scientific method although a proven mathematical approach to inquiries in the hard sciences [e.g. biology, medecine, physics, chemistry, astrophysics, material science, astronomy, etc], shows its limitations when used as a tool for psychological inquiry in the measurement of variables that are incredibly hard to measure such as emotions, values, motives, desires, libidinous intensity or dreams. It is also fair noting that humans are different from simple organisms, molecules or robots, hence psychoanalysis remains the only discipline focused on the mind [the software] assuming that most human beings have a physiologically healthy brain [the hardware].

However, modern sciences have discovered how abnormalities in the brain’s physiology due to birth defects or injury may result in behavioural problems linked to a deficient mind due to the defective brain [hardware] at its disposal. Hence, nowadays most good intellectuals in the field of psychoanalysis would likely be a better psychologist with an in-depth knowledge of the physiology of the brain, i.e. the major areas affecting core functions such as speech [Wernicke and Broca’s], vision [the occipital lobe], and motor abilities [parietal lobe], etc.

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This is because some psychological problems may on rare occasion be caused by brain injuries or physiological abnormality due to virus, trauma, stroke or injury. In those cases where such a scenario materialises, the psychotherapist may refer the patient to a neurosurgeon who may be more appropriate to inspect the extent of the problems on the defective brain [hardware] which may lead to a clearer perspective of the limitations being imposed on the mind of the affected individual and how it impacts processes such as the conscious, the preconscious and the unconscious [based on Sigmund Freud’s 1st ground breaking theory of mental life, the Topographic Model, which was also adopted by Jacques Lacan who argued convincingly that post-Freudian psychoanalysts had swayed too far from the fundamental concepts and turned psychoanalysis into a confusing genre].

However, as we are in the developmental stages of conception of the organic theory, a theory that takes the focus on the individual organism’s creative ability to another level, we are going to remain focussed on the mind. The organic theory was inspired by the brain’s magnificent ability to learn any age, and thus give the individual human organism the ability and freedom to define, create, redefine, recreate and shape itself based on its inherited and acquired abilities, desires and personal constructionist developments throughout its life – yes, the individual does have choices and these impact the person’s internal working model of mental life and the person as a whole along with his or her environment.

While psychoanalysis remains one of the most widely known schools of psychology it is perhaps not universally understood. The founder of psychoanalysis, Sigmund Freud is perhaps one of the most famous psychologist of the last century even if his chosen discipline, psychoanalysis, has little in common with the other schools of thought and psychology.

Psychoanalysis views the mind as an active, dynamic and self-generating entity, and this is in the German tradition of mental life [it was also a founding assumption for Jean Piaget as he developed his Theory of Cognitive Development in Children]. Freud saw psychoanalysis as a revolution of the mind that had to disturb the consciousness of the world, and viewed the unconscious as a reservoir of impulsive force repressed in the biological depths of the soul.

Exploding Raphaelesque Head - Salvador Dali (1951) dpurb d'purb website

Tête Raphaélesque Éclatée” par Salvador Dali (1951)

It is also important to note that Freud was trained in hard sciences, yet his system shows little appreciation for systematic and reductionist empiricism. As a physician, Freud used his observational skills to build his system within a medical framework, basing his theory on individual case studies. He did not depart from his understanding of 19th-century science in the effort to organise his observations, neither did he attempt to test his hypotheses rigorously through independent verification. As he testified, he was psychoanalysis and did not tolerate dissension from his orthodox views. Nevertheless, Freud had a tremendous impact on 20th century psychology, perhaps more importantly, the influence of psychoanalysis on Western thought, as reflected in literature, philosophy and art, significantly exceeds the impact of any other system and school of psychology.

 

The Active Mind

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Photographie: Danny D’Purb © 2012

Going back to the philosophical foundations of modern psychology in Germany during the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries, we found that the tradition of Leibniz and Kant clearly emphasised mental activity. This is in contrast to British empiricism, which assumed the mind to be a passive entity [such as a sponge that simply soaks in what is thrown at it]. The German tradition held the most logical and creative assumption that the mind itself generates and structures human experience in characteristic ways [being “active”]. Whether through Leibniz’s monadology or Kant’s categories, the psychology of the individual could be understood only by examining the dynamic, inherent activity of the mind.

Throughout the years, as psychology evolved into an independent discipline in the latter part of the 19th century under Wundt’s tutelage, the British model of mental passivity served as a guiding philosophy. Clearly, Wundt’s empiricistic formulation was at odds with German philosophical precedents, recognised by both Stumpf and Brentano. Act psychology and the psychology of non-sensory consciousness represented by the Würzburg School were closer to the German philosophical assumptions of mental activity than to Wundt’s structural psychology. The Gestalt movement encompassed these alternatives to Wundt’s psychology in Germany. Eventually, as the rational outcome guided intellectuals, Wundt’s system was replaced by Gestalt psychology, turning into the dominant psychology in Germany prior to World War II – one based on a model of the mind that admitted inherent organisational activity.

The assumptions underlying mental activity in Gestalt psychology were highly qualified, where construct for mind involves the organisation of perception, based on the principle of isomorphism, which resulted in a predisposition toward patterns of personal-environmental interactions. The focus on organisation meant that the way of mental processes, not their content, was inherently structured. In other words, individuals were not born with specific ideas, energies, or other content in the mind; rather, the organisational structure was inherited to acquire mental contents in characteristic ways. Accordingly, the Gestalt movement, while rightly rejecting the rigidity of Wundt’s empiricistic assumptions and concepts, did not reject empiricism completely [as a technique to study some basic and easily defined variables (such as traits) and their relation(s) to others]. Instead, the Gestaltists advocated a compromise between the empiricist basis of British philosophy and the German model of activity. Consequently, this opened psychological investigation to the study of complex problem-solving and perceptual processes.

Consistent with the Gestalt foundations, psychoanalysis was firmly grounded in an active model of mental processes, however it shared little of the Gestalt commitment to empiricism. Freud’s views on personality were consistent not only with the activities of mental processing suggested by Leibniz and Kant, but also with the 19th century belief in conscious and unconscious levels of mental activity. In acknowledging the teachings of such philosophers as Von Hartman and Schopenhauer [Read the Essay on our Review of “Die Welt als Wille und Vorstellung”(The World as Will and Idea), Freud developed motivational principles that depended on energy forces beyond the level of self-awareness.

Schopenhauer

Arthur Schopenhauer (1788 – 1860)

Moreover, for Freud, the development of personality was determined by individual, unconscious adaptation to these forces. The details of personality development as formulated by Freud are outlined below; however, is also important to recognise the fundamental basis of Freud’s thinking. Psychoanalysis is based on the implication of mental activity further than any other system of psychology. As a major representative of a reliance on mental activity to account for personality, psychoanalysis is set apart from other movements in contemporary psychology. In addition, psychoanalysis unlike the other branches of psychology, did not emerge from reductionist empirical research that stubbornly tries to apply mechanical scientific methodology to measure complex non-physical abilities; rather it was the product of the applied consequences of clinical practice [i.e. it was a force that was born on the field to treat mental problems as they surfaced throughout human history].

 

The Treatment of Mental Illness

Besides being the founder of the psychoanalytic movement in modern psychology, Freud is also remembered for his efforts in pioneering the upgrade in the treatment of mental and behavioural abnormalities, and was instrumental in psychiatry’s recognition as a branch of medicine that specifically deals with psychopathology. Before Freud’s works in attempting to devise effective methods of treating the mentally ill, individuals who deviated from socially acceptable norms were usually treated as if they were criminals or demonically possessed. Although shocking controversies in the contemporary treatment of mental deviancy appear occasionally, not too long ago such abuses were often the rule rather than the exception.

The treatment of mental illnesses was never a pleasant chapter in Western civilisation and it has been pointed out many times that abnormal behaviour is often mixed up with criminal behaviour as with heresy and treason. Even during the period of enlightenment during the European Renaissance, the cruelties and tortures of the inquisition were readily adapted to treat what we nowadays qualify as mental illness. Witchcraft continued to offer a reasonable explanation to such eccentric behaviour until recent times. Prisons were established to house criminals, paupers, and the insane without any differentiation. Mental illness was viewed as governed by evil or obscure forces, and the mentally ill were looked upon as crazed by such weird influences such as moon rays. Lunatics or “moonstruck” persons, were appropriately kept in lunatic asylums. As recently as the latter part of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th century, the institution of for the insane in Utica, New York, which was progressive by the standards of the time, was called the Utica Lunatic Asylum. The name reflected the prevailing attitude toward mental illness.

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“Dr. Philippe Pinel at the Salpêtrière”, 1795 by Tony Robert-Fleury. Pinel ordering the removal of chains from patients at the Paris Asylum for insane women

Reforms in the treatment of the institutionalised insane were slowly introduced during the 19th century. In 1794, Philippe Pinel (1745 – 1826) was appointed the chief of hospitals for the insane in Paris, and managed to improve both the attitude toward and the treatment of the institutionalised insane. In the United States, Dorothea Dix (1802 – 1887) accomplished the most noticeable reforms in the treatment of the mentally ill. Beginning in 1841, Dix led a campaign to improve the condition of indigent, mentally ill persons kept in jails and in poorhouses. However, these reforms succeeded in improving only the physical surroundings and maintenance conditions of the mentally ill; legitimate treatment was minimal. [Even today, in 2019, the US seems to have more people with eccentric behaviours and with questionable mental stability, for example, Donald Trump, who has been singled out as being mentally ill by more than one. See: (1) The Dangerous Case of Donald Trump, (2) Trump Is ‘Mentally Ill’ Says Former Vermont Governor and Doctor Howard Dean, (3) American psycho? Donald Trump’s mental health is still a question, (4) Psychiatrist: Trump Mental Health Urgently Deteriorating & (5) Stanford’s Zimbardo asks: Is President Trump mentally ill?

Confidence in US

Around the world, favorability of the U.S. and confidence in its president decline / Source: Pew Research Center

The US has more women in prison than China, India & Russia combined

According to the International Centre for Prison Studies, nearly a third of all female prisoners worldwide are incarcerated in the United States of America. There are 201,200 women in US prisons, representing 8.8 percent of the total American prison population. / Source: Forbes

Most people in prison

Highest to Lowest – Prison Population Total / Source: World Prison Brief

Efforts to develop comprehensive treatments were plagued by various quacks, such as the pseudoscience developed by Mesmer that dealt with the “animal spirit” underlying mental illnesses [although it may be true today if expressed as a metaphorical description to some of the behavioural manifestations of some mental disorders in some individuals].

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White Dogs and Tootsie Pops” by Marie Hughes

Similarly, the phrenology of Gall and Spurzheim advocated a physical explanation based on skull contours and localisation of brain functions – which was of course also wrong.

Gradually however, attempts were made to develop legitimate and effective techniques to treat emotional and behavioural abnormalities. One of the more productive investigations involved hypnotism and was pioneered by a French physician, Jean Martin Charcot (1825 – 1893). Charcot gained widespread fame in Europe, and the young Freud amazed by his abilities, studied under him, as did many other talented physicians and physiologists. He treated hysterical patients with symptoms ranging from hyper-emotionality to physical conversions of underlying emotional problems that the patient could not confront when conscious.

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Une leçon clinique à la Salpêtrière (1887)” with Jean Martin Charcot in Front (A Clinical Lesson at the Salpêtrière) par André Brouillet à l’Université Paris Descartes

Another French physician in Nancy, namely Hippolyte Bernheim (1837 – 1919), developed a sophisticated analysis of hypnosis as a form of treatment, using underlying suggestibility to alter the intentions of the patient. Finally, Pierre Janet (1859 – 1947), a student of Charcot, used hypnotism to resolve the forces of emotional conflict, which he believed were basic to hysterical symptoms. However, it was Sigmund Freud who went beyond the techniques of hypnotism to develop a comprehensive theory of psychopathology from which systematic treatments evolved. Later, Jacques Lacan (1901 – 1981) would pulverise the tradition inherited from hospital medecine which consisted of displaying  a patient before an audience of practitioners or students and asking questions whose deeper meaning was supposed to escape the patient. The actors in this ceremonial, the patients, trained by years of confinement, actually produced all the symptoms that the masters of the asylum expected of them. Lacan shattered this clinic with his gaze in order to give a voice to the mentally ill. Jean-Bertrand Pontalis said:Lacan était extraordinairement courtois avec ses malades, les traitant pas du tout comme des patients d’asile – c’est la moindre des choses, mais ce n’est pas toujours le cas – comme des êtres humains et les amenaient peu à peu, créant une atmosphère de confiance, à les laisser parler très très librement. Pour l’anecdote, c’est assez savoureux, je me souviens qu’une fois il y avait une femme qui était paranoïaque qui se plaignait qu’on l’a suivi partout, « On me suit, on me suit, on me suit, on me suit partout… », Lacan à la fin lui dit, « Ne vous inquiéter pas chère madame, je vais trouver quelqu’un pour vous suivre » entendant par la, un médecin qui pourra lui traiter. Comme si lui-même, dans ces années-là était en train d’inventer et de s’inventer. Nous participions en accord avec lui en résonance avec lui à un mouvement inventif.” [French for: “Lacan was extraordinarily courteous with his patients, treating them not at all like asylum patients – to say the least but this is not always the case – like human beings and gradually, creating an atmosphere of trust, he led them to let them speak very, very freely. For the anecdote, it’s quite tasty, I remember that once there was a woman who was paranoid complaining that she was followed everywhere, “They follow me, they follow me, they follow me, they follow me everywhere…”, Lacan at the end said to her, “Don’t worry dear lady, I’ll find someone to follow you” hearing by this, a doctor who will be able to treat her. As if he himself, in those years, was in the process of inventing and inventing himself. In agreement with him, we were participating in an inventive movement in resonance with him.”]

 

A Biography of Sigmund Freud

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Sigmund Freud (1856 – 1939) / Image: Freud Museum London

Since psychoanalysis as we know it today is hugely influenced by the foundations laid by Sigmund Freud, it is worthwhile to have an understanding about the major points in his life. Sigmund Freud (1856 – 1939) was born on the 6th of May 1856 in Freiberg, Moravia, at that time a norther province of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, today a part of the Czech Republic.

Freud was the eldest of 8 children, and his father was a relatively poor and not very successful wool merchant. When his business failed, Freud’s father moved with his wife and children [as many jews are accustomed to migrating to better places in the quest for a better life and income] first to Leipzig and then to Vienna when Freud was 4 years old. The young Freud remained in Vienna for most of the rest of his life, and his precocious genius was recognised by his family, and he was allowed many concessions and favours not permitted to his siblings. For example, young Freud was provided with better lighting to read in the evening, and when he was studying, noise in the house was kept to a minimum so he would not be disturbed.

Freud’s interest were varied and intense, and he showed an early inclination and aptitude for various intellectual pursuits. Unfortunately, Freud was a victim of the 19th century Jew-dislike which was obvious and severe in central and Eastern Europe after the numerous accounts of Jews being banished from places all over Europe due to their occult and violent religious practices on Christian infants [e.g. human sacrifices] along with their known habits in monopolising the majority of the press businesses to then distort news and heritage to their agendas and economic advantage.

However, although Freud was an atheist and more scientifically minded, his Jewish birth precluded certain career opportunities, most notably an academic career in university research. Indeed, medicine and law were the only professions open to Vienna Jews.

Freud’s early reading of Charles Darwin intrigued and impressed him to the point that a career in science was most appealing. The closest path that he could follow for training as a researcher was an education in medicine. Hence, Freud entered the university of Vienna in 1873 at the age of 17. However, because of his interests in a variety of fields and specific research projects, it took him 8 years to complete the medical coursework that normally required 6 years.

Eel

In 1881, he received his doctorate in medicine. While at university, Freud was part of an investigation of the precise structure of the testes of eels, which involved his dissecting over 400 eels. Later, he moved on to physiology and neuroanatomy and conducted experiments examining the spinal cord of fish. While at Vienna, Freud also took courses with Franz Brentano, which formed his only formal introduction to 19th century psychology.

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After waiting for Freud for about 4 years, his fiancée, Martha Bernays, a jewish girl from a business family and the grand-daughter of a famous Rabbi in Hamburg, married him. While she did not show great interest in Freud’s intellectual pursuits, her younger sister Minna became a very close intellectual partner of Freud. Carl Jung one of Freud’s intellectual ally who would become one of his firmest critic would even later say that he learned from Minna that Freud was in love with her and their relationship was very “intimate” – although we have no factual confirmation of such. She was so close to the young couple, that she moved in with them in the 1890s to set up was has been “jokingly” called a “ménage a trois”. As for Martha, she was also a charmer, intelligent, well-educated and fond of reading who as a married woman ran her household efficiently and was almost obsessive about punctuality and dirt. Firm but loving with her children, French analyst René Laforgue said that she spread an atmosphere of peaceful joie de vivre through the household. Shortly after Freud’s wedding, he recognised that a scientific career would not provide adequate income, since anti-Jewish sentiments were strong around Europe and this worked against Jewish advancement in academia even if Freud himself was not a practising Jew or had any religious sentiments. So Freud reluctantly decided to begin a private practice. Although the young couple were very poor in the early years of their marriage, Freud was able to support his wife and his growing family, which eventually included 6 children. The early years in private practice were very difficult, requiring long hours for a meagre financial reward that basically did not challenge him. Freud was also an atheist and did not want psychoanalysis to be seen as a purely Jewish endeavour, and his close network although were mainly Jewish later slowly grew to incorporate European intellectuals where some of the most significant would disagree with some of his assumptions and leave his circle after keeping only a few of his fundamental concepts about the theory of mental life.

During his hospital training, Freud had worked with patients with anatomical and organic problems of the nervous system. Shortly after starting private practice, he became friendly with Josef Breuer (1842 – 1925), a general practitioner who had acquired some local fame for his respiration studies. This friendship provided needed stimulation for Freud, and they began to collaborate on several patients with nervous disorders, most notably the famous case of Anna O., an intelligent young woman with severe, diffuse hysterical symptoms. In using hypnosis to treat Anna O., Breuer noticed that some specific experiences emerged under hypnosis that the patient could not recall while conscious. Her symptoms seemed to be relieved after talking about these experiences under hypnosis. Breuer treated Anna O. daily for over a year, and became convinced that the “talking cure”, or “catharsis”, involving discussion of unpleasant and repulsive memories revealed under hypnosis, was an effective method in alleviating her symptoms. Unfortunately, Breuer’s wife became jealous of the relationship; that would later be called positive transference of emotional feelings to the therapist”. This would later be explained as patients falling in love with the new object [in this case, the psychoanalyst] at which they redirect feelings and desires retained in childhood at characteristic stages of therapy. This looked suspicious to Breuer’s wife. As a result, Breuer terminated his treatment of Anna O. Freud was also very professional with his clients and never had any mistresses or took advantage of his female patients. In opposition to positive transference, the psychoanalyst may also face negative transference in treatment with patients, which refers to aggressive affects, definitions that would also be taken by Lacan who criticised Ego-psychology for defining transference simply in terms of a range of affects. Lacan explained that transference does not refer to any mysterious property of affect in patients, and even when it reveals itself under the appearance of emotion, it only acquires meaning by the virtue of that very precise dialectical moment in which it is produced; that is to say that transference with patients often manifests itself in the form of strong affects, such as love and hate, but it does not consist of such emotions, it is part of the structure of the intersubjective relationship of patients in praxis with the psychoanalyst at that very moment. Lacan saw the Symbolic aspect of transference, which is repetition, as a feature that helped the treatment of patients since it reveals the meaningful signifiers of the personal history of Subjects, while the Imaginary aspect (love and hate) during treatment acts as resistance to psychoanalytic praxis.

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Jean-Martin Charcot (1825 – 1893) / Charcot first began studying hysteria after creating a special ward for non-insane females with “hystero-epilepsy”. He discovered two distinct forms of hysteria among these women: minor hysteria and major hysteria. His interest in hysteria and hypnotism “developed at a time when the general public was fascinated in ‘animal magnetism’ and ‘mesmerization'”, which was later revealed to be a method of inducing hypnosis.
Charcot argued vehemently against the widespread medical and popular prejudice that hysteria was rarely found in men, presenting several cases of traumatic male hysteria. He taught that due to this prejudice these “cases often went unrecognised, even by distinguished doctors” and could occur in such models of masculinity as railway engineers or soldiers. Charcot’s analysis, in particular his view of hysteria as an organic condition which could be caused by trauma, paved the way for understanding neurological symptoms arising from industrial-accident or war-related traumas.

In 1885, Freud received a modest grant that allowed him to go to Paris to study with Jean-Martin Charcot for 4 and half months. During that time he not only observed Charcot’s method of hypnosis [which he never managed to master as Charcot did] but also attended his lectures, learning about the master’s views on the importance of unresolved sexual problems in the underlying causality of hysteria. When Freud returned to Vienna, he gave a report of his work with Charcot to the medical society, but its cold reception left him with resentment that affected his future interactions with the entrenched medical establishment and its rigid and reductionist methods at understanding and solving the problems of the mind.

Freud continued his work with Breuer on hypnosis and catharsis, but gradually abandoned the former in favour of the latter, being not very gifted with hypnotic techniques, but also for 3 major reasons regarding its effectiveness as a treatment with general applicability. First, not everyone can be hypnotised; hence its usefulness is limited to a select group. Second, some patients refuse to believe what they revealed under hypnosis, prompting Freud to conclude that the patient must be aware during the step-by-step process of discovering memories hidden from their accessible consciousness. Third, when one set of symptoms were alleviated under hypnotic suggestibility, new symptoms often emerged. Freud and Breuer were moving in separate directions, and Freud’s increasing emphasis on the primacy of sexuality as the key to psychoneurosis contributed to their break. Nevertheless, in 1895 they published Studies on Hysteria, often cited as the first work of the psychoanalytic movement, although it sold only 626 copies during the following 13 years – perhaps due to the lack of sophistication and interest in the workings of the mind at that particular point in history, or the level of the academic discussions that may not have been adequate for the intellect of the average mind at the time.

Freud’s preferred method of treatment, catharsis, involves engaging with patients and encouraging them to speak of anything that comes [occupies] their mind, regardless of how discomforting or embarrassing it might be. This “free association” took place in a relaxed atmosphere, usually on the classic psychologist couch in a reclined position to promote comfort. The main reason behind the logic of catharsis and free association is that – like hypnosis – it would allow hidden thoughts and memories to manifest in consciousness. However, in contrast, to the method of hypnosis, the patient would be aware of these emerging recollections. Another ongoing process during free association is “transference”, which involves emotionally laden experiences that allow the patient to relieve earlier, repressed episodes. Since the psychoanalyst is often part of the transference process [as mentioned earlier where the repressed emotions are often redirected onto] and is often the object of his patients’ emotions, Freud recognised transference as a powerful tool to assist patients in resolving sources of anxiety. Lacan proposed that it is important to also understand that although the existence of transference plays an important part for psychoanalytic treatment, it is not enough by itself, it is also necessary for the psychoanalyst to deal with the transference in a unique way, this is what differentiates true psychoanalysis from suggestion because the psychoanalyst refuses to use the power given to him by the transference. Lacan believed like any other interpretation, the analyst must use all his “art” in deciding if and when to interpret the transference and must above all avoid gearing his interpretations exclusively to interpreting the transference; the analyst must know exactly what he wants to achieve by such an interpretation and it should not rectify his patients’ relationship to the vague concept of “reality”, but instead maintain analytic dialogue. Transference is the displacement of affect from one idea to another and Freud viewed it as a positive factor that helps the progression of treatment since it provides a way for patients’ history to be faced in the immediacy of the present relationship with the analyst; the way patients relate to the analyst is revealing as they inevitably repeat earlier relationships with other meaningful others [especially those with the parents or parental figures] – this logic is underlined in the theory of attachment of John Bowlby. Jacques Lacan later remarked that if transference with most patients often manifests itself under the appearance of love, it is first and foremost the love of knowledge (savoir) that is concerned. Transference is the attribution of knowledge to the Other, the assumption that the Other is a Subject who “knows” [Le Sujet supposé savoir], and as soon as that “knowing” Subject appears, we have transference. Lacan used Plato’s symposium to illustrate the relationship between analysands (i.e. patients) and the analyst; Alcibiades compared Socrates to a plain box which enclosed a precious object, just as Alcibiades attributes a hidden treasure to Socrates so patients see the object of their desire in the analyst (i.e. “objet petit a” in Lacanian terms). The psychoanalyst must sometimes situate himself/herself as the substitute for objet petit a in the course of psychoanalytic praxis. Lacan also identifies the compulsion to repeat with the symbolic nature of transference, the symbolic determinants of all Subjects, and this helps the progression of treatment by revealing the meaningful signifiers of Subjects’ personal history; he also locates the essence of transference in the Symbolic and not in the Imaginary, although it clearly has powerful imaginary effects.

In 1897, Freud began a self-analysis of his dreams, which evolved into another technique important to the psychoanalytic movement. In the analysis of dreams, Freud distinguish between the manifest content [the actual depiction of the dreams] and the latent content, which represented the symbolic world of the patient. In 1900, he published his major work, The Interpretation of Dreams. Although it sold only 600 copies in eight years, it later went through eight editions in his lifetime. In 1901, he published The Psychopathology of Everyday Life, the book in which his theory began to take shape. Freud argued that the psychology of all people, not only those with neurotic symptoms, could be understood in terms of the unconscious forces in need of resolution.

When his reputation as a pioneer in psychiatry started to grow due to his prolific writings, Freud attracted admiring followers, among them was the notable Carl Jung. In 1909, G. Stanley Hall, president of Clark University, invited him to the United States to give a lecture series as part of that institution’s 20th anniversary. The lectures were published in the American Journal of Psychology and later in book form, serving as an appropriate introduction to psychoanalytic thought for American audiences.

As psychoanalysis was perceived as radical by the medical establishment, early believers form their own associations and found the journals to disseminate their competing views. However, Freud’s demand for strict loyalty to his interpretation of psychoanalysis led to some discord within the movement [perhaps for the betterment of the field itself as many branches kept the fundamental concept of unconscious (Id), pre-conscious (SuperEgo), and conscious (Ego) but fused other theoretical and scientific perspectives to explain and treat a range of mental illnesses]. Carl Jung broke away in 1914, so that by the following year, three rival groups existed within the psychoanalysic movement. Nevertheless, Freud’s views continued to evolve. Impressed by the devastation and tragedy of World War I, Freud came to view aggression, along with sexuality, as a primal instinctual motivation. During the 1920s Freud expanded psychoanalysis from a method of treatment for mentally ill or emotionally disturbed persons to a systematic framework for all human motivation and personality.

In 1923, Freud developed cancer of the jaw and experienced almost constant pain for the remaining 16 years of his life. He underwent 33 operations and had to wear a prosthetic device. Throughout this ordeal however, he continued to write and see patients, although he shunned public appearances. With the rise of Hitler and the anti-Jewish sentiments that arose with his campaigns with the National Socialists, Freud’s works were unfortunately singled out as they were not seen as a scientific endeavour but rather as a Jewish science, and his books were burned throughout Germany. However, Freud resisted fleeing from Vienna. When Germany and Austria were politically united in 1938, the Gestapo began harassing Freud and his family. President Roosevelt indirectly relayed to the German government that Freud is an intellectual who must be protected. Nevertheless, in March 1938 some thugs invaded Freud’s home. Finally, through the efforts of friends, Freud was granted special permission, but only after promising to send for his unsold books in Swiss storage so that they could be destroyed. After he signed a statement saying that he had received good treatment from the police, the German government allowed him to leave for England, where he died shortly after, on September 23, 1939.

 

An overview of the Psychoanalytic System based on Freud’s Research

Before our in-depth examination of psychoanalytic theory, it is important to recognise that the theory has an unusually broad focus. Psychoanalysis contains a theory of personality, but it also offers theoretical tools for understanding culture, society, art and literature. It is also a clinical theory that aspires to explain the nature and origins of mental disorders, and that is associated with an approach to their treatment. To give some more sense to Freud’s breadth, consider that he wrote on topics as diverse as the meaning of dreams and jokes, the origins of religion, Shakespeare’s plays, the psychology of groups, homosexuality, the causes of phobias and obsessions, and much more besides. Even as a theory of personality, psychoanalysis is primarily an account of the processes and mechanisms of the mind, rather than an account of individual differences.

In addition to its breadth of focus, the psychoanalytic theory has many distinct components that have also been modified and explored by a range of skilled psychoanalysts, making it hard to integrate into a single unitary model of the mind since they are inter-connected in complex ways.

Freud’s views evolved continually throughout his long career in the collective result of his extensive writings as an elaborate system of personality development. Personality was described in terms of an energy system that seeks an equilibrium of forces. This homeostatic model of human personality was determined by the constant attempt to identify appropriate ways to discharge instinctual energies, which originate in the depths of the unconscious. The structure of personality, according to the psychoanalytic model consists of a dynamic interchange of activities energised by forces that are present in the person at birth. This homeostatic model was consistent with the prevailing views of 19th-century science, which saw the mechanical relations of physical events studied by physics as the term of scientific inquiry. Freud’s model for psychoanalysis translated physical stimuli to psychic energies or forces and retained an essentially mechanical description of how such forces interact.

As the writings on the dpurb.com website are the foundations for the Organic Theory of Psychological Construction, we are going to be focused not on the later structural model which repositioned the Unconscious, Conscious and Pre-Conscious across the Id, Ego and SuperEgo, but with the first topographic model (1900 – 1905) adopted by both Carl Jung and Jacques Lacan. This model, has been more influential and is more flexible in accommodating competing view points about the structure of mental life across individuals.

The topographic model refers to the levels or layers of mental life. Freud proposed that mental content – ideas, wishes, emotions, impulses, memories, and so on – can be located at one of the three levels: the Conscious (later known as the Ego), the Preconscious (SuperEgo) and the Unconscious (Id), . It is important however, to understand that Freud use these terms to describe degrees of awareness and unawareness, but also to refer to distinct mental systems with their own distinct laws of operation. Unconscious cognition is categorically different from Conscious cognition, in addition to operating on mental content that exists beneath awareness. To convey this point, the three levels of the topographic model was referred to as the ‘systems’ Cs., Pcs., and Ucs.

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The Topographic Model


The Conscious (which would later be known as Ego with a partial unconscious side, and also “Le Moi” in Lacanian Theory)

Consciousness is merely the proverbial ‘tip of the iceberg’ of mental activity. The contents of the Conscious are simply the small fraction of things that the person is currently paying attention to: objects perceived, events recalled, the stream of thought that we engage in as a running commentary on everyday life. [This is the main focus of most other branches of Psychology such as Biological Psychology and Cognitive Psychology]

The Preconscious (which would later be known as the Super-Ego, le “Grand Autre” in Lacanian Theory)

Of course, not all of all mental life happens under the spotlight of awareness and attention. There are many things to which we could readily pay attention to but do not, such as ideas or plans we have set aside or memories of what we were doing last week or yesterday. Without any great effort these things or events, which in the present are out of consciousness, can be made conscious. Those form the domain of the Preconscious.

The boundary between the Conscious (Ego) and the Preconscious (Super-Ego) is a permeable one. Thoughts, memories and perceptions can cross without great difficulty according to the momentary needs and intentions of the individual. They also share a common mode of cognition, which in psychoanalysis is known as the ‘secondary process’. Secondary process cognition is the sort of everyday, more or less rational thinking than generally obeys the laws of logic.

The Unconscious (which would later be known as the Id, L’inconscient or the “Ça” in Lacanian Theory)

The Unconscious (Id) is perhaps one of the most celebrated theoretical concepts in psychoanalysis’ legacy. However, Freud did not invent or discover the unconscious as is sometimes claimed – versions of the unconscious had been floating around intellectual circles for some time – but Freud gave it a much deeper theoretical analysis than anyone before him. Freud distinguished between mental contents and processes that are descriptively unconscious and those that are dynamically unconscious. The descriptively unconscious simply exists outside consciousness as a matter of fact, and therefore include Preconscious material that can become conscious if it is attended to. Freud’s crucial contribution was to argue that some thoughts, memories, wishes and mental processes are not only descriptively unconscious, but also cannot be made conscious because of a countervailing force keeps them out of awareness. In short, mental life that is dynamically unconscious is a subset of what is descriptively unconscious, one whose entry to consciousness is actively thwarted. The Freudian unconscious corresponds to the dynamic unconscious in this sense.

Freud held that the Unconscious contains a large but unacknowledged proportion of mental life that operates according to its own psychological laws. The barrier between the Unconscious (Id) and the Preconscious (SuperEgo) is much more fortified and difficult to penetrate than the border between the Preconscious (Super-Ego) and Conscious (Ego). In addition, it is policed by a mental function that Freud likened to a “censor”. The censor’s role is to determine whether the contents of the Unconscious would be threatening / objectionable or socially unacceptable to the person if they became conscious. If the censor judges them to be dangerous in this type, the person will experience anxiety without knowing what caused it. In this case, these thoughts become wishes and so on, and will be normally be repelled back into the Unconscious, in a process referred to asRepression” [it is fundamental and very important to understand that Repression is something else than a conscious judgement which rejects and chooses]. Unconscious material, by Freud’s account, has an intrinsic force propelling it to become conscious. Consequently, repression required an active opposing force to resist it, just as effort is required to prevent a surf board made of white foam to rise to the surface when it is submerged in the ocean. Under the constant pressure of Unconscious material bubbling towards the Preconscious, the censor cannot possibly bar entry to everything. Instead, it allows some Unconscious material to cross over the barrier after it has been transformed or disguised in some way so as to be less objectionable and more socially acceptable. This crossing might take the form of a relatively harmless impulsive behaviour, or in the form of private fantasy, the telling of a joke, or in a slip of the tongue, where the person says something ‘unintentionally’ that reveals to the trained eye and mind the repressed concerns and wishes [such as that of a psychoanalyst – as Jacques Lacan proposed: repression can take the form of a metaphor and the skilled psychoanalyst must be able to decipher a chain of clues with a great deal of verbal dexterity where crossword puzzles may help in training. Lacan also viewed the Grand Autre (Preconscious/Superego) as the discourse of the Unconscious]. Psychoanalysis focuses on how phenomena such as these can be interpreted, the process that involves uncovering the unconscious material that is concealed within their “disguises” [i.e. forms].

To Freud, dreams represent a particularly good example of the disguised expression of the Unconscious wishes. They offered, he wrote, “the royal road to the Unconscious”. One reason for this is that during sleep, the sensor relaxes and allows more repressed Unconscious material to cross the barrier. This material, transformed into a less threatening form by a process referred to as the “dream-work, then takes the shape of a train of images in the peculiar form of consciousness that we call dreaming. It is believed, that each dream has a “latent content” of Unconscious wishes that is transformed into the “manifest content” (or dream narrative) of the experienced dream. In psychoanalytic praxis with patients, the interpretations of dreams takes the same road, but in reverse, in order to decode the transformations rendered by the dream work so as to bring out the latent content based on the manifest content. Freud described the “latent contents” as made up of “latent thoughts“, a term that was always used in the plural form and never precisely described, but the context of its usage seems to suggest that it connoted representations, affects, wishes and conflictual patterns that are all profoundly marked by infantilism and fantasy [e.g. having super powers and flying while dressed in a nylon costume]. Latent thoughts also contain whatever supplies the dream’s “raw material”: the days residues, somatic sensations, and excitations that directly impact instinctual impulses. The transformation carried out by the dream work has to allow the Unconscious wishes during the wake state to be fulfilled during the dream while concealing the elements of threat they contain. If the latent content is not concealed sufficiently through the “dream-work” process, the sleeper will register the threat and be awoken [sometimes in shock and sweat], and to avoid this shock the dream-work may alter the identities of the people represented in a wish, for example, if an individual has an Unconscious wish to harm a loved one, the dream work might produce a dream in which the individual instead harms someone else or in which the loved one is harmed by another person, neutralised in this way, the unconscious wishes find conscious expression in the dream. Freud explained that “latent thoughts” were generally preconscious; they are used by the dream work because they are a relay point and medium for unconscious cathexes [i.e. objects (or ideas) that have a quantity of psychical energy attached to them; to say that an object or idea is “libidinally” cathected means that it is charged with sexual energy deriving from sources internal to a patient’s psyche; the Id (Unconscious) or the instinctual pole of personality is said to be be the source all types of cathexes]. Dreams also showcase the distinct form of thinking that operates in the Unconscious: Primary processthinking, which unlike the secondary process than governs the Conscious (Ego) and Preconscious (Super-Ego), shows no respect for the laws of logic and rationality. In primary process thinking, something can stand for something else, including its opposite, and can even represent two distinct things at once. Contradictory thoughts can coexist and there is no orderly sense of the passage of time or of causation. Basically, primary process thinking captures the magical, chaotic qualities of many dreams, the mysterious images that seems somehow significant, the fractured storylines, the impossible and disconnected events. To Freud, dreams are not simply night-time curiosities, but reveal how the greater part of our mental life proceeds beneath the shallows of conscience.

Foundations of the later “Structural” model: concepts to consider and synthesise with the Topographic Model

We are now going to have a look at the later version of Freud’s psychoanalytic theory where the Unconscious [this time referred to as the Id] is still the fundamental concept, however decades later in 1923, another 3-way dissection of the mind was proposed. This time Freud called it the Psychic Apparatus and the 3-way dissection of the mind was defined in terms of distinct mental functions instead of levels of awareness and their associated processes.

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The Structural Model of the Psychic apparatus

In original German, the terms Es (Id), das Ich (Ego) and Über-ich (Super-Ego) were used. As we take a look at these structures, it is important to remember that they were not proposed as real underlying entities, but rather as a sort of conceptual shorthand for talking about different kinds of mental processes. Our aim here is to synthesise the logical concepts of the Structural Model with the earlier Topographic Model of the Unconscious (Id), the Preconscious (Super-Ego) and the Conscious (Ego), however although it is convenient to talk about the Id, Super-Ego and Ego “doing” such-and-such or being “in charge of” so-and so, it is important to remember that they were not intended to refer to distinct sub-personalities within the individual.

The Id (Unconscious, das Es / Inconscient / Le Ça)

The Id [completely/dynamically unconscious] represents the part of the personality that is closely linked to the instinctual drives that are the fundamental sources of motivation in Freudian theory. According to Freud, these drives are chiefly sexual and aggressive in nature. On one hand we have the “life instincts” concerned with preserving life and binding together new “vital unities”, the foremost expression of this concern being loving sexual union. Opposed to these life instincts, on the other side, we have the set of “death instincts”, whose corresponding concern is with breaking down life and destroying connections, its goal is a state of entropy or nirvana, where there is a complete absence of any form of tension [motivation] – the most obvious form of these instincts were aggressiveness expressed inward towards the self or outward towards others. Freud proposed that these instinctual biological drives were powered by a reservoir of instinctual “psychic energy” grounded in basic biological processes; the sexual form of this energy was referred to as libido. Although the unconscious Id is a biological underpinning, its contents are manifested in psychological phenomena such as wishes, ideas, intentions, and impulses. These phenomena are therefore sometimes described as “instinct- derivatives”. Some of these phenomena are innate, whereas others have been consigned to the Id by the process of repression. All of the Id’s contents, however are unconscious. Freud proposed that the Id operated according to what he called the “pleasure principle” which states that the Id’s urges strive to obtain pleasure and avoid “unpleasure” without delay. Unpleasure results from increased accumulated excitation and pleasure results from its reduction. Lacan used the term “Jouissance” to describe an excessive quantity of excitation that has the potential to take the Subject to that extreme point where the erotic borders upon death and where subjectivity risks extinction; the “pleasure principle” tries to prevent such savage scenarios [To Lacan, the pleasure principle is a commandment — which can be phrased — “Enjoy as little as possible.” The pleasure principle leads the subject from signifier to signifier, by generating as many signifiers as are required to maintain at as low a level as possible the tension that regulates the whole functioning of the psychic apparatus]. One of Lacan’s contribution to the debate on feminity advances the concept of a specifically feminine jouissance which goes beyond the phallus: a jouissance of the order of the infinite like mystical ecstacy where women may experience this without being conscious about it. Therefore the pleasure principle serves to reduce tension and to return the psyche to a state of equilibrium or constancy. Pleasure, in Freud’s understanding, represented a discharge of libido or instinctual energy which is accompanied by a release of tension. The Id is not in contact with the rules or structures of individuals’ environment [i.e. the Symbolic rules of civilised society], but rather relates to the other structures of personality, the Ego & the Superego [conscience] that in turn must mediate between the Id’s raw instincts and the external world; immune from reality and social convention, the Id which is guided by the pleasure principle, seeks to gratify instinctual libidinal needs [that are simply biological] either directly through a sexual experience, or indirectly by dreaming or fantasizing. The latter, indirect gratification was called the primary process [governed by the pleasure principle] and has its own “rules” [e.g. allowing contradictions in logic] that differ from Ego functions and conscious thought. The exact object of direct gratification in the pleasure principle is assumed to be determined by the psychosexual stage of the individual’s development [as explained in 3rd part of the essay on The 3 Major Theories of Development], however the legitimacy and precision of this theory has been questioned and revised over the years and it gave way to the more empirical Theory of Attachment of John Bowlby. In short, the Id strives to satisfy its drives enabling immediate, pleasurable release of instinctual energy. It is the most primitive and least accessible structure of personality. As originally described by Freud, the Id is psychic energy of an irrational nature, and in the form of libido, it can manifest itself and be of a sexual character that is incestuous, uninhibited, savage, irrational and boundless, which instinctually determines unconscious processes. In psychoanalysis, this natural, wild and irrational urge is assumed to be present in all human beings. Elisabeth Roudinesco pointed out that Freud had distinguished that in humans it is the desire for incest and not the horror of it, that eventually leads individuals to forbid themselves from expressing it while also rejecting it; that is to say that in healthy, civilised and psychologically stable individuals with a well developed conscience [i.e. Superego] there is a respect for the symbolic laws that govern human relationships ethically [Lacan proposed that these symbolic structures are primarily governed by language] and which involve abiding by a structure that respects shared social values that sustain a functional human civilisation, i.e. the passage from raw and savage nature [Id] to civilised culture [Super Ego]. Many modern psychoanalysts believe that repression, masturbation and sublimation are inescapable in order to manage the raw and wild instincts of the Id and to channel them in more productive endeavours that are in the best interests of individuals and civilised society.

The Ego (Conscious & partially unconscious, Ich / Le Moi)

The Ego, is a mental function and complicates the picture of immediate gratification that the Id strives for. The Ego, a “psychic agency”, arises over the course of development as the child learns that it is often necessary and desirable to delay gratification. The bottle or breast does not always appear the instant that hunger is first experienced, and sometimes it is better to resist the urge to urinate at the bladder’s first bidding if one is to avoid the unpleasure of wet pants, embarrassment, and a parent’s howls of dismay. The Ego, often called the “executive” of personality because of its role in channeling Id [unconscious] energies into socially acceptable outlets [ego is believed to start developing between the ages of 1 and 2 as the child confronts the environment]. The Ego crystallises out this emerging capacity for delay, and in time becomes a restraint on the Id’s impatient striving for discharge. However, it cannot be an inflexible restraint. Its task is not to delay the fulfilment of wishes and impulses endlessly, but to determine when and how it would be most sensible or prudent to do so given the demands of the external environment at a particular time. It operates, that is, on the “Reality principle”, which simply requires that the Ego regulate the person’s behaviour in accordance with external conditions [at a given time or place according to certain rules or laws or conventions, and of course this changes as society redefines “reality” in terms of what it acceptable and not]. Freud emphasized that the Ego is not the dominant force in the personality [unlike Ego psychologists in the US state], although he believed it should strive to be. A famous statement of Freud regarding the goal of Psychoanalytic treatment is “Where Id was, there Ego shall be”. By his account, the Ego not only emerges out of the Id in the course of development – beforehand, the infant is pure Id [instinctive and irrational] – but it also derives all of its energy from the Id. Freud had a gift for metaphor, and he likened the Ego’s relation to the Id as a rider’s relation to a wilful horse. The horse [Id] supplies all of the pair’s force, but the rider [Ego] may be able to channel it in a particular direction. Fortunately, this “rider” [Ego] has a repertoire of skills at its disposal. Freud proposed that the Ego could employ a variety of “defence mechanism” in the service of the reality principle. These mechanisms come in a diverse range, and all represent operations that the Ego performs to deal with the threats to the rational expression of the person’s desires, whether from the Super-Ego or the external environment. These Ego defence mechanisms are common processes in everyday mental life, and many of them are carried out by the Ego unconsciously, showing that there is an unconscious part in the Ego. The Ego being governed by the reality principle, is aware of environmental demands and adjusts behaviour so that the instinctual pressures of the id are satisfied in acceptable ways, and the attainment of specific objects to reduce libidinal energy in socially appropriate ways was called the “secondary process” [the “primary process” being the Unconscious (Id)]. Some of the most well known defence mechanisms are denial, isolation of affect, projection, reaction formation, repression and sublimation.

The Super-Ego (Conscious & partially unconscious, Über-ich / Le Surmoi / L’Autre / Le Grand-Autre)

The differentiation of the structures of personality, called the Super-Ego, is believed to start appearing by the age of 5. In contrast to the Id and Ego, which are internal developments of personality, the Super-Ego is an external imposition. That is the Super-Ego is the incorporation of moral standards perceived by the Ego from some agent of authority in the environment, usually an assimilation of the parents’ views as the child develops – both positive and negative aspects of these standards. The Super-Ego’s emergence complicates the task of the Ego in regulating the expression of the Id’s impulses in response to demands and opportunities of the external environment. The Super-Ego represents an early form of conscience, an internalised set of moral values, standards, and ideals. These moral precepts are not the sort of flexible, evolving, reasoned, and discussable rules of conduct that we tend to imagine when we think of adult morality, however, instead they tend to be relatively harsh, absolute and punishing; adult morality as refracted through the immature and fearful mind of a child. The Super-Ego therefore represents the shrill voice of societal rules and restrictions, a voice that condemns and forbids many of the sexual and destructive wishes, impulses and thoughts that emerge from the Id. The positive moral code is the Ego ideal, i.e. a representation of behaviour for the individual to emulate. The conscience embodies the negative aspect of the Super-Ego, and determines which activities are to be taboo. Conduct that violates the dictates of the conscience produces “guilt” in healthy individuals. Hence, the Super-Ego and the Id are in direct conflict, leaving the Ego to mediate. The Ego now becomes the servant of three masters: the Id, the Super-Ego and the External Environment [Societal Rules]. It is now not enough to reconcile what is desired with what is possible under the circumstances because now the Ego also needs to take into consideration what is socially prohibited and impermissible. Instinctual drives must still be satisfied; which is a constant, however the Ego now attempts to satisfy them in a way that is flexibly “realistic” – that is, in the person’s best interests under current conditions – but also “socially” permitted. These prohibitions are often very unreasonable and inflexible, rejecting any expression of the drive with an unconditional “NO”, either because the moral structures of a particular “culture” are intrinsically rigid, atavistic or unsophisticated, or because the individual’s internalisation of these structures is simply black-and-white, without any grey area to compromise for an adequate and acceptable form of expression of the drive. Thus, the Super-Ego imposes a pattern of conduct that results in some degree of self-control through an internalised system of rewards and punishments.

Given the demands that it faces, the Ego can either find a way to express the Id’s desires successfully, or its attempts to arbitrate can fail. In this case, psychological trouble is likely to follow. If the Id wins the struggle, and the desire finds expression in a more-or-less unaltered and primitive form, the person may experience guilt or shame: the Super-Ego’s sign that it has been violated, and may also have to pay the price of a short-sighted, impulsive action. If on the other hand, the Super-Ego wins the struggle and dominates a person excessively, that individual may become overly rigid, rule-bound, uncreative, unquestioning, anxious and joyless. The forbidden desires may well go “underground” and manifest themselves in symptoms such as anxieties, compulsions or in occasional “out-of-character” impulsive behaviour or emotion.

Intrapsychic Conflict: the Roots of Personality

The major motivational constructs of Freud’s theory of personality was derived from instincts, defined as biological forces that release mental energy. Hence, from the account of the Unconscious (Id), the Conscious [and partly unconscious, Ego) and the Preconscious (Super-Ego), it implies that conflict within the mind’s opposing forces is inevitable, because the demands of society – or “civilisation” – are generally opposed to the natural instincts and drives of human beings. Indeed, intrapsychic conflict is one of the fundamental and defining concepts of psychoanalysis. Conflict within the mind is at the root of personality structure, mental disorder, and most psychological phenomena [e.g. artistic expressions of various forms]. The goal of personality is to reduce the energy drive through some activity acceptable to the constraints of the Super-Ego [Preconscious].

Freud classed inborn instincts to life (eros) and death (thanatos) drives. Life instincts involve self-preservation and include hunger, sex and thirst. The libido is that specific form of energy through which life instincts arise in the Id. The death instinct (Thanatos) may be directed either inwards, as in suicide or masochism, or outwards, as in hate and aggression. The notion that personality equilibrium must be maintained by discharging energy in acceptable ways, leads to anxiety which plays a central role. Essentially the view is that anxiety is a diffuse fear in anticipation of unmet desires and future evils. Given the primitive character of Unconscious (Id) instincts, it is unlikely that primary goals are ever an acceptable means of drive reduction; rather they are apt to give rise to continual anxiety in personality. Freud described three general forms of anxiety.

(i) Reality (or Objective) Anxiety
(ii) Neurotic Anxiety
(iii) Moral Anxiety

Reality or objective anxiety, is a fear of the real environmental danger [e.g. heights, depth, fire, etc] with an obvious cause; such fear is appropriate as it has survival value for the organism. Neurotic anxiety comes about from the fear of potential punishment inherent in the goal of instinctual gratification. It is a fear of punishment for expressing impulsive desires. Finally, moral anxiety is the fear of the conscience through guilt or shame in healthy individuals. In order to cope with anxiety, the Ego develops defence mechanisms, which are elaborate, largely unconscious processes that allow a person to avoid unpleasantness and anxiety-provoking events. For example, an individual may avoid facing anxiety by self-denial, conversion [whereby the anxiety caused by repressed impulses and feelings are ‘converted’ into a physical complaint such as a cough or feelings of paralysis], or projection, or may repress thoughts that are a source of anxiety into the unconscious. Many defence mechanisms are described in the psychoanalytic literature, which generally agrees that although defence mechanisms are typical ways of handling anxiety and maintaining a sense of psychological stability, they must be recognised and controlled by the individual himself/herself for psychological health. Lacan sees “defence” as being on the side of the Subject [being stable symbolic structures of subjectivity].

Denial

Refusing to acknowledge that some unpleasant or threatening event has occurred; common in grief reactions

Isolation of Affect

Mentally severing an idea from its threatening emotional associations so that it can be held without experiencing its unpleasantness; common in obsessional people

Projection

Disavowing one’s impulses thoughts and attributing them to another person; common in paranoia

Reaction formation

Unconsciously developing wishes or thoughts that are opposite to those that one finds undesirable in oneself; common in people with a rigid moral code

Repression

Repression is one of the most basic concepts in psychoanalysis. It involves repelling threatening thoughts from consciousness, to confine them in the unconscious.

Freud distinguished between: (i) primal repression [a “mythical” forgetting of something that was never conscious, an ordinary “psychical act” by which the unconscious is first constituted. Lacan saw this as a structural feature of language, its necessary incompleteness, the impossibility of ever formulating the “truth about truth” (because human language is limited and can never capture and completely express the Unconscious), the symbolic signifying chain of the unconscious where linguistic discourse originates];

and (ii) secondary repression [concrete acts of repression whereby some idea or perception that was once conscious is expelled from the conscious (E.g. motivated forgetting; common in post-traumatic reactions). Lacan saw secondary repression as a specific psychical act by which a signifier is elided from the signifying chain, it is structured like a metaphor and involves the return of the repressed, since repression does not destroy the ideas or memories but merely confines them to the unconscious, the repressed material is liable to return in distorted form, in symptoms, dreams, slips of the tongue, etc. To Lacan, it is always the signifier that is repressed, never the signified, which corresponds to Freud’s view that what is repressed is not the “affect” (which can only be displaced or transformed) but the “ideational representative” of the drive. Lacan proposed that repression is what distinguishes neurosis from other clinical structures – psychotics foreclose, perverts disavow and only neurotics repress]

Lacan maintained that it is very important not to confuse repression with the conscious judgement of a Subject that rejects and chooses.

Sublimation

The concept of Sublimation was first introduced by Freud in 1905 in his essays on Sexual theory. Sublimation is the act of unconsciously deflecting raw, irrational and uninhibited sexual and aggressive impulses/drives towards different, socially acceptable expressions and human activity [e.g. artistic creations, sports and intellectual work] that has no connection to sexuality but gets its power from the psychic energy in the sexual drive [la pulsion sexuelle]. Sublimation thus works as a socially acceptable escape valve for excess libidinal (sexual) energy which would otherwise have to be discharged in socially unacceptable forms [e.g. perverse behaviour] or in neurotic symptoms. This means that complete sublimation would spell the end of all perversion and neurosis. While Freud believed complete sublimation might be possible for some particularly refined or cultured people, Lacan pointed out that absolute/complete sublimation is not possible for human beings, [since all healthy humans with a healthy brain, a functional hypothalamus and sexual organs will experience sexual urges and feelings] and that perverse sexuality to satisfy the drive is possible and accessible (e.g. prostitution, perverse behaviour, private fantasies, etc) but must be sublimated because it is prohibited or badly viewed by civilised society and is also not in the individual’s best interests. Lacan follows Freud in emphasising the fact that the element of social recognition is central to the concept of sublimation, since it is only when the drives are diverted towards this civilised dimension of shared social values that they can be said to be sublimated. This dimension of shared social values allows Lacan to tie in the concept of sublimation with Ethics. [Note: Perversion to Lacan is not simply a savage and grotesque natural means of discharging the libido, but a highly structured relation (reaction) to the manifestation of the sexual drives [instinct/need], which are in themselves in the form of language in civilised people rather than simple biological urges/drives. Lacan also revised Freud’s initial view that sublimation simply involves the redirection of the drive to a different (non-sexual object), but explains that the initial object that the drive was directed at does not change but only its position in the structure of fantasy [for the Subject] changes, i.e. only the nature of the object to which the drive was directed changes not the object itself; this is made possible because the drive is “already deeply marked by the articulation of the signifier”. In the average psyche, the sublime quality of an object is thus not due to any intrinsic property of the object itself, but simply an effect of the object’s position in the symbolic structure of fantasy for a particular Subject.]

Table 1: A List of The Most Common Defence Mechanisms

Freud placed great emphasis on the development of the child because he was convinced that neurotic disturbances manifested by his adult patients had origins in childhood experiences. And as the last model proposed by Freud, the Genetic Model, explains, the psychosexual stages are characterised by different sources of primary gratification determined by the pleasure principle. Freud basically wrote that the child is essentially autoerotic. The genetic model has been previously described in the 3rd section of the essay, The 3 Major Theories of Childhood Development. [Please refer for more details]

However, the genetic model in psychoanalysis has been extensively revised and many of the concepts have given way to other theories [such as the Bowlby’s Theory of Attachment] nowadays that consider other sides in the development of personality. Other theories of peronality have also shown how personality continues to evolve and only stabilises around the age of 30. However, the genetic model of Freud laid the groundwork for other theorist such as John Bowlby and Mary Ainsworth who based their guiding principles to uncover the theory of attachment on pre-oedipal developments first mentioned by Sigmund Freud. These attachment types have been discussed in the Essay, The 3 Major Theories of Childhood Development, and although it may not be completely true for all people, the logic behind the psychosexual stages should always be considered to some extent when analysing clients along with attachment types – not to forget to assess the self-reflective abilities of the person, since this has been proven to have more impact on self-adjustment related to adult personality, emotional intelligence and attachment types.

 

The Relationship between the Topographic Model and the Structural Model

It is important to assimilate the knowledge from the structural model and synthesise them with the topographic model. It can be seen that although the later model is conceptually distinct from the first model, they do map onto one another to some degree. The content of the Id, of course, lies firmly within the Unconscious, and is forbidden from entry to the consciousness unless disguised in the form of dreams, slips of the tongue, symptoms, and so on. However the Ego is not completely conscious unlike many ego psychologist may claim along with cognitive psychologist, as it has a strong Unconscious component, given that a great deal of psychological defence mechanisms are conducted instantly out of awareness, and hence is sometimes inaccessible to introspection by the patient – hence requiring a skilled psychoanalyst to guide therapy and treatment. The Super-Ego also has an Unconscious fraction, reflecting as it does and often “primitive”, and irrationally punishing through rigid morality – at least as much as it reflects our reasoned beliefs and principles. Although many concepts have been revised and alternative treatments relating to mental illness have also been devised by other schools of thought in psychology, the sheer complexity and uniqueness of the psychoanalytic system has formed a remarkable achievement. Indeed, Freud even had to invent new terminology to express his thoughts, and these terms have become an accepted part of our vocabulary.

Psychisme: Les théories de Freud ont-elles évolué? (2013)

Psychoanalytic Evidence: From the perspective of Empirical Methodology (Mainstream Science)

Freud ardently believed along with all good psychoanalysts that psychoanalysis is a science, not an empirical science, but a science of the mind that slices not with blades or questionnaires, but with concepts through the linguistic and philosophical realm of a patients subjective reality. It is also fair to consider that Freud himself was an accomplished biological scientist before he developed psychoanalytic theories. Biological ideas are interwoven in his work, as is his concepts of drive, instinct, and psychic energy. Nevertheless, the methods that he used to obtain evidence for the psychoanalytic theory were very different from the reductionist and empirical methods used by the government institutions, laboratory scientists or the statistical psychologists with their quantified questionnaires exploring basic “traits”. As an anatomist and physiologist, Freud made systematic observations of living and dead organisms, and conducted controlled empirical experiments. Hence, he must have come to the same conclusion as ourselves, which is, mental life cannot be fully explained by the mechanical explanations, although a lot can be learnt from understanding the physiology of the brain, but the “software” itself, that generates the mind, is an entity that empirical science comes short in terms of its methodologies. Hence, as a psychoanalyst, Freud introspected and speculated about his own mental life, and listened closely to what his patients told him during sessions of psychoanalytic therapy. It is quite clear, that dissecting an eel is completely different from dissecting a personality with all its complexities, and that observing the stream of one’s consciousness or another’s speech [i.e. discourse] is very different from conducting a controlled experiment with observable variables. So, psychoanalytic evidence is clearly unlike the evidence on which most “hard physical sciences” are based.

However, it is important to understand that the critique of psychoanalysis from the methodology of empirical science may not be rational. Because psychoanalysis was never intended to be a mechanical “hard” science, although it learns from neuroscience and cognitive-psychology of certain very basic aspects of the physiology of the brain and its functions. These questions about Empirically Supported Treatment (EST) came to the forefront of psychotherapy literature in 1993, when Division 12 of the American Psychological Association worked to publish a list of criteria for what constitutes EST (Chambless, et al., 1996; Task Force on Promotion and Dissemination of Psychological Procedures, 1995; Taskforce on Psychological Intervention Guidelines, 1995). A list of treatments were published that we empirically supported and very few psychodynamic treatments were included, nor were interpersonal or humanistic therapy included. Not surprisingly, these guidelines and list became anything but unifying for psychotherapists and psychotherapy researchers.

Freud Dessin

Westen, Novotny and Thompson-Brenner (2004) made some important critiques of the literature on ESTs. They noted that ESTs are often designed for a single, Axis I disorder, and patients are screened to maximise their homogeneity and to minimise their diagnostic comorbidity. Treatments are manualised and brief, and outcomes are assessed often by reductions in the primary symptom reduction for that particular disorder. Westen et al. suggested that EST researchers always tend to assume the following:

  • Psychopathology is highly malleable
  • Most patients can be treated for a single problem or disorder
  • Psychiatric disorders can be treated without much attention to underlying personality factors
  • Experimental methodology used to develop ESTs has ecological validity in clinical practice

Westen et al. (2004) basically contended that these assumptions are not valid, not to say wrong. There is considerable diagnostic comorbidity, making most patients ineligible to participate in EST research trials. There also is considerable stability of psychopathology of psychiatric symptoms, even after “successful” completion of EST. And clinicians of all theoretical orientations see patients well beyong the time allotted in treatment manuals (see Morrison, Bradley, & Westen, 2003; Thompson-Brenner, Glass, & Westen, 2003; Westen & Morrison, 2001 for an excellent review of these issues).

Norcross (2002a) offered an additional perspective on why the EST literature has been so controversial. First, he explained that EST research rarely addresses the fact “that the therapist is a person, however much he may strive to make himself an instrument of the patient’s treatment” (Orlinsky & Howard, 1977, p.567 as cited by Norcross 2002a). This idea has been demonstrate very well in empirical literature. For example, Wampold (2001) concluded in a meta-analysis of psychotherapy studies that the qualities of the therapist play a much stronger role in the outcome of treatment that does the treatment itself. Second, Norcross stated that therapy research has savagely neglected the important question of studying the therapy relationship. Instead, the focus has been more on the application and mastery of a technique (not a relationship). Third, who the patient is affects treatment outcome. As attention has been directed towards the study and implementation of psychotherapy techniques to different categories of disorders, small attention has been given to the patient characteristics that affect outcome, such as comorbid conditions, capacity for insight, and a history of interpersonal relatedness.

Psychoanalytic and psychodynamic therapies certainly are related to these issues. Analytic and Dynamic models of therapy are very focused on the behaviour and qualities of the therapist, with special attention to issues of the therapeutic alliance, neutrality, transference, and countertransference.

Freud's Couch at Freud Museum London

The couch that started everything: Freud’s psychoanalytic couch at the Freud Museum in London

It is important to also consider that one’s training in how to conduct psychoanalytic or psychodynamic psychotherapy is focused on how therapists present themselves and how patients respond to this. Such a focus automatically puts the therapeutic alliance at the centre of attention, something that has taken on more interest over the years (Fairbairn, 1952; Greenberg, 1986, 2001a; Pine, 1998; Stolorow, Atwood & Brandchaft, 1994; Wallerstein, 2002). Psychoanalysts have also recognised that the personality and qualities of the patient affect how therapy should be conducted (e.g., Gabbard, 2000, 2004); that is, one approach to working with patients does not fit all patients. Furthermore, many psychotherapists have been reluctant to allow their therapy relationships to be subject to empirical investigation (Bornstein, 2005), as a form of respect for the privacy of their clients, making it very hard to provide more objective data that the support the validity of psychoanalysis. In contrast, other schools of thoughts derived from the behavioural school and the medical fields have very willingly offered their data for empirical investigations.

Often accompanying this philosophical criticism regarding scientific testability is a factual criticism that psychoanalysts have seldom tried to test their theories scientifically. This criticism may have some truth to it, however many psychoanalysts have responded to the call for more scientific inquiry by asserting that it is unnecessary and that clinical evidence of the treatments curing mental illness of various types is quite sufficient.

FIGURE B - SUCESS RATES WITH ADULTS & CHILDREN

Success Rates of Psychotherapy with adults and children, and Therapy from other schools of thought [traditions] based on Effect Sizes from Meta-analyses / Source: dpurb.com

Other psychoanalysts have argued that scientific support for their theories is irrelevant. Psychoanalysis, they suggest, is not an empirical science, but a science of subjective experience and linguistic dissection, so it is inappropriate to judge it by the mainstream reductionist empirical scientific standards of modern day academia.

Many see psychoanalysis as a “hermeneutic” discipline, an approach to interpretation which is rather like a school of literary criticism or biblical scholarship. To them, psychoanalytic theory is a way to decipher mental life, an interpretative technique for uncovering meaning. Its goal, they say, is to understand psychological phenomena in terms of their underlying reasons rather than explaining them as objective science in terms of causes. Some have gone so far as to suggest that the goal of psychoanalytic understanding is not to ascertain literal or scientific truth – for example, what “truly happened in a person’s past to make them the way they are today” – but instead to formulate “narrative truth”, a story that gives coherent meaning to the person’s experiences [from their perspective in terms of what matters to them] (Spence, 1980).

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Photographie: Danny D’Purb © 2018

What Jacques Lacan clearly meant by a complete reconstitution of a subject’s history as the aim of psychoanalysis, is that “history” is not a simple objective sequence of past events, but the present synthesis of the past as it is subjectively perceived and interpreted by the continously evolving Subject in his/her uniqueness. Lacan’s used the term après coup” [retroaction, i.e. how the present affects the past] and pointed out that linguistic discourse itself is structured by retroaction, since only when the last word of a sentence is uttered or read that the initial words gain meaning; with retroaction also comes “anticipation“, which refers to the way in which the future also affects the present, and like retroaction, anticipation also structures linguistic discourse, since the first words of a sentence are ordered in anticipation of the words to come. Jacques Lacan also pointed out how in the “psyche” [mind], present events affect past events [i.e. retroaction]; because the past is simply a set of stories in the mind of an individual that is edited and reinterpreted in the light of new experiences and information of the constantly evolving Subject in his/her uniqueness; most healthy individuals with desires, sculpt the stories of their past experiences to make it work towards their development; they take a particular perspective to extract meaning and significance from their past experiences [in terms of what matters to them and what does not] so that they contribute towards their development, progress and desires [See the Essay: The Concept of Self]. Lacan also pointed out that psychoanalysis is not concerned by what most empiricists would call the “real past” as an objective sequence of events devoid of subjective signification, but rather with the way these experiences exist in the psyche/mind of a particular individual and how he/she interprets (i.e. perceives) and reports them in order to find out what holds significance for a particular Subject and what does not.

We can thus conclude that there will always be something “uniquely special” about psychoanalytic evidence, for all its empirical flaws. A completed psychoanalytic treatment may sometimes [depending on the type of patient] occupy four or five sessions each week over a period of several years, amounting to perhaps 1000 hours in which the analyst listens closely to the patient’s innermost thoughts. These thoughts, often too intimate and raw to be shared even with loved ones, range widely over the patient’s personal history and lived experiences. They are recounted in a wide variety of mood-states and frames of mind. These millions of spoken words and feelings may not represent the kind of systematically and objectively collected data on which the scientific theory of personality [that the hardcore empiricist loves] can easily be built. However, it is hard to declare that the analyst does not understand the patient’s personality better than someone who might interpret the patient’s responses, dashed off in a matter of minutes, to a trait questionnaire. Indeed, there is something valuable about psychanalytic evidence, but it is very hard to build an empirical theory out of it since we are not dealing with matters of hard sciences [e.g. biology, medecine, physics, chemistry, astrophysics, material science, astronomy, etc], but the mind of human beings that embodies their whole existence and worlds.

 

Empirical Evidence for the Existence of Unconscious Processes

More and more psychoanalytic thinkers and sympathisers are starting to find creative ways to test psychoanalytic hypotheses in rigorous empirical ways to conform with academic science, despite all the difficulties that this involves. This research is now very extensive, and therefore difficult to summarise. However, a broad conclusion can be drawn from it: specific Freudian claims typically fail to receive experimental support but do work in treating mentally ill patients in clinical practice. What Freud learned from his clinical practice is that sexuality always involves a dimension of the impossibility of reaching “total” satisfaction for any Subject, and in order to achieve some satisfaction it is necessary to renounce total satisfaction, this renunciation is one of the references to the concept of “castration”, where castration is a condition for satisfaction. Castration refers to the separation installed by the Oedipal law in both sexes and thus is a requirement of civilised culture; it is the positive side of the prohibition of incest, this instinctual renunciation, is the structuring function in the resolution of the Oedipus complex and is necessary for all cultural achievement.

Freud elaborated three possible outcomes for the “castration complex/anxiety” in women: (i) a total repudiation of sexuality; (ii) the adopting of a masculine position and the repudiation of penis envy; and (iii) motherhood as a treatment of penis envy through the symbolic equation of penis equals child. As for males, Freud believed that the castration complex/anxiety serves to free the boy from the Oedipus complex; it is the prohibition of the primordial object [i.e. the mother(s) or mother figure(s)] and leads to a lack in individuals which will orient them to look elsewhere [i.e. go out into the world and seek a true partner], and in this way, desire is inaugurated; for a number of psychoanalysts however, the “castration complex” of Freud did not have the major structuring role in the construction of sexual difference and they instead turned to other explanations, such as biological and developmental theories.

The concepts of Penis envy [According to Freud, woman’s desire to have a child is rooted in the envy of the man’s penis. When a girl first realizes that she does not possess a penis, she feels deprived of something valuable (symbolically), and seeks to compensate for this by obtaining a child as a “symbolic substitute” for the penis she has been denied. Even though the girl may at first resent the mother for depriving her of a penis and turn to the father or father figure in the hope that he will provide her with a symbolic substitute (i.e. a child), she later turns her resentment against the father when he does not provide her with the child as substitute. Freud argues that penis envy persists into adulthood, manifesting itself both in the desire to enjoy the penis in sexual intercourse, and in the desire to have a child (since the father or father figure does not provide her with a child, the woman turns to another man instead). On this particular component of psychoanalysis, Lacan follows Freud, arguing that the child always represents for the mother a substitute for the symbolic phallus which she lacks (a type of lack known as “privation”). However, Lacan emphasized that the symbolic substitute for the phallus (i.e. the child) never really satisfies the mother; her desire for the symbolic phallus persists no matter how many children she has. The mother’s basic dissatisfaction and sense of privation is perceived by the child from very early on; the child realizes that she has a desire that aims at something beyond her dual relationship with him, the imaginary phallus. The child then seeks to fulfil the mother’s desire by identifying with the Imaginary phallus (or by identifying with the mother imagined as possessing a phallus, i.e. the phallic mother). In this way, the “privation” of the mother is responsible for introducing the dialectic of desire in the child’s life for the first time. Alfred Adler argued that the concept of “penis envy” should not be expressed literally but symbolically as women’s frustration at not being able to match male dominance in society, i.e. the phallus as representing male dominance in society. Karen Horney contested the claims of penis envy, which seems to suggest that some concepts may not apply to everyone, hence the wide scope of psychoanalytic theory to suit different developmental cases], Castration Anxiety and Repression, cannot be demonstrated easily through the simple methods used for mainstream science and empirical experiments in a laboratory, although some effort has been made. A study at the Harvard Medical School in Boston at the Massachusetts Mental Health Centre involving college aged women [ranging from 17 to 43 years old] and men [ranging from 18 to 23 years old] carried out by Rosalind Jones in 1994, tested the Freudian theory claim that the “natural” development of feminity involves the woman’s substitution of the wish for a baby in place of her original wish for a penis [i.e. penis envy]. In the study, the pregnancy message used was “Reproduction. The birth of a child. I should become pregnant. Entering my uterus. Entering my womb. I could become pregnant. To be fertilized. Becoming pregnant. The contraceptive field. To become pregnant. I could become pregnant, big with child”; the original penetration message was “I feel opened up. Things are getting through. It gets into me. I am opened up. Things are getting into me. I am sensitive. I feel things inside of me”; and the Revised Penetration message was “I feel opened up. He is getting through. He gets into me. I am sensitive sexy. I feel him moving into me. He is getting into me.” Consistent with Freud’s speculation about the phallic significance of pregnancy for women, Jones (1994) found that female subjects who were exposed to the subliminal pregnancy message produced significantly more phallic imagery responses to inkblots than did women in any other experimental conditions (p<.01).

Dreaming also does not seem to always preserve sleep by disguising latent wishes, and there is very little empirical evidence to back up the theory of Psychosexual stages, although it influenced the Theories of Attachment devised by John Bowlby. More “general” Freudian concepts however have often received a good deal of scientific support. There is today, plenty of evidence to suggest the existence of unconscious mental processes, for the existence of conflict between these processes and conscious cognition, and for the existence of processes resembling some of the defence mechanisms. Two illustrative studies can support his work. First, Fazio, Jackson, Dunton and Williams (1995) found that people who sincerely profess to having absolutely no racial prejudice can be shown to associate negative attributes with Black faces more than White faces in a laboratory task. This finding which has been replicated countless times by social cognition researchers, shows that the conscious attitudes of individuals may conflict with their “implicit” attitudes [unconscious]. Second, Adams, Wright and Lohr (1996) hooked male subjects up to a daunting instrument called the penis plethysmograph, which measures sexual arousal by gauging penile circumference. It was found that men who reported strong anti-gay (homophobic) attitudes demonstrated an increased arousal when shown videos of homosexual acts, whereas non-homophobic men did not. This finding seems to reveal some form of defence mechanism consistent with the psychoanalytic view that homophobia is a reaction formation against homoerotic desires. However, none of these illustrative studies can be considered as completely conclusive, and all have been controversial and subjected to various interpretations. For example, anxiety, shock, or anger rather than sexual arousal may have caused the increased penile blood flow of Adams et al.’s homophobic subjects.

These experiments prove that with enough creative ingenuity, some psychanalytic propositions can be scientifically tested. Doing so should contribute to the important task of sifting what is worth retaining in psychoanalytic theory for strict empiricists of the hard sciences.

Unconscious Processes: Integrating Cognitive Neuroscience and Psychodynamic Theory

In various ways, the evidence for the existence of mental processes that are outside of direct conscious awareness are apparent in every scenarios of life. Here are some examples:

  1. We sometimes cannot remember the name of a particular person of importance, only to be able to recall it hours or days later at a time and place when knowing the name is not required
  2. Despite one’s intention to offer some control over the process, dreaming appears to occur at its own timing and pace.
  3. On September 11, 2001, and the days following, many Americans watched hours of news report focussed on the same attacks on the United States. Although deeply upset by the contents, many individuals could not stop themselves from watching these videos, saying that it was as if something in them drew them to reports in spite of conscious awareness of disbelief and outrage
  4. Many patients who seek psychotherapy are unable to stop unwanted behaviours or interpersonal problems, despite conscious awareness of their harmfulness to them and their life. These problems range from relatively simple [e.g. drinking too much alcohol] to relatively complex [e.g. placing oneself in situations in which one is often taken advantage of or obsessing about one’s body image if certain kinds of fattening foods are consumed].

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Other examples are evident too, simple exercises that can be easily performed. For example, consider when 3 lines are drawn in the shape of a triangle with the ends of each line however, not touching one another, leaving a small gap between all their extremities. We can come to realise that, depending on the space between the lines, the image is instantly perceived as a triangle by the individual, a triangle with missing edges; 3 lines that are coming together like a triangle, or just 3 lines at different angles.

When taking into consideration perceptual phenomena such as this [i.e. an example of the Gestalt principle of closure], it is evident that the mind does the following very quickly, without conscious awareness of how the process occurs, yet meaning and understanding are formed.

  • Takes in sensory information
  • Determines what the information is
  • Assembles the information in such a way that a percept or concept is formed
  • The percept or concept is “perceived” and “understood”

The evidence for the existence of unconscious processes is widely known in cognitive psychology. In a seminal paper in the American Psychologist, Shevrin and Dickman (1980) demonstrated how conclusions from the studies of selective attention, cortical evoked potentials, and subliminal perception provide support for the concept of an unconscious mind and posit that “no psychological model that seeks to explain how human beings know, learn, or behave can ignore the concept of unconscious psychological processes” (p. 432). They also noted that the initial stage for processing all stimuli occurs outside of consciousness and that it affects what is known consciously. This early stage is different in how it operates from conscious cognition, and conscious cognition necessarily occurs after considerable preconscious processing. Years, later, their conclusions and ideas appear to be no less true.

 

Empirical and Cases Studies Demonstrating Unconscious Processes

In studies of subliminal perception, which began in 1950s, the processing of unperceivable stimuli and its effect on behaviour has provided interesting results about the unconscious mind. Shevrin and Fisher (1967) subliminally presented participants with a picture of a pen and knee just prior to falling asleep. When they awoke from rapid eye movement (REM; dream stage) sleep, participants’ associations to their dreams were of a pen or knee or included less rational kinds of associations (a finding that had been well demonstrated in past sleep studies). These included words that sound like pen or knee, such as pennant, hen, or neither. In contrast, those who awoke during non-REM sleep, which had been associated with few dreams or dreams that were more rational, had associations such as penny (pen + knee) or related words, such as nickel and dime.

Shevrin (2006) noted that this study demonstrated that 2 levels of unconscious processing – irrational and rational – were taking place. He deduced that once inhibitions [e.g. defences] weaken – in this case, being awakened from sleep – more rational processes are overtaken by irrational ones. Surprisingly, the more irrational process observed in this study produced content similar to what was found in severe types of psychopathology: repetition and clanging. In a follow-up study with the same methodology, Shevrin (1973) presented participants with the same stimuli, this time while they were fully awake and more proximal to entering the sleep state. Again, they found a similar pattern of results in which the type of associations produced varied depending on when participants were awakened.

Even more interesting results were described by Shevrin and colleagues (Shevrin, 1988; Shevrin, Bond, Brakel, Hertel & Williams, 1996; Shevrin et al., 1992), who set out to demonstrate that unconscious and conscious processes operate differently. In these studies, patients were selected who had either pathological phobic reactions or extended grief. They were then assessed via interview, and 4 psychoanalysts listened to the interviews carefully. By way of consensus, the psychoanalyst researchers derived a conceptualisation of the core conflicts for each patient; then went on to select the patients’ words that they believed captured the patients’ conscious experience of the symptoms and words that represented unconscious conflict. These words along with unrelated words were then presented both subliminally and supraliminally to the patients, who were then asked to classify them as belonging together. Using event-related potentials to detect patients’ ability to classify or respond to words in similar ways, the researchers found that words representing unconscious conflicts were correctly classified only when presented subliminally and that the reverse was true for supraliminally presented words; they were correctly classified only when presented supraliminally. Here, we find some sense to Lacan’s deductions regarding the unconscious being structured like language and the linguistic dexterity that psychoanalyst should be able to handle to decipher and understand the fullness of the patient’s mind [conscious and unconscious].

Shevrin (1996) concluded, “…When [these studies are] taken in combination, [they] show that unconscious psychological causes affect consciousness in a qualitatively different way… and that unconscious conflict has an existence independent of the psychoanalyst’s inferences from conscious manifestations, an independence supported by brain correlates” (p. 591, italics in original). Shevrin also published reviews of research showing an association between subliminal perception and dreaming (Shevrin, 1986) and subliminal perception and repression (Shevrin, 1990).

In a more recent meta-analysis from more than 100 studies of subliminal perception, Weinberger and Hardaway (1990) found that psychodynamic material presented subliminally had a noticeable and predictable effect on behaviour, suggesting very clearly that unconscious processes affect overt behaviour. For instance, studies by Silverman and colleagues (Silverman, 1983, 1986; Silverman, Bronstein & Mendelsohn, 1976; Silverman, Kwawer, Wolitzky & Coron, 1973; Silverman, Lachman & Milich, 1982; Silverman, Ross, Adler & Lustig, 1978) found that subliminally presented messages of Oedipal content (e.g., “Beating dad is okay”) to male participants yielded more competitiveness in a subsequent dart-throwing game than non-Oedipal messages. [Note: Freud proposed that at the Oedipal stage, a competition between father/son and daughter/mother takes place, before it is resolved in the child gradually adopting the same-sex parent’s values as his/her own in the development of an early form of Conscience (Super-Ego/Preconscious)]

Bradley and colleagues (Bradley, Mogg & Millar, 1996; Bradley, Mogg and Williams, 1994, 1995) performed a series of studies in which words related to depression (e.g. misery, grief, despair) are subliminally presented to individuals who fall into 3 groups: those meeting the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) criteria for major depression, those with subclinical levels of depression and those operating as controls. They consistently found that on implicit memory tests, depressed and subclinically depressed individuals correctly identity words related to depression more often than those who are not depressed. Although their findings have not been consistently replicated for patients suffering with anxiety, studies with depressive patients suggest that a level of processing occurs below conscious awareness that increases individuals’ awareness of and identification of depressive material. Clinically, it would suggest that to effectively treat and manage depression, addressing issues related to unconscious sensitivity to depressive material is very important. Given the relatively high relapse rates for depression and other disorders that are treated with methods focussing more on conscious awareness – via cognitive and behavioural therapies (Westen & Morrison, 2001) – it seems that attention to unconscious processes has the potential to effectively address some depressive disorders.

Eagle (1987) provided support for the notion of unconscious processing in studies of perceptual illusions and dichotic listening, a type of selective attention task. For instance, in the Ames room experiment (Ittleson & Kilpatrick, 1951), the ceiling and floor were not parallel, and the 2 subjects stood either towards the front or back of the room. This led perceivers to believe that the people very different in size , despite the fact that they were not. In the dichotic listening task (Lewis, 1970), individuals heard 2 different messages in each ear but were trained to attend to just one of those messages. When asked to repeat what was heard in the trained ear, individuals had less of a reaction time in producing the words when the words in the other ear were semantically similar [the meaning was synonymous / it meant the same thing]. This means that, there was a facilitative effect on performance when a semantically similar word was processed (unconsciously) in the “unattended” ear.

Further studies of patients who have experienced brain injuries provide interesting clinical observations that support the presence of unconscious processes. Milner, Corkin and Teuber (1968) reported the famous case of a patient known as H.M., who had undergone surgery on his medial temporal lobes to control very severe seizures. We nowadays know that just below the this part of the cortex lies the hippocampus, which is considered as an important anatomical locus for learning new information and storing it in working and long-term memory. Because of the damage done to the medial temporal lobes by the procedure, H.M. failed to remember anything that was new to him past surgery. H.M. however could remember information if he rehearsed it, although it was quickly lost if he was interrupted.

One interesting consequence of this procedure was that H.M. appeared not to have lost all “affective” components of certain experiences. For instance, H.M. had the occasion to visit his mother, who was hospitalised. After leaving the hospital, he had no recollection of visiting her, although he had the idea that something may be wrong with her. H.M. experienced other events like this, demonstrating well that implicit learning was still occurring for “affectively charged” situations and that the unconscious effects of this learning could be identified in everyday life.

Later studies of unconscious affective processing have suggested that there are at least 2 neural pathways that process affective information (LeDoux, 1989, 1995, as cited in Westen, 1999). One of these pathways originates in the thalamus and transmit sensory information to other brain regions, whereby emotional meaning is attached to the information. The other pathway, also originating in the thalamus, sends the sensory information to the cortex, where higher levels of emotional processing and emotional meaning are executed.

Mark Solms has reported some exciting work on the effects of unconscious processes on commonly observed clinical syndromes (e.g., Solms, 2000a, 2000b, 2001, 2002, 2004). Solms has taken a very active role in recent times in integrating the findings of neuroscience and psychoanalysis, which has created a relatively new discipline of study known as neuro-psychoanalysis. An interesting set of case of studies has been provided (Solms, 2000a) on patients who have experienced a strike on the right temporal lobe in the region, where the middle cerebral artery lies. In these case studies, psychoanalytic theory and treatment is integrated into the neurological understanding of the deficits the patients are experiencing.

Right hemisphere syndrome is a neurological disorder consisting of 3 major symptoms: ansognosia, neglect and spatial perception and cognition deficits. Anosognosia is the indifference or outright denial of an illness, which in the present case was the loss of the use of the patient’s left arm and side. Neglect occurs when patients ignore their paralysed limb and side. Patients often feel disgust when they are compelled to attend to the left side of the body, sometimes experiencing a sense of revulsion.

The spatial and cognitive deficits observed consist of defective facial recognition, imperceptions of facial emotion, environmental disorientation, and various kinds of apraxia [the inability to complete an activity involving muscle movement]. There are various theories about the emotional deficit in patients with right hemisphere syndrome. One theory suggests that the stroke affects attentional arousal that is mediated through activity in the right perisylvian region of the temporal lobe, which consequently gives rise to anosognosia and neglect. Another theory has focused on the fact that the left hemisphere is more involved with positive emotional processing and the right with more negative emotional processing. Since, the right hemisphere is damaged in this case, anosognosia and neglect occur because there is little to no processing of negative effect in the right hemisphere. A final theory states that it is the right hemisphere that is dominant for the perceptual representation of bodily states, which include more somatic or visceral perceptions. When this part of the brain is damaged or compromised, the brain can only rely on past somatosensory representations of bodily states, which provide the patient that there is no deficit or problem.

Solms (2000a) described Mr.C., a 59-year-old engineer who experienced right hemisphere syndrome after complications from a mild stroke. Only part of the visual field of the patient was remaining and he would not attempt to compensate for it [i.e. neglect], and he also ignored sensory stimulation that occurred on the left side of his body [anosodiaphoria]. He ignored and minimised his paralysed left arm, referring to it as being “like a dead piece of meat, but not it’s just a little bit lame and lazy” (p.71). Other deficits existed due to right parietal damage.

Mr.C. was “aloof, imperious and egocentric” (Solms, 2000a, p.72). He seemed unconcerned about others and would sit blankly at times staring into space. However, on occasion he would burst into tears or look as if this were the case. These periods however, were brief yet stood in stark contrast to the emotional coldness that he often presented with. During one physical therapy session, Mr. C. was making very little progress in learning how to walk. The physiotherapist reported to the treating psychologist that Mr. C. seemed “indifferent to the errors he was making, and he simply ignored her when she pointed them out to him” (p.74). In a session next day, Mr. C. told the psychologist that the physiotherapist indicated that he had been making mistakes, sounding as if he was confession something. Then, he said that another therapist had asked him to do some activities with blocks but that he could not do it. At this point, the therapist replied to Mr. C.:

“…it was difficult for him to acknowledge the problems his stroke had left him with, but it seemed that he was now more able to see them. Mr.C., carried on… [saying] his physiotherapy was “okay” but that his arm had not progressed to the degree that he required. Then, at this point, he suddenly  withdrew from conversing… and began to exercise his left hand and arm with the right one. [The therapist] commented that is seemed as if he could not bear the wait, and wanted his arm to be completely better instantly… [He replied] “I just don’t want my left arm to get weak from non-use.” [The therapist then replied] perhaps it was too painful for him to acknowledge what he was on the verge of recognising a moment earlier – namely that his arm really was completely paralysed – and that the question of whether it would recover or not was largely beyond his control. This comment provoked an instantaneous crumpling of his face and a burst of painful emotion accompanied by pre-tearfulness. [Turning to the therapist] he said in desperation “but look at my arm [pointing to his left arm] – what am I going to do if it doesn’t recover? (pp. 74-75)

Solms (2000a) noted that this case demonstrates how unconscious material that was too painful to acknowledge was accessed through careful interpretations. Furthermore, the case example controverts the theory that these patients lack negative emotions or have no awareness of their bodies and their deficits. In Mr. C’s case, it is clear that implicit processes were at work and that the emotional response originated out of the complex, associative networks were formed by this patient’s unconscious processing of the painful loss of his bodily integrity.

Transference phenomena can also be better understood in the light of recent findings in cognitive psychology. To understand transference phenomena, Westen and Gabbard (2002b, pp. 103-104) highlighted important ideas in recent studies of cognitive processing.

  1. More representations consist of memory traces that are multimodal, which include semantic, sensory and emotional components.
  2. Representations of self and other exist as potentials for activation. Because there are potentials, they are subject to modification, which will interact with new knowledge, further developing the self and other representations.
  3. Memory networks consist of semantic, episodic and procedural knowledge, along with differing affects and motives.
  4. Unconscious procedures to manage emotions are defences and may be triggered outside of awareness. Co-occurring motives and affects may also be activated, such that the person may not be aware of either one or the defence being used.
  5. Conscious representation are some of many representations that get activated. Consciousness is a serial processing system, whereas multiple parallel processes get activated that are not available to consciousness.

As may be observed in these principles, Westen and Gabbard (2002b) suggested that transference phenomena represent a dynamic, ongoing process that occurs at the conscious and unconscious level. Because multiple cognitive events occur at one time, transference phenomena can be highly complex phenomena and can represent one of many possible reactions to the therapist, as well as other meaningful individuals in the patient’s life. In fact, multiple transferences can occur. For instance, a patient may feel particularly challenged by his work and may experience some feedback from his female supervisor about his recent difficulties with his job. Suppose the patient’s mother took great strides to help him whenever he felt frustrated in his school activities or work, such that he came to unconsciously expect her to provide assistance during challenging times. At work the patient may have experienced the supervisor’s comments as an invitation for help and assistance. Should no help be forthcoming, the patient would become irritated and disappointed with such a difficult supervisor. Likewise, suppose that this patient’s father was unavailable to help him. He may have to come to view male authorities as uncaring and disinterested in his plight. Thus, in his present treatment, the patient may find himself feeling scared and anxious towards his male therapist when talking about his recent disappointment with the supervisor. An exploration of his interaction with his supervisor may elicit anxiety in the patient towards his therapist whom he experiences as a disinterested and uncaring male. Likewise, he may feel very frustrated towards the therapist who is not willing to tell him how to manage his interactions with his supervisor, reflecting a maternal transference to the therapist who unconsciously should be offering help and assistance quickly and without much effort on the patient’s part.

 

The Psychoanalytic Account of Motivation

The account of human motivation, resting on sexual and death instincts, has been a big talking point for critics of psychoanalysis from the very beginning. Jung’s departure from the psychoanalytic movement was largely caused over disagreements over the motivational concepts. Jung questioned the centrality of sexuality and argued for the importance of spiritual motives. Alfred Adler on the other hand proposed a basic desire for social superiority and a “will to power”. Later writers within the psychoanalytic tradition also sought to expand the theory of motivation to include drives for mastery and competence, and for interpersonal relatedness.

In general, there has always been 2 major issues, the first is whether the sexual and death instinct are plausible sources of human motivation. Second, whether they are sufficient explanations of motivation, or whether additional motives that are not reducible to these drives are needed.

With respect to the first issue, it may be hard to deny [from a universal and organic standpoint] that sexual wishes and drives are powerful sources of motivation, especially if we include “sexual” desires as a part of loving relationships and for bodily pleasure. From a biological and evolutionary perspective it could not be otherwise, since reproductive success is the basic currency of individual genetic fitness, not to mention species survival [in all species including primates and mammals].

From this perspective, the psychoanalytic emphasis on sexual drives – an emphasis shared by no other personality theory – is a very strong point of the psychoanalytic theory, even if we are allowed to disagree and investigate some particular claims that may not apply to some individuals regarding the effects of the Psychosexual stages in childhood as proposed by Freud [which inspired John Bowlby’s Theory of Attachment], or discuss the other drives that are non-sexual [e.g. Romantic love and its expressions].

Romantic Love dpurb site web 2019.jpg

From the same evolution standpoint, a death instinct directed inwards towards self-destruction is questionable. However, this negative judgement on the death instinct, which is shared by many contemporary psychoanalysts, does not mean that we need to dispense with the idea of aggressive drives. Aggressiveness could be theorised not as a form of self-destructiveness, but rather as a way to strive for social dominance [among a particular frame, circle or group], i.e. to fend off “attackers” in defence of one’s own “territorial grounds” or to assert one’s personal choice or interest.

The second issue is whether sexual and perhaps aggressive drives are broad enough to capture the full range of human motivations. The answer, is clearly not. Since, we also have drives for achievement, approval, non-sexual relatedness, creativity, self-esteem, and so on? The other question is biologically-based motives that “push” us towards certain kinds of behaviour enough? Do future-oriented motivational concepts, like goals and personal ideals not “pull” us towards desirable endpoints? When these questions are raised, basic Freudian account of motivation may seem limited in their scope, leaving out motives that are socially shaped or personally determined. However, the issue is not so easily resolved, since psychoanalysts may agree that motivations beyond the instinctual drives are required to describe how our behaviour is guided, however it may still be argued that all these motivations are simply multiple layers of the very same instinctual drives. For example, achievement striving could be described psychoanalytically as a socially shaped motive that is underpinned and powered by aggressive urges [that are applied in different forms to achieve our goals, i.e. not in a physically violent manner, but competitively in multiple sophisticated social ways]. On the same note, creativity might be understood as a sublimated expression of individuals’ sexual drives [e.g. artistic creations], based on some unconscious desire for unifying and making connections that Freud saw as the hallmark of life instincts.

Victor Hugo La Musique

Traduction(EN): “What we could not say and what we could not silence, music expresses.” -Victor Hugo (1802 – 1885)

However, even if the claim that human motivation is ultimately based on a few instinctual drives that govern all living organism, it would still be more enlightening and accurate to patients to describe their motivation in a more complex way, i.e. expressed to meet the sophisticated and multi-layered human societies we live in. So, in the end there is no objective or empirical way to establish the question of motivation with a clear “true or false” – we will have to use logical reasoning and theories about what drives “life” forward.

Documentaire: L’invention de la Psychanalyse (1997)

The 2 Major Disciples of Psychoanalysis: Carl Jung and Jacques Lacan

The psychoanalytic movement was largely the invention of Sigmund Freud, and his influence far exceeds that of his early followers who subsequently tried to modify psychoanalysis. The major principles of psychoanalysis were redefined and reinterpreted until by 1930 the movement was fragmented into competing views. Nevertheless, those writers who departed from Freud’s speculation retain the basic model of psychoanalysis that conceived of personality in terms of an energy reduction system with three levels of awareness that is the conscious [that contains the Ego], preconscious [that holds the Super-Ego] and the unconscious [the wild Id]. The psychoanalytic movement has been very active since Freud’s death in 1939, and has led to many new theoretical developments influencing all schools of psychology rather than standing still as we have just covered regarding the reconciliation of some fundamental concepts with Cognitive psychology and Neurosciences.

Carl Jung (1875 – 1961)

Carl Jung

One of the most fascinating and complicated scholars of this century, Carl Jung (1875 – 1961) was born to a poor family in a northern Swiss village. He managed to gain entrance to the University of Basel and received a doctorate in medicine in 1900. Jung spent most of the rest of his life in Zürich, teaching, writing and working with patients. After reading The Interpretation of Dreams in 1900, Jung began corresponding with Freud and finally met him in 1907. Eventually he accompanied Freud to America in 1909, where he also lectured and introduced his own work to American audiences. However, Jung began to apply psychoanalytic insights to ancient myths and legends in search for the key to the nature of human psyche. Such independent thinking did not meet with Freud’s approval, and there is also some speculation that the Jung made a critical analysis of Freud’s personal life that may have contributed to tensions between them. Freud secured the post of the first president of the International Psychoanalytic Association for Jung in 1911, but by this time their rift was beyond healing. Finally, in 1914, Jung withdrew from the Association and severed all interactions with Freud due to the over-emphasis of the defining stages of infant sexuality among other aspects of pure Freudian theory. Jung continued his own interpretations of psychoanalysis and made several expeditions to study primitive societies in Western United States, Africa, Australia and Central America. His prolific writings on subjects ranging from anthropology to religion provided novel insights to age-old problems of human existence from the psychoanalytic perspective.

Jung’s “Analytical psychology” refined many Freudian concepts and emerged as the first major alternative to Freudian theory (1900); however, Jung retained Freud’s terminology [Unconscious, Conscious and Preconscious], and as a result the same terms often carry different meanings. Jung (1912) renamed the Id as the Personal Unconscious, the Ego as the Personal Conscious [although the term Ego also appears in some of Jung’s writings], and the Super-Ego as the Collective Conscious [although the term Persona also appears in some of his writings]. After that Jung’s (1912) analytical psychology also added the Collective Unconscious to Freud’s (1900) structure of personality which is part of the Id.

Jung, like Freud, believed that the central purpose of personality is to achieve a balance between conscious and unconscious forces within the personality. However, Jung described two sources of unconscious forces. What is the personal unconscious, consisting of repressed or forgotten experiences similar to Freud’s preconscious level. The contents of the Personal Unconscious [Id] are accessible to full consciousness. Jung’s Personal Unconscious held complexes, which were groups of feelings with a defined theme than give rise to distorted behavioural responses. According to Hall and Lindzey (1970), “… a [complex] is an organised group or constellation of feelings, thoughts, perceptions, and memories which exists in the Personal Unconscious” (p.82). Unlike archetypes [which reflect the cumulative experiences of the entire human race, Homo Sapiens], Complexes reflect each individual’s unique experience. For example, a boy who repressed negative emotions about his mother could become an adult with the complex, experiencing intense feelings and anxieties when images or stimuli associated with motherhood are encountered [because they are dominated by their mothers], for e.g. some mothers might offer nourishment only after – not before – their babies stop crying, thus communicating the unconscious message that the mother is all-powerful.

The second source of unconscious forces in to Jung’s theory, is the Collective Unconscious, more powerful source of energy that contains inherited contents shared with other members of a particular group, i.e. it consists of aspects of personality, common to all humans, that we have inherited from our ancestors. Jung here was talking about individual similarities and not differences in personality. As the personal unconscious has complexes, the collective unconscious has archetypes, defined as primordial images evolved from human beings primitive ancestry of specific experiences and attitudes passed on over centuries [after all humans did evolve from basic primates to the sophisticated beings were now are]. Hall and Lindzey (1970) define archetype as “…a universal thought form (idea) which contains a large element of emotion” (p.84). Although modern science has shown that direct environmental influences has more power in shaping the individual mind, some aspects may be retained from evolutionary psychology although it is important to consider the fact that human societies are constantly evolving in more ways than one. At the time that Jung devised his theory however, he listed such archetypes as birth, death, unity, power, God, the devil, magic, the old sage and the earth mother. As Weitz (1976) noted, according to Jung’s Analytical Psychology, archetypes equip humans to interact with particular aspects of their physical and social worlds in a particular manner, thus archetypes are adaptive from an evolutionary standpoint. For example, Jung (1912) contended that all humans possess a “mother figure” archetype that not only gives them readily accessible image of a generic mother at birth but also predisposes them to interact with their actual mothers in a particular manner [e.g. crying, sucking]. Solomon (2003) noted that in Jung’s Theory, collectively experienced archetypes provide basic themes around which personally experienced complexes are organised. For example, all individuals are born with a readiness to seek nourishment from their mothers (the mother archetype), some individuals may find that their mothers use this readiness against them (mother complex).

The notion of a collective unconscious in personality that provides the individual with patterns of behaviour fits well with Jung’s preoccupation with myths and symbols. Jung believed that the adequacies of a society’s symbols to express archetypal images are an index of the progress of civilisation. [e,g, the Ancient Greeks who after sophisticating their society through the evolution of their values, philosophy & educational system, saw peasants turn into conquerors, sculptors, poets and artists who even went on to colonise countries that later changed the history of those who colonised them in timeless ways / See: L’épopée de la Grèce antique (2016)].

Jung focussed on the middle years of life, when the pressures of sexual drives supposedly give way to anxiety about the more profound philosophical and religious issues of the meaning of life and death. By reinstating the notion of the spiritual soul, Jung argued that the healthy personality has realised the fullness of human potential to achieve self-unity and complete integration. According to Jung, this realisation occurs only after the person has mastered obstacles during the development of personality from infancy to middle age. Failure to grow in this sense results in the disintegration of personality. Accordingly, the person must individualise experiences to achieve a “transcendent function” by which differentiated personality structures are unified to form a fully aware self.

Both Jung (1921) and Freud (1905) wrote about libido, or psychic energy, that presumably fuels individuals’ behaviour, however Jung viewed libido in a less sexualised form. Jung redefined libidinal energy as the opposition of introversion – extraversion in personality, bypassing Freud’s extreme sexual emphasis. Extraversion forces are directed externally to the people and the environment, and then nurture self-confidence. Introversion leads the person to an inner direction of contemplation, introspection and stability. Jung (1921) believed that all individuals are capable of experiencing introversion as well as extraversion over time, however, individuals at any particular point in time may be characterised as experiencing either introversion or extraversion. The opposing energies must be balanced for proper psychological functioning, sensation, thinking, feeling and intuition. An imbalance between extraversion introversion is partly compensated for in dreams. Indeed, for Jung dreams have important adaptive value in helping the person maintain equilibrium. Jung has been praised for developing a dichotomy of flow of psychic energy [i.e. introversion vs extraversion] that has been recast as one of the major personality traits in various trait theories [for empiricists who believe the main focus should be the “conflict-free” conscious part of the ego, to which many basic concepts of Cognitive Psychology can be applied].

In addition to introversion versus extraversion as a pair of opposing directions of flow of psychic energy [i.e. inwards versus outwards], Jung (1921) postulated that thinking vs feeling and sensing vs intuition represent 2 pairs of opposing modes of adaptation and functioning.

As Jung grew older, his writings increasingly came to emphasise mysticism and religious experiences, domains usually ignored by mainstream empirical psychology. Out of all the early founders of psychoanalysis, Jung held views in sharpest contrast to those of empiricism. However, he offered a unique treatment of critical human issues that had not been systematically studied by psychologists and still remain in the realm of speculative philosophy. Perhaps Jung was more of a philosopher than a psychologist, nonetheless he provoked and confronted issues not readily accommodated in other systems of psychology.

Jacques Lacan (1901 – 1981)

Jacques Lacan

One of the most famous post-Freudian development, especially popular in Europe and South America, was initiated by the colourful French psychoanalyst Jacques Lacan. Lacan was the son of a successful oil and soap salesman from Paris. His mother was a firm Catholic and his younger brother entered a monastery in 1929.

The two early philosophical influences of Jacques Lacan were Spinoza & Nietzsche:

(i) Baruch Spinoza (1632 – 1677)

Baruch Spinoza dpurb site web

Traduction(EN): “Joy is man’s passage from less to greater perfection.” -Baruch Spinoza

Spinoza is known as the philosopher of nature and human passions who identified the concept of “God” and Nature. Spinoza proposes that wisdom is the intellectual love of the true God, immanent to reality [that is, scientific studies of Nature are to understand the forces that govern the creations of “God”, e.g., medicine, etc.]. Spinoza is considered a Cartesian, i.e. a disciple of Descartes. Spinoza believed in Ethics as a geometrical method that manifests the philosopher’s will to proceed in a rigorous manner, as mathematicians do; he strives to express in Ethics, in an objective manner, the fundamental essence of all things, in other words, the basis of understanding. In Spinoza’s philosophy, Ethics does not designate a moral code, but the true knowledge of the true concept of “God”, immanent to the world [which is said to be contained in the nature of a being and does not come from an external principle], the practical science of what is: a single substance, absolutely infinite, of which we are only modes. Spinoza’s concept of “God”, the object of Ethics, has nothing to do with that of the Judeo-Christian religion, a principle transcendent to the world – Spinoza does not believe in transcendence. So, we see oppositions to Nietzsche which Jacques Lacan also synthesized with his more modern theories of the psyche. Spinoza did not believe in transcendence and expelled any anthropomorphic representation of the divine [Note: Anthropomorphism is the attribution of characteristics of human behaviour or morphology to other entities such as gods, animals, objects, phenomena, even ideas]. God is nothing else but an absolutely infinite Being, composed of an infinity of attributes, a unique Substance [the Substance designating what is in itself and conceived by itself]. Therefore, God identifies Himself with this substance and designates the whole of reality or Nature, understood as the unity of things and the only Being to which realities relate: Deus sive Natura – God or Nature [a united and infinite nature]. Of this unique substance, of this Nature being one with God [although not interchangeable], human intelligence grasps only two Attributes, Extension and Thought (L’Étendue et la Pensée), the Attribute being defined by Spinoza as what the understanding perceives as constituting its essence. In this perspective, the particular objects of the world represent modifications of the infinite Substance that is Nature [i.e. God’s transcendence], in other words “modes“, that is, affections of this substance. Thus, each particular creature appears as a mode of God, as being in something else, by means of which it is conceived. This tripartition of Substance-Attribute-Mode allows us to grasp the meaning of the concepts of Nature-naturing (natura naturans or Nature-naturante) and Nature-natured (natura naturata or Nature naturée). Nature naturing for Spinoza is God himself, as he is in himself and conceived by himself, as the producer of all reality, i.e. as doing what nature creates/does. Nature natured is considered as everything that follows in the nature of God and his attributes, that is to say, everything that is produced by the Substance of God as he is in it through it. The problem with Spinoza’s system is that it was absolutely deterministic; the infinite attributes of God necessarily produce certain effects, and Spinoza assumes that nothing is given by chance in nature. In Spinoza’s magnum opus, The Ethics (L’Éthique), he speaks of absolute necessity, which has the meaning that everything is already determined by divine Nature to produce an effect [in modernity we know from empirical research that natural and environmental determinants combine to define humans]. Spinoza sees contingency [in other words, what cannot be] simply as a defect in our understanding, a lack of real knowledge. The essence of human nature lies in an active element in all of us that Spinoza calls “conatus”, the effort by which everything strives to persevere in its being, i.e. a natural inclination to strive toward preserving an essential being, where virtue/human power is defined by success in this preservation of being by the guidance of reason as one’s central ethical doctrine, with the highest virtue being the intellectual love or knowledge of God/Nature/Universe. When the “conatus” becomes self-conscious, it is called “desire”, which is therefore identified with “appetite” accompanied by consciousness itself. Thus, conatus and desire correspond to the dynamic affirmation of our being. We find here some link to Schopenhauer’s philosophical meditations about the “Will” and also Lacan’s focus on “Desire” being at the heart of psychoanalytic praxis. However in Spinoza’s reflections, human desires are modified by the intervention of external environmental causes, since we are subject to the action of forces to which we are bound, being all a part of Nature, and it is from this effect that passions are born, passive modifications of our being; this is linked to Lacan’s concept of “chaine signifiante” [signifying chain] which is the structural basis of the unconscious and the roots of linguistic discourse and speech. The two fundamental passions are sadness and joy from which the other passions derive: sadness is the passage to a lesser perfection, while joy is the passage to a greater perfection. Spinoza believed that man’s life is marked by the sad procession of sad passions [hatred, envy, jealousy, la mauvaise foi, etc.] which reduce man to a state of servitude, of passivity; this is where the philosopher comes in, whose responsibility it is to heal man from his sad passions: to make him maître (master) of himself.

Auguste Dumont - Génie de la Liberté (1836) Or dpurb site web

« Génie de la Liberté » par Auguste Dumont, 1836

In Spinoza’s philosophy, virtue is acquiring true knowledge of our passions through the right ideas and notions. Therefore, the virtuous discovers the dynamism that animates him, which allows him to regain the power of the conatus: to know reality and to reach the fullness of existence [Virtue and life are thus inseparable]. The wise man is therefore the one who reaches true knowledge and, in this way, achieves the fullness of existence. The wise man lives under the regime of reason, in this way the Spinozist citizen also finds the agreement and unity of his semblables (fellow men). Therefore, the state must be rationally created, because only the rational state opens the way to freedom, according to the laws of human nature, that is to say, aware of the infinite nature of humanity. Spinoza seems to be situated in the democratic thought where all have equal rights with total freedom of opinion, thus the destiny of free men, living under the regime of reason, in a free city, is outlined. By gaining access to la connaissance vraie (true knowledge), man again becomes a God for man. So, we can see that Spinoza is a rigid penseur de système (system thinker), allowing man to free himself from his illusions and find and accept his place in Nature. Spinoza’s philosophy is not only intellectual but also practical and truly powerful: wisdom is acquired through knowledge; joy is maintained through the search for good passions. Thus, man can persevere in his being.

(ii) Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche (1844 – 1900)

Friedrich Nietzsche dpurb site web

Traduction(EN): “The greatness of man is that he is a bridge and not an end.” – Friedrich Nietzsche

Nietzsche is the philosopher of the “will to power”, conceived as creation and vital fullness, as the overwhelming affirmation of life. What is essential is our world as it is joy and will-power. As for the illusion of the afterworlds, Nietzsche hunts it down in all its forms. Nietzsche can be considered a moralist above all. It is clear that Nietzsche’s philosophy is one of the most complex thoughts, a complexity linked as much to his poetic and aphoric writing as to his refusal to situate himself clearly in the philosophical tradition, and we find this in Lacan who was also a literary and profound writer with a singular thought, a synthesis of several schools of thought, where the mediocre reader finds himself in the middle of a nightmare when trying to read it and may even start to question the level of his own intellectual abilities, his place and purpose in the universe. Unseizable, Nietzsche’s writings must be approached like a mountain, a slow progression. Nietzsche diagnosed the essence of the mortal crisis of our time: he described it, in its main characteristics, and in a quasi-clinical manner. He studied it at various levels and, in so doing, often announced with the greatest precision what was only beginning to emerge at the end of the nineteenth century; this fatal disease of modern times, ours, is nihilism, the reign of the absurd, of Nothing (“nihil”, as the etymology tells us). Nihilism or the absence of sense, makes becoming a purposeless process and all traditional ideals lose their value. Nihilism, this “Nothing” symbolizes the death of the Divine and the Suprasensible in man [Nietzsche’s death of God can be interpreted symbolically as the death of sensitivity and goodness in man]: we have killed him [the Divine], Nietzsche sometimes tells us, and darkness is now the lot of our world. This death of the Divine as seen by Nietzsche also announces a new dawn in our time: the coming of the “Last Man” which signifies the completion of nihilism. The “Last Man” designates the most despicable thing in this world: the one who is powerless to create and love, the individual totally enslaved and enjoying a programmed and petty “happiness” – he thus hops on the surface of the earth. Lacan, like myself, did not completely follow Nietzsche, but used some of the concepts of the German of the time and then refined them in the field of psychology for the twentieth century. Concepts of metaphysics are sometimes exaggerated in a negative way by Nietzsche, and the advances of our era make some of his views obsolete. One of Nietzsche’s exaggerations seems to be the origin of metaphysics, which he believed to be the by-product of the suffering and resentment of those unable to create positively, and which also engendered moral values [good and evil]. We see that Lacan did not take up everything from Nietzsche, but showed originality by relying on what was worth keeping in our modern world and which could be synchronized with his psychology based on the creative force of language in the Cartesian Subject [i.e. based on Descartes’ model: “Je pense, donc je suis”]. However, we still have concepts of Nietzsche that are in the name of positive creation, and the perfection of the individual and society, and they still have a place in modern philosophical thinking such as those of Jacques Lacan, which assimilate reason, logic, empiricism, metaphysics, genetics, and human and societal evolution.

La matière de leur création, de leur pensée ou de leur écriture dpurb site web

Credits: D.R / Centre Pompidou  “Le festival Hors Pistes dédié chaque année à explorer les images en mouvement et rencontrer celles et ceux  qui en font la matière de leur création, de leur pensée ou de leur écriture…” Source: FranceCulture, 2020

Lacan synthesized Nietzsche’s influence with the strong constructionist and linguistic logic of his pychoanalytic theory, which directs us towards a system of thought where sophisticated and civilised individuals orient, identify and group themselves by “psychical” understanding, connection and similarity, with language [i.e. the communicative discourse and/or speech] as a founding pillar, and not by the atavistic logic of the simple physical/biological illusions of the imaginary since this brings us, human beings, closer to animal psychology; the reasoning behind Lacan’s theory suggests that civilised individuals should see others as semblables [fellow men] not based on the physical but on the “psychical”, with a founding pillar being language; the individual should rise above the illusions of solidarity of the physical to embrace the psychical. This is avant-garde and synchronised with the reasoning of science and discoveries of the 19th century with the contributions of Darwin, Freud and Kant. Nietzsche’s inspiring concept is that of “The Will to Power” (Volonté de Puissance) which should not be interpreted by the simple mind as the appetite for power or the spirit of domination or competition, because this would be to conceive or understand it in a very restrictive or destructive way. To Nietzsche, “The Will to Power” is a set of essentially competitive impulses [in the “mediocre”], but also the very movement of creative transcendence [in the noble soul of the “aristocrat” – the term was used by Nietzsche in its essentially spiritual meaning to design the best, that in his times, were individuals from the aristocracy, being those who had a privileged access to the best teachers, institutions and collections of books, which has since changed into mostly vast, yet simple, inheritances of wealth and land; hence in our present society the “aristocrat” term could define the gifted and valiant mind with a wealth of knowledge, profoundly educated, cultivated, creative and consciously connected with the positive values of humanity and nature, i.e. with the ability to shape and have a lasting impact on generations]. This “Will to power” can also mean the struggle for life and also spiritual fullness and existential superabundance. “The Will to Power” is an ambivalent notion that cannot be reduced to its most superficial or trivial forms or manifestations; in its noblest dimension, it is a vital, plastic, destructive but also creative force [which seems to be connected to Shiva, the Hindu god, and Dionysus, his Greek equivalent in the phallic cult according to Alain Daniélou (See the Essay: History on Western Philosophy, Religious cultures, Science, Medicine & Secularisation)]. To understand the essence, it is the body of man [of the human being] that we must take as a reference point, for the body is wisdom and reason, which can be defined as intelligent dynamism, the organic faculty of understanding and thinking: every organism thinks and it is permissible to speak of an unconscious bodily thought [for after all, it is through the senses available from the different organs acquired through the multiple facets of the evolution of the human body that man sees, hears, discovers, smells, touches, tastes, reads, feels, expresses a wide range of emotions, learns, thinks, writes, creates and gains an understanding of human existence and the wider environment (i.e. the natural world), and adjusts to optimise his “psychical” experience].

Friederich_Nietzsche par Edvard Munch,1906

« Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche » par Edvard Munch (1906)

Nietzsche seems to rehabilitate the unconscious as a psychic reality beyond the clear and transparent grasp of oneself. The authentic “Will to Power” as affirmation and fullness reveals, within its creative superabundance, the true field of life and transcendence.

« Puisse chacun avoir la chance de trouver justement la conception de la vie qui lui permet de réaliser son maximum de bonheur. »

French for: « May everyone have the chance to find just the right conception of life that allows them to achieve their maximum happiness. »

– Friedrich Nietzsche

For Nietzsche, among the creations of life is, first and foremost, Art, which Nietzsche conceived in a much more global and dynamic form, where it becomes an invention of harmonious forms, a production destined to embellish the whole of human existence. Nietzsche conceals ugliness, he humanises or hides everything ugly. This set of materials and signs created by the artist who manifests an ideal of beauty is only an appendix of this production of forms that is art in general, this “ivresse de la vie”: a will to exist through harmonious forms. The field of creative life includes artistic activity, authentic work, and generally everything that concerns the positive edification of values: work, the shaping of all things, linked to joy, but does it differ profoundly from the miserable labour for gain? To the powers of life are also attached the authentic moral values, those created by the best,  “les maîtres(the masters) who are in the vital current of the “Volonté de Puissance” (Will to Power). Thus, Nietzsche’s thought is elitist: the beautiful creative individuality is opposed to the vile herd [the mass]. This “elitist” morality, i.e. this creative act, this triumphant affirmation of values, an affirmation that takes place in joy, is a thousand leagues away from the morality of the “slaves” [metaphor], which is linked to the resentment that gives birth to negative values and “la mauvaise foi” (nastiness, hatred, evil, etc.). What should the man in a world devoid of the divine values believe in? Believe in yourself, in your own power, free yourself from all dominant morality and ideology and follow your own path: become who you truly are and desire – this is what Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche would have said. Nietzsche calls for exceptional people to no longer be ashamed in the face of a supposed morality-for-all, which he deems to be harmful to the flourishing of exceptional people. He cautions, however, that morality, per se, is not bad; it is good for the masses, and should be left to them. Exceptional people, on the other hand, should follow their own “inner law”; a favorite motto of Nietzsche, taken from Pindar, reads:

« Become what you are. »

Le Voyageur contemplant une mer de nuages (Der Wanderer über dem Nebelmeer) Caspar David Friedrich d'purb dpurb site web

“Le Voyageur contemplant une mer de nuages” (Der Wanderer über dem Nebelmeer) par Caspar David Friedrich, 1818

In what he considered to be the zenith of his philosophical creation, “Also sprach Zarathustra” [Thus Spoke Zarathustra], Nietzsche portrays the path of a wise man who only addresses himself, a nomad who accepted the disappearance of the divine among men as a personal liberation, a being who freed his mind completely of the burden of ultimate truths, a hermit who did not need anyone anymore and who had overcome hatred and resentment, living in harmony with himself and the cosmic forces of nature: an Übermensch (un Surhomme/an Overman).

It is to be noted that “Thus Spoke Zarathustra”, Nietzsche’s magnum opus, completely opposes and rejects the unscientific notion of a superior or pure group or organic composition (i.e. “race”), but instead focuses on the superior individual [organism] who can appear from anywhere as an agent and expression of the cosmic forces of nature.

Les Forces Cosmiques de la Nature: l’Océan (2020)

Yet, while there are no superior groups but only superior individuals, we may still reasonably argue that there are languages that are superior since they offer the ability to interact with a wider audience, but also because these languages offer an entry point and the gift of belonging by creating a social bond to the specific social environments they originate from; environments that may also be considered as superior if the way they are organised [i.e. philosophy, educational system, values, culture and government] lead to more chances of individual human development and life satisfaction, mainly due to the progressive outlook and heritage of their sophisticated and evolving institutions and the way they are managed. However, it is important to understand that any individual speaking in a superior language does not automatically lead to everything being said in that language to be worthy of consideration because while the communicative patterns (i.e. language) of human primates vary from regions, the IQ and creativity of the individuals do not, as the Organic Theory clearly states. Jacques Lacan also reached a fairly similar conclusion since he also distinguished the speaking Subject of the enunciation [i.e. how words are pronounced] from the Subject of the statement [i.e. the genuine message of the discourse], which suggests that in order to evaluate the true worth of any linguistic discourse, it is the genuine message that should be extracted; in other words, it should be translated in the appropriate language of the reader/listener so that its true value and meaning can be assessed.

Thus, individuals who intend to share their wisdom and contribute to the world’s development would have an advantage in adopting and mastering a communicative pattern (i.e. language) deemed superior by the fact that it comes with modern human values and is weaved in the fabric of a more refined and sophisticated intellectual, psychosocial, philosophical and artistic heritage [e.g. French, which is the most desired and most spoken second language in the UK and in Germany] since it would be understood by the wider audience of the civilised world, where the major intellectual and cultural evolution/revolution takes place. It was the French revolution, which had been heavily influenced by the movement of the Enlightenment [i.e. the 18th century intellectual movement of reason], that would secularise a number of Christian humanitarian values into the constitution, most notably the famous « Liberté, égalité, fraternité » [French for: “Liberty, equality, fraternity”], which is inspired from the free will of Christians, as the French philosopher Michel Onfray reminded. Equality [Égalité] is derived from the concept of equality before God, and brotherhood [Fraternité] is derived from the concept of the community of the ecclesia. Liberté [Freedom], of course, most people know what this means, which is the freedom to explore, to choose, to discover, to learn, to express ourself, to speak, to have open debates, to question, to propose, to love, to create, to live life fully within the limits of reason and respect for the mother psychosocial sphere. Hence, as French philosopher, Michel Onfray noted, we have a concept that was passed on from St. Paul to Robespierre and that went through the French revolution, where the new generation of French people secularised and embedded those values with the firm belief that “we have a universal world view; we want everyone to share our values of ‘liberté, égalité, fraternité!'”.

In 2021, Michel Onfray reminded that this led to a generation of French minds who think that we have to go out into the wider world, where the vast majority of people are, in order to share our good news with them, which is our universal human values of « Liberté, égalité, fraternité ». At the Assemblée Nationale, Jules Ferry stood for the idea of free, secular and compulsory school, and so, that school, we people of French heritage thought that we would give it to the whole planet. This created the wave “We are going to colonise”. Onfray pointed to the example of the colonisation of Algeria as one that shows the intention of the French to pass on their good ideas and values. Hence, when we look back at the historical wars of the French revolution, we come to realise that they were wars of ideological and intellectual colonisation. When we consider the German philosopher, Hegel’s passionate words about Napoléon, Hegel now comes across like a great collaborator for the French colonisation concept, as himself as an iconic German historical figure, described Napoléon’s conquering arrival in Germany as: “I saw the Emperor – this world-soul – riding out of the city on reconnaissance. It is indeed a wonderful sensation to see such an individual, who, concentrated here at a single point, astride a horse, reaches out over the world and masters it. Those words from Hegel were written in a letter to his friend Friedrich Immanuel Niethammer on the 13 October 1806, the day before the battle of Jena, which would be fought on the plateau west of the river Saale in today’s Germany between the forces of Napoleon and Frederick William III of Prussia, with the historic defeat suffered by the Prussian army subjugating the Kingdom of Prussia to the French Empire; the victory is celebrated as one of Napoleon’s greatest. It is quite ironic, because the great German, Hegel’s words admitted that the French heritage is superior to his own; and in 2021, the post-modern French philosopher Michel Onfray ironically suggested « on a juste envie de lui dire ‘mais enfin, et ton Allemagne ? » [French for: You just want to say to him, “But what about your Germany?”].

It may also be useful for the majority of anglophones and fellow English people out there who hardly know their own cultural evolution, to point out that there is French on the emblem of the British monarchy. The words, « Dieu et mon droit » have been the motto since the time of Henry V (1413 – 1422), and since those times old English is not the language of the English elite anymore which resulted to the use of words and expressions of French and Norman origin that are now widely used in the English language.

Anglais VS Français Habsburg d'purb dpurb site web

Traduction(EN): “The English language is a shotgun: the shot is scattered. The French language is a rifle that shoots bullets, precisely. » -Otto von Habsburg

Nietzsche rightly concluded that there are no superior groups, but only superior individuals that come from the wider human population and together these individuals constitute the force that shapes civilisation; this conclusion had unconsciously acknowledged what science would certify about a century later in 2018, as a genome-wide association meta-analysis in 267, 867 individuals identified 1,016 genes linked to intelligence, which is a highly heritable trait and a major determinant of human health and well-being (Savage, Jansen, Stringer et al., 2018). Before Nietzsche, no philosopher had placed so much emphasis on the individual perspective; he restored the existential mission of philosophy by detaching himself from all the irrational conventions of his time, abandoning lengthy theoretical papers to redact concise reflections on the way of living one’s own life. Nietzsche’s philosophy is centred around the personal sphere of the individual.

In modern times, with the advances of psychology, we can conclude that a superior psyche will include a superior understanding, judgement and vision as the French psychologist, Monique de Kermadec also pointed out regarding “l’adulte surdoué” [i.e. the gifted adult]. The criterion of authenticity always appears to be linked, in Nietzsche’s view, to the affirmation and creative power of life. Nietzsche uses the god Dionysus [whom the French orientalist Alain Daniélou connects to Shiva for his cycle of destruction and creation as an equivalent] as a symbol of life, the most overflowing being of life, who in Nietzsche’s thought embodies the process of “becoming” as destruction and creation; Dionysus is sensuality, the enjoyment of a force that destroys but also generates/creates. The term dyonysism refers to the identification with the principle of ecstasy and life. Thus arises the Übermensch (Overman/Surhomme) for Nietzsche, who faced with the death of the divine, nihilism and the “Last Man” [which designates what is most despicable in this world, the one who is powerless to create and love, i.e. the individual totally enslaved and enjoying a programmed and petty “happiness”, those who think that this symbolic death of the divine means nihilism and pure destruction], will have to face these despicable “Last Men”; one could therefore see the Übermenschen (Overmen/Surhommes) as agents of the divine rising to counter evil and the decline of the positive values of civilization; the concept of the Übermensch also seems to share some similarities to what Monique de Kermadec qualifies as l’« Adulte Surdoué » [The gifted adult].

Video: Monique de Kermadec : L’adulte surdoué : bien vivre sa douance (2012)

Freud Entouré par des Idiots dpurb site web

Traduction(EN): “Before you diagnose yourself with depression or low self-esteem, first make sure you are not surrounded by idiots.” – Sigmund Freud

For Nietzsche, the earth is no longer in the hands of the divine, but in the hands of those despicable “Last Men,” and the outrage against the earth is now what is the most dreadful. Nietzsche fights against immorality in the name of immoralism, and shows us that the death of the divine is not enough to animate the world with a new morality, and that without the will to power [if it is animated by a weak will], “morality” can turn into nihilism [a nothing, or the absence of sense that makes “becoming” a purposeless process where all traditional ideals lose their value]. The construction of a new morality will be so superior to the old one that it calls, according to Nietzsche, new men, Übermenschen (Overmen/Surhommes), and this new morality will be precisely the “Will to Power”. In order to clarify the concept of Übermensch (Overman/Surhomme) let us clear up misunderstandings by explaining what the Übermensch (Overman/Surhomme) is not, here is a negative definition:

« All beings up to now have created something beyond themselves that is superior to them. What is the ape for man? That is precisely what man must be for the Übermensch (Surhomme/Overman) »

Nietzsche in his time was not an evolutionist, which has changed in our time, and therefore not in possession of the data on the genetics of Übermenschen (Supermen/Surhommes), he conceived of the emergence of the Übermensch (Overman/Surhomme) by the man who surpasses himself: a transcendental man who surpasses himself to become what he really is deep down.

Ubermensch Surhomme Superman dpurb site web

The notion of the Übermensch (Overman/Surhomme) is the backdrop of Nietzsche’s philosophy, it is from the Übermensch (Overman/Surhomme) that Nietzschean thought makes its entrance and all his other themes must be understood from this notion. Thus, to Nietzsche, by pushing back the forces of reaction, of simple negation, those linked to the “NO”, by surpassing himself towards those of life and positive creation, man transcends himself towards the Übermensch (Overman/Surhomme), towards a superior human type, free of mind and heart. The Übermensch (Overman/Surhomme) is for Nietzsche the meaning of the earth, the next term of evolution. It is also very important to avoid any misinterpretation of Nietzsche’s “Übermensch” (Overman/Surhomme) which has been wrongly caricatured over the years, it is not specifically or solely about the “blonde beast” of Germanic myths as it is often portrayed by ignorant and mediocre journalists and the masses. After Friedrich Nietzsche’s death, his sister Elisabeth became the curator and editor of Nietzsche’s manuscripts, reworking his unpublished writings to fit her own German nationalist ideology while often contradicting or obfuscating Nietzsche’s true philosophical orientation which were instead explicitly opposed to antisemitism and nationalism but promoted a more universal ideology. Through her published editions, Nietzsche’s work wrongly became associated with fascism and Nazism; 20th century scholars contested this interpretation of his work and corrected editions of his writings were soon made available. Nietzsche’s thought enjoyed renewed popularity in the 1960s and his ideas have since had a profound impact on 20th and early-21st century thinkers across philosophy—especially in schools of continental philosophy such as existentialism, postmodernism and post-structuralism—as well as art, literature, psychology, politics and popular culture. Nietzsche’s philosophy is thus organized around a few major concepts: that of the Übermensch (Overman/Surhomme), the Dionysian and, of course, the Will to Power.

Documentaire: Schmutte, H. (2016). Nietzsche : entre génie et démence. ARTE. [Notice: If the video cannot be viewed from your region, we recommend using HOLA VPN (Click Here, it is FREE!)]

Let us add, finally, the concept of the Eternal Return (any state of the universe returns periodically and this seems to be an intelligent metaphor that explains the state of matter in the universe, constantly being recycled and reshaped). Nietzsche thus (like Lucretia or Spinoza) drew a philosophy of joy, creation and vital fullness. Nietzsche celebrated life and stressed that the secret of the greatest enjoyment is to live intensely and dangerously. Today, Nietzsche’s work and intellectual contribution are considered as revolutionary for its time, however in the very beginning they were not appreciated and recognised for their true worth by his contemporaries; the philosopher struggled to live with his publications and found himself on the fringes of society without any income or fixed accommodation at 35 years old, which had turned out to be a point of no return for him after he put an end to his teaching activities, adopting a nomadic life and living in modest accommodations. An amazing achievement for Nietzsche was the fact that he was named professor even though he had not completed his thesis.

During Jacques Lacan’s studies at the Collège Stanislas he was introduced to the work of Baruch Spinoza & Friedrich Nietzsche, and draws from his years in uniform, the intimate conviction that the most violent psychological wounds and sufferings always arise within communities apparently subjected to the greatest normality. Lacan had felt misunderstood by his father, who had destined him to a business life. He thus enters the modernity of the twentieth century by way of an intellectual rebellion, eager to explore the essence of “madness” whose shadows he had perceived in his own family, Lacan turned to psychiatry. In 2001, Elisabeth Roudinesco said: “Il faut voir l’apport de Lacan comme un tableau moderne. Lacan n’est plus dans l’univers classique des représentations mais dans l’univers de la peinture moderne. C’est la peinture de Picasso par rapport à la peinture classique (…)  toute la modernité est passée.” [French for: “Lacan’s contribution should be seen as a modern painting. Lacan is no longer in the classical universe of representations but in the universe of modern painting. It is Picasso’s painting in relation to classical painting… all modernity has passed.”]

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During the early 1920s, Lacan actively engaged with the Parisian literary and artistic avant-garde movements. Having met James Joyce, he was present at the bookshop where the first readings of passages from Ulysses in French and English took place, shortly before it was published in 1922. Lacan also had meetings with Charles Maurras, whom he admired as a literary stylist, and he occasionally attended meetings of Action Française (of which Maurras was a leading ideologue), of which he would later be critical on some aspects that he firmly disagreed and considered as outdated, such as the positivist sociology of Maurras which presents the subject as a simple product of his “milieu” [circle], derived from his culture which was even pushed to absurd extremes by Édouard Pichon to theorise about a “national unconscious”. Lacan was more avant-garde and perhaps unknowingly embraced future psychological advances of neuroscience by founding his logic on the thesis of German biologist and philosopher Von Uexküll who convincingly argued about the multitude of determining factors of the environment and not simply the basic evolution of species, but on the sophisticated elaboration of language [discourse / langage] which identifies the development of the individual psyche to a social structure.

In his famous “Rome Discourse,” Lacan stated: « Le symbolique, l’imaginaire et le réel, les trois registres par lesquels j’ai introduit un enseignement qui ne prétend pas innover, mais rétablir quelques rigeurs dans l’expérience de la psychanalyse, les voilà, jouant à l’état pur dans leurs rapports les plus simples. » [French for: “The symbolic, the imaginary and the real, the three registers through which I have introduced a teaching that does not claim to innovate, but to re-establish some rigour in the experience of psychoanalysis, here they are, playing in a pure state in their simplest relationships.] In that same discourse in Rome in 1953 addressed to the Société Française de Psychanalyse, Lacan denounced the way that the role of speech in psychoanalysis had come to be neglected by contemporary psychoanalytic theory, and argues for a renewed focus on speech and language. This remains one of the fundamental modification from Freudian conception: the human being is linked to language. The founding statement of Lacan’s theory defines psychoanalysis as a practice of speech and a theory of the speaking subject. Lacan asserted that psychoanalysis is distinguished from other disciplines in that the analyst works on the Subject’s speech [i.e. linguistic discourse], pointing out that Freud often referred to language when he was focusing on the Unconscious; after all language is the “talking cure” and is constitutive of the psychoanalytic experience. It would be impossible to understand the concept of “madness” without analysing the true reasoning behind it through language and to know if it is “madness” or subjective construction and interpretation that is stable in a particular Subject’s psychical realm. It is the emphasis on language [linguistic discourse] that is regarded as the most distinctive feature in Lacan’s theory which also criticises the way other forms of psychoanalysis tend to play down the importance of linguistic discourse and instead emphasise “non-verbal communication” of the analysand (e.g. body language, etc) at the expense of speech. To Lacan this is a fundamental error for the following main reasons. Firstly, all human discourse is inscribed in a linguistic structure [whatever the language]; even body language is a form of language with the same structural features. Secondly, the aim of psychoanalytic praxis is to articulate the truth of one’s desire in speech [i.e. linguistic discourse] rather than in other forms – the fundamental rule of psychoanalysis is based on the principle that linguistic discourse is the only way to the Subject’s “truth”. Thirdly, linguistic discourse through speech is the only tool and means of access that the psychoanalyst has, since no one can read minds. Any analyst who does not understand and master the way speech and linguistic discourse work does not understand psychoanalysis itself.

Lacan proposed that like the words uttered by God in Genesis, speech is a “symbolic invocation” which creates ex nihilo, “a new order of being in the relations between men.” Lacan distinguished “la parole pleine[full speech] from “la parole vide[empty speech] in 1953. La « parole pleine » [full speech] articulates the symbolic dimension of language; it is a speech that performs [qui fait acte]. La « parole pleine » [full speech] is defined by its identity with that which it speaks about, it is one full of meaning. “La parole vide[empty speech] is one that simply has signification. The aim of psychoanalytic praxis is to articulate “la parole pleine[full speech], which can be hard work; “la parole pleine[full speech] can be quite laborious (pénible) to articulate. The speech act also contains the essence of efficacious transference, which involves an exchange of signs that transforms both the speaker and the listener. Each time a man speaks to another in an authentic and full manner, we find in a true sense, “symbolic transference” – a process that takes place and changes the nature of the two beings present. The Symbolic dimension of language is that of the signifier and full speech, the true discourse of the Other [Big Other / Grand Autre / Superego], the Unconscious. The Imaginary dimension of language is that of the signified, signification and empty speech, the wall of language which interrupts, distorts and inverts the discourse of the Other [Big Other / Grand Autre / Superego]; Lacan proposed that language is as much there to be found in the Other [Grand Autre / Superego] as to drastically prevent us from understanding him. It is important to note that language has both a Symbolic and an Imaginary dimension; there is something in the symbolic function of human discourse that cannot be eliminated, and that is the role played in it by the imaginary [which is shaped by the Symbolic]. Psychoanalytic theory claims that speech is the only means of access to the truth about desire; a particular type of speech without conscious control termed “free association”. The ethics of psychonalysis enjoin analysands [patients] to recognise their own part in their sufferings, so that the psychoanalyst can then help them work through their problems and psychical barriers.

Lacan developed psychoanalytic theory in radically new directions that relied heavily on linguistic theory and other intellectual trends in the late 20th-century France, such as the structuralist movement. It was proposed that the Unconscious is structured like a language, so that its operations can be likened to linguistic phenomena [e.g. repression was likened to a metaphor]. Hence, to uncover unconscious material the psychoanalyst must decipher a chain of clues with a great deal of verbal dexterity. Lacan also held that the ego [le Moi], although conscious and able to orchestrate a wide range of operations, is not a complete organ of self-control as Ego psychologists from the US claim, but largely also an unstable and ultimately illusory sense of personal unity. To Lacan, our sense of wholeness is a fiction and our selves are profoundly “de-centred” around a tissue of identifications with people [and characters] we have known [directly or indirectly exposed to – this extends to the arts, fictional characters, mentors, etc].

Lacan’s (1973/1977) version of Psychoanalytic Theory pointed out that Ego Psychologists [e.g. Anna Freud, Heinz Hartmann, Erik Erikson] and Object Relations Theorists [e.g. Melanie Klein, Donald Winnicott and Ronald Fairbairn] had strayed too far from Freud’s original (1900, 1923) original version of psychoanalytic theory. This is even in direct contrast to Jacques Lacan’s own mentor, Ego Psychologist Rudolph Loewenstein who was also a close associate and collaborator of Ego Psychologist Heinz Hartmann.

« Pendant un certain temps, on a pu croire que les psychanalystes savaient quelque chose, mais ça n’est plus très répandu (rires). Le comble du comble, c’est qu’ils n’y croient plus eux-mêmes (rires), en quoi ils ont tort, car justement ils en savent un bout, seulement, exactement comme pour l’inconscient dont c’est la véritable définition, ils ne savent pas qu’ils le savent. »

French for: “For a while, you might have thought that psychoanalysts knew something, but it’s not very common anymore (laughs). The worst thing is that they no longer believe it themselves (laughs), in which they are wrong, because they know a bit of it, only, exactly as for the unconscious, of which this is the true definition, they don’t know that they know it. »

-Jacques Lacan, Conférence de Louvain, 1972

Lacan, however, seems to have set the record straight in accentuating the fundamental and widely accepted foundations of psychoanalysis by advocating a “return to Freud” [not Anna Freud’s (1923) version of Ego Psychology], but rather to Sigmund Freud’s Topographic Model of the 1900 that defined the mind into 3 levels of awareness, i.e. the Unconscious [Le Ça], the Preconscious [Le grand Autre] and the Conscious [Le Moi].

Rocha (2012) noted that Lacan (1973/1977) was especially concerned with the Unconscious [l’inconscient, le “Ça”, the “It”, the ID] as the “ideal worker” within individuals’ personality structures. In a 1973 television interview, Lacan famously argued that the Unconscious does notthink, nor calculate, nor judge; the unconscious simply works!” Lacan contended that like the ideal worker in a capitalist society, the Unconscious generates a product in compliance with rigid, hierarchical rules and regulationsin particular, the product of unthinking and unquestioning in the fulfillment of individuals’ desire – which seems like something psychoanalysis should address and change for a humane, intelligent and creative civilisation.

As for dreams, Lacan stressed that dreams are important products of the Unconscious [l’inconscient, le “Ça”, the “It”, the ID] that allow individuals tofeel” [at least during the sleeping state] that they have fulfilled their desire, however, dreams may also contain anxiety-provoking contents that individuals do not desire. As Meyer (2001) interestingly pointed out, in Lacan’s psychoanalytic theory, the problem of the Unconscious [l’inconscient, le “Ça”, the “It”, the ID] in finding expression is the problem of discourse with the “Other” [Le grand “Autre”, the big “Other”, Preconscious Superego in the domain of the symbolic]. Indeed, infants enter the world without knowing how to communicate their desire to caregivers via language, with its own rules and structure. It is also to be noted that in Lacanian Theory of Psychoanalysis, infants’ desire arises from the “loss and longing” that they experience when they are separated from their caregivers [especially their mothers or mother-figure in most cases] – precisely the person from whom the infants first learn early forms of basic communication [language] since the helpless infant’s needs are met after his/her various demands are expressed in sounds and specific actions. Waintrater (2012) also pointed out that in Lacan’s Theory, individuals’ desire are not solely tied to infantile sexuality. If anything, Lacan’s concept of unconscious desire complements John Bowlby’s (1969) concept of infants’ need for attachment. Lacan uses the term “Manque“, French for “Lack” which is always related to desire. It is a lack which causes desire to arise [desire is the metonymy of the lack of being (manque-à-être)], however the precise nature of what is lacking [i.e. symbolic lack] varies from one individual to another. In 1955, when the term “Manque (Lack)” first appears, it designates first and foremost “manque-à-être” [want-to-be] which is the “lack of being“, hence what is desired is “being”, i.e. not the lack of this or that, but the lack of “being” whereby the being exists, this lack of being [manque-à-être] is the heart of analytic experience and the very field in which the neurotic patient’s passion is deployed. An important distinction to be noted is between the lack of being [Manque-à-être / want to be] which relates to desire, and the lack of having [Manque-à-avoir] which relates to demand.

Distinction between Need, Demand & Desire

Need

In the context of this distinction, “need” comes close to what Freud referred to as “instinct” (Instinkt); that is, a purely biological concept opposed to the realm of the drive (Trieb), it is an appetite which emerges according to the requirements of the organism and which abates completely (even if only temporarily) when satisfied. The human subject, being born in a state of helplessness, is unable to satisfy its own needs, and hence depends on the Other [usually a role occupied by the mother in most cases] to help it satisfy them. In order to get the Other’s help, the infant must express its needs vocally; need must be articulated in demand. The primitive demands of the infant may only be inarticulate screams, but they serve to bring the Other to minister to the infant’s needs. However, the presence of the Other soon acquires an importance in itself, an importance that goes beyond the satisfaction of need, since this presence symbolizes the Other’s love. Hence demand soon takes on a double function, serving both as an articulation of need and as a demand for love. However, whereas the Other can provide the objects which the subject requires to satisfy his needs, the Other [usually mother at this stage] cannot provide that unconditional love which the subject craves. Hence even after the needs which were articulated in demand have been satisfied, the other aspect of demand, the craving for love, remains unsatisfied, and this leftover is desire.

The concept of a pre-linguistic need is thus merely a hypothesis, and the subject of this pure need is a mythical subject; even the paradigmatic need of hunger never exists as a pure biological given, but is marked by the structure of desire. Nevertheless, this hypothesis is useful to Lacan for maintaining his theses about the radical divergence between human desire [which is inscribed in the Symbolic order] and all biological categories; need is thus an intermittent tension which arises for purely organic reasons and which is discharged entirely by the specific action corresponding to the particular need in question.

Demand

Lacan argues that since the infant is incapable of performing the specific actions that would satisfy its biological needs, and hence Lacan bases the distinction on the fact that in order to satisfy his needs the infant must articulate them in language; in other words, the infant must articulate his needs in a “demand” [for them to be met by the mother who will perform the specific actions]. However, in doing so, something else is introduced which causes a split between need and demand; this is the fact that every demand is not only an articulation of need but also an (unconditional) demand for love. Now, although the Other to whom the demand is addressed (in the first instance, the mother) can and may supply the object which satisfies the infant’s need [e.g. the breast to satisfy the child’s hunger], she is never in a position to answer the demand for love unconditionally, because she too is divided. The result of this split between need and demand is an insatiable leftover, which is desire itself. It is this double function which gives birth to desire, since while the needs which demand articulates may be satisfied, the craving for love is unconditional and insatiable, and hence persists as a leftover even after the needs have been satisfied; this leftover constitutes desire. In the seminar of 1956-7, Lacan argues that the cry of the human infant — its call (l’appel) to the mother — is not merely an instinctual signal but is “inserted in a synchronic world of cries organized in a symbolic system.” In other words, the infant’s screams become organized in a linguistic structure long before the child is capable of articulating recognisable words.

Demand is thus intimately linked to the human subject’s initial helplessness. By forcing the patient to express himself entirely in speech, the psychoanalytic situation puts him back in the position of the helpless infant, thus encouraging regression.

“Through the mediation of the demand, the whole past opens up right to early infancy. The subject has never done anything other than demand, he could not have survived otherwise, an we just follow on from there.” However, while the speech of the patient is itself already a demand (for a reply), this demand is underpinned by deeper demands (to be cured, to be revealed to himself). The question of how the psychoanalyst engages with these demands is crucial. Certainly the psychoanalyst does not attempt to gratify all of the patient’s demands, but nor is it simply a question of frustrating them.

Desire 

Lacan follows Spinoza in arguing that “desire is the essence of man.” Desire is simultaneously the heart of human existence and the central concern of psychoanalysis. However, when Lacan talks about desire, it is not any kind of desire he is referring to, but always “unconscious” desire. This is not because Lacan sees conscious desire as unimportant, but simply because it is unconscious desire that forms the central concern of psychoanalysis. The aim of psychoanalytic praxis is to lead the patient to recognise the truth about his/her desire. It is only possible to recognize one’s desire when it is articulated in speech. Hence in psychoanalysis, “what’s important is to teach the subject to name, to articulate, to bring this desire into existence.” However, it is not a question of seeking a new means of expression for a given desire, for this would imply a expressionist theory of language. On the contrary, by articulating desire in speech, the patient brings it into existence.

“That the subject should come to recognise and to name his desire; that is the efficacious action of analysis. But it isn’t a question of recognising something which would be entirely given. … In naming it, the subject creates, brings forth, a new presence in the world.” [adds to reality what was previously not there through language]. This seems to have a link to Schopenhauer’s concept of the “Will” which he proposed can be understood through the potential of the human brain so that as it is kindled by a spark it brings the whole world as idea into existence [Freud was inspired by Schopenhauer and so was Lacan indirectly]; knowledge proceeds from the “Will” which here is “Desire” – knowledge that is either from the senses or is rational as it is destined to serve the will in its aim of expressing itself.

However, there is a limit to how far desire can be articulated in speech because of a fundamental “incompatibility between desire and speech; “it is this incompatibility which explains the irreducibility of the unconscious (i.e. the fact the the unconscious is not that which is not known, but that which cannot be known). “Although the truth about desire is present to some degree in all speech, speech can never articulate the whole truth about desire; whenever speech attempts to articulate desire, there is always a leftover, a surplus, which exceeds speech.”

It is important to distinguish between desire and the drives. Although they both belong to the field of the Big Other, hence are within the Symbolic field/order (as opposed to love which lies in the imaginary field/order but still has effects in the symbolic order, love requires reciprocity, but the drives only pure activity), desire is one whereas the drives are many. In other words, the drives are the particular (partial) manifestations of a single force called desire (although there may also be desires which are not manifested in the drives). There is only one object of desire, object (petit) a, which is represented in any object which sets desire in motion, especially the partial objects which define the drives [The “objet petit a” is the leftover behind the introduction of the Symbolic dimension in the Real, it denotes a surplus meaning and enjoyment which has no “use value” but persists for the mere sake of enjoyment; it is linked to the illusory/imaginary concept of semblance]. The drives do not seek to attain the objet petit a, but rather circle round it. The object (petit) a is not the object towards which desire tends, but that which sets desire in motion. It plays an increasingly important part in Lacan’s concept of psychoanalytic praxis, in which the psychoanalyst must situate himself/herself as the substitute for objet petit a, i.e. the cause of the analysand’s [patient’s] desire. The universal feature of desire is commonly evident in hysterics [hysteria has changed in appearance nowadays but has not disappeared], being people who unconsciously sustain another person’s desire and convert another’s desire into their own. So, in the psychoanalytic praxis/treatment of hysterics, the most important part for the psychoanalyst is to discover the place [i.e. not the physical or anatomical locality, but the psychical locality / The “Other” scene in Lacanian terms] from which the patient desires [i.e. the Subject with whom he/she identifies] and not simply the object of the patient’s desire. Desire is not a relation to an object, but a relation to a lack (Manque-à-être / Lack of being). A major point from Lacan’s discourse on desire is that desire is a social product constituted in a dialectical relationship [i.e. which is embedded in linguistic discourse] with the perceived desires of other subjects.

Alexandre Kojève, whose seminars were followed by Lacan and also other intellectuals de “premier plan” of the time such as Maurice Merleau-Ponty, Georges Bataille, Jean Hyppolite and  Raymond Queneau gave the example of the Oedipus complex to point out that desire is essentially desire to be the object of another’s desire; Kojève argued that this is illustrated for the first “time” during the Oedipus complex, when the young developing subject desires to be the object of the desire of the first “Other” in his life [which is usually the mother or a mother figure in most cases], when the subject desires to be the object of desire [symbolic phallus] of the mother. Lacan argues that the child must detach himself from the imaginary relation with the mother in order to enter the social world; failure to do so can result in any one of various peculiarities ranging from phobia to perversion.

One of Lacan’s most often repeated formulas is: “man’s desire is the desire of the Other [i.e. the Big Other/Superego].” This can be understood in many complementary ways, of which the following are the most important. Desire is for the thing that we suppose the Other desires, which is to say, the thing that the Other lacks. Hence, the subject desires from the point of view of “another”; the object of man’s desire is simply an object desired by someone else, which in most cases is the main reason why the object becomes desirable, and unfortunately not because of the natural quality of the thing in itself [Note: this is of course applicable to the common majority, since the consciousness of individuals with superior reflective abilities and philosophical values will likely lead them to perceive, think and behave differently].

Desire is essentially the “desire of the Other‘s [i.e. Grand Autre’s / Superego’s] desire”, which implies both the desire to be the object of another’s desire, and the desire for recognition by another. Desire is essentially a desire for recognition.

Lacan takes this idea from Hegel, to state:

Desire is human only if the one desires, not the body, but the Desire of the other. . . that is to say, if he/she wants to be ‘desired’ or ‘loved’, or, rather, ‘recognised’ in his/her human value. . . . In other words, all human, anthropogenetic Desire . . . is, finally, a function of the desire for ‘recognition‘.

On love and desire, the former is a metaphor, while the latter is metonymy; love is located in the imaginary order but generates effects in the symbolic order where desire is located. We do find some similarities between love and desire in Lacan’s work since it is assumed that both can never be fully satisfied [i.e. insatiable]. The structure of love as “the wish to be loved” is also identical to the structure of desire in which the subject desires to become the object of the Other’s desire. Love involves an imaginary reciprocity, since to love is also to wish to be loved.

Desire is metonymy, and hence a constant force which can never be fully satisfied [because humans tend to have other desires once one is achieved and also because Desire may not only arise from Lack but may also be a productive force in itself]. Desire is the constant ‘pressure’ which underlies the drives and keeps individuals moving forward towards progress [with the right choice(s) and/or the right guidance]. As Elisabeth Roudinesco said: “Lacan est un penseur sceptique et en même temps passionné, c’est-à-dire l’engagement, la possibilité de croire encore en quelque chose, c’est-à-dire au désir, existe, donc il ne faut pas désespérer le Sujet mais la seule chose qui peut compter c’est l’éthique du désir, puisqu’il ne nous reste plus que ça : ne pas céder sur son désir ; ça c’est l’héroïsme Lacanien.” [French for:Lacan is a sceptical and at the same time passionate thinker, that is to say commitment, the possibility of still believing in something, that is to say, in desire, exists, so one should not abandon the Subject, but the only thing that can count is the ethics of desire, since that is all we have left: not to give up on one’s desire; that is Lacanian heroism.”]

In order to achieve the desire for recognition all Subjects must impose the idea that they have of themselves on others (i.e. the rest of the humanity); this leads all individuals in a form of personal fight [which not necessarily violent, but rather a dialectical discourse] with the rest of humanity for recognition and pure prestige; Lacan argues that it is only by risking one’s life for recognition that one can prove that he is truly human. Lacan introduced « la dialectique du maître et de l’esclave », to use the metaphors “Master” and “Slave” to point out that human civilisation is only possible because we have those who direct (Masters/Maîtres) and those who receive directions (Slaves/Esclaves); civilisation would not be possible if it was composed of only masters or of only slaves, both are required and play a fundamental role in the advancement of civilisation. A Subject can both be a master and a slave, i.e. a master to one, but at the same time a slave for another in a different domain. To Lacan, the master signifier is that which represents a particular Subject for all other signifiers but can never represent the Subject completely since there is always some surplus which escapes representation.

The 3 Registers: Real, Imaginary and Symbolic

Firstly, the “Real” is not “reality”, and there is no “objective reality” because there is only a subjective “reality” that holds significance for any individual Subject, and this subjective reality takes shape by its knots with the Imaginary and the Symbolic register [both conceived from the Real, which also then ties itself to the 2 other registers] that the Subject identifies with linguistically. It is in this sense that Lacan is a formidable realist and ties himself to all the great Realist Schools of Philosophy. The Real is a domain outside the symbolic Subject, the Real is the domain of the inexpressible since it does not belong to language. The Lacanian “Real” contains the “Lack” which generally manifests itself in real nothingness. To indicate that something is lacking, requires the assumption that it is possible for it to be present, which introduces the Symbolic domain into the Real. The “Real” simply stands for what is neither symbolic nor imaginary and is never truly known; it is mediated by the 2 orders of the Imaginary and the Symbolic; thus while the Real is present, these uncanny objects are treated as alien, meaningless and reminders of the symbolic lack in the subject’s identity formation; and “lack” is what causes desire to arise, which leads to the Subject’s unique development and growth.

Lacan said:

« L’inconscient reste le cœur de l’être pour les uns, et d’autres croiront me suivre à en faire l’Autre (symbolique) de la réalité. La seule façon de s’en sortir, c’est de poser qu’il est le réel, ce qui ne veut dire aucune réalité, le réel en tant qu’impossible à dire, c’est-à-dire en tant que le réel c’est l’impossible, tout simplement . »

French for: “The unconscious remains the heart of the being for some, and others will believe they follow me to make it the Other (symbolic) of reality. The only way to get out of it is to pose that it is the real, which does not mean any reality, the real as impossible to say, that is to say as the real is the impossible, quite simply.”

Jean-Bertrand Pontalis who was psychoanalysed by Lacan, assisted to his presentations while also participating in the famous seminars that he transcribed the résumés. Pontalis said: “On est un peu perdu et on se dit c’est peut-être génial, c’est peut-être moi qui comprend rien, ça me rappelle que d’ailleurs Lacan disant – alors qu’il y avait au début de ses séminaire des gens comme Maurice Merleau-Ponty, Jean Hyppolite venait, Paul Ricœur et bien d’autres – je l’entends encore dire – peut-être pas s’adressant à eux mais l’auditoire en général : « Mais enfin, vous allez commencer à l’ouvrir votre comprenoire ? » Voilà, donc je ne peux pas dire que ça m’émeuve, parce qu’il a quand même un côté comédien même très comédien, il en remet un peu comme il en remettait dans sa vêture, avec ses vestes, ses cols Mao à l’époque et puis ensuite les fameux cigares torsadés.” [French for: We’re a bit lost and we say to ourselves that maybe it’s great, maybe it’s me who doesn’t understand anything, it reminds me of Lacan saying – while at the beginning of his seminars there were people like Maurice Merleau-Ponty, Jean Hyppolite came, Paul Ricoeur and many others – I still hear him say, perhaps not addressing them but the audience in general: “But finally, you will begin to open your understanding?” So I can’t say I’m moved, because he still has a comedian side, even very comical, like he used to portray with his clothes, with his jackets, his Mao collars at the time, and then the famous twisted cigars.”].

Jacques Lacan jeune.jpg

Jacques Lacan (1901 – 1981)

Christian Jambet explained how the real is “nothing”, but gets its subjective significance from knots with the imaginary and the symbolic register of the individual Subject: “Le nœud était là pour essayer de transmettre, pas simplement le réel comme vérité ou le réel comme indicible, mais le réel comme ce qui est là dans sa plus grande nudité et sa plus grande insignifiance. La chute d’une ficelle et en même temps son enroulement. Qu’est-ce qui reste quand ça se défait ? Un rien. Et en même temps que ce rien forme la chose la plus complexe, c’est-à-dire tous ces nœuds du langage ont quoi nous sommes pris et qui tissent notre vie.” [French for: The knot (Borromean) was there to try to transmit, not simply the Real as truth or the Real as unspeakable, but the real as what is there in its greatest nakedness and insignificance. The fall of a string and at the same time its knots. What remains when it unravels? A nothing, and at the same time this nothing forms the most complex thing, that is to say, all those knots of language that we are caught in and that weave our lives.”].

Lacan psychanalyse noeud-borromeen danny d'purb dpurb site web.jpg

Le Noeud Borroméen (The Borromean Knot or Chain) / We could refer to this figure as a chain since it involves the interconnection of several different threads. Although a minimum of three threads or rings [Real, Imaginary & Symbolic] are required to form a Borromean chain, there is no maximum number; the chain may be extended indefinitely by adding further rings, while still preserving its Borromean quality

Secondly, we have the Imaginary register/order which is the domain of the formation of the Ego in the mirror stage by identification with the counterpart [or specular image, i.e. the little other (petit autre)] and this dual illusory relationship between the Ego and the counterpart is characterised by narcissism and alienation. Lacan also accused the major psychoanalytic schools of reducing psychoanalysis to the imaginary domain where the Ego lies. Although the imaginary is structured by the symbolic, the Imaginary register is the dimension of the human subject which is most closely linked to animal psychology; this means that in man’s imaginary, the relation has deviated from the realm of human nature and shifted to the realm of image and imagination, deception and lure [sexual behaviour is especially prone to the lure in animals, which is straightforward]. The principal illusions of the imaginary register are those of wholeness, synthesis, autonomy, duality and similarity, which is in fact untrue and deceptive. Jean Baudrillard, born in the peasantry, who eventually became one of the great names of post-modern philosophy, known for his analysis of modes of mediation and communication, proposed the concept of « simulacre » [simulacrum] and hyperreality. Although those are not connected to Lacan, they are great examples to show how the mainsteam masses are constantly living in an imaginary reality that Baudrillard called “hyperreality”; he argued that to the masses, the reality of our world at some point becomes indistinguishable from just a simple representation of it; that representation, or “simulacrum”, becomes completely detached from reality and ends up being an illusion that is perceived as truth by the average minds of the masses. The inability of the average minds to distinguish reality from the simulacrum is what Baudrillard referred to as “hyperreality” – a state of illusion he argued that the masses are constantly living in psychologically. The latter maintained that there is no truth, only a simulacrum of it, and most fail to tell the difference. Like Chomsky, Baudrillard believed that a large amount of social ills can be attributed to the mainstream media, specially in the post-modern world with the constant 24-hour news cycle. The philosopher noted that the mainstream media is the chief perpetrator in the creation of hyperreality – the press, to Baudrillard, distorts the truth to fit its motive – and the average minds [lacking in self-reflective abilities] who are ignorant of the misrepresentation, accept the hyperreality generated by the simulacrum as the truth; this leads to an illusion far from reality that the average minds perceive as reality. Being a figure of postmodern philosophy, in a state of hyperreality, truth to Baudrillard is hence a fluid concept that is more dependent on narrative, so any person can distort it – which clearly reveals its insignificance to individuals with self-reflective abilities. For those who lack self-reflective abilities or have not developed them yet, it may be worth quoting Carl Jung, the psychoanalyst, who meticulously declared: “I am not what happened to me, I am what I chose to become.”

Jung ce que je choisi de devenir d'purb dpurb site web

Traduction(EN): “I am not what happened to me, I am what I chose to become.” – Carl Jung

So, to sum up, the Imaginary register/order is where the Ego operates and also generates its own illusions, and in a well adjusted psyche, these illusions are synchronised with the Subject, the Symbolic and his/her desires.

Thirdly, we have the Symbolic register/order [which is constructed largely via language and discourse] and which is one of the aspects of the Subject that is revealed via the individual’s dreams. The Symbolic register is the fundamental cornerstone for Lacan; the Subject’s relationship with the Symbolic is at the heart of psychoanalysis. Psychoanalysts are essentially practitioners of the symbolic order [i.e. civilised culture and the symbolic are thus imposed on raw nature]. Lacan criticised the psychoanalysis of his day for ignoring the symbolic register and reducing everything to the imaginary order of the Ego, and this for Lacan is a betrayal of Freud’s most basic insights; “Freud’s discovery is that of the field of effects, in the nature of man, produced by his relationship to the symbolic order“. Lacan argues that it is only by working in the Symbolic field that the psychoanalyst can produce changes in the subjective position of the patient and foster progress and growth; these changes will also structure the illusions produced by the Ego [le “Moi”] in the Imaginary order, since the Imaginary is influenced by the Symbolic. As Elisabeth Roudinesco pointed out: “ces illusions existent, elles forment notre psychisme ; nous vivons dans un monde d’illusions, de représentations et qui nous marque à vie et qui resterons d’ailleurs” [French for: “these illusions exist, they form our psyche; we live in a world of illusions, of representations and which marks us for life and will remain so for the future…“].

Un monde d'illusions Elisabeth Roudinesco Jacques Lacan danny d'purb dpurb site web.jpg

“We live in a world of illusions…” -Elisabeth Roudinesco, 2001

Hence, a well adjusted psyche will allow the Subject to generate the appropriate illusions in the imaginary register of the Ego [Le Moi] that are synchronised with the true Subject [i.e. true product of the Symbolic register tied by language(s)] and his/her desires which has its roots in and is structured by the “scene” [i.e. NOT physical or anatomical locality, but PSYCHICAL locality] of the Other [i.e. Big Other/Grand Autre/Superego] where language and discourse originate. The well adjusted Imaginary of the Ego [le Moi] reflects the individual’s desires and unique personality, and contributes to growth since it allows the Subject to imagine creatively while regulating the wild desires of the Unconscious [ID / It / Ça / Inconscient] according to the symbolic laws of the Big Other [i.e. Grand Autre / Superego under the ID]. The balance between these 3 domains [ID – Superego – Ego] differs from one individual to the other leading to differences in personality.

Structural components [or registers/orders] of the Subject that are revealed via dreams are the Imaginary and the Real. Lacan argued that the psychanalyst’s interpretation of dreams can be viewed as analogous to a linguist’s translation of a language, unearthing the meaning that particular symbols hold for an individual [e.g. a client in psychotherapy or an individual seeking psychoanalytic guidance to enhance themselves]. Lacan noted that a specific difficulty that arises when psychoanalysts interpret the content of clients’ dreams is that, by the time the clients have awakened a large portion [if not most or all] of the dream has vanished, and this can be problematic if clients are reflecting on dreams that they experienced several year (decades?) ago. According to Lacanian Theory, Marder (2013) noted that dreams are oriented towards future interpretation, by dreamers themselves or by someone else (e.g. Psychoanalysts). Hence, truly important content are likely to survive clients’ transition from sleeping to waking states.

Lacan also pointed out as Stockholder (1998) noted, that Freud’s (1923) Structural model, i.e. the later version of his Psychoanalytic Theory with its dictinctions among Id, Super-Ego and Ego had distorded the true meaning of the first Topographic Model. And perhaps rightly observed, since the Ego which was meant to be conscious, revealed an unconscious element in its ability to instantly generate defence mechanisms outside the awareness of the patient, when before the function of the Ego was just one component present in the Conscious, i.e. the Ego [le Moi], was a part of the “Conscious”, as a level of consciousness and not assumed to be a distinct mental functions as part of the new 3 part dissection [ID, SuperEgo and Ego]. However, they can be synthesised and enhanced, as we are doing with Freud, Jung and Lacan along with other discoveries in the realms of Neuroscience and Cognitive-Psychology to explore the psychology of the singular organism and its powers of definition to a level that no other psychologist has attempted to before our endeavour.

Lacan’s theory relocates the ID [Ça / L’Inconscient / Symbolic], Super-Ego [Surmoi, Le grand Autre: the big Other / Symbolic] and the Ego [Moi / Imaginary order] across the Unconscious, Preconscious and Conscious.

The Subject: Uniqueness in the speaking being, le parlêtre

Although psychoanalytic praxis has powerful effects on the ego, it is the Subject, and not the ego, on which psychoanalysis primarily operates. Different from the ego, the Subject is a product of the symbolic Grand Autre, i.e. the “Big Other” [Superego under the influence of the ID]. The Subject means no more than “human being” and in 1953 Lacan establishes a clear distinction between the Subject and the Ego which remained a one of the most fundamental distinctions in his work.  Whereas the Ego is part of the imaginary order, the Subject is part of the symbolic.

Lacan distinguished between 3 kinds of subject. Firstly, we have the impersonal subject, independent of the other, the pure grammatical subject, the noetic subject, the “it” of “it is known that”. Secondly, we have the anonymous reciprocal subject who recognises himself in equivalence with the other (ego reflection / petit autre / little other). Thirdly and finally, we have the personal subject in his uniqueness completely constituted by the act of self-affirmation. It is the third sense of the term subject, i.e. the personal subject in his uniqueness that constitutes the focus of Lacan’s work, and this also seems to be in line with our philosophy of construction and singularity in the creation of the individual. Lacan’s subject is the “subject of the unconscious”, i.e. it is a product of the expression of the unconscious through the symbolic “Grand Autre” [Superego]. Lacan argues that this distinction can be traced back to Freud: “[Freud] wrote Das Ich und das Es in order to maintain this fundamental distinction between the true Subject of the unconscious and the Ego as constituted in its nucleus by a series of alienating identifications. A complex and unique domain such as the subject should not be objectified or reduced to a thing; “What do we call a subject? Quite precisely, what in the development of objectivation, is outside of the object.” References to language come to dominate Lacan’s concept of the subject from the mid-1950s on.

Au langage de son désir - Jacques Lacan

Traduction(EN): “To free his speech, the subject is introduced, through psychoanalysis, to the language of his desire.” – Jacques Lacan

It is very important however to distinguish the term “language” when reading the translations of Lacan’s work in English since the inexistence of some words in English make the translation from French inaccurate. Most importantly, in the French language we have two terms that both translate to “language” in English, these are the French terms “langue” [which refers a specific language, e.g. French or English] and “langage” [which refers to the prosody, expressive, grammatical and communicative structure of the language being used, the discourse of a particular Subject from any “langue” (specific language) since all “langues” (specific languages) come with different levels of structure, being a universal feature], it is the latter term “langage” referring to the general structure of the communicative pattern and linguistic discourse and not “langue” that is of interest to Lacanian psychoanalysis, i.e. the content of the discourse. So, it is important to note that in English, the term “language” in Lacan’s writings most often refers to  the French term “langage” [i.e. the structure and content of the communicative pattern or discourse] and not “langue”. Linguistic discourse (le langage) is a single paradigm of all structures and the basic units are the signifier; the unconscious is a treasury of signifiers in the Symbolic structured like language that finds expression to define the Subject where discourse becomes a social bond. Lacan distinguishes the Subject of the enunciation [i.e. how words are pronounced] from the Subject of the statement [i.e. the genuine message of the discourse] to show that because the Subject is essentially a speaking being (parlêtre), he/she is inescapably divided [i.e. by different forms of communicative patterns]. Language is a constantly evolving domain and not a nomenclature [i.e. not complete, sealed, strictly and methodically organised], beyond its use for conveying information, language is foremost an appeal to an interlocutor. In the early 1960s Lacan defines the subject as that which is represented by a signifier for another signifier; in other words, the subject is an effect of language and in philosophical “discourse” it denotes an individual self-consciousness; linguistic discourse is a mediating element that allows the Subject to attain his desired recognition from others [i.e. the rest of humanity] while creating a social bond; this perfectly illustrates Lacan’s thesis about the determination of consciousness by the Symbolic register. “The subject is a subject only by virtue of his subjection to the field of the Other [Grand Autre / Big Other / Superego / from the Symbolic register].”The philosophical connotations of the term “Subject” are particularly emphasised by Lacan, who links it with Descartes’s philosophy of the cogito: « Je pense donc que je suis » [I think therefore, I am] – “in the term subject . . . I am not designating the living substratum needed by this phenomenon of the subject, nor any sort of substance, nor any being possessing knowledge in his pathos . . . nor even some incarnated logos, but the Cartesian subject, who appears at the moment when doubt is recognised as certainty.” The fact that the symbol of the subject, S, is a homophone of the Freud’s term Es (‘Id’) illustrates that for Lacan, the true subject is the subject of the unconscious [i.e. the impact of the expression of the instincts and language of the unconscious through the SuperEgo/Big Other/Grand Autre on the subject and ego – which differs in individuals. Lacan forced us to admit that we all have mental automatism. We all have, deep inside us, this inner voice that will inhabit the language [or languages] with which we will speak. Perhaps a good example of the expression of the unconscious inner voice is through music, which Lacan saw as a fundamental language of our unconscious thoughts, and therefore the bearer of an enigmatic knowledge, i.e. a form of language that would therefore have a meaning, corresponding for example to that of the different emotions that satisfy the various states of mind and that possibly supports an imaginary form of communication]. In 1957 Lacan strikes through this symbol to produce the symbol $, the “barred subject,” thus illustrating the fact that the subject is essentially divided; the division of the subject by different forms of communicative patterns.

Niklos Koda Tome 7 Magie Blanche et Le spiborg - Mort et Déterré

Déssins: “Niklos Koda” par Olivier Grenson & “Mort et Déterré” par Jocelyn Boisvert et Pascal Colpron

 

L’Autre [Grand Autre / Big Other / Superego] as an early form of conscience from the Symbolic order/register & the mysterious origins and social bond of language [Speech / Linguistic discourse]

Lacan distinguishes between the Superego and the ego-ideal and argues that in most cases the primary function of the Superego is to repress sexual desire for the mother or mother figure in the resolution of the child’s early Oedipus complex and following Freud he also argues that the Superego is an early form of conscience that develops from the Oedipal identification with the father but also incorporates the maternal origins of an archaic form of the superego [conscience] derived from Melanie Klein’s thesis. Hence, Lacan proposed that in most people, the Oedipus complex is a process which imposes Symbolic structures on sexuality and allows the Subject to emerge – the imposition of culture on nature. When Lacan returned to the subject of the Superego [Grand Autre / Big Other] in his 1953-4 seminar, he located it in the symbolic order, as opposed to the imaginary order of the ego: the superego [i.e. Grand Autre] is essentially located within the symbolic plane of speech and has a close relationship with the “law” [law here does not refer to a particular piece of legislation, but to the fundamental principles which underlie social relations, i.e. a set of universal principles which makes social existence possible, the structures that govern social exchange, for e.g. gift giving or the formaton of pacts. Since the most basic form of exchange is communication [e.g. the exchange of words, the gift of speech], the symbolic “law” is fundamentally a linguistic entity/dimension, it is the law of the signifier. This law then is revealed with an order of language – the symbolic order itself. Lacan argues that the “law” is human because it separates man from other animals by regulating sexual relations that are among animals, unregulated. It is the law of the pleasure principle which commands the subject to “Enjoy as little as possible” and maintains the subject at a safe distance from the “Thing” (the forbidden object of desire), making the subject circle round it without ever attaining it because if the subject transgresses, it is experienced as suffering/evil – it is fortunate then that the thing is usually inaccessible and/or out of direct reach; the thing is impossible to imagine, it is unknowable and beyond symbolisation]. The “law” as such is a symbolic structure which regulates subjectivity and in this sense prevents disintegration of the wholeness of the individual’s psycheThe law of the superego however is believed to have a senseless and blind character of pure imperativeness and simple tyranny, so it is at one and the same time the law and its destruction, the Superego [only partially conscious] is thus the “big Other” which imposes a purely oppressive morality on the neurotic subject but also the will-to-enjoy and is related to the voiceThe big “Other” must be considered a locus in which speech is constituted, it is thus only possible to speak of the “big Other” as a subject in a secondary sense where a psychoanalyst may occupy this position and thereby “embody” the “Big Other” for a patient / analysand.

In arguing that speech originates not in the Ego or even in the Subject, but in the partially unconscious “Other” [i.e. Big Other / Grand Autre / Superego], Lacan is stressing that speech and language are beyond conscious control, they come from an other place/scene [i.e. psychical localities], outside consciousness, and hence “the unconscious is the discourse of the big Other” [i.e. the effect on the subject of speech that is addressed to that subject from elsewhere, by another subject (forgotten or unknown) from another “scene”, i.e. psychical locality] and belongs wholly to the symbolic order. As Christian Jambet pointed out, this means that the fragments of discourse that the individual will articulate has its roots in the big Other’s scene(s) [i.e. NOT physical or anatomical locality, BUT PSYCHICAL localities], which is precisely the treasure of signifiers where language – which is very real – is structured, along with the individual’s desires. In 1969, Lacan begins to use the term discourse to denote a “social bond” founded in language; an incredibly rational observation because there is nothing more social than language – the vital ingredient in any form of social activity. [Note: This leads to individuals not sharing anything in common with others in their direct geographical environment, because different individuals will be connected to different psychical localities.]

Parlez-vous Lacan

Gillett (2001) noted that, in Lacan’s view, language does not perfectly convey individuals’ desire to other persons, partly because individuals do not fully understand their own desire, and partly because language is an inherently social medium that can lead to misunderstanding as well as understanding between individuals and other persons. Language however is a very powerful social medium [as can be seen also from the essay, The Concept of Self]

Le Langage et la Réalité danny d'purb dpurb site web 1600.jpg

Traduction(EN): « There will always be something special about language because language creates reality. Language reveals the truth of the subject and adds to reality what was not there before. Hence, the difference between truth and reality is that truth adds to reality what was not there before. Empiricists who study traits should never forget that constructs would not exist if they had not first been created through language. Hence language, creates reality! » -Danny J. D’Purb

Jacques Lacan saw the unconscious [ID / Le Ça] as a structure of language whose formal logic unfolds in the manner of a Bach flute or a poem by Mallarmé and argued that the unconscious is structured like language. In the unconscious [i.e. the place where the treasure of signifiers is] as well as in the acquisition of language, individuals may follow rules regarding the use of symbols without having deliberately learned [and without having overtly been taught] those rules [something “special” and even “mystical” about language]. In addition the unconscious [like language] is regarded as a “network of signifiers”, a history of signifiers that shape the subject; the term signifier (le significant) referring to any symbol that is used [on its own, or in combination with other symbols] to stand in for, or to represent, something else [the signified – le signifié]. In conceiving the “big Other” as a place/scene, Lacan alludes to Freud’s concept of not physical or anatomical locality, but “psychical locality, in which the unconscious is described as “the other scene”. In Lacanian terms the “other scene” is the big Other. The term “scene” was used by Lacan to denote the imaginary but also symbolic theatre in which the Subject plays out his fantasy; a fantasy which is however firmly built on the edifice of the Real [i.e. the world] and shaped by the symbolic order. The scene of fantasy is a virtual space which is framed, similarly to the scene of a play which is framed by the proscenium arch in a theatre, whereas beyond the frame lies the “real” space where the world is. Lacan uses the notion of “scene” to distinguish between 2 processes: (i) Acting out, and (ii) Passing to the Act. Since, the scene is symbolic and built on the real, the process of “Acting Out” takes place within the frame, i.e. inside the scene and is inscribed in the symbolic order; whereas the process of “Passing to the Act” is an exit from the scene, a crossing over from the symbolic into the real. It is highly likely that the impact of the arts, education, exposure and personal development has an important role to play in the development of the partially unconscious “big Others” and “the other scene”. The greatest child psychologist of all time, Jean Piaget argued that all forms of social interaction [which also includes artistic exposure] in the process of learning play an important role in « cognitive growth ».

La Génération de la Culture Digitale dpurb

[FR] Au XXIe siècle, les industries des arts, de la culture et de l’éducation s’appuient principalement sur les médias numériques pour toucher des clients dans le monde entier / [EN] The industries of the arts, culture and education in the 21st century, mainly rely on digital outlets to reach customers across the planet

This also leads to the important question of the “use” of art. Art is a very lucrative business in the 21st century with the wide range of outlets available digitally to deliver the works to the consumer/audience; but what are we consuming? What is the effect that we look for when we fully process the artworks that we choose? What happens after complete psychical digestion by the different psyches among us? Art is used to mark history, to leave a trace, not of the events, but of the line of thought of those living at the time it is focusing on. Back to the fundamentals of philosophy, the famous quote “je pense donc je suis” [French for: “I think therefore I am”] from Descartes explains to us that man is gifted with a conscience unlike animals. It is because we are organisms with the ability to think that we are human beings. Spinoza argued that we all have a conatus, an identity that is unique to each of us; the horse runs, the human being thinks. It is hence essential to question oneself, to meditate on a particular topic or another in order to blossom and thrive as human beings. Art is praxis, like philosophy it is an activity that produces no added value and has no other purpose other than the “perfecting of the agent” as Aristotle put it – it is an activity that allows for this work of reflective meditation. In this sense, a painting cannot be considered as a mere decoration as it is not a question of finding it “beautiful” or “ugly”, but it implies a work of reflection and a particular mental visualisation. Of course, art does not speak to everyone. Serge Gainsbourg pointed out that we have 2 types of art: major and minor ones. Major art forms are those that only the trained mind can understand: architecture, painting, the classics and poetry; For example, this piece by the French philosopher and winner of the 1927 Nobel Prize in literature, Henri Bergson ( – ):

« L’état suprême de la beauté, c’est la grâce. Or, dans le mot grâce, on entend aussi la bonté. Car la bonté, c’est la générosité d’un principe de Vie qui se donne indéfiniment. »

– Henri Bergson

Then we have the Minor art forms, which are those that speak to everyone. It is obviously difficult to perceive, interpret and explore the knowledge, layers of meaning and wisdom in artistic literary compositions if we do not have a good vocabulary and a deep understanding of literary voice [i.e. tone and mood], linguistic style [i.e. Imagery, Simile, Metaphor, Personification] and aural imagery [i.e. Alliteration, Assonance and Onomatopoeia] ; similarly it would be hard to understand all the hard work behind the construction of a cathedral if we do not have any understanding of architecture, although nothing prevents us from appreciating its grandeur and contemplating it at length; this is also applicable to painting which is linked to a profound understanding of scales, light, reflections, shadows, colours, paints, textures and brush strokes. Going by Metry Sephora’s straightforward way to understand a work of art, we can firstly ask ourselves what it is about; what is the painter presenting to us? What do we see in the distance? Secondly, how is it all represented? [Techniques, colours, materials, movements] What do we see from up close and what feelings are elicited? Thirdly, it is about the moment the art work mirrors us. Sometimes we are already touched and are able to evade by imagining the setting presented to us, we reminisce about moments experienced and we reflect on a particular topic. In some other cases, the art work does not touch us and we have to question ourselves deeper, through the life of the artist; why did the artist represent this? What was going on in his/her life at that particular time? In what context did he/she realise it? What was the train of thought of the time?

Les Fenêtres [Windows] par Robert_Delaunay (1912)

“La Fenêtre” par Robert Delaunay. 1912 [de la série “Les Fenêtres”] / Musée de Grenoble

The above painting is “La Fenêtre” [The Window]” by the French painter Robert Delaunay (1885 – 1941) completed between 1911 and 1912 which is part of the series, “Les Fenêtres [Windows]“, which include 13 paintings inspired by the reading of “La loi du contraste simultané des couleurs” written in 1839 by Gustave Chevreuil; we know that the Delaunays created a cultural movement on their own and Blaise Cendrars (1887 – 1961) and Guillaume Appolinaire (1880 – 1918) were great admirers of their work which is part of the Cubist movement. This painting also inspired Apollinaire for his poem also entitled “Les Fenêtres” [Windows] where the writer tried to create a simultaneity between words as Delaunay does with colours. The painter seeks the original essence of colour, while the poet seeks the original essence of words. If we were to analyse this work, we could first observe the mixture and contrast of colours, it is not linear as a Mondrian art work, but still keeps a sense of organisation since the shapes do not spread in every direction, with different shades of blue and orange dominating the work. Secondly, we can conclude that it is rectangular and is a work of oil on canvas measuring 45.8 x 37.5 cm kept at the Musée de Grenoble and that the paint is smooth with movements executed naturally making it pleasant and relaxing to the eyes. Thirdly, based on the life of the painter we know that Robert Delaunay was part of a generation of avant-garde artists who were particularly prolific on the artistic scene between 1912 and 1914, representing the cubist and neo-impressionist movement, and that he was inspired by the scientific works of Chevreul on colours, by the work of Seurat and also that of Cézanne. At that time in the early 20th century, modern painting had tended towards abstraction, and in 1912 Apollinaire diagnosed the birth of a new pictoral art: “The new painters paint paintings where there is no longer a real subject”. By 1912, Delaunay had turned to orphism which led to the series of painting containing “La Fenêtre” [The Window]. More specifically orphic cubism had been distinguished from scientific cubism in 1912 by Apollinaire during the exposition of the Section d’Or, with the term orphism clearly linked to his poem “Orphée” (1908) which deals with pure poetry – a sort of “luminous language”. Another interpretation of this term is proposed: the name makes the analogy of the painting with music.

Peindre avec la musique DnP danny d'purb dpurb site web

Indeed, at the start of the 20th century, music represented modern art par excellence, perfectly abstract, therefore pure as a universal art form, with a totalising function. Music could unite all the arts, as in Wagner’s operas with the concept of the Gesamtkunstwerk [i.e. A total work of art characterized by the simultaneous use of many media and artistic disciplines, and by the symbolic, philosophical or/and metaphysical significance it holds. This use stems from the desire to reflect the unity of life]. Robert Delaunay and his wife indeed created a cultural movement around them, through works concentrated on the arrangement of colours on the canvas seeking pictorial harmony. We all have a conatus, for some it is art, for others it is literature, drama and poetry, readers out there should perhaps try to find theirs?

So, getting back to the big Other [SuperEgo / Grand Autre], it is is always “lacking” something for the subject and the mythical complete and perfect Other does not seem to exist. In 1957, when Lacan introduces the algebraic symbol for the barred Other (A), lack comes to designate the lack of a signifier in the Other [It is Lack that causes Desire to arise]. Lacan introduces the symbol S(A) to designate “the signifier of a lack in the Other. [Note that Lacan uses the term “Grand Autre” with capital A which here is referred to as the “Other” with capital O, i.e. the “big Other” and not the “petit autre” which is the reflection or projection of the Ego [counterpart and specular image] in the imaginary order referred to as the “other” or “little other”, “o” “petit autre” “a”.]

 

Lacanian Terms: L’Inconscient [Id], L’Autre [Grand Autre/Big Other/Superego] & Le Moi [Ego: its birth and the Mirror Stage]

To clarify Lacanian terms, firstly, we have the “inconscient“; being the unconscious ID in the domain of the symbolic which is the unconscious origin of the individual’s discourse, the symbolic “it” or “Ça” beyond the imaginary ego: man is lived and spoken by the unconscious “it” or “Ça”. Hence the phrase which Lacan frequently uses when discussing the unconscious ID, “it speaks” (le “Ça” parle). Hence, Lacan argued that the concept of the unconscious was badly misunderstood by most of Freud’s followers who reduced it to being “merely the seat of instincts“, and against this simplistic biological mode of thought Lacan argued that the unconscious is not simply the seat of instincts but is also and primarily linguistic because we can only grasp the unconscious when it is explained and transformed into words. One should see in the unconscious the effects of speech on the subject, as it is the determination of the subject by the symbolic order. The unconscious is a kind of memory in the sense of a symbolic history of signifiers [i.e. a treasure chest full of signifiers where discourse originates] that have determined the subject in the course of his/her life. Psychoanalysis involves unearthing the meaning that particular symbols hold for an individual. What this seems to suggest is that the unconscious absorbs a wide range of signifiers (signifiants) [that symbolise something else, “le signifié” or “signified” in a deeper exploratory sense] throughout the subject’s life and these later find expression and guide desires through the Superego [Grand Autre / Big Other / the symbolic discourse of the unconscious] and in turn symbolically shapes the imaginary creations of the Ego [Moi] and define the Subject according to his abilities to achieve his desires – the outcome differs depending on the subject’s individual creativity and intelligence.

Le Penseur par Auguste Rodin (1882) dpurb site

«Le Penseur» par Auguste Rodin (1882) représente un homme dans une réflexion profonde, semblant utiliser toute son intelligence pour résoudre un problème.

Since it is an articulation of signifiers in a signifying chain, the unconscious is a kind of knowledge (symbolic knowledge, or savoir) – an “unknown knowledge.” For the Cognitive-Behavioural mind, these signifiers may be considered as “stimuli” [received in different forms, e.g. visual, auditory, mental] however their reception and their responses are completely unconscious and generate effects in the depth of the mind [unconscious] that cannot be measured or seen [the nightmare of the empiricist]. Hence, the unconscious is the location of a chain of signifiers [that stand for something else in a signifying chain] that define the subject through the course of his/her life and where linguistic discourse originates.

We then have the “Moi”, which is the equivalent of the Ego, a formation in the imaginary order as opposed to the Subject [le parlêtre as explained above, which is the true product of the symbolic order]. The Ego is a méconnaissance [a failure to understand/recognise, which is also the structure of paranoiac delusions] of the Symbolic, the Ego is the seat of resistance and is structured like a symptom at the heart of the Subject, the human symptom par excellence, the mental illness of man. Méconnaissance is to be distinguished from ignorance: whereas ignorance is a passion for the absence of knowledge, méconnaissance is an imaginary misrecognition/misconstruction of a symbolic knowledge (savoir) that the Subject does possess somewhere. The structural homology between the ordinary constitution of the Ego and paranoiac delusions is what leads Lacan to describe all knowledge (connaissance), in both neurosis and psychosis, as “paranoiac knowledge.” Lacan also argued that the proponents of Ego-psychology betrayed Freud’s radical discovery by relocating the ego as the center of the subject. In opposition to this school of thought, Lacan maintains that the ego is not at the center, that the ego is in fact an object. ‘ The ego is a construction which is formed by identification with the specular image in the Mirror stage and is thus the place where the subject becomes alienated from himself, transforming himself into the counterpart. Malin (2011) pointed out that in Lacanian Theory, a major event in infants’ personality and social development is the mirror stage, when infants enter into language as a uniquely human form of interaction with all caregivers in the child’s environment [although infants are not likely to consciously experience language prior to age 2]. As Luepnitz (2009) noted, Lacan believed that infants often enter into language at a crucial point when they literally recognise themselves in a mirror, with caregivers [i.e. can include others such as teachers rather than direct parents] pointing to the reflection and approvingly saying to the infants, “Look, that’s you!” – even if infants are unlikely to remember the event in itself.

Rene Magritte - Not To Be Reproduced (1937)

“Not to be reproduced” by René Magritte, 1937

And as Hivernel (2013) noted, the 2 major outcomes of the mirror stage are the emergence of the Subject, a product of the symbolic order (i.e., individuals’ gradual awareness regarding their uniqueness) and the others (i.e. individuals’ gradual awareness regarding the rest of humanity, to whom they are connected to varying degrees). The other major outcome of the mirror stage is the birth of the Ego [Le Moi, the imaginary formation], and infants may experience joy at this moment, which occurs (and, in fact, is necessary) before infants can truly understand the power of symbols in language. However, one of the unfortunate outcomes of the mirror stage was that infants gradually begin to look outward, and not inward in search for identity; and such external orientation toward individuals’ own identity is doomed to fail.

Miyamoto Musashi danny d'purb dpurb site web

French for: “There is nothing besides yourself that can make you better, stronger, richer, faster or smarter. Everything is within you, everything exists. Do not look for anything outside yourself.” -Miyamoto Musashi

This seems to make perfect sense, even from the objective perspective that the Organic Theory of Psychical Construction, i.e., any organism whose reality or sense of it is based on the geographical mental conditioning of a group of organisms [about 4 or 5] will have a limited perspective of reality and lack a wider outlook of the world as it truly is. Unlike US Ego psychologists who considered the Ego as the dominant component that should be worked on and strengthened, Lacan argued against such irrational therapy because the ego is the “seat of illusions” and to increase its strength would only increase the subject’s alienation, the ego is the source of resistance to psychoanalytic treatment and strengthening it would increase those resistances [i.e. all obstacles that arise during psychoanalytic praxis and interrupt its progress, when the subject breaks the fundamental rule of saying everything that comes into his mind]. Lacan argued that the true goal of psychotherapy should be therapists’ unearthing the clients’ unconscious desire via the “talking cure” of psychoanalysis – not strengthening the Ego mindlessly, as this may leave individuals in a state of delusion without an Ego adjusted to their abilities – and may even lead to individuals allowing their Ego [imaginary moi] to dominate the Super-Ego [Grand Autre, Big Other] and favour irrational release of the ID’s [Inconscient / Ça] psychic energy without any remorse or rational control. Because of the imaginary fixity of the Ego, it is resistant to all subjective growth and change and to the dialectical movement of desire, hence, by undermining the fixity of the ego, psychoanalytic treatment aims to restore the dialectic of desire and reinitiate the “coming into being” of the Subject, a product of the Symbolic. This is in direct contrast to the Ego Psychologists’ perspective. Lacan criticised ego-psychology as practised in the US for confusing the concept of “Resistance” with that of “Defence”, and his distinction differs from Anglo-American psychoanalysis. Lacan explained that Defence is on the side of the subject whereas Resistance is on the side of the object. Defences are relatively stable symbolic structures of subjectivity while resistances are rather transitory [periodic / like a phase] forces which prevent the object from being absorbed in the signifying chain [of signifiers]. Resistance belongs to the “imaginary” order of the Ego and not to the symbolic level of the true Subject, because in the symbolic order of the Unconscious, there is no resistance, but only a tendency for repetition. Hence, resistances are “imaginary lures” of the Ego which the analyst must be wary of being deceived by. This is why Lacan maintained that the aim of analysis can never be to strengthen the Ego because this would increase imaginary resistances. Ego psychology shifted emphasis on overcoming the resistances of patients and this was heavily criticised by Lacan who thought that this lead to an “inquisitorial style” of psychoanalysis that sees resistances as based on the “fundamental ill will” of the patients, which is not always the case; this to Lacan overlooked the structural nature of resistance and reduces analysis to an imaginary dual relation. Lacan encourages the “analysis of resistances” but only on the condition that this phrase is properly understood, in the sense of “knowing at what level the answer should be pitched; what Lacan means is that the crucial thing is that the psychoanalyst should be able to distinguish between interventions that are primarily oriented towards the Imaginary and those that are oriented towards the Symbolic and know which are appropriate at each moment during psychoanalytic praxis with patients. Lacan argued for “Structural Resistance”, which is not a question of ill will on the part of the patient but is a resistance that structures, and it is inherent in the analytic process. Resistance is due to a structural incompatibility between desire and human speech [i.e. discourse] and hence Lacan points out to a certain irreducible level of resistance which can never be overcome, that is, even after the reduction of resistances, there is a residue – which may be what is truly essential for a particular Subject. This irreducible “residue” is essential since it is respect for this residue by psychoanalysts that distinguishes true psychoanalysis from mere suggestion. Psychoanalysis to Lacan, respects the right of the patients to resist suggestion and indeed values that resistance. When the Subject’s resistance opposes suggestion, it is only a desire to maintain the Subject’s true desire, and as such it would have to be placed in the realm of “positive transference”. Lacan points out that while psychoanalysts cannot and should not try to overcome “all resistances”, they can minimise them or at least avoid exacerbating them. To do this, psychoanalysts could recognise their own part in the resistances of their patients since to Lacan, there is no other resistance to analysis than that of the analyst himself. The patient’s resistance is always that of the analyst, and when a resistance succeeds it is because the analyst is in it completely, i.e. because the analyst understands. Hence, the analyst should always follow the rule of neutrality; psychoanalytic treatment works on the principle that by not forcing the patient, resistance is reduced to the irreducible minimum, thus, analysts should avoid all forms of suggestion.

Finally, as already explained above, we have the “Grand Autre” or simply “Autre” [Capital A] or “Big Other” which is the preconscious Superego also in the domain of the symbolic register; being the discourse of the unconscious. The big “Other” designates an otherness that transcends the illusory otherness of the imaginary because it cannot be assimilated into the psyche through identification, Lacan equates the big “Other” with language and the “law” [i.e. the structures that govern social exchange] and hence the big “Other” is inscribed in the symbolic register, and indeed the big “Other” is symbolic because it differs for each subject and is the symbolic order which mediates the relationship with a particular subject. The little “other is a reflection or projection of the ego [le Moi], it is the counterpart and the specular image, unlike the “big Other” which is in the symbolic order, the little “other” is inscribed in the imaginary order of the Ego.

 

The concept of Adaptation and Psychoanalysts as the Grand Autre [Big Other / Superego]

Lacan also questioned whether the ego of the psychoanalyst gives the measure of reality to the patient in trying to adapt the latter. Because if so, this would turn the analyst [who are also different in terms of talent, creativity and vision from one person to another] into the arbitrer of the patient’s adaptation to reality, hence the analyst’s own understanding [or lack of understanding] of reality would be assumed to be absolute and perfect where he would be considered as the perfection of adaptation compared to the patient [as is the case in Ego-psychology practiced in the USA]. This to Lacan turns psychoanalysis as an exercise of power and social control where the analyst forces his own particular view of reality onto the patient and this is not psychoanalysis but suggestion. This Lacanian refusal to force an adaptation of the ego to reality is in direct opposition to the “Ego-psychology” of the US psychoanalytic movement that Lacan accused of wrongly reading the works of Freud. Lacan regards it as simple to understand why the adaptation theme was developed by European and Jewish psychoanalysts who had emigrated to the USA in the late 1930s, and this is simply because these analysts felt not only that they had to adapt to life in the USA, but also that they had to adapt psychoanalysis to American tastes [i.e. to fit the average american psyche]. One of Lacan’s fiercest criticism is based on the following argument: the notion of “adaptation to reality” is founded on the creatively irrational and naive empiricist epistemology that wrongly assumes an unproblematic notion of “reality” for all Subjects, as an objective and self-evident given, this discards what psychoanalysis has discovered about the construction of reality by the Ego on the basis of its own “méconnaissance” [i.e. subjective understanding of reality]. So when the analyst assumes that he is better adapted to the vague notion of “reality” than the patient, he has no other option but to fall back on his own Ego’s interpretation of reality, since it is the only “reality” he knows, this leads to the distorted and simplistic definition of “the part that thinks as we do” as being the healthy part of a Subject’s Ego. This practice of Ego-psychology turns psychoanalysis as an exercise of prepackaged suggestion to mould the psyche of individuals to these analysts’ own “idea” of reality in order to fit a simplistic mainstream model in line with the requirements of the mechanical philosophies of empiricist epistemology and industrialisation. The inability of the analyst to sustain a praxis authentically, as is usually the case, results in an exercise of power.

The simplistic biological concept of adaptation [as often assumed in simple deterministic animal psychology] can be problematic when applied to psychoanalysis since in evolutionary biology it is assumed that organisms/animals are driven to “adapt” themselves to fit their environment and hence implies a harmonious relation between the Innenwelt (inner world) and Umwelt (surrounding world). The observation of animals in nature or in laboratories tends to guide the reasoning of many empirical scientists who are simplistic and biologically oriented, it is important to ask a few questions. For example, which animals to focus on as models to be inspired by? In nature, we have many animals who mate for life and are monogamous [e.g. albatrosses, bald eagles, barn owls, penguins, beavers, shingleback skinks, gibbons (primates), wolves, swans & french angelfish]. On the other hand, we also have other animals such as common pheasants, lions, gorillas, tigers, red deers, elks, and hamadryas baboons (primates) who have a different mating system, where the fittest male mates with multiple females to ensure the constant enhancement and fitness of future generations; and hence are polygamous.

Maladies Génétiques.jpg

Image: Degenerates / Some controversial doctors under the Third Reich proposed that the curse of diseased genes destroy entire families, and that degenerates can only give birth to their similars. It lead to sterilisation that was supposed to prevent them from spreading their misery to innocent children [as the aim was a strong and genetically healthy people], and also the “Aktion T4” program which was mass involuntary euthanasia. Certain German physicians were authorised to select patients “deemed incurably sick, after most critical medical examination” and then administer to them a “mercy death” (Gnadentod). From September 1939 until the end of the war in 1945; from 275,000 to 300,000 people were euthanised in psychiatric hospitals in Germany and Austria, occupied Poland and the Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia (now the Czech Republic). The Holy See announced on 2 December 1940 that the policy was contrary to the natural and positive Divine law and that “the direct killing of an innocent person because of mental or physical defects is not allowed” but the declaration was not upheld by some Catholic authorities in Germany. In the summer of 1941, protests were led in Germany by the Bishop of Münster, Clemens von Galen, whose intervention led to “the strongest, most explicit and most widespread protest movement against any policy since the beginning of the Third Reich”, according to historian Richard J. Evans.

Hence, this poses questions to the simplistic biological perspective of adaptation: should humans follow the latter polygamous animal model and select the fittest and smartest males through physical and intelligence tests and use their sperm to inseminate all women on earth desiring to have children [or vice-versa or in combination with the eggs of the fittest and smartest females to help couples conceive]; could this reduce malformations and other ugly diseases?

Population en bonne santé d'purb dpurb site web.jpg

Image: Physically healthy females exercising

Or should we follow the monogamous model of the bald eagle, penguin, barn owl, swan, wolf and French angelfish? Based on our evolutionary history, it seems that we humans are monogamous by design due to the size of our brains that allow us to build sophisticated relationships and also experience complex emotions [that animals cannot due to the limited biological architecture of their brain that is optimised for survival and hunting], and hence, humans should not follow animals blindly but use some aspects that we may learn from the study of animals in nature with great precautions to help humans live a better life [for example: giving a choice of healthy sperm and egg donors to couples who cannot conceive or fear passing down incurable and other debilitating diseases] and gradually create a genetically healthy civilisation.

Bébé Gorille Albinos avec son ami d'purb dpurb site web

Image: Baby Albino Gorilla with his friend

François Rabelais, the french doctor, writer, monk & priest seems to have phrased it well in his magnum opus, Pantagruel (1694): “Science sans conscience n’est que ruine de l’âme.” [French for: « Science without conscience is nothing but the ruin of the soul »]

So, the idea of harmony between the inner world (Innenwelt) of the organism and its environment (Umwelt) which is implicit in the concept of adaptation from the simplistic biological perspective [e.g. in animal psychology] is innaplicable to human beings since man’s inscription in the symbolic order re-shapes and restrains his natural behaviours and instincts [i.e. because of civilised society and the sophisticated and multi-layered aspects of human life, man cannot allow himself to follow his wild instincts blindly as animals do in nature], and this means that “in man, the imaginary relation [to nature] has deviated” [the nurture VS nature debate]. This is different for all animal machines who tend to be strictly riveted to the conditions of the external environment, whereas in the human being we have a “certain biological gap”. So, compared to the simplistic biological perspective of animal adaptation where the organism follows its wild instincts and not human reasoning, we can suggest that humans are essentially “maladaptive animals” and this may well be for the betterment of our lives since we live in a sophisticated society and not in the wild nature (la nature sauvage) like animals, where meeting basic needs is a constant struggle in a matter of life and death.

Yet, adapting to the Umwelt (surrounding world) in human psychology is not the ultimate path of perfection because it is not designed to meet all of the true desires of human beings [as Freud suggested, intrapsychic conflict is inescapable because of the demands of society] and hence does not guarantee the complete satisfaction and enhancement of the individual [being highly complex beings with huge brains and different personalities that seek different goals], especially when the Umwelt (surrounding world) itself which is assumed to be “reality” is not a simple objective thing [such as for animals in nature] but is itself a product of the Ego’s fictional misrepresentations and projections. Therefore to Lacan it is not a question of adapting the Ego to reality, but of showing the imaginary “Ego” that it is only too well adapted since it assists in the construction of that very reality and hence the task of the psychoanalyst is rather to subvert the patient’s illusory sense of adaptation since it blocks access to the unconscious, and hence gain access to it. In 1955 Lacan states that “the dimension discovered by analysis is the opposite of anything which progresses through adaptation” and hence refused to explain human phenomena and mental life in terms of adaptation. To Lacan, and many inspired by his views, it is more about “adjusting” than adapting, i.e. adjusting to be functional in our chosen path/field based on our individual characteristics and abilitiesLacan maintained that psychoanalytic intervention should not aim to adapt the Ego to reality, and this seems reasonable since “reality” is a social construct under constant change as we primates are evolving and adapting to the discoveries of our constantly changing civilisation, but also because the Ego is an imaginary formation as opposed to the Subject which is the true product of the symbolic. To Lacan, psychoanalysts should adopt the role of the “big Other” [Grand Autre / Super-Ego] in therapeutic interventions as a counterpart to the client’s “Subject”, thus making it possible for clients to peer beneath their own conscious (typically not completely true narratives), into their unconscious (and “true”) desire(s) [and perhaps guide or help the patient to realise their dreams within the realms of reality in civilised society].

Lacan’s suggestion seems to give the individual the creative freedom to create himself through language and discourse, exist and be unique within the reasonable limits of a mentally adequate and healthy person, while only adjusting his behaviour to be able to function and exist in his chosen individual world without losing his individuality. Since reality and culture are social constructs that are always changing through collaboration, the individual can both be shaped by them and also shape them [for e.g. human culture teaches a child how to use a fork and a knife to eat, but it can also be shaped by an individual if he invents/discovers something or adopts a philosophy that affects/inspires human cultures. In the past smoking was allowed everywhere and it was common culture to see people and even doctors smoking in public buildings, but since we found about the harmful effects of cigarette smoke, today culture has been reshaped and smoking is banned indoor in most public places. The invention of the mobile phone has also affected human culture and behaviour when before people used public phone boxes]; this concept of being shaped by and also shaping human cultures is known as mutual constitution and is reflected in the artefacts of all societies through the arts, literature and languages [as we explained in the Essay: The Concept of Self].

 

Challenging the established procedures of Psychoanalytic Practice

Lacan was also innovative and challenged the established procedures of Psychoanalytic practice [which promoted multiple sessions lasting an hour or more apiece, across several years] to advocate brief, impromptu [i.e. unscheduled] therapy that could be completed in a matter of minutes.

As early as 1950, Lacan had questioned the ritual of the 55-minute timed sessions imposed by the IPA as intended to preserve patients and students in training from the all-powerful transference of the masters; Lacan pulverized this rule. He invented the rule of the session of variable duration that leads the analyst to intervene in the cure by caesuras or by interpretations so that the analysand explores his unconscious fantasies more rapidly and wastes less time in uttering empty words.

« La psychanalyse est une pratique délirante, mais c’est ce qu’on a de mieux actuellement pour faire rendre patience à cette situation incommode d’être homme. C’est en tout cas ce que Freud a trouvé de mieux. Et il a maintenu que le psychanalyste ne doit jamais hésiter à délirer »

French for: “Psychoanalysis is a delirious practice, but it is the best we have at the moment to make this uncomfortable situation of being a man bear with patience. It is in any case the best Freud found. And he maintained that the psychoanalyst should never hesitate to be delirious”

Ornicar. (1977). Ouverture de la section clinique. Bulletin périodique du champ freudien. 9, 13.

The decision of Lacan to adapt sessions according to the Subject’s abilities and individuality seems logical and is based on Lacan’s concept of “the time for understanding“. Lacan’s approach to the questions of time remains one of his distinctive features. In Lacan’s paper “Logical Time” (1945), he distinguished between logical time and chronological time. Logical time has a tripartite structure, the 3 moments of which in every subject are:

(i) the moment of seeing [i.e. perceiving]
(ii) the time for understanding
(iii) the moment of concluding

Lacan explains that these 3 moments are not constructed in terms of objective chronometric units, but in terms of an intersubjective logic based on a tension between hesitation and urgency. Logical time is the intersubjective time that structures human action and varies from one individual to another based on their abilities. This seems logical since the main factors that influence successful therapy are the relationship between the therapist and the client, but also the aptitudes of the client [which varies from one individual to another depending on their intelligence, reflective abilities, understanding and will power].

Nous En France - Sarkozy - d'purb

Traduction(EN): « Us in France, we are different from others. To live, we have to drink, eat, but also to cultivate ourselves. » -Nicolas Sarkozy

Since Lacan’s theory is mainly based on French society – one with a history of challenging the limits of the individual in the name of excellence – it seems fair to acknowledge his opinions [in a sense that not all patients require multiple sessions depending on their individual characteristics, response to the relationship with the psychoanalyst, understanding of their own mental condition and desires and reflective abilities] as rational, economical, time-saving and flexible in accommodating individual differences.

In 1971, Maria Belo, a Portuguese psychoanalyst, had decided to do an analysis with Lacan after her sister’s suicide, which turned her life upside down. She would say:

“La qualité de sa présence faisait que ça déclenchait un travail, chaque séance déclenchait un énorme travail analytique en moi et quand j’arrivais chez moi, j’écrivais des lettres de plusieurs pages que chaque fois j’allais mettre dans sa boîte à lettres (…) Je pense aussi que ce que Lacan faisait avec les séances très courtes était très lié à ce qu’il était. Si on pense à cette époque, la grande époque de l’école Freudienne où il était mythifié par beaucoup de gens que, il avait vraiment besoin, par rapport au transfert, de secouer les gens et de faire des trucs que personnes d’autres n’a eu raison de faire après.”

French for: “The quality of his presence meant that it triggered work, each session triggered an enormous analytical work in me and when I arrived home, I wrote letters of several pages that each time I would go to put in his mailbox (…) I also think that what Lacan did with the very short sessions was very much linked to what he was. If we think back to that time, that great era of l’École Freudienne where he was mythified by many people that, in relation to transference, he really needed to shake people up and do things that no one else did afterwards.”

« Le transfert c’est l’amour. On se demande simplement : pourquoi est-ce qu’on aime un être pareil ? Pour l’instant je laisse la question en suspens…”

French for: “Transference is love. We simply ask ourselves: why do we love such a being? For the moment I leave that question open…”

-Jacques Lacan

However, partly as a reaction to Jacques Lacan’s criticism of Ego Psychoogy [as practiced in the United States], and partly as his advocacy of brief, impromptu therapy, the US-oriented International Psychoanalytic Association, majorly Anglophone and not very open to the virtuosity of Lacanian speculation, barred Lacan from training future psychoanalysts. For the IPA, brief therapy is unacceptable, they wanted to consider accepting Lacan’s teaching as long as he remained in the IPA as a philosopher and/or a theorist but definitely not as a trainer of students.

LesFrancaisNapproventPasLaPolitiquedesUSA

A majority of 80% of French citizens are wary of the US and do not approve its politics / Source: Le Figaro

Lacan found himself in a situation that had never been that of Freud: he found himself in a situation where he would become the director of his school, that is to say that by later founding l’École Freudienne de Paris in 1964 he would exercise functions that Freud never exercised. Lacan was at the same time the master of thought, the analyst, the political leader of his school, and was responsible for all the functions, whereas Freud had delegated political power to his disciples.

« Je fonde – aussi seul que je l’ai toujours été dans ma relation à la cause psychanalytique – l’École Française de Psychanalyse (…) dont rien dans le présent ne m’interdit de répondre personnellement la direction…»

French for: “I am founding – as alone as I have always been in my relationship to the psychoanalytic cause – the École Française de la Psychanalyse (…) whose direction I am personally responsible for as nothing in the present prevents me to do so….”

– Jacques Lacan

Hence, criticized by the IPA, proponents of a rigid legislation, Lacan left the Société Psychanalytique de Paris which was frequented by Marie Bonaparte who thought she was the only heiress of Freud whose memory she piously celebrated with the support of the IPA.

Lacan then participated in 1953 with Daniel Lagache, François Perrier, Serge Leclerc and Wladimir Granoff in the creation of the Société Française de Psychanalyse ; his friend Françoise Dolto, founder of a new psychoanalytical approach to childhood, gave him her support. La Société Française de Psychanalyse would become a sophisticated cultural melting pot for all the youth of that generation and Lacan would train them by being, in the words of Elisabeth Roudinesco, “l’analyste, le contrôleur, le maître, l’initiateur, l’éveilleur” [French for: “the analyst, the controller, the master, the initiator and the awakener”] through his seminars which took place at the Sainte Anne Hospital followed by the presentation of the mentally sick. Lacan became the great renovator and the great re-inventor of psychoanalysis in France. That generation felt like the pioneers of something new around Lacan, but they would have also liked to remain in the IPA, in its Freudian legitimacy, of which they were no longer a part of since their masters had resigned. The characteristic of Lacan was that he contested the whole practice of the IPA that was trying to be Freud. Lacan is the only one to suggest a return to the origins of Freudian theory, i.e. not post-Freudism. Thus at that point, Lacan posed himself as the re-founder, and an intellectual who was transgressive since Lacan would not respect any irrational IPA rule, which of course humiliated the IPA who could not digest Lacan and his perspectives, and perhaps also unable to grasp the sophisticated subtleties of Lacan’s theory which had its origins in the French heritage. Unique in its kind, the École Freudienne de Paris would allow Lacan to place the desire to be an analyst at the heart of the training of didacticians. Jean-Bertrand Pontalis declared: “Comme si lui-même (Lacan), dans ces années-là était en train d’inventer et de s’inventer. Nous participions en accord avec lui en résonance avec lui à un mouvement inventif.” [French for: “As if he himself (Lacan), in those years was inventing and inventing himself. In agreement with him, we were participating in an inventive movement in resonance with him.]

Furthermore, despite [or perhaps because of?] the IPA’s decision to bar Lacan from training future psychoanalysts, the proportion of Psychoanalysts adopting a Lacanian perspective has only grown since Lacan’s death in 1981with half or more of the world’s psychoanalysts adopting Lacanian concepts. Jardim, Costa Pereira and de Souza Palma (2011) applied Lacanian Theory to understanding the personality disorder of Schizophrenia [formerly known as “madness”], interpreting a case study [along with fictional examples from literary works] in terms of failure to achieve an integrated Ego from infancy onwards. McSherry (2013) argued that Lacan’s Theory of Psychoanalysis could benefit mental health nursing practice since various forms of personality disorders [including but not limited to Schizophrenia] can be understood readily in terms of Lacan’s theory.

Lacan described woman as a “symptom of man” that enters the psychic economy of men as the cause of their desire. This has led to debates among feminists: some saw his theories as a way of challenging fixed concepts of sexual identity while others believe that the concept of symbolic order reinstates the inequality of the sexes, and the privileging of the phallus simply repeats alleged misogynies of Freud.

The British psychoanalyst Juliet Mitchell who was one of the first to introduce Lacan’s system of thought to the Anglophone crowd thought that his work was misinterpreted and misused for a political purpose for the left and for feminism; Mitchell suggested that a possible reason for this could have been due to the “stupidity” of the English crowd, unable to grasp the subtleties of Lacan. Malone (2012) noted that Lacan was ambivalent towards the growing tendency for empirical clinical psychologists to align their discipline with the hard sciences [e.g. Biology, Medecine, Physics, Chemistry, Astrophysics, Material Science, etc] and not with the humanities [e.g. Literature, Poetry, Music, Art (Sculpture, Painting and others), Drama (Theatre), etc], and viewed psychoanalysis as ideally informed by both the humanities and by the sciences.

Documentaire: Jacques Lacan, La Psychanalyse Réinventée (2001)

Lacan has been hailed as the “French Freud” who has established a tradition of French psychoanalysis that rivals American and British psychoanalysis in terms of international influence. Although Lacan’s theory has been cast as a uniquely French theory [culturally and linguistically speaking], it has nonetheless struck a chord with many [and, perhaps, most] of the world’s most influential modern day psychoanalysts, shattering perceptions across languages and cultures worldwide. Perhaps unsurprisingly, a decade later, much psychoanalytic research in the US itself will seem to confirm Lacan’s perspectives as discussed above.

After the publication of his writings in 1966, Lacan became a recognized thinker, admired by his students and hated by his opponents. At L’École Normale, the salle Dussane, a large crowd flocked to listen to him.

« Quand je comprenais je trouvais ça génial… »

French for: “When I figured it out, I thought it was great…”

-Françoise Dolto

The writer Philippe Sollers lyrically describes the harmonies and dissonances of the main stage of Jacques Lacan’s seminar:

Philippe Sollers sur Lacan - danny d'purb dpurb site web.jpg

Lacan monte à la tribune comme une gravure de Dürer (Albrecht), drôle de Saint, drôle de moine chevalier prêcheur d’un autre âge. Lacan c’est de la lenteur ponctuée, du soupir, de la passion tortueuse, de l’envolée, de l’anecdote, de largo, de la moquerie, de l’insulte, du tonnerre intermittent, du pinaillage à n’en plus finir, de l’ennuis massif, du mot d’esprit, du sublime. Il y a Lacan mystique, Lacan chancelier, Lacan l’ancêtre, Lacan Don Juan, Lacan Satan, Lacan charlatan, Lacan malicieux, Lacan généreux, Lacan vaniteux, Lacan persifleur, ronchonneur, hurleur, murmureur, souffleur, séducteur ; il y a Lacan cigare et Lacan mouchoir, Lacan accablé, Lacan vraie, l’étonnant et que ça donne comme la nervure exacte d’un gai savoir.” -Philippe Sollers

French for: “Lacan rises to the platform like an engraving by Dürer (Albrecht), a strange Saint, a strange knightly monk preacher from another age. Lacan is punctuated slowness, sighing, tortuous passion, flight, anecdote, largo, mockery, insult, intermittent thunder, endless nitpicking, massive trouble, witty words, the sublime. There is mystical Lacan, Chancellor Lacan, Lacan the ancestor, Lacan Don Juan, Lacan Satan, Lacan charlatan, malicious Lacan, generous Lacan, vain Lacan, Lacan persifleur, grumbler, howler, whisperer, blower, seducer; there is Lacan cigar and Lacan handkerchief, overwhelmed Lacan, true Lacan, the astonishing and that which gives like the exact vein of a cheerful knowledge.” -Philippe Sollers

Jacques Derrida would say:

« Je n’imagine pas que quelqu’un qui était engagé comme il l’a été avec une telle passion de la vérité là où le sens même du mot vérité était si difficile à faire entendre, je n’imagine pas qu’une telle personne ait pu vivre autrement que tragiquement (…) ce qui m’a aidé à résister à toute réponse agressive à Lacan, je pensais que cet homme avait une responsabilité tragique à assumer et quel que soit sa parade, son paraître, son apparat, etc… les scènes qu’il faisait, il devait y avoir de la blessure secrète là et je l’ai ressenti et je l’ai respecté. »

French for: “I cannot imagine that someone who was engaged as he was with such a passion for the truth where the very meaning of the word truth was so difficult to convey, I cannot imagine that such a person could have lived any other way but tragically (…) which helped me to resist any aggressive response to Lacan, I thought that this man had a tragic responsibility to assume and whatever his parade, his appearance, his pomp, etc., the scenes he made, there must have been some secret wound there and I felt it and I respected it.”

Jacques Lacan dpurb site web.jpg

Jacques Lacan (1901 – 1981)

Jacques Lacan addressing the audience of the Grande Rotonde of the University of Louvain, the 13th of October 1972:

« La mort est du domaine de la foi, vous avez bien raison de croire que vous allez mourir bien sûr ; ça vous soutient ; si vous n’y croyez pas, est-ce que vous pourriez supporter la vie que vous avez ? Si on n’était pas solidement appuyés sur cette certitude que ça finira ? Est-ce que vous pourriez supporter cette histoire ? »

French for: “Death is a matter of faith, you have good reason to believe that you are going to die of course; it sustains you; if you don’t believe in it, could you bear the life that you have? If you weren’t firmly supported by the certainty that it will end? Would you be able to bear it?”

 

Conclusion: Legacy, Impact & Evolution of Psychoanalysis

Psychoanalysis is a unique movement in psychology that grew out of the same German model of mental activity that produced act psychology and the Gestalt movement. However, psychoanalysis received its immediate expression through the needs of the mentally ill. Psychoanalysis was born as a clinical discipline, not an academic development based on empirical methodology to fit a particular field’s reductionist requirements for acknowledgement. For this reason, psychoanalysis, especially as proposed by writers after Freud, gives the impression of an ad hoc movement that develops as particular problems arise – it could be seen as adaptive and constantly evolving. Psychoanalysis did not adhere to the commitment to the reductionist empirical methodology expressed in those mechanical systems of behavioral studies generated by academic research. Psychoanalysis set out not to simply study basic observable behaviour [e.g. in animals studies], but to study the psychic apparatus that constitutes the human mind which obviously guides and impacts behaviour. Hence, there was and still is little interaction between psychoanalysis and those systems grounded on empiricism and reductionist methodologies that are stubborn in trying to capture an entity as the mind when most of the constructs cannot be seen or touched, or accurately measured. Stated quite simply, psychoanalysis and the other schools of psychological models do not speak the same language.

Although different and hardly understood by common mainstream empirical and academic psychology, psychoanalysis did assume a dominant role in psychiatry. This is completely understandable in light of the origins of psychoanalysis as a response to clinical problems as they manifested themselves. Indeed, psychoanalytic writings enjoyed an almost exclusive position in psychiatry and clinical psychology until the 1960s, when behaviour modification and mechanical and reductionist Pavlovian derivatives based on Behaviourism [such as Cognitive Psychology] began to compete as an alternate model of therapy for behavioural adjustment [Read: the Essay on the Origins of the Cognitive Behavioural Model: Biological Constraints in Learning, which also suggests an unconscious drift in other animals].

Pavlov Dog Labs

Psychoanalysis continues to exert a marked influence on art, literature, and philosophy. This influence reflects major contributions of Freud: his comprehensive analysis of the unconscious. On the same line, literary and artistic expressions are interpreted in light of the unconscious activities of the artist as well as the unconscious impressions of the perceiver. Psychologists today may choose unconscious motivations or simply to refer to subliminal or subthreshold activities. However, any truly comprehensive theory of psychological activity can no longer be limited to conscious aspects of behaviour. Although some psychologists may disagree with some Freudian concepts and interpretations, Freud did identity some dynamic processes that influence the activity of the individual: processes that psychology cannot ignore anymore.

As mentioned earlier, psychoanalysis has a unique position in the history of psychology. Freud did not develop a theory that generated testable hypotheses or other empirical implications. Yet, on another level, Freud accomplished what few other theorists have: He revolutionised attitudes and created a new set for thinking about personality. The findings of other more empiricist theories of personality disturbance have often confirmed many of Freud’s observations. If his views do not meet the criteria of empiricistic study, they nevertheless mark a man of genius and insight, whose influence pervades people’s thinking about themselves in ways that few others have achieved.

The psychoanalytic theory is an enormously complex and ambitious one, and it aims to make sense of a much broader array of psychological and social phenomena than other theories, and does so with a collection of explanatory concepts. Hence, the sheer range and scope of psychoanalytic theory, and its aspiration to be a total account of mental life, should be recognised and applauded. In comparison, all other schools of psychology to study personality look decidedly timid and limited in focus. Even if other approaches tend to have more empirical foundations and hence more credential in academic psychology, they tend to leave out much of what we might want to include in a comprehensive theory of human behaviour. To many intellectuals and lay people alike, any account of personality that does not acknowledge that humans are like psychoanalytic theory portrays us, i.e., driven by deeply rooted motives, inhabiting bodies that bring us pleasure and shame, shaped by our early development, troubled by personal conflicts, and often a mystery to ourselves – is fundamentally limited.

While the empirical limitations are a fact, some of these problems are due in part to the intrinsic difficulty of what psychoanalytic theory tries to explain. Others could be partially overcome if researchers made a more concerted effort to determine which psychodynamic ideas stand up to closer, “scientific enquiry”. However, psychoanalysis cannot be judged only by empirical perspectives, and it would be a mistake to abandon it impatiently, given how much a suitably revised and empirically updated theory of psychodynamics in the future might deepen the studies of personality.

Even for all its failings to the empirical scientist, on some aspects, psychoanalysis is at least partly responsible for several important and scientifically respectable ideas that has always had a kernel of truth and was later developed by other researchers. While Freud’s idea of the dynamic unconscious remains controversial, it can no longer be disputed today that unconscious cognition is now a fact and an uncontroversial idea in cognitive and social psychology, where huge volumes of research now explore non-conscious or “implicit” attitudes. We now know from neuroscientific research that the brain has networks for both explicit and implicit [unconscious] learning as Yang and Li (2012) found after examining the neural correlates for these 2 types of learning on artificial grammar sequences. We have brain networks of different connectivity that underlie explicit and implicit learning. While both processes involve activation in a set of cortical and subcortical structures, the study found that explicit learning engages a network that uses the insula as a key mediator whereas implicit learning evokes a direct frontal-striatal network. Individual differences in working memory also differentially impact the two types of sequence learning.

*****

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Essay // A Philosophical Critique of Schopenhauer’s “World as Will and Idea” & a Modern Lucretian View of “l’Art de Vivre”

Mis à jour le Samedi, 5 Février 2022

Schopenhauer Lucrèce Lucretius D'Purb dpurb 2022

About the life of Arthur Schopenhauer

Arthur Schopenhauer was born on February 22nd of 1788 in Danzig, Germany, he was the son of Henri Floris Schopenhauer aged 38 and Johanna Henriette Trosiener who was then 19 years old. His father was a wealthy merchant and banker who had already planned for his son to become a business man before his birth, and hoped Arthur would follow in his steps. Henri Schopenhauer was also an independent minded man who moved his family from the city of Danzig when it was taken over by Prussia in 1793. The new family home was in Hamburg. Arthur Schopenhauer left to visit England and other countries, on the understanding that when he completed his tour, he would begin work in a business. The latter, then 16 years old, kept his promise but being much more intellectually oriented, he did not have a mercantile mind and had no interest for business and so when his father died, he got consent from his mother to continue his studies.

In 1809, he entered the University of Göttingen to study medicine, but he changed to philosophy in his second year, as he put it “life is a problem and he decided to spend his life contemplating it”. He also studied at Weimar where he lived with his mother until he became estranged from her. Schopenhauer had a moody, irritable temperament and could be violent in his passion.

At the university, Schopenhauer developed an affection for Plato and visited Berlin to hear the lectures of contemporary philosophers Johann Gottlieb Fichte (1762 – 1814) and Friedrich Schleiermacher (1768 – 1834). Fichte was the first transcendentalist idealist and Schleiermacher was a founder of modern Protestant theology. Schopenhauer found Fichte’s comment, “No one could be a true philosopher without being religious” absurd and retorted that no man who was religious turns to philosophy since they have no need for it [a questionable statement when religion (e.g. Christianity) does not cover all the aspects of the experience of life in detail, or study God’s works methodically through the lens of science and rationality, to understand the further implications in the betterment of the human world].

Rodin - Hands (Musee Rodin, Paris)

Image: “Les Mains” par Auguste Rodin

Schopenhauer left Berlin when Prussia rebelled against Napoleon. He never developed strong German patriotic values and sentiments [perhaps never given or found a reason to do so], and always regarded himself more as a cosmopolitan without any strong national affiliation. In that sense we can deduce that Schopenhauer’s vision resonates with the French intellectual heritage because it tends towards universalism; like Montaigne, Descartes and Voltaire, he genuinely had a universal vision of humanity and did not restrict himself to the particular collective frame of mind of a group of organisms conditioned within the limits of a geographical region, which is also similar to the vision of Socrates who said: “I am not an Athenian or a Greek, but a citizen of the world“.

Traduction (EN: “I am not an Athenian or a Greek, but a citizen of the world.” – Socrates

The thinker went into retirement to write his first dissertation called “On the fourfold route of the principle of sufficient reason”, which was published in 1813 and earned him a doctorate at Vienna. The poet Goethe congratulated Schopenhauer, and in return he wrote an essay called “On Vision and Colours” which supported Goethe in his stand against Isaac Newton. But the dissertation, although it won the admiration of Goethe, went practically unnoticed. The author however always considered it the groundwork and essential introduction to his philosophy. Shortly after he published his dissertation, Schopenhauer met an Oriental scholar, Friedrich Majer (1771 – 1818), who introduced him to Indian philosophy and literature. He maintained an interest in Indian philosophy throughout his life, and as an old man, he meditated on the Upanishad, part of the Vedas [the sacred script of the Hindus]. He would later associate his theory of the world of ideas with the Indian doctrine of Maya [to the Indians, Maya is illusion or the world as an illusion]. To Schopenhauer, this meant that the individual subject and object he wrote were “Maya”, all at the end.

For 4 years between 1814 and 1818, Schopenhauer lived in Dresden, which is where he wrote his masterpiece “The World as Will and Idea”. He sent the manuscript to his publishers and left for an art tour of Italy. The book was published the following year in 1819, and although it received attention from some philosophers, it sold very few copies. This was a disappointment to the author who felt sure it contained the secret of the universe.

This failure did not kill his eagerness however, so he returned to Berlin and started lecturing. By now he was 32 years old. He deliberately scheduled his lectures for the hour at which the philosopher Hegel was also accustomed to lecture – planning to compete with the master. But his lecturing career was a failure and Schopenhauer gave it up after only one semester. His ideas seemed at odds with the dominant spirit of the time.

Dolly_the_Sheep

Schopenhauer roamed around a bit and then settled in Frankfurt in 1833, he read European literature and scientific books and journals looking for illustrations or confirmations of his theories. He frequented the theatre and also continued writing, publishing on the Will of nature and winning a Norwegian prize for an essay on freedom. He failed to win a similar prize from the Royal Danish Academy of the Sciences for a separate essay on ethics; they disapproved of his disparaging remarks about other philosophers. These two essays were later published together in 1841, under the title “The two fundamental problems of Ethics”. In 1844, Schopenhauer published a second edition of “The world as Will and Idea”, which contained 50 new chapters. In the Preface, he took the opportunity to make a strong statement of his views about university professors of philosophy, which were of course not admiring.

In 1848 there was an unsuccessful revolution in Germany. A revolution from which Schopenhauer had no sympathy whatsoever. But after the failure of this revolt, people were more willing to consider a philosophy which emphasised the evil in the world which preached the rejection of life for the route of contemplation. Schopenhauer’s popularity was on the rise.

In 1851, he published a collection of essays that dealt with a wide variety of topics, and finally in 1859, he published third edition of the “World as Will and Idea” with more supplements. In the last decade of his life, the author finally became a famous man, all kinds of visitors with all kinds of philosophies came to see him and to enjoy his brilliant conversations. Lectures were given on his system at the University, the very university he has attacked, a sure indication that he had finally achieved success. Schopenhauer has spent a long, lonely life of reflection and only after his works were ignored for many years that he attained fame and reputation. He died in September 1860, at the age of 72.

Schopenhauer by Mitch Francis

Image: Arthur Schopenhauer (1788 – 1860) by Mitch Francis

Schopenhauer, was a realistic philosopher, focused on the raw nature of life: the mental evils and cruelty that lies within man, which he considered inevitable sides of human nature that psychologists view as mental disorders with a negative effect on both the character of the ill mind and the human environment at large exposed to that vile animalistic side of human nature. Schopenhauer’s negative view of man’s behaviour and role in life was a sharp contrast to the other more euphoric and at times unrealistic philosophers who marked the spirits of the generation before him, focussing on a an idealistic and exaggerated side of man’s mind and character.

Although Schopenhauer’s work originally gained little attention at the time it was published [perhaps for being too avant-garde for the atavistic institutions of his time when neither the theory of evolution was known nor evolutionary psychology], he expressed an interpretation of the world that was dragging, and embodied an opposition to the major intellectual figures who had imposed their thought before him: great names in philosophy such as Victor Schelling and Hegel. Schopenhauer opposed their thoughts on important points but did not deny expressions of art such as the romantic movement in its various forms. Schopenhauer who never refrained from publicly criticising people and ideas he disliked was very vocal in his complete contempt for these men, and regarded himself as their great opponent in the ring of the leaders delivering the “Real truth” to mankind and civilisation. Schopenhauer’s work in many ways could be viewed as an extension of another famous German philosopher, namely Immanuel Kant, who preceded him by one generation, delivering his major philosophical work, “a critique of pure reason”.

As a man, Schopenhauer was cultured, broadly educated, eloquent and articulate, witty and conversational, and a very talented writer, but he was also opinionated, egotistical, and often quarrelsome. His remarks about other philosophers were assaulted and his remarks about women in general were so scathing that they had to be deleted from his book by his editor. He was obsessed with the suffering of humanity, but did nothing to alleviate it. He himself made the comment that it is no more necessary for a philosopher to be a saint than it is for a saint to be a philosopher, and he never tried to prove otherwise. But, in the final analysis he was exactly the man he needed to be to write what he wrote.

Arthur Schophenhauer’s pessimistic and grim interpretation of life are not very likely to have come from a man of infallible tolerance or patience, and that interpretation of life played a significant role in the development of human thought and philosophy by keeping the debate open and providing inspiration to viewpoints that forced humanity to re-examine itself yet again.

The “Will to Live”: Schopenhauer’s concept, Human Love, Science & Evolutionary Psychology

The concepts of Arthur Schopenhauer’s major work, “The World as Will and Idea” constitutes the foundations for the future works of major thinkers in both psychology and philosophy. As a modern thinker, it is fundamental to get a good understanding of the core concept that structure the work of Schopenhauer, more precisely his philosophical concept of the “Will To Live“, which is echoed in evolutionary biology [i.e. in Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution, which is widely accepted by the scientific community worldwide]. Schopenhauer was incredibly avant-garde because at the time he composed his philosophical treaty of the “World as Will and Idea”, Darwin had not yet formulated the theory of evolution, which would only be published in 1859 – just one year before the death of Arthur Schopenhauer.

The importance of grasping the concept of Schopenhauer’s “Will To Live” cannot be escaped as that “Will” is also synchronised with our philosophical orientation in regards to desire and motivation for the “Organismic Theory of Psychological Construction“, since it resonates with the fundamental belief of the mind as an active, dynamic and self-generating entity, and this is in the German intellectual tradition of mental life [it was also a founding assumption for Jean Piaget as he developed his Theory of Cognitive Development in Children]. Freud also saw psychoanalysis as a revolution of the mind that had to disturb the consciousness of the world, and viewed the unconscious as a reservoir of impulsive force repressed in the biological depths of the soul – a notion that also relates to Schopenhauer’s “Will To Live”.

When Darwin published his theory of evolution, he was opposed to all the reigning ideas of the times, and faced a lot of criticism from religious scholars as he demonstrated that life appeared on Earth by complete chance and in an absurd manner. Life then developped and became more complex and sophisticated through the process known as natural selection. Darwin radicalised his vision of the world since he would go on to even discard any “Will” and his theory of evolution explains life based on the simplistic mechanic of “natural selection”; for example, natural selection allowed human beings to have organs such as eyes simply because such an organ gave man the ability to escape predators – there is absolutely no “Will” behind this procedure and no finalised plan.

What is genuinely interesting about the philosophical theory of the “Will To Live” in Schopenhauer’s work is that it would eventually come to resonate with the much later works of Charles Darwin. The scientific translation of the “Will to Live” in Schopenhauer’s work is what Darwin called the “struggle for life”. Hence, this connection between Schopenhauer’s thought and Darwin’s theory allows us to understand that for both of them, everything that human beings have inside their bodies is at the service of this “Will to Live” [i.e. survival instinct]. Hence, to acknowledge Schopenhauer’s sharp insight as a truly avant-garde thinker, we have to note that he set the foundations for the field nowadays known as “Evolutionary Psychology at a time when it was inexistent.

What are the principles of evolutionary psychology? Simply to fully extrapolate and firmly apply the logic of the theory of evolution to work out its consequences. The theory of evolution explains that all the organs present in the human body are the simple consequence of the evolutionary process of “natural selection” because those organs allowed the species to survive, i.e. we have eyes, a nose, ears and a mouth because those organs allowed homo sapiens (i.e. humans) to survive. So, evolutionary psychology goes even further to apply that survival and evolutionary logic to develop the school of thought on the foundational argument that, since the brain is also an organ that allowed us to survive, so what mankind has in the mind (i.e. our psychology itself) is also the direct result of the evolutionary process of natural selection. Thus, evolutionary psychology claims that the homo sapien mind (i.e. human psychology) is structured in such a way because it favoured the survival of homo sapiens.

The “Will to Live” what we could also call the “instinct for survival” is a profound force deeply embedded in the biological depths of all homo sapiens. That “Will to Live” impacts behaviour at both an individual level and at the level of the species (i.e. homo sapiens). The will to survive of the species is stronger than the will to survive of the individual – which means that the individual wants to survive but there is an unconscious will which is even stronger in the mind which aims not to ensure the individual’s survival, but to ensure the survival of homo sapiens. If we were to express this phenomena from the perspective of natural selection in Darwin’s theory of evolution, it would explain how nature, over the course of evolution, has selected and favoured individuals who were most apt in showing empathy towards their fellow human beings [e.g. towards their children] because such empathetic behaviour promoted the survival of the group [the species itself].

Schopenhauer pointed out that this “Will to Live” has no specific objective except that of preserving itself; which means that man reproduces life for life itself [i.e. one has children so that those children can have children and their children can also have more children, and so on – an infinite process without any precise objective or end result]. As such, no life has any sense, no life has any precise or known final objective; humans pass down the task of devising sense to the next generation and so on – the question of sense is completely inexistent.

Since, life has no clear final objective and no clear sense, Schopenhauer observed that life is absurd because it is mainly an experience of various kinds of suffering. Hence, his famous formula that life is like a pendulum that oscillates from right to left between suffering and boredom: what does this mean? It means that life is made of desire, and desire is always a lack [e.g. a poor person’s desire to have money results from the lack of money in order to be able to stay alive].

This idea of desire as lack will also be echoed in the works of Jacques Lacan as an explanation to human motivation. Hence, as Schopenhauer explains, lack is a form of frustration and suffering. When a human being desires, that person suffers, and when that desire is satisfied, peace and calmness are obtained and the person is in a state of serenity [for some time], but eventually that state of calmness does not last forever, and boredom soon engulfs the individual because nothing leads to moving forward in that state. It is desire that motivates man, it is desire that allows man to live and move forward, and so man oscillates between suffering [when one desires] and boredom [when a desire is accomplished].

If human psychology [i.e. the mind or psyche] is also direct result of evolution which includes the “Will to Live”, then what purpose do feelings and emotions serve? Much before Darwin and much before evolutionary psychology itself, Arthur Schopenhauer through his meditations asked and answered questions about the purpose of feelings and emotions in the human mind:

– In what way do feelings and emotions help us to survive?

– Is romantic love simply an elaborate illusion at the service of our survival instinct?

All human emotions and feelings are nothing more than illusions at the service of the will to live [or we could say the instinct for survival in evolutionary terms]. What Schopenhauer posits, is that when one understands [i.e. becomes aware] how one is being manipulated by emotions and feelings at the service of the “Will to Live”, it becomes possible to detach oneself from those emotions and feelings. But unfortunately, as Lev Fraenckel points out, detachment also leads the human mind to kneel to the demands of the cold and icy calculations of science in the quest to discard those feelings and emotions manipulating us; that could also compel us to become robotic, mechanical and purely utilitarian in our outlook and behaviour – which nature itself did not design human beings with such a mode of operation. Can we can find a balanced mode of existence to maintain our humanity in a life experienced with emotions while also embracing rationality and reason? This will be elaborated and discussed below in our constructive critique building on Schopenhauer’s foundation while also linking concepts from other disciplines and thinkers.

By the logic of the philosophy of Schopenhauer and evolutionary psychology, human emotions are fake (i.e. a seductive, elaborate and beautiful illusion), because they are simply nature’s manipulation to drive the individual to protect his fellow human beings so as to promote the survival of the species. It is exactly the same for romantic love because we have the impression of following and going after our own individual pleasure and romance when in fact it is also nature’s manipulation (i.e. a trick in the shape of a powerful spectacle of nature inherited through thousands of years of human evolution and natural selection) to push individuals to mate and reproduce – a powerful drive at the service of the will to live (or survival instinct). Lev Fraenckel, the French philosophy professor suggested that as a modern example, we could consider the reason why Jack in James Cameron’s film from 1997, Titanic, went as far as to die for Rose out of love; the reason behind his dramatic sacrifice lies in the fact that he was manipulated by his unconscious at the cost of his own life (i.e. the will to live or survival instinct as nature’s manipulation in the form of emotions that drive man to protect our fellow human beings).

Hence, from Schopenhauer’s perspective and even from the standpoint of evolutionary biology, sexual pleasure is simply a bait used by nature to promote reproduction among human beings [which makes a lot of sense in justifying the presence of sexual drives in human beings and animals alike since without them, a species would be devoid of the desire to procreate and become extinct]. That idea may shed some light on man’s love choices in a fairly interesting manner according to Schopenhauer, since it suggests that a male will fall in love with a female with whom he may hardly care about simply because it serves the interest of our species, i.e. the human race. The male will fall in love scientifically (and in many cases unconsciously, driven by his evolutionary instincts or manipulated by his will to live) with the signs of female fertility, i.e. hips wide enough to procreate and breasts adequate enough to breastfeed.

Image: Des mères allaitant leur bébés / Mothers breasfeeding their babies

In an episode of the French show, Arrêt Sur Image, Sébastien Bohler, the chief editor for the magazine Cerveau & Psycho and doctor in neurology explained how “in general”, men tend to be attracted to females with particularly shaped hips, scientifically caracterised by the waist to hip ratio. It is a value obtained by dividing the waist circumference by the hip circumference, and the ideal waist-to-hip ratio is 0.7 in all cultures apparently (Singh and Singh, 2011). As for females, according to evolutionary logic and Schopenhauer’s perspective, their primary biological instincts tend to make them fall in love with males who bear the apparent signs of virility and who manifest a fairly high level of testosterone in order to ensure the protection and security of the offspring. As such, females are also manipulated by their “Will to Live” towards a particular form of masculinity, which generates the female reproductive instinct.

This allows Schopenhauer to give a strong biological reason to the observation that the rate of infidelity is always higher among men than among women even if it is tending more and more towards equality, but still not the case.

Graphique montrant la démographie de l’infidélité en Amérique / Source: Institute for Family Studies

Logically, going by the physiological limitations of the female body, once a female falls pregnant, it becomes impossible for her to continue reproducing for 9 months; she can only produce an offspring once at a time. As such, it is in her best interest to remain with the same partner. On the other hand, in the male’s case, the dynamic is different, because his physiology does not halt or impose any limitation on his inherited reproductive instinct derived from thousands of years of evolution as a mammal, which allows him the choice to continue reproducing with more female partners. As such, Schopenhauer extracts meaning from this evolutionary logic at every level, and in his line of thought it becomes clear that males are also being manipulated by their survival instinct [i.e. their deeply rooted instinct of sexual selection], which renders them highly reactive and receptive to female signs of fertility, which Schopenhauer points out as the main cause for males’ attraction to young females. The simple and fundamental scientific reason behind such attraction being that the apparent desirable signs of female fertility [i.e. perfect waist-to-hip ratio and adequate breasts for feeding and raising offsprings] are mostly found in young females; although in the modern world, with widespread education about nutrition science, eating patterns, intermittent fasting and fitness, in some societies, for e.g. France, older females are preserving their signs of fertility longer. Fertility after the age of 40 has been rising steadily since 1980 in France.

Graphique: Taux de fécondité par âge à 40 ans ou plus de 1920 à 2020 / Source: INSEE

Le graphique présente les taux d’obésité (IMC>30kg.m-2). La moyenne des pays de l’OCDE est de 19,5% d’obèses. Les Etats-Unis, le Mexique, la Nouvelle Zélande et la Hongrie sont les pays les plus touchés avec respectivement 38,2, 32, 4, 30,7 et 30% d’obèses. Le Japon, la Corée, l’Italie et la Suisse sont les pays les moins touchés avec 3,7, 5,3, 9,8 et 10,3% d’obèses. La France est à 15,3% de taux d’obésité (donnée OCDE basée sur du déclaratif légèrement inférieure aux résultats d’ESTEBAN, basé sur des mesures) / Source: Centre de recherche et d’information nutritionnelles (Cerin)

This inherited “Will to Live” or survival instinct in homo sapiens is also one of the reasons why human beings have an instinctive attraction to beauty, since beauty has a biological basis. Human beings are attracted to the averageness and symmetry of faces, and by the harmony of the body because those signs are linked to good health and internal condition. A study carried out in 1994 by biologist Randy Thornhill supported the hypothesis that human beings prefer averageness and symmetry in faces (Grammer and Thornhill, 1994). Thornhill explained that this attraction and the selective criteria biased towards physical beauty has been observed and is also common among animal species; it is now known that symmetry is linked to better performances in terms of reproduction, survival and resistance to disease – we can now conclude that there is a similar pattern among homo sapiens, i.e. human beings.

As opposed to many common opinions, scientifically we find that beauty is not subjective at all because those criteria for sexual selection are similar across all human cultures., i.e. waist-to-hip ratio, averageness and symmetry of faces, and the harmony of the body.

Hence, Schopenhauer’s argument leads to the position that “love”, on the surface as experienced from the individual perspective of human beings, may seem like a romantic ideal, but this illusion is simply the elaborate spectacle used by the “Will to Live” to manipulate our species towards its survival by favouring mating – in order to replicate the lifeform that contains the will. This comes to echo Spinoza’s thought when he said: “Men are mistaken in thinking themselves free; their opinion is made up of consciousness of their own actions, and ignorance of the causes by which they are determined.”

« Les hommes se trompent quand ils se croient libres ; cette opinion consiste en cela seul qu’ils sont conscients de leurs actions et ignorants des causes par lesquelles ils sont déterminés. » – Spinoza / Traduction (EN): “Men are mistaken in thinking themselves free; their opinion is made up of consciousness of their own actions, and ignorance of the causes by which they are determined” – Spinoza

It is very important to not apply those criteria for sexual selection blindly [as we would for animals], to every single individual because human beings with good reflective self-function [i.e. the ability to reflect on conscious and unconscious psychological states, and conflicting beliefs and desires] have the ability to rise above their basic biological instincts and change their internal working models, and consequently their behaviour. However, it would also not be perceptive or realistic to completely ignore the presence of this powerful biological force in homo sapiens, because no matter how much human beings manage to detach themselves from it (i.e. the biologial will to live, or survival instinct), it is embedded through thousands of years of evolution in the biological depths of the human mind and operates most of the time at an unconscious level.

Sigmund Freud’s founding psychoanalytic concept states that intra-psychic conflict within the human mind is inescapable, which is a fundamental concept in psychoanalysis also taken over by the flamboyant French psychoanalyst Jacques Lacan, who also argued that desire is inextinguishable. Psychoanalysis is also founded on the fundamental concept that human beings are driven by forces beyond their own understanding and are a mystery to themselves, with a reservoir of instinctual “psychic energy” grounded in basic biological processes; the sexual form of this energy is referred to as “libido“. The case of Sigmund Freud’s patient Elisabeth von R. illustrated this well: torn on the one hand between her high morality, which dictated that she preserves the balance of her family, and on the other hand her deep erotic desire for her brother-in-law, of which she had been completely unaware of (unconscious). That unconscious conflict provoked a strong feeling of guilt in her such that she started suffering from violent physical symptoms.

Hence, the concept of the deeply embedded “Will to Live” which is accepted as the “Survival Instinct” of homo sapiens in evolutionary psychology, is also echoed in psychoanalysis. The major motivational constructs of Freud’s theory of personality was derived from instincts, defined as biological forces that release mental energy. Psychoanalysis implies that conflict within the mind’s opposing forces is inevitable:

  • i.e. the wild Unconscious (known as the Id or the “Ça” in French, where the “Will to Live” or survival instinct is located) will get into conflict with the Super-Ego (the preconscious or the “Surmoi” in French, which acts as the person’s conscience and the internalization of society’s rules); and the Ego (which is the conscious part of the mind but also with a partially unconscious side) will have to mediate between those two. The Ego now becomes the servant of three masters: the Id, the Super-Ego and the External Environment [Societal Rules]. It is now not enough to reconcile what is desired with what is possible under the circumstances because now the Ego also needs to take into consideration what is socially prohibited and impermissible. Instinctual drives must still be satisfied; which is a constant, however the Ego now attempts to satisfy them in a way that is flexibly “realistic” – that is, in the person’s best interests under current conditions – but also “socially” permitted. In the case of the majority of people, these prohibitions of various kinds are often very unreasonable and inflexible, rejecting any expression of the drive with an unconditional “NO”, either because the moral structures of a particular “culture” are intrinsically rigid, atavistic or unsophisticated, or because the individual’s internalisation of these structures is simply black-and-white, without any grey area to compromise for an adequate and acceptable form of expression of the drive. Thus, the Super-Ego imposes a pattern of conduct that results in some degree of self-control through an internalised system of rewards and punishments.

Intrapsychic conflict within the human mind is inevitable because the demands of society – or “civilization” – are generally opposed to the natural instincts and drives of homo sapiens. Indeed, intrapsychic conflict is one of the fundamental and defining concepts of psychoanalysis, and conflict within the mind is at the root of personality structure, mental disorder, and most psychological phenomena [e.g. artistic expressions of various forms]. The goal of personality is to reduce the energy drive through some activity acceptable to the constraints of the Super-Ego, which represents the conscience of the individual in line with what is acceptable or what can reasonably be made acceptable to society [This has been explained in detail in the Essay, Psychoanalysis: History, Foundations, Legacy, Impact & Evolution]

A explanatory review of the philosophical concept in “The World as Will and Idea”

Arthur Schopenhauer worked out a system in which reality is known inwardly by a kind of feeling where intellect is only an instrument of the “will to live”: the biological will to live and where process rather than result is ultimate.

Schopenhauer’s pessimism lies in his very strong rejection of life. In fact, this rejection is so strong that he even had to address the question of suicide as a solution to life although he never recommended it. He fortunately rejected this “suicidal solution” to life, which reflected influences rooted in Asian philosophy, particularly Buddhism and Hinduism. That is one of the most significant aspects of his work, being the first thinker produced by Western European intellectual heritage to assimilate Asian spiritual thought and leave a lasting impact on the Western mind. His preoccupation with the evil of the world and the tragedy of life is also reflected in ancient Hindu philosophies, and his writings stimulated an interest in Asian thought and religion in Germany, which can also be seen in the work of many later German philosophers.

In “The World as Will and Idea”, Schopenhauer also considered the important question of the function of art in far more depth than any of his predecessors; he even theorised a hierarchy for the arts, grading music, poetry, architecture [etc], from most important to least important. For that reason, his work had a profound effect not only on future philosophers, but also artists, particularly poets and composers, such as the enigmatic Wagner, who felt indebted to him and sent him a letter of gratitude when he was first introduced to Schopenhauer’s work.

Tristan und Isolde (John Duncan 1912 Symbolism)

Image: Tristan et Isolde (1912) par John Duncan

It is believed that Wagner’s popular opera “Tristan und Isolde” in particular, shows Schopenhauer’s influence as a philosopher who believed that music was the highest form of art, an idea that of course, Wagner found pleasing, and so the composer began to think of himself as a prime example of Schopenhauer’s concept of a genius.

People in other fields of the arts were also influenced by Schopenhauer, including the novelist Thomas Mann. Schopenhauer’s ideas had the unique ability to influence not only philosophy but many other fields of human endeavour and expression. Within philosophy itself, Schopenhauer’s intellectual originality cannot be classified or allocated to a specific school of thoughtper se”, but his influence stimulates other philosophers towards a particular line of thought, which logically varied from one individual to another in terms of their response to Schopenhauer’s writing. The latter’s writing had a major impact on the enigmatic Friedrich Nietzsche, who was also a friend of Schopenhauer’s admirer, Richard Wagner.

Nietzsche shared the belief that life is tragic and terrible but can sometimes be transformed through art. Nietzsche was also the thinker famous, for his concept of the “Overman”. Unfortunately, Nietzsche’s writings and thought was taken out of context by his sister after his death to fit the ideologies of the Third Reich of Adolf Hitler. The “Overman” is in fact universal and not simply nationalistic as the true writings revealed after many scholars rejected the falsified and manipulated versions published by Nietzsche’s sister, Elizabeth [This was portrayed in Hedwig Schmutte’s documentary Nietzsche: Entre Génie et Démence, released in 2016].

Nietzsche’s concept of the Overman states that man is something that must be surpassed. That idea resonates strongly with Schopenhauer’s “Will to Live” (i.e. the wild survival instinct) as something that man must overcome, since those basic animalistic instincts along with other social distractions prevent man from becoming the Overman. Nietzsche’s philosophy sees the elevation to the state of the Overman as the result of one who rises above one’s lowest instincts and habits to reach a higher state of consciousness, in doing so, establishing a distinction from the mass mediocrity of the herd.

Those three names, Schopenhauer, Wagner and Nietzsche are often linked and are associated at times, through no fault of the men themselves with the controversial period of human history that saw the National Socialist regime come to power in Germany with unscientific ideologies and inhuman policies.

“The World is Will and Idea” begins with the famous line, The world is my idea when Schopenhauer says the world is his idea, he is referring to the relationship between an “object” and “the subject” [i.e. The person (subject) who perceives (or senses) the object and extracts meaning from it]. As an example, he did not mean that an apple is identical with your abstract concept of an Apple, he means that the apple as perceived by you exist only in relation to you as a person [the subject] who perceives it; its reality is only in what you perceive, it is what you perceive it to be so.

La Pomme Pourrie (Rotten Apple)- Apparence &amp; Personalité d'purb dpurb site web

So, the world is my idea means that a whole visible world and its sum of total experience is simply “object” for a “subject”, its reality consists in the interpreted perception by a subject.

This theory of the world of idea was taken and developed from Kant’s philosophy, but the second part of Schopenhauer’s philosophy “The World as Will” is completely his own and expresses his very unique interpretation of human life. Briefly, this interpretation says that the will, i.e. “the will to liveis the strongest force in man and everything else is subordinate to it. Schopenhauer’s conception of the supreme wisdom of life lies in the ability of man to reject the irrational force in this “will to live” and escape from the tragic results of it.

The world is my idea. This truth applies to everything that lives and knows, but only man can reflect on it and bring his abstract consciousness to it. It becomes clear to him when he looks at the sun that what he knows is not a sun, but an eye that sees the sun, not a nurse but a hand that feels the earth. This truth is by no means new, it was a fundamental text of the Vedanta philosophy of the Hindus, it was also part of the reflections of the French philosopher René Descartes and finally it was also clarified by the philosopher George Berkeley – although neglected by Kant. But this view of the world as idea is one-sided and must be balanced by another one which is the impressive and awful truth that the world is my “Will”.

The world has necessary hands, the subject and the object. The object and the subject that perceives that object operate together. If one were to disappear, then the whole world would cease to exist. All objects have universal forms and either space, time and causality or the relation of cause and effect as Kant has demonstrated, they may be discovered and known apart from the objects in which they appear, as an expression of reason or the principle of sufficient reason. But what if our whole life is but a dream, or how do we distinguish between dream and reality? Kant tried to answer this question by stating that the connection of ideas, according to the law of causality, constitute the difference between them. But the long life dream in distinction from our short dreams has always had complete connection, according to the principle of sufficient reason. We are such stuff as dreams are made of and our little life is rounded with a sleep.

Life and dreams are leaves of the same book, the book we read through and the one whose leaves we turn idly to read a page here and there. Any system of philosophy that starts with the “object” has to deal with the whole world of perception, the most consistent form of these philosophies is simple materialism; which regards time and space and matter as existing absolutely. It ignores the object’s relationship to the subject (as perceived by it) in whom these ideas exist, then it takes a law of causality as its guiding principle: causality exists by understanding alone. Materialism seeks the most simple states of matter and then tries to develop all other states from it. It ascends from mere mechanism and chemistry: the chemical properties and attractions of objects. It ascends to vegetable and animal life, to sensibility and thought. But, the thoughts and knowledge reached through materialism in a long, laborious process, assumed from its starting point that there was a subject or perceived matter: eyes that side, hands that felt it and understanding that knew it.

The system of philosophy which opposes this materialism is idealism, which instead starts with the subject and then tries to derive or reach the object from the subject, but it overlooked the fact that there can be no subject without an object, like materialism this idealism begins by assuming what it is supposed to prove later.

The method of Schopenhauer’s system is different from both materialism and idealism, for it starts from neither object nor subject, it starts from the idea. The idea is the first form of consciousness and its essential form is the antithesis or opposite of subject and object. For each one of us, it is our own body that is the starting point in our perception of the world, and we consider it like all other real object, simply as an idea.

The understanding which develops ideas could never come into being if there were no simple bodily sensations from which to start. If the thinker were no more than a pure knowing subject without a body like a winged cherub that is all spirit, he would not be able to know the nature of the world. He would be like a man going around a castle getting to its façade and trying in vain to enter it, all reality would be a riddle.

But because the subject of knowledge is also an individual with a body and a bodily nature, the world becomes revealed, it is revealed in the will. Every true act of the will is a movement of the body for the action of the body is nothing but will expressed through an object. The body is the object, my body and my will are one. The double knowledge which each one has of his body out of idea and inner will becomes the key to the nature of the world. Phenomenal existence, the existence we perceive with our senses, is an idea and nothing more. Real existence or the thing in itself is the will.

die welt als wille und vorstellung

Will is a term that applies to both the highest and lowest in man’s nature, it is that which drives us to pursue the light of knowledge and it’s also that which in nature strives blindly and dumbly to survive. Both come under the common name of will, just as the first dim light of dawn in the rays of the full midday are both called sunlight.

If we consider the impulse with which water hurries to the ocean, or the way in which a magnet turns to the North Pole, or the eagerness with which electric poles seek to be united, or the way a Crystal takes form, we can recognise our own nature, for the same will describes the inner nature of everything that is in the world. The world as will is one, it knows nothing of the multiplicity of things in the outer world: the world of perception, the world of time and space. Notions like more or less, don’t exist to it, it knows nothing of quantities or qualities. For this reason, it cannot be said that there is a small part of the will in a stone or a large part of the will in a man. Relations like this between part and whole belong to the idea of space which does not apply to the will.

In reality, the will is present in its entirety and undivided in every object of nature and in every living thing. Yet in terms of its objectification, that is, its external expression, it has different grades in inorganic matter, in vegetation, in animals and in man. The lowest of these appear in the most universal forces of nature, in the form of gravity, rigidity, elasticity, electricity and the like, which are in themselves manifestations of the will, just as much as human actions are. The higher grades are seen in man where the will takes the form of individuality and consciousness. It is here that the will shows its second side. For in the human brain lies the potential of comprehending the will, so that as it is kindled by a spark it brings the whole world as idea into existence. In this manner, knowledge proceeds from the will, knowledge that is either from the senses or is rational and is destined to serve the will in its aim of expressing itself.

In all beasts and in most men, knowledge remains in subjugation to the will, yet in certain individuals, knowledge can free itself from this bondage to the will, so the subject of knowledge exists for itself as a pure mirror of the world. As a rule, knowledge remains subordinate to the will and grows on the will [so to speak] as a head on the body. In the case of the beast, the head is directed towards the Earth where the objects of its will are. But in the case of man, the head is elevated and set freely upon the body as in the Apollo Belvedere where the head of the guard stands so freely on his shoulders that it seems delivered of the body and no longer subject to it.

The Apollo Belvedere (Ancient Sculpture) - Vatican Museum - Roma

Image: Apollo Belvedere (Sculpture Ancienne), Musée du Vatican, Rome /Apollon est le dieu grec des arts, du chant, de la musique, de la beauté masculine, de la poésie et de la lumière. Il est conducteur des neuf muses. Apollon est également le dieu des purifications et de la guérison, mais peut apporter la peste par son arc ; enfin, c’est l’un des principaux dieux capables de divination, consulté, entre autres, à Delphes, où il rendait ses oracles par la Pythie de Delphes. Il a aussi été honoré par les Romains, qui l’ont adopté très rapidement sans changer son nom. Dès le ve siècle av. J.-C., ils l’adoptèrent pour ses pouvoirs guérisseurs et lui élevèrent des temples.

The transition from the individual’s knowledge of particular things to the knowledge of the idea takes place suddenly. It happens when the knowledge of the will changes someone into a pure will-less subject of knowledge, contemplating things as they are in themselves. If raised by the power of the mind, a man leaves the common way of looking at things behind and forgets both his individuality and his will, then he becomes a pure “without will”, timeless and painless subject of knowledge – this appears in the genius; because when Genius appears in a man a far larger amount of the power of knowledge comes to him than is necessary for the service of his will. This extra knowledge is free and purified from will: a clear mirror of the inner nature of the world.

All willing arises from want (desire). The satisfaction of a desire ends it, but for one wish that is satisfied, there remain 10 which are denied. No attained object of desire can give lasting satisfaction, for it is likely alms thrown to a beggar that keep him alive today so that his misery may be prolonged tomorrow. Attending to the demands of the will continually occupies and influences our consciousness. But when we are lifted out of the endless stream of willing, we can comprehend things free from their relation to our will without any personal interest or subjective opinions, and then the peace we have been seeking comes of our own accord. For we are, at least for the moment, set free from the miserable striving of the will – the wheel stands still. There is no more slavery to the will.

It is the function of the fine arts to express this freedom from the will: the different grades along the way. Matter as such cannot be an expression of the idea, but when it is expressed through a form of art like architecture (its characteristics of gravity, cohesion and hardness), the universal qualities of stone appear as a direct but low grade of the objectified or expressed will. In the building, nature reveals itself a conflict between the gravity of the building and the rigidity of the structure of the support, as in the simplest form of a column. The problem of architecture, apart from practical utility, is to make this conflict appear in a distinct way so that the building material instead of a mere heap of matter bound to the earth is raised above it, so that the roof for example is realised only by the means of the columns or arches which support it. The pleasure that comes from looking at a beautiful building lies in the fact that the viewer is set free from the knowledge which serves the will and is raised to the kind of knowledge which comes from contemplation that has no will.

Woman and Man Roman Sculpture

The highest grade of the expression of the will is found in anything that reflects human beauty in a way which reveals the idea of man. No object transports us so quickly into will-less contemplation as the most beautiful human form. We know human beauty when we see it, but true artists can express it so clearly that it surpasses even what we have seen. In the genius of a sculptor, we find a representation of what nature intended to express, so that if you were to present his statue to nature, he would say “This is what you wanted to say!”

danaide-le-baiser-par-auguste-rodin

Image: “Danaide” & “Le Baiser” par Auguste Rodin

In order to detach oneself from the “Will to live” which imposes suffering and meaningless striving, art plays a major role for Schopenhauer; the artist is not locked in a utilitarian relationship with the functional world, i.e. that of the “Will to Live”, but on the contrary, the artist will produce objects that have no functional use but that are simply beautiful. Schopenhauer defined beauty as a biological attraction for good health (i.e. the symmetry of the face, the harmony of the body, etc), and so we are still at the service of the desire imposed by the “Will” for reproduction. However, the artist will gain the ability to detach beauty from its functional goal (i.e. of reproduction): we can find the above sculptures by Auguste Rodin, “Danaide” and “Le Baiser” exquisitely beautiful, but we know that nothing concrete biologically (as desired by the “”Will”) can happen between oneself and those works since they are not living organisms. Hence, Arthur Schopenhauer noted that the artist does not participate in this tragic comedy of existence which consists of reproducing life at any cost, but instead, the artist is uninterested and produces objects of beauty in a completely uninterested frame of mind.

Painting as an art has character as well as beauty and grace for its object, for it attempts to represent the will of the highest grade in the idea of humanity. This, however, can be an abstract form of the concept known as the picture attempt [as it does at times an allegorical painting] to represent something other than what is perceived.

In poetry the relationship is reversed, for here what is given directly in words is the concept that leads readers away to the object of perception, this is done through metaphors, similes, parables, allegories and the like. The aim of all poetry is the representation of man. When it is a representation of the poet himself, we have the lyric. The lyric poet reveals himself in joy or more often grief as the subject of his own will, but along with this as the sight of nature impresses him, there is the awareness of himself as the subject of pure will-less knowing, and his joy now appears as a contrast to the stress of desire: desire imposed on him by his will. Epic poetry portrays man in a more historical context in connection with significant situations in human life. Drama in the form of tragedy is not only the best of poetic art, but the most significant in terms of this system of philosophy because it is the strife of the will represented at its highest grade of objectivity, it becomes visible in human suffering that is brought about by fate or error or wickedness, in which the will lives on while people fight against and destroy one another. The tragic effect in poetry may be produced by means of a character of extraordinary evil such as Iago in Othello or Creon in Antigone or by blind fate as in the Oedipus Rex of Sophocles or by circumstance and the situation in which the character finds himself such as Hamlet. In the tragic character we can observe how the noblest of men – after a long personal conflict and inward suffering – come at last to renounce the pleasures of life and the particular goals once so keenly fought for, instead the character joyfully surrenders to life itself. It is in this sense that Hamlet renounces life for himself but askes Horatio to remain a while and to – in this harsh world – draw his breath in pain to tell Hamlet’s story and clear his name.

Shakespeare's Hamlet Tragedy

Beginning with architecture, in which gravity and rigidity reveal the lowest grade of the conflict of the will with itself and ending with tragedy where this conflict reaches its highest grade, we have considered the arts and how they represent the will and the idea, but music stands quite alone, cut off from all the other arts, since it’s not a mere copy of any idea of existence in the world.

Music is as direct an expression of the whole will as the world itself is. Nature and music are two different expressions of the same thing, and so music speaks a universal language.

Traduction(EN): “What we could not say and what we could not silence, music expresses.” -Victor Hugo (1802 – 1885)

In the deepest tones of harmony in the bass we recognise the lowest grades of the will, for bass is in harmony with the crudest matter on which all things rest and from which they originate. The higher complimental parts of music are parallel with animal life and in the melody of high voice singing we recognise the high grade of the will in the effort and intellectual life of man.

The pleasure we received from beauty, the consolation we get from art and the enthusiasm of the artist, rest on the fact that whereas existence in the world is something sorrowful and terrible, the contemplation of the world as idea is both soothing and significant. But in the case of the artist, the contemplation of beauty doesn’t quiet the will and it doesn’t provide a pathway out of life as does the resignation of the saint. The deliverance from the will only occurs when – tired of the game – one renounces life and gets a grasp on what is real.

When the will – this blind and incessant impulse of nature – becomes conscious in man, it is recognised as the will to live. Man may affirm or deny it. He affirms the will to live when – having seen it as that which has produced nature and his own life – he then adds his own desires to it. The denial of the will to live occurs when the awareness or consciousness of it means the end of desire. The phenomena of the world – what we see and perceive – no longer motivates the will, for the comprehension of the world as idea has freed the will and allowed it to be silent.

It the essential nature of the will: nowhere free and everywhere powerful – to strive endlessly towards satisfaction that it is incapable of getting. Just as in nature, gravitation is the ceaseless striving towards a mathematical centre and this striving will not stop even if the whole universe were rolled into a single ball. In the same way the solid will become a fluid, the fluid will become a gas, and the plant – restless and unsatisfied – will strive through ascending forms until it goes to seed where it finds a new starting point.

All nature is a struggle in which war is waged that is deadly to both sides. All striving is in vain, and yet it cannot be abandoned and all this is identical to what appears in us. In us, the blind striving of nature becomes the will to live, but it is self-conscious will: we are aware of it! The fate of this will is in keeping with its striving nature in the face of constant obstacles and hindrances, and anyone who will consider the character and destiny of the will to live, will be convinced that suffering is essential to all life.

“Sadeness Partie I” par Enigma / Album : MCMXC a.D. (1990)

Ad Augusta Per Angusta

Translation (EN): “Has grandiose results by narrow lanes” / Source: Le Petit Larousse 2018 / Les locutions étrangères gravées dans nos mémoires ont la magie des formules oubliées dont le charme va croissant lorsque l’alchimie des mots nous est plus mystérieuses. Elles ont l’autorité de la chose écrite. / Mot de passe des conjurés au quatrième acte d’Hernani, de Victor Hugo. On n’arrive au triomphe qu’en surmontant maintes épreuves.

From where then did Dante take the materials for his hell? From the world! And when it came to describing the delights of heaven he had an insurmountable task, for the world could offer him no proper material. The fatal assertion of the will to live has produced man’s body and the desire to preserve and perpetuate it. So the assertion of the will is really the assertion of the body. In such assertion, we find the source of all egoism and all wrongdoing, but such selfhood is really an illusion due to a false philosophy in which the individual imagines he lives to himself alone. He is really only a product of the one will to live. Just as a sailor sitting in a boat trusting to his frail barque in a stormy sea, so it is that in the world of sorrows man sits quietly, trusting to the principle of individualisation and separateness, in which he only knows things superficially or as they appear to him, but when he comes to understand that the one will to live exists in all men alike, he realises that the difference between those that inflict suffering and those that bare it is only a perceived difference that is not real.

Eugène_Delacroix La Barque de Dante (1822) d'purb dpurb site web.jpg

“La Barque de Dante” par Eugène Delacroix (1822)

In truth, the evil man is like a wild beast, who frenzied and excited, unintentionally buries its teeth in its own flesh, injuring itself as it tries to injure another. But no matter how veiled and evil man is by illusion, he still feels the sting of conscience, which creates a sense that the gulf which seems to separate him from others isn’t real.

As all hatred and wickedness rely upon egoism and as egoism rest on the assertion of the will to live, so do all goodness and virtue spring from the denial of the will to live. The will turns around and no longer asserts itself but denies its own nature instead. Man then denies his own nature as expressed in his body and no longer desires sensual gratification under any condition.

Voluntary and complete chastity is the first step in the denial of the will to live. But then the human race would die out, and with it the mind in which the world is reflected, and without a subject of knowledge, there would be no object, there would be no world. To those in whom the will to live has turned and denied itself [miserable and utterly dead inside], this world of ours with all its sun and milky ways is nothing.

These are some of the ideas and the basic themes presented in Schopenhauer’s “The world as Will and Idea”, a very lengthy work that of course includes many other ideas and elaborations of the ones we have mentioned. But the essence and main thrust of Schopenhauer’s philosophy can be found in a few basic points.

To begin with, he sees the will of man, and specifically the will to survive as the dominant force in the universe and slavery to this will is the root of all evil. Man and all other creatures are subservient to their will to live. In exercising his will, man inflicts all kinds of cruelties and evil. Schopenhauer first examined these cruelties in the world of nature, spending a lot of time on the way in which animals of one species prey on those of another. Then he moved onto man and says, “the chief source of the most serious evils which afflict man is man himself”. Whoever keeps this last fact clearly in view, sees the world as a hell which surpasses that of Dante through the fact that one man must be the devil of another. Schopenhauer uses war and various other cruelties such as industrial exploitation, bravery and social abuses to back up his claim.

Schopenhauer had no sympathy for the revolution of his time because he felt the state was justified, exactly because of the cruelty of man. It existed to make the world a little more bearable than it would otherwise be. He did not consider the state government divine, but he considered it necessary [a view he may have been willing to revise had he been alive in the 21st century with democracy falling apart and not being properly applied, leading to evil, unethical, unscrupulous and unskilled street politicians getting into positions above their understanding – forgetting that they are the servants of the people and instead believing that they should have power over the people].

Schopenhauer believed that we can take action to alleviate human suffering but that it is pointless to think that we can change the fundamental character of the world or of human life. If war was abolished for instance and if all of men’s material needs were met, they would eventually still resort to conflict – “it is their nature”. He is quick to condemn the optimism or idealism of other philosophers who disregard the ugly side of human nature, or who try to justify it as rational. To Schopenhauer these dark aspects of life were not secondary feature, they were the most significant aspects of human life in history. On this basis, he created his theory of The Blind and Striving Impulse, he called the Will. Then, he looked around and found support for his theory in the inorganic, organic and human phenomena of life.

Unquestionably, Schopenhauer held a one-sided vision of the world, but because of its one-sidedness and exaggeration it served as a counterbalance to philosophers like Hegel who focused attention on the glorious triumph of reason throughout history and he tended to dismiss evil and suffering with elaborate, evasive, phrasing. He did believe that the human mind could develop beyond what was required just to satisfy his physical and material needs; it could develop a surplus of energy over and above what was needed to fulfil its biological function. When that happened, man can use the extra energy to escape the life of desire and striving, of assertion of the ego, of conflict, none of which brings him satisfaction anyway.

Schopenhauer did offer 2 ways of escape from the slavery to the will:

(i) one was the path of contemplation, which is the way of art;

(ii) and the other was the path of asceticism, which involves renouncing the world in one’s personal desires or will (i.e. to completely get rid of the “will to live”). Man must stop willing to live, not only at the level of our species but more importantly at the individual level.

In transcending the Will through art [expressing it with insight], Schopenhauer was very specific about which art forms served what purpose, and in defining which were superior to others. Not surprisingly, the supreme poetic art is tragedy, for tragedy reveals the real character of human life expressed in dramatic form or as he said the unspeakable pain: the wail of humanity, the triumph of evil, the mocking mastery of chance and the irretrievable fall of the just and innocent.

However, art and contemplation, besides reflecting on the evil of life, can also open a door that becomes perhaps the only hopeful point in Schopenhauer’s entire book. This door is opened when man can see through the veil of Maya [illusion]. That is precisely where Schopenhauer finds much inspiration from hinduism and buddhism; in those philosophies of Asia, there is the notion that in order to attain the state of nirvana, one must extinguish the “will to live” and thus one’s irrational desire, which is simply a form of manipulation that is referred to as “Maya”. We find this idea resumed in the four noble truths of Buddhism.

Maya, being the Hindu concept for the illusionary nature of the world and life. It is Maya [i.e. the illusionary manipulation of the will to live] that causes one to see separateness and division where there is none. Schopenhauer observed that man had the intellectual capacity to develop gradually a site that penetrated this illusionary manipulation that is Maya. He raised some very important questions:

– What is the purpose of achieving such virtue?

– What happens afterwards?

To start with, the man who denies the Will treats the world as nothing, for the world is just the appearance of the will, which he denied. So it is true that when we discard our will to live, it is a scenario when the will denies itself, and when this happens our world with all its sun and Milky ways means nothing! But then what happens at death? Schopenhauer is convinced of the finality of death. “Before us”, he says “there is indeed only nothingness”. Death or the withdrawal from the world means the extinction of consciousness. In life, he reduces existence to thin thread, and at death, it is finally destroyed.

The man who denies his will to live reaches the final goal, which is to not live. This is where Schopenhauer finds strong inspiration from Asian spiritual philosophy, more precisely in Buddhism, which is to say that when one renounces the “Will to Live”, life becomes much more enjoyable and serene. This is a powerful remedy since it allows us to put all our suffering into perspective when we are at our worst [for e.g. in deception in love matters when one realises the feelings are simply the manipulation from the will]. However, like all great remedy, extreme abuse can have a negative effect since we can overdose on them, which would lead us to completely shut down our “Will to Live”, and that can lead to suicide because human experience and life itself would lose all meaning and taste: no desire and no motivation. A clinical investigation among community-dwelling older adults in the US found that the will to live decreases with age, and that decrease in the “will to live” predicts depressive symptoms (Carmel, Tovel, Raveis and O’Rourke, 2018). However, those older adults studied were not meditating from a conscious desire to extinguish their will to live, and as such developped depressive symptoms.

Image: Image: Dieu hindou, Seigneur Shiva en méditation [Shiva est le dieu de la destruction, de l’illusion et de l’ignorance. Il représente la destruction mais le but de celle-ci est la création d’un nouveau monde. Voir :History on Western Philosophy, Religious cultures, Science, Medicine & Secularisation]

Individuals who consciously extinguish their will to live after firmly acknowledging the belief that it is the source of their suffering will not feel depressed, but will instead reach a different frame of mind; and with it, a different model of perception. We find that some people sometimes known as “Gurus” in deep meditation in Asia [where Schopenhauer adopted the concepts of Hinduism and Buddhism] are often barely dressed, sitting under the trees and surrounded by nature, in a meditative trance in the posture of the hindu god, Lord Shiva. It appears that their consciousness has been elevated to a point unachievable to the majority of people who are fully under the powerful control of their “Will to Live” and conditioned to the modern civilization of industrialized capitalism, i.e. the majority of Westernized societies all over the planet nowadays. In some regions of Asia (particularly India), those enigmatic figures are treated as living legends as close to gods, where the common people even go to touch their feet and then their own heads, as an act of taking their blessing; which is different from most of the modern societies of our Westernized planet, where the complete opposite to these kinds of individuals are treated as the model of the perfect man, for e.g. billionaires on the covers of magazines.

When extreme meditation allows such spiritual individuals like we find in Asia to detach themselves from the “Will to Live”, the whole world of perception changes within the mind and every single object that structures modern life [that to most people conditioned to the modern materialistic world gained a particular meaning that was passed on to them through their parents, teachers, the media, the government or books] loses meaning to the individual who goes to the extreme and extinguishes his will to live; the way his mind experiences life changes [i.e. perception and interpretation of everything in our world]. Those kinds of people may turn into passive lifeforms as close to plants and the very atoms that constitute every single particle in the universe, completely in harmony with nature and the cosmos, since they would find no meaning in life as defined by the industrialized world; they would have no desire and no motivation unlike most people, since by extinguishing their “Will to Live”, they renounced the suffering that comes with desire, and life is made of desire which is a lack, and lack is a form of frustration and suffering. That path may partially fit the direction of Nietzsche’s “Overman” in the search for nirvana.

Reaching such extreme levels of consciousness by rejecting the “Will to Live”, detaches the mind from all external influence in interpreting the universe and life, it can also lead to seeing everything simply as atoms, which constitute the whole universe, and hence generating the feeling of being one with the cosmic reality of the universe. In the case of organic life, which includes, plants, animals and human beings, those too are simply atoms [i.e. dust from the universe] that have gathered into living cells simply because the atmospheric conditions on Earth allowed such transformation. From such perspective, human consciousness is simply the product of the brain, which is the organic matter resulting from the assimilation of atoms from the universe expressing themselves through the limited senses of the human body.

Schopenhauer does leave one last hope beyond the grim disappearance of consciousness and of the world, admitting that it is possible that ultimate reality, which he called the thing in itself may possess attributes that we do not know about and that we cannot know. That reality would not be a state of knowledge since there would not be a subject and an object [that phenomenal and illusionary relationship that is required for knowledge], but it might resemble some experience that cannot be communicated and to which mystics refer to, but only in obscure vague ways.

In the end, like all great thinkers are expected to, Arthur Schopenhauer admitted that he did not have all the answers, but he thought he had some. Ultimately, it is the questions his answers posed to others that became his most significant contribution, for the role of the philosopher and of philosophy itself is not only to solve our problems, but also to express points of views that stimulate us to further thought and consideration on human nature and the meaning of life, in that, he was incredibly successful.

Schopenhauer sur Le Style

“Style is the physiognomy of the mind. It is a more reliable key to character than the physiognomy of the body.” – Arthur Schopenhauer

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Concluding Thoughts on “The World as Will & Idea”

One of the interesting aspects of Schopenhauer’s philosophy is that it is in a fairly strong resonance with science, i.e. the theory of evolution, which is accepted among the scientific community, and it also set the groundwork for the field of evolutionary psychology. In that aspect, the philosopher was incredibly insightful and avant-garde.

Schopenhauer’s philosophical framework empowers individuals by providing a mode of thinking and perception that acts as a the tool to rise above grief & sadness from the many tribulations of life, especially love matters.

The concept behind the “World as Will and Idea” can become a very strong remedy for people depressed and weakened by love deceptions because Schopenhauer’s foundational framework clearly explains that those emotions and sentiments are simply an illusion (i.e. a manipulation) at the service of one’s survival instinct or “Will to Live”. Schopenhauer strenghens the individual by giving the individual the awareness of this manipulation of nature and hence the ability to rise above, discard and become detached from those feelings and emotions to heal their pain.

This is quite ironic, because while many personal development coaches advise us to reinforce our “Will to Live” to be better in life, the philosophy of Schopenhauer orients us towards the complete opposite, but only after developing the awareness of the consequences of renunciation that such action can lead towards personal empowerment. However, precautions must be taken to not completely extinguish our “Will to Live” since it can lead to suicide if we are not firmly aware of its implications and ready to cope with the life it imposes.

Schopenhauer does not recommend killing oneself even if he does not condemn the act in some texts – he even describes suicide as nonsense. However, he does not hide his admiration for the courage of the Hindus who go as far as to offer themselves as food to the crocodiles, or allow themselves to die of starvation voluntarily, or even throw themselves from the top of the Himalayas – as such the philosopher saw the end of life as a solution to the incessant suffering imposed by the will to live but did not openly promote or propose it as a complete solution the wider human population. It appears that those people who consciously end their lives, have extinguished their will to live after coming to terms with the fact that life is a state of various kinds of suffering and also an endlessly replicating cycle without any clear end result, i.e. living or not living has absolutely no impact on the state of things in the universe. No matter how far human civilization goes [for e.g. colonizing planets in the universe], the same cycle will be repeated endlessly without any clear end objective, i.e. human beings would replicate everything on Earth on those planets and continue to mate, reproduce and pass down the task of finding sense to life to the next generation; we would invest tremendous resources to reach other planets [e.g. developing artificial intelligence, creating sophisticated and articulate androids with human-like capabilities, developing cryogenics or some other technical solution to survive journeys that may last from 50 to 100 years or more], and once there, we would build houses, roads, restaurants, shops, an economic system, create jobs, etc.

In the case of people who become completely aware of the manipulation imposed on human experience by the “Will to Live” and make the conscious choice to extinguish it completely, the continuity of the human race or the survival of his fellow humans have absolutely no importance or meaning since life has no sense to such a being because it simply replicates for the sake of replicating itself – in the cosmic order of the universe we are nothing but atoms, or space dust.

The final and fundamental powerful point to keep is that thanks to Schopenhauer’s philosophy, we can at any moment we choose to detach ourselves from all of the most violent emotions and feelings that inhabit our thoughts simply by reminding ourselves that our “Will to Live” (i.e. survival instinct) is simply manipulating us.

A constructive critique for joie de vivre & progress

A reason to live for the human race

We can base ourself on the observation that if atoms from space dust in the universe collected on a very specific planet known as Earth where the atmospheric conditions are perfect to allow the transformation of those atoms into living cells which over thousands of years became more complex to eventually give rise to human beings, then there must be a hidden force that lead to this creation. In that sense, we can also question this creative atomic force and meditate forever about the reason behind our creation. The explanation from the Christian bible about the creation of man by The Lord God from the dust of the ground comes across as a great metaphor since all life is made from matter.

Some people may link this creative force that sparked life on our planet to the notion of divinity and the process of creating life. So, on that issue if we were to allocate reasons behind every form of creation, we can assume that the cosmic forces of the universe had a reason for creating humans and as such, those forces that may be linked to the divine creation and wanted us to live, and may have planned for us to achieve some form of task in the story of the universe. This, I believe, makes a case for the human race to value surival and continuity, even if we are unaware of any final objective or final result that our continuity will lead to. Perhaps one day, we will understand why we were created and why we are the most sophisticated lifeform on this planet, unmatched in terms of intellectual abilities by no other species known to date.

The Right to Choose a Mode of Existence

Every individual should have the right to choose how to experience life and it would be extremely arrogant to impose a particular model of living or a particular mode of existence as the ultimate way of being. If an individual chooses to restrain his “Will to Live” to the limits of extinction and wishes to experience life through his organic body in a minimalistic and spiritual way as some people in Asia do, then it is a choice as valid as any other, moreover those people are not asking anything from others and are not imposing this mode of existence of humanity; it is a matter of personal perspective and desire in line with a vision to discard what some see as an existence of suffering and desiring endlessly in the industrialised world. Whatever the reasons behind the choice of an individual to live such a minimalistic life by repressing their “Will to Live” [or survival instinct], as long as it is personal, it should be respected. Among those personal reasons, may also be the choice to not replicate life to endure various forms of suffering, and this may be a reasonable and admirable choice for individuals who unfortunately are not in the best conditions due to a range of factors, to bring a new life into this world and provide it with the best chances to prosper and live a fulfilling existence.

According to the epicurean school of thought, pleasure is the absence of suffering, and in order to stop suffering, it is a duty for individuals to question whether it is fair to create life when the conditions awaiting mean struggling through various kinds of hardship.

There is only a limited amount of living space on our planet, and the issue of population growth being mismanaged and unrestrained should be a great topic of concern for humanity to reflect on as the world begins to deal with the question of over-population which will only cause extreme mass suffering when also having to deal with the problems of climate change that will lead to many catastrophic environmental disasters in the future (e.g. limited resources to feed a dangerously growing population). For example in many poor regions on the planet, for e.g. Africa, the population growth has been steadily increasing despite the lack of resources to provide an adequate and respectable standard of living to the new born, who come to the world only to suffer due to the lack of family planning. Hence, this topic should be the concern of all respectable community leaders, and should raise the urgency for providing education about family planning.

A Sense of Concern for the Survival of Homo Sapiens

Complete detachment from our feelings and emotions once an individual extinguishes the “Will to Live” can lead to suicide, which is nonsense. Complete detachment may also lead to a mind that is stale and completely devoid of any form of reaction to any external event that is not connected to the organism that is in such a state, this would also lead to a lack of emotions, for e.g. compassion and empathy (since those are the products of the ability to feel the pain of others and react to the emotions and feelings elicited).

If an individual discarded the “Will to Live” completely, it would also mean discarding the very behaviours linked to the “Will” that are responsible for the survival of homo sapiens, which lead us to protect our fellow human beings [i.e. the evolutionary purpose of emotions and the ability to feel].

The individual who kills the “Will to live” completely would also have no sexual drives, which would also not promote the survival of the human race as there would not be motivation to mate and reproduce. In that sense, if the whole population were to choose to completely extinguish their will to live, it would lead to the extinction of homo sapiens (i.e. the human race).

Engineering our Modern World in Harmony with Nature

The evolution of our species has led to the development of its various intellectual abilities and eventually given rise to the modern world, which took homo sapiens out of the primitive lifestyle from the caves and the jungles and into settlements of the modern world with a range of facilities, for e.g. sophisticated healthcare, education, technological advancement, legal protection, literary and artistic developments, to name a few.

However, with all those developments as advantages, also came disadvantages, since human suffering is still a reality in our modern world, with inequality, greed, lack of concern, badly managed economic systems, laws that are still primitive in terms of promoting human wellbeing.

We also have corrupt governments run by mediocre politicians who lack the philosophical knowledge and values of legendary imperial leaders, but are nothing more than simple minded bureaucrats from mainly financial and legal backgrounds who seem to think of the management of a civilisation as if it was an enterprise to manage. People trained in a particular subject should stay in their field.

A strong economy provides a lot of options and helps to foster development, and hence those trained in finance should be in charge of departments for economic development to ensure that the economy is working to improve and sophisticate human existence and civilisation not the other way round [i.e. education, traning, wellbeing and human development at every level]. As for those trained in legal matters, they should manage the department of justice to ensure that the funds are being used properly and also to protect the rights of individuals at every level of society.

To place people with purely financial and legal perspectives at the head of civilisation is a sure way to a ship wreck; because that is the scenario in store when a civilisation places its destiny in the hands of people who lack the proper knowledge to understand how human beings function [i.e. what leads to wellbeing and harmony, what kind of support individuals need to prosper, what individuals feel and desire, how a human being’s mind works, and what philosophical values to implant and protect in order to defend human dignity, foster creativity, provide freedom at every level, and eradicate suffering].

Logically, living as a recluse in a meditative trance in nature or living as a citizen of the modern world is a personal choice for the individual that both comes with advantages and disadvantages. My perspective on this issue will also come with a frame of mind as an individual who is a pure product of  Western European intellectual heritage, and also someone born and raised in the the modern Westernised world. In that sense, throughout history, all thinkers have had to side with an argument. In the end, as we know from the history of civilisation, we have to take a stance and believe in something, because whether we choose not to have any opinions, or we choose to spectate quietly, we are going to be judged. As educated human beings of the post 20th century, we have to find the balance and extract meaning from the lessons history has taught us. We have to synthesise the advantages of a life in nature and the advantages of a life in the modern technological world.

We need to find a sense of harmony in the modern world with nature and continue to push for the design of a civilisation that respects:

(i) the environment;

(ii) the liberties of the individual;

(iii) the promotion of a greener lifestyle;

(iv) the scientific discoveries about the creative force of the human brain;

(v) the philosophy of individual growth;

(vi) the dignity of working men and women;

(vii) the right to rise in a meritocratic system of values;

(viii) the belief in an economic system that is organized so that everyone has a chance to prosper;

(ix) the right to decent education at every level for everyone at every stage of life;

(x) the free access to high quality health care and guidance for everyone; and

(x) the fact that there is no eternal essence since evolution means that everything is locked in a constant process of change; however, we have the power to steer this change in the direction that leads to a civilisation that embraces those elements for a harmonious human experience for mankind.

Only after engineering our modern world to be in harmony with nature, i.e. both the environment and the psychology of human beings, that life will become a noble and pleasant experience – only the absence of suffering brings pleasure, happiness and prosperity, as the Epicurean school of thought posits.

Thus, Lucretius, the Roman thinker’s main philosophical thrust would definitely be a great doctrine for human beings to read, reflect on and adopt if we are to steer civilisation on the right track and live a harmonious life without suffering while embracing the advantages and possibilities of the multi-dimensional senses that nature has equipped mankind with, i.e. the ability to experience existence through an incredible brain.

Mental Conditioning: Justified Desire & Rational Emotions as Restraints to a Healthy Will to Live

The powerful aspect of Schopenhauer’s concept is that it operates similarly to our very own “Organismic Theory of Psychological Construction” as it does not aim to simplify human life or experience, but it acts as a strong guiding compass that allows individuals to shift their perception at any moment to find clarity, order & stability when they may be faced with a clouded mind due to stress or a lack of mental clarity caused by the many obstacles of human life.

Both concepts provide strong intellectual frameworks or skeletons as foundations to explain human experience, and although those foundations may come across as mechanical, they are also dynamic and provide a precise objective model to understand the way organisms function. Those models also do not claim to be permanent modes of perception that individuals should be locked in all the time, but rather act as a perceptive filter and guiding restraint based on logical reasoning that will be used to shape human consciousness through practice; once firmly embedded in the conscious mind, all human emotions can be released, since they would be synchronized with reason and logic, and simply be a layer superposed over, in order to be able to experience life with human emotions since they motivate us and also allow us to feel.

So, those philosophical frameworks allow all the layers that sophisticate, deepen, add symbolic meaning and bring artistic complexity to be superposed, constructed and developed on them; in that sense they are mechanical, but also dynamic since they do not discard an organic reality.

In the attempt to generate an imagery in the reader’s mind, I will use the metaphor of a tsunami causing a massive displacement of water rushing towards an area. If that area had a well designed barrier to receive the full blow of the torrent of water with a perfectly designed system of tunnels that would cause the force of the torrent to be broken down by evenly splitting the water through an articulate system of canals, there would be no catastrophic damage, and the water could even be used for a range of purposes. The powerful torrent of water is meant to represent the survival instinct, or the “Will to live”; and the well designed system to channel that torrent is meant to represent a trained “consciousness”. Similarly to this metaphor, Freud used a wilful horse to describe the force of the unconscious Id, and explained that the human consciousness [which in his theory is represented by the Ego] should act as a rider in order to channel all of the horse’s force into a desired outcome or direction.

That is exactly what it means to shape one’s consciousness. In order to orient oneself in life and make the right decisions, it is important to calculate and think with a clear mind oriented with reason. Every individual does not have the same objectives in life [i.e. in terms of career goals, philosophical values about a range aspects in life, vision of success, tastes in various personal matters, etc], and as such, every individual should be able to use pure reason to situate themselves in life and know what their objectives are and what they need to do to attain those objectives [e.g. the short-term objectives and the long-term objectives]. Such reflection is best done with a rational mind that is not clouded by irrational emotions; however emotional feelings cannot be permanently discarded because they serve the purpose of motivating human beings in various situations in life and play a significant role in the enjoyment and jouissance of existence itself.

Emotions paint a picture of both our inner world and the external world, telling us where to look, what to remember and what to forget, what to think about, and what our next step should be – this is backed up by science. The choices we make as individuals are influenced by our emotional feelings, for e.g. we watch particular types of films or read particular types of books that elavate us, empower us, enlighten us, make us smile, laugh or cry. In other social situations, we tend to avoid people who elicit a sense of disgust, anger or fear in us. At a physiological level, our bodily feelings indicate us that our stomach is full when we eat. Until this day, the human mind’s depth and complexity has not allowed psychologists to precisely figure out the exact number of the types of emotions that human beings feel.

Scientists have always had problems with emotions and trouble on agreeing what it really means; most of them assume that emotions involve other things than simply feelings [e.g. bodily reactions, like when a person’s heart is racing from a feeling of excitement; or expressive movements such as facial expressions and sounds; or behaviours like yelling at someone when we are angry]. Despite the fact that there are many types of emotions, feelings are usually seen as the most important; as such scientists studying emotions measure them as much as their metholodologies allow by asking participants in their study how they are “feeling”. In an investigation published in 2017, to study the number of emotional feelings human beings experience, 300,000 self-reported emotional responses elicited by 2,185 emotional videos were collected. Mathematical modelling was then used to find out about the different emotions captured in those responses; this lead to the patterns of emotions being found corresponding to at least 25 different categories of emotions where many of them can be mixed together (Cowen and Keltner, 2017). Those 25 categories of emotions are:

  • admiration, adoration, appreciation of beauty, amusement, anger, anxiety, awe, awkwardness, boredom, calmness, confusion, craving, disgust, empathic pain, entrancement, excitement, fear, horror, interest, joy, nostalgia, relief, sadness, satisfaction, and surprise.

     

As such, it was found that the emotions people reported experiencing are much more complex than scientists had theorised. Hence, in order to achieve this state of equilibrium between reason and emotions and embed that particular state into one’s consciousness, every individual may resort to different methods depending on their uniqueness. Some may achieve it instantly, others may need to resort to meditation and practice, and others may use whatever techniques from coaches or psychologists. This is a matter of individual differences that best suits a particular type of person. However, once this stage is perfected, that individual can then shift his/her mode of thought from the focused, disciplined, meditative and reasoned state to a relaxed state of being. It is a scientific fact nowadays, through the field of Neuroscience that new experiences shape the nervous system, a phenomenon known as “neuroplasticity”, and the more we practice a particular task, the better the brain gets at performing it – as the well known saying goes “Practice makes perfect” [See the essay, Biopsychology: How our Neurons work].

This is where we can refer to the act of extinguishing the “Will to live” temporarily to find clarity as the extreme meditators do. When an individual is in this state, the mind is detached from all external influence, emotions, and gains a sense of freedom to interpret everything the external world and life itself. This exercise resonates with Descartess words, when he said: “In order to seek truth, it is necessary once in the course of our life to doubt, as far as possible of all things.”

« Pour examiner la vérité il est besoin, une fois dans sa vie, de mettre toutes choses en doute autant qu’il se peut. » // Traduction[EN]: “In order to seek truth, it is necessary once in the course of our life to doubt, as far as possible, of all things.” – Descartes

This state of serenity can be reached from meditation, and when in that frame of mind, it becomes easier to think and reason rationally and logically, with a clearer perspective of everything in one’s life about topics of concern and solutions required. However, an individual should ensure that the “Will to live” is not extinguished permanently and that a return to a normal state of conciousness is possible. Logically, most normal individuals in the modern world do not remain in a meditative state 24 hours a day and 7 days a week.

Meditation can be likened to a form of temple (metaphorically) that one enters to find clarity and to think rationally and logically about a problem in the search for solutions. Once the solutions are obtained, one can leave the temple and get back to normal life with a new mode of thinking and perceiving obtained from the “temple” when one was in a state of calmness and oriented purely by reason in the search for clarity and solutions. Now that the solution is in hand, or rather in mind and rationally implanted in one’s consciousness, one can relax, allow the brain to return to its natural state, and allow emotions to compliment that state of clarity and knowledge about one’s path towards the desired objective.

The main objective here is to point out that reason should lead but emotions should follow, those two major qualities of the human condition must be synchronized with each other, i.e. the head and the heart must work together, but the mind must lead and the heart must follow.

Most human beings tend to act on emotions and instincts without questioning their behaviour. However, a human who becomes conscious of life and his/her objectives by reaching an elevated sense of awareness gains the ability to synchronise emotions with reason. It is not a stage easily achievable for every single person, and it is also dependent on talent, individual differences in the ability to reflect, and also personal dedication and will power.

However, when this state of higher consciousness is reached and it becomes a skill that is perfectly managed and firmly embedded, it manifests itself as a reflex (almost normally and unconsciously and goes as far as to shape one’s dreams); life becomes much more stable; through the mental clarity achieved, the individual gains the power to experience life with justified desire and rational emotions; and those restrain the force of the “Will to Live” in the direction that is beneficial to the individual and the human race; to use Freud’s metaphor, the rider (consciousness) learns to master the force of the horse (the Will to Live).

Our Conversion: a Lucretian guide to “l’Art de Vivre”

Lucretius, the great Roman thinker, proposes a conversion for a better life, that is, a renunciation of our old life which brought us only mediocrity, stress and pain.

After an enlightened understanding of life brought about by his reflections, Lucretius the Roman philosopher asks us to abandon this old life forever and to start a conversion by motivating ourselves for our new life, built on an enlightened perspective: an initiation based on an existential wisdom, edifying, practical and really practicable – we just need to want it!

In a 2021 conversation with Pierre Coutelle at Mollat Editions about his book, “La conversion: vivre selon Lucrèce”, the French philosopher Michel Onfray explains precisely the major foundations of Lucretius’ thought.

Roman philosophers discuss suffering and old age, wealth and frugality, love and friendship, women and pleasure, life and death concretely and openly to give the ability to truly live one’s life and not merely think about it.

Onfray says that Lucretius saved his life, and he would like to pass on this philosophical knowledge with his book to people, with the thought that it could be useful to people who are in pain; who are suffering ; who are facing friendship or love pains or wounds inflicted by friends who are not friendly; who are anxious about the passing of time, the money they don’t have, the money they don’t have anymore or the money they have in excess; who are questioning themselves about honours or happiness, etc.

With Lucretius we find answers to all these existential questions and with concrete epicurean solutions – we just need to want it!

Philosophy changes your perception, and therefore your mind, and preserves your health

Cohen et al (1998) identified two types of stresses associated with increased health impairment:

(i) Interpersonal problems with family and friends
(ii) Enduring problems associated with work

While many other studies have revealed the dangers of stress, Marucha, Kiecolt-Glaser and Favagehi (1998) found that healing was prolonged in experimental subjects (dental students) in the period leading up to their exams, and conversely, faster healing was observed during holidays (when stress was at a minimum).

Research by Janice Kiecolt and colleagues (1995) also found that wound healing was prolonged in people exposed to continuous stress, but at the same time these people also had lower levels of cytokines, which are essential for maintaining a functioning immune system, and stress is known to cause an increased secretion of cortisol, a hormone that may stop cytokine production (Kiecolt-Glaser et al., 2002). However, cortisol is crucial for increasing access to energy during stressful experiences and is released daily through two well-defined components: the Cortisol Awakening Rise and diurnal levels that gradually decrease throughout the day. It has also been found that high levels of stress can lead to lower cortisol production in the morning (O’Connor et al., 2009b).

An individual going through a series of severely stressful events would have an increased risk of developing an infectious disease, regardless of age, gender, education, allergic status and/or body mass index (Cohen, 2005). The conclusion that experiencing stress is a reaction to stress triggers in the environment has led researchers to study stress triggers in our daily lives in order to work out ways to improve the environment and eliminate them.

Scientific research has shown that subjective apprehension (our reasoning to justify our choices and actions) of a situation in a positive or negative way plays a major role in the detrimental effects of stress on physical health (Lazarus & Folkman, 1984, p.19); we explained this in the essay “Design, Selection & Stress in Occupational & Organisational Psychology” – calm your fears and stay positive!

One can really live by Lucretius’ philosophy, we just have to want it!

This sentence can change life, as philosophy changes life, and Lucretius’ philosophy can change the life of those who read and understand it, because philosophy changes our perception, and therefore our mind, by providing us with a more harmonious and positive perspective for “apprehending” life and the world around us.

An intellectual material available to everyone for everyday life

Lucretius’ thought aims at solving problems quickly and logically in a few arguments, and in this sense it is truly pragmatic and rooted in the Roman intellectual tradition.

Roman philosophers are interesting because it is possible to live a lifetime according to their principles. As Onfray describes it, it’s an eminently concrete, pragmatic and poetic philosophy; if the arguments are useless then they are rejected; as for the arguments that really bring about a concrete change in life, they must serve in a really effective way.

The Romans were inspired by the Greek arts, but were also disinterested in the thinking of many Greek intellectuals. Roman thinkers didn’t see philosophy as a practice of complicating life with big superficial visions and rhetoric and then running away from life and favouring ideas as many Greek thinkers did; all this complicating didn’t lead to anything concrete and so the Romans thought it was a Greek tradition and they weren’t interested.

Lucretius was a great Roman thinker inspired and influenced by Epicurean philosophy. Despite the fact that Epicureanism originated in Greece, Lucretius retains a truly Roman intellectual trait and did not simply restate Epicurus’ thought in verse as many have often claimed.

For every problem there is a solution; for every suffering there is also a jouissance

Only the one who cannot think will be afraid of death, of the future, of lack of money (if he is poor), of losing his money (if he has too much). If man is able to use his mind to think, then it is possible to address all these questions about suffering, pain, death, honours, wealth, and so on. The philosophical thought of the Epicureans, undoes all these fictions, and allows us to understand that for every problem there is a solution; for every suffering there is also a jouissance (a form of joy); whenever there is a reason to be unhappy, there is a reason to be happy.

These are really simple logical schemas, but with extraordinary power and depth! To live serenely, we simply have to be where we are in life, to live in the present moment and not to destroy this present with what no longer exists or does not exist (e.g. sorrows, pains, arguments from the past, transient feelings based on anger, etc.).

Michel Onfray said it clearly when he explained that if the pain is there and it is so terrible that it embarks you, then you have to go. But if the pain doesn’t take you away, it means that the situation is not serious and you just need to learn to breathe and stay calm – simple yet extraordinary philosophical recipes for keeping your composure!

Pleasure is the absence of suffering

Cicero, who was a Stoic, criticized the Epicureans and argued that the only thing they were interested in was pleasure, which for him was enjoyment, which he judged to be a crude goal that gave rise to all sorts of obscenities.

Obviously, Epicureanism is a hedonistic thought where the triumph of pleasure is sought. Julius Caesar was an Epicurean, but the pleasure was far from the crudeness that Cicero described. Pleasure among the followers of Epicurean thought is not an obsession with unbounded and total enjoyment; it would be a grotesque caricature of Epicureanism to imagine grand scenes with stuffed sows, generalized orgies and other coarsenesses, explains Onfray.

The pleasure of the Epicureans is above all the absence of suffering. If you don’t suffer then you are happy: when you are thirsty, you drink to quench your thirst, and when you are hungry, you eat bread to quench your hunger. So these images are far from the scenes with stuffed sow’s teats, which was a crude caricature of Epicureanism by the Stoic opponents.

Simply calm your fears!

« Je sais qui est Lucrèce ! Je vais le mobiliser dans ma vie ! Je vais le mobiliser parce que je suis dans une situation où il me faut régler des problèmes. » said Onfray.

[French for: “I know who Lucretius is! I will mobilise him in my life! I will mobilise him because I am in a situation where I have to solve problems”]

With the thought of Lucretius one can approach and solve all the questions about the problems of every day and of everyone: friendship, death, suffering, pain, honours, wealth, and many other questions of existence and of daily life.

Lucretius’ thought is based on the Epicurean school of thought:
If death is here, you are no longer here, but if you are here, then death is not here!

So, it suggests that in order to live without spoiling your life on a daily basis, you should stop focusing on anxious events that are not yet present!

This is a simple thought, but with a profound effectiveness that can be adopted by all humanity! If we inhabit our present fully, we will not destroy it with nostalgia for the pains of the past, nor with a depressing and negative future when this present is calm and harmonious.

A man who tells himself that it was really good in the past, in his youth when he was handsome and slim, will ruin his life; in the same way if he tells himself that his advanced age means that death is near, while complaining of being tired, carried by the thought that he does not have much time to live.

Epicurean philosophy explains that a person destroys the moment by nostalgia for what was, or by a future that anguishes him: this is the recipe for unhappiness. For the Epicureans, to live harmoniously and not to be depressed and unhappy, one must live in the present moment!

Are you going to die? It’s true, this applies to you, me and every human being. But is death for now? No ? So why talk about it and think about it? Michel Onfray explains it very well: death will come one day, we can wait for it serenely, and when it comes, it will only be a bad quarter of an hour to spend. We simply have to calm our fears!

Onfray asks the question: “What do you want? A legion d’honneur?”

We can deconstruct this desire by thinking that it is simply a piece of cloth, and that many noble people have not received it, which illuminates us with the understanding that it is not proof of a person’s greatness or nobility; especially since nowadays it is the politicians in charge who decide who to give the Legion of Honour to; politicians who rarely have unbiased opinions. There are many noble people who have refused the Legion d’honneur, such as the economist Thomas Piketty who even said: « Je refuse cette nomination, car je ne pense pas que ce soit le rôle d’un gouvernement de décider qui est honorable » [French for: “I refuse this nomination, because I don’t think it is the role of a government to decide who is honourable”].

Image: Les politiciens européens faisant preuve d’agressivité / European politicians in a display of aggression

Do you want to be President perhaps? Again, Onfray notes that there is not only happiness in this pursuit since it means having lots of stress, and trouble and having to make decisions about everything constantly, while knowing that the whole world will be scrutinizing your every move. And by being in charge of the administration, you will be surrounded by liars and hypocrites; you will also lose many of your friends while not being completely free of your emotions and to express yourself, or to indulge in the everyday pleasures of life – you will be forced to wear a social mask and take part in a bureaucratic theatrical sham that the whole world is aware of in the 21st century. Epicurean thinking undoes all these fictions that make you unhappy.

In citing the above examples, the point is not to discourage anyone from desiring a Legion d’honneur or to dissuade from wanting to reach the head of state, but it is simply to argue that if the conditions are against these goals, it should not stunt you since life is layered and there will always be reasons to be happy, to live fully, to have an exciting existence and to remain serene while keeping your inner greatness and your honour intact.

Lucretius thought tells us that wisdom can be achieved, and that it consists of an arithmetic of pleasures with a dietetics of desireswe have to give the body what it desires but we also need to make sure that we stay within a limit so that the body does not become a slave to what we give it.

The idea is truer than reality

Onfray reminds us that the history of philosophy is made up of opposition between idealists and materialists. In the end, it is the idealists who have come to dominate the world of thought since Christianity is a form of idealism – Friedrich Nietzsche said that Christianity is Platonism for the poor.

Idealism is based on the argument that the idea is more true than reality. What we perceive as reality is in fact an illusion. This thought is also supported by Jacques Lacan, who explains that the real is not reality, because reality for the individual is what has a symbolic value.

What we see in the real, in all its banality, is not reality since the ideal world does not need it to exist, nor does the individual since he does not attach any importance to it – it is a part that is almost invisible to the eyes and especially to the mind.

These concepts, in the time of Cicero and Lucretius, made the philosophers did politics in spite of themselves. Politicians were also involved in philosophy, since to be a Stoic or an Epicurean is to have a certain belief in the structural values of a world and of the individual, and therefore, these are political issues. Onfray skilfully and ironically invites us to try to imagine the climate of political mediocrity in the 21st century with presidential candidates who would have been Sartreans, Camusians, Aronians, etc.

Moreover, towards the end of his writings, Lucretius explained the beginning of the end of his era; he could clearly see that the republican Rome in which he lived had nothing of the great imperial Rome of before. Onfray finds the present situation in the 21st century comparable to that precise historical epoch described by Lucretius, who sensed the decomposition of the republican Roman state and saw this as the herald of a new form of civilisation, which is the one of our generation today; he predicted that our civilisation too would disappear in its turn to give birth to something else.

An aesthetic of existence: a dynamic world that allows for self-sculpting

In contrast to Epicurean thought, the philosopher Plato’s vision of a republic was not truly egalitarian and just, because the Platonic republic was based on an almost unmovable hierarchy. In Plato’s republic, we have a social structure that places the philosopher at the top of the pyramid, then at the base we have those who work, and in between these two categories we have the military to enforce the law and act as a barrier to prevent individuals from the working classes from having the desire to be people of power.

A true republic must be the result of a vision of justice, but this Platonic republic is not truly just, since it prevents and discourages a section of its population from risingan idea contrary to the science, psychology and enlightenment heritage of Descartes and Voltaire. In this Platonic republic, we find the aristocrats (who nowadays might represent the very wealthy) who after esoteric classes among themselves get the opportunity to maintain or take power in order to keep this terrible hierarchy going.

But in Epicurean philosophy, we have what is called the garden of Epicurus. And since Epicureans believe that one must live to resemble gods who know ataraxy (the absence of suffering), Onfray extrapolates to point out that this presupposes that in Epicureanism, men live as friends; and observes that if Lucretius had completed his writings, there would most likely be a greater consideration of friendship between men than in the texts that influenced him, i.e. Epicurus himself.

Onfray argues that there is an idea in Epicureanism about friendship that tells us that on earth we can build an ideal communitya kind of republic in Epicurus’ garden that would be truly egalitarian and just, and that would contrast with the injustice in Plato’s republic. Unlike Plato, among the Epicureans there is room for everyone: men, women, young, old, poor and also those who are not poor. In this sense, this human composition is astonishing since it really aims at making a civilisation work while synchronizing in a spirit of fraternity and mutual aid all its members.

The modern society closest to those ideals of the Epicurean garden republic or “république du jardin” (as Onfray phrased it) is the French civilisation. It was the French revolution, which had been heavily influenced by the ideas of the intellectuals of the Enlightenment [i.e. the 18th century intellectual movement of reason], that would secularise a number of concepts inspired by Christianity into the constitution, most notably the famous « Liberté, égalité, fraternité » [Translation / French for: “Liberty, equality, fraternity”], which is inspired from the free will of Christians. Equality [Égalité] is derived from the belief in equality before God, and brotherhood [Fraternité] is derived from the concept of the community of the ecclesia. Liberté [Freedom], of course, most people know what this means, which is the freedom to explore, to choose, to discover, to learn, to express ourself, to speak, to have open debates, to question, to propose, to love, to create, to live life fully within the limits of reason and respect for the mother psychosocial sphere. The new generation of French people secularised and embedded those values with the firm belief that “we have a universal world view; we want everyone to share our values – liberté, égalité, fraternité!“.

In this vision of the Epicurean republic, which could be called a “garden republic”, there is an idea that echoes the organic theory of psychological construction that we have developed; a belief in line with modern psychological science in the capacity of the human organism (the individual) to educate itself, to cultivate and sculpt its mind, to deepen its discourse, and to elevate itself through its own intellectual efforts; and so there is a belief in the nobility of meritocracya meritocratic hierarchy based on effort, talent and merit, and open to all!

In the Epicurean garden, we have this idea that it is never too late or too early to philosophise: you can philosophise if you are young, or if you are very old! If some of you think that at 80 years old it might be too late to philosophise, Epicurean thinking will prove you wrong! The time is always right – better late than never.

The very young, children, as soon as they have the capacity to think, can start philosophising. Of course, it would be unreasonable to impose on a three-year-old the knowledge and full understanding of the logical reasoning of the thoughts of Lacan, Nietzsche, Darwin, Schopenhauer, Voltaire, Kant, Camus, Descartes, Freud and Rousseau. But we can start to implant the ability to reason and question from a very young age; to teach them to think about the world, to think about their place in the world, to question life and the structures of civilisation to develop a critical sense and also a sophisticated reasoning that will allow them to have solid opinions; this is what I call creativity, and this foundation will develop and serve them in all fields for a lifetime and maybe even their children if the transmission is done.

Time is limited: put excellence into every moment and don’t waste the second

In a logic and line of thought similar to ours, Onfray very perceptively suggests that an individual must understand that the moment we live is not eternal. Therefore, to live as if we have an infinite number of moments is not reasonable, since our time on earth among humans is counted. Just as in the womb there is a limited number of eggs and at a certain age the ability to give life stops – for some this is not even possible from birth, for some it stops early, for others late, for some with much pain, for others peacefully.

But Epicureanism opens the eyes of those who encounter it, and asks the individual not to waste the second, not to waste the moment, not to waste the day; if we do not use our time productively to live, we lose it forever since time is counted and will not return.

In the 2021 interview with Pierre Coutelle, Michel Onfray uses everyday scenes from life in the modern world to emphasise the importance of not wasting time, explaining that many people simply think that their lives will magically turn out okay; those ordinary people who are in the industrialised routine of the five-day week (i.e. wake up every morning, look at the time, shower, coffee, get the kids ready for school, train, office, work, anecdotes from the kids who find school unbearable, trouble at the office, coffee breaks for a quick bite to eat, and then the same recipe on Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday) As for the weekend, everyone is exhausted, so on Sunday these people stay in slippers or trainers, they don’t shave, they don’t wash, they’re not clean or fresh, they smell bad, they watch TV, they flick from one channel to another, and then, on Monday, it all starts again!

In the face of all this, Onfray’s observations invite civilisation to ask itself the following questions:

« Est-ce que c’est ça la vie ? »

Traduction[EN]: “Is this what life is all about?”

« Est-ce que c’est ça que nous voulons comme vie ? »

Traduction[EN]: “Is this what we want as life?”

« Est-ce que nous pouvons nous s’asseoir paisiblement en pensant qu’a un moment donné tout cela va changer magiquement et le bonheur apparaitra ? »

Traduction[EN]: “Can we sit back and think that at some point all this will magically change and happiness will appear?”

« Ne serait-il pas convenable de prendre les choses en main toute de suite sans perdre de temps pour changer notre existence de tel sorte qu’on ne vive pas cette vie raté et nulle ? »

Traduction[EN]: “Wouldn’t it be nice to take matters into our own hands right now without wasting time to change our existence so that we don’t live this failed and lousy life?”

The Epicurean thought that inspired the writings of Lucretius asks us to put excellence in every moment and not to bear mediocrity, every moment lost is definitely lost! This may not be a great revolution for those who are self-aware, civilised and have cultivated the art of critical thinking, but these questions simply push us towards answers that ask us to live each moment as if we could see it reappear infinitely.

If you are still reading this essay and have felt and understood the arguments, then asking yourself the other three questions would be constructive:

« Est-ce qu’on va encore démarrer sa semaine de la même manière ? »

Traduction[EN]: “Are we going to start our week the same way again?”

Crédits : Philippe Lopez – AFP

That is, for example:
– Going to work knowing that we live with people we don’t love, and who don’t love us?
– Knowing that the relationship with the people you work with or with your children is not serene and healthy?

« Est-ce qu’on a envie que ça continue ainsi et que ça se répète sans cesse ? »

Traduction[EN]: “Do we want it to continue like this and repeat itself over and over again?”

« Pouvez-vous vous mettre à la place d’un autre être humain ? »

Traduction[EN]: “Can you put yourself in the place of another human being?”

« Pensez-vous qu’un autre être humain puisse éprouver des émotions ? »
[Par exemple, des émotions telles que la confusion, le dégoût, la colère, l’horreur, la honte, la tristesse, la faiblesse, l’anxiété, la solitude, l’ennui, la douleur empathique, la nostalgie, le soulagement, la satisfaction, l’admiration, la joie, le calme, l’excitation, etc ?]

Traduction[EN]: “Do you think another human being can experience emotions?”
[For e.g., emotions such as confusion, disgust, anger, horror, shame, sadness, weakness, anxiety, loneliness, boredom, empathic pain, nostalgia, relief, satisfaction, admiration, joy, calmness, excitement, etc ?]

« Puisque l’on serait Dieu si l’on était parfait, et que l’on n’est pas Dieu. Pouvez-vous imaginer la possibilité que votre comportement ou celui d’un autre être humain puisse déclencher certaines des émotions négatives ou positives mentionnées ci-dessus chez un autre être humain ? »

Traduction[EN]: “Since one would be God if one was perfect, and one is not God. Can you imagine the possibility that your behaviour or another human beings’s behaviour could trigger some of the above negative or positive emotions in another human being?”

« Ne devrions-nous pas faire tout ce qui est nécessaire pour arranger les choses, afin que les expériences négatives et horribles n’aient plus lieu et que le reste de notre vie soit différent ? »

Traduction[EN]: “Shouldn’t we do whatever is necessary to make things right, so that negative and horrific experiences do not take place anymore and the rest of our lives are different?”

Carl Jung was incredibly accurate in saying: “Crises, upheavals and illness do not happen by chance, they serve as indicators to rectify a trajectory, explore new directions, experience another way of life.”

CITATION Jung - les crises &amp; bouleversements (un autre chemin de vie)

« Les crises, les bouleversements et la maladie ne surgissent pas par hasard. Ils nous servent d’indicateurs pour rectifier une trajectoire, explorer de nouvelles orientations, expérimenter un autre chemin de vie. » / Traduction[EN]: “Crises, upheavals and illness do not happen by chance, they serve as indicators to rectify a trajectory, explore new directions, experience another way of life.” – Carl Jung

In 1948, from an article entitled “Ni victimes ni bourreaux” and in the chapter entitled “Le siècle de la peur” [French for, “The century of fear”], Albert Camus wrote that man lived in terror; between generalised fear of some kind of war that everyone at that time seemed to be preparing for, and the particular fear of murderous ideologies. Surprisingly, his words seem still fresh for our world today.

Camus saw man living in terror because persuasion seemed impossible, since man had been handed over entirely to history [as if history had stopped and could not be written anymore]. For Camus, man seems unable to turn to that part of himself, which is just as true as history itself, that part of himself which he finds in front of the beauty of the world and of human faces; because man lives in a world of abstraction, which is the world of offices and machines, the world of absolute ideas and messianism without nuance. Camus noted that man suffocates among people who believe that they are absolutely right, whether in their machines or in their ideas; he observed that for all us who can only live in dialogue and human friendship, that silence means the end of the world.

2022-02-05 Camus (La Peur) D'Purb dpurb site

« Entre la peur très générale d’une guerre que tout le monde prépare et la peur toute particulière des idéologies meurtrières, il est donc bien vrai que nous vivons dans la terreur. Nous vivons dans la terreur parce que la persuasion n’est plus possible, parce que l’homme a été livré tout entier à l’histoire et qu’il ne peut plus se tourner vers cette part de lui-même, aussi vraie que la part historique, et qu’il retrouve devant la beauté du monde et des visages ; parce que nous vivons dans le monde de l’abstraction, celui des bureaux et des machines, des idées absolues et du messianisme sans nuances. Nous étouffons parmi les gens qui croient absolument avoir raison, que ce soit dans leurs machines ou dans leurs idées. Et pour tous ceux qui ne peuvent vivre que dans le dialogue et dans l’amitié des hommes, ce silence est la fin du monde. » / Traduction [EN]: “Between the very general fear of a war that everyone is preparing for and the very particular fear of murderous ideologies, it is therefore true that we live in terror. We live in terror because persuasion is no longer possible, because man has been handed over entirely to history and can no longer turn to that part of himself which is as true as the historical part and which he finds again before the beauty of the world and of faces; because we live in the world of abstraction, the world of offices and machines, of absolute ideas and of messianism without nuance. We suffocate among people who believe they are absolutely right, whether in their machines or in their ideas. And for all those who can only live in dialogue and human friendship, this silence is the end of the world.” – Albert Camus

However, Camus also argued that in order to get out of that terror, one should be able to think, reflect and act on one’s reflection. But if man lives in a world of terror, it is precisely the terror that creates a climate that does not encourage or provide space for reflection. He was of the opinion that instead of blaming that terror, we should work to find a solution to it, and that there was nothing more important because it concerns the fate of a great number of human beings who are fed up of violence and lies, disappointed in their highest hopes, disgusted at the thought of inflicting suffering on their fellow men.

Learning to live a life so that you won’t regret it when death comes

Optimists see the best everywhere, pessimists see the worst everywhere. Tragic people see reality as it is, and this requires a lot of courage because reality in all its rawness is not always easy, even if what it presents is of no value to us and we are almost blind to that empty aspect of life which symbolises nothing. In spite of this, tragics do not tend to make myths or fictions – they see the real, it is not perfect, but it is so.

Lucretius is known to be a vitalist, and this line of thought tends towards the tragic since vitalists are firmly anchored in the fact that everything that is alive will eventually die. In the organic world, there is always a cycle: growth, decay and then extinction. Onfray points out that this also applies to civilisations. This is a very logical observation since the Aztec civilisation, the Egyptian empire with the pharaohs, the Roman empire, the empire of Alexander, to name a few examples, no longer exist – except in the form of fragments preserved in our museums. The conclusion is that nothing and no one can stop the disappearance of what has done its time – of what eventually becomes obsolete.

Tragedy thus reminds us that no one and almost nothing (except atoms) will last forever and that we will all eventually disappear. This notion is exactly the treasure of tragic thinking, because it makes us understand that we really have to learn to live a sublime life in every sense. We must cherish each day and lead a life that will allow us to watch death come with a smile, serenely, telling ourselves that if we had to do it again, we would do it exactly the same way without any regrets.

Image: Socrate
(470-469 av. J.-C. –
399 av. J.-C.) a en train de débattre

Reality, as Onfray reminds us, is made up of many people who, at the moment of death, regret not having done a lot of things that were important to them, not having made the right choices, not having given enough importance to this or that person in their life, not having succeeded in realising their dreams, etc. So we have to learn to live and lead a life in a way that will not leave us in pain and regret the day death decides that our journey among humans has come to an end.

“La mort de Napoléon” (1828) par Charles de Steuben. Musée Napoléon, Palais d’Arenenberg, Suisse.

Will power: do we have power over ourselves?

The Epicurean philosophers’ reflection on life is nothing more than an invitation to will power to counteract suffering.

In contrast to the Epicurean philosophers, the philosophers of fate always have something problematic; they believe that everything is already written. But if there is only fatality, what can we do with free will? Onfray also invites us to ask ourselves this question. If everything is already written, how is it that we have the possibility of choosing?

– For example, to eat a strawberry instead of a potato? To move to a city or a village? To read Balzac or Camus? To study the mind or law? To become a writer or an electrician? To write an academic book or a work of fiction? To engage in debates and learn from the great intellectuals to change the world or to chat with tramps in a bar? To criticize politics, gastronomy, sports, technology, economics, psychology, philosophy, art or business?

The question of the individual having power over his life has long been the question of Nietzsche, Spinoza, and the Stoics. The Epicureans, on the other hand, never asked this question about the power of the will over oneself. But if there really is a fatality of what happens, then what can be done with will power?

– Does will power exist?

– Does man have power over himself?

Lucretius, like us, truly believes that we have power over ourselves, that we can take matters into our own hands to change our destiny and guide it towards healthier and more harmonious horizons. All we have to do is to want it: to live each moment of life as if it were our last, to live each day as if it were our last. But abusing any good remedy can be harmful, and this is where Onfray asks us to impose a certain reasonable limit.

Living each day as if it were your last should not lead an adult to suddenly throw out his children, whom he finds untalented, personality-less, and future-less; to suddenly divorce his annoying spouse without discussion; to take all his money and spend it at the casino or betting on a horse; to suddenly quit his job while savagely insulting his tyrannical boss, whom he has always found to be rude, disrespectful, insensitive, intransigent, and depressing. If Epicurean philosophy makes you think that it is justifiable to act in this way then you have misunderstood, because if this is not your last day on earth, the next day you will find yourself in a truly miserable and possibly suicidal state.


Living each moment of life as if it were the last, and living each day as if it were the last, should inspire you to build your life discreetly, modestly, but powerfully
!

Onfray tells us that it is to willingly accept that your current life is miserable. In that sense, to acknowledge that the elements that define your life are not well organized; and therefore, to say to yourself:

« Je ne vais pas passer ma vie à vivre des choses qui ne me conviennent pas. Je n’aurais pas deux vies. »

Traduction[EN]: “I’m not going to spend my life living things that don’t suit me. I won’t have two lives.”

It’s a way of motivating yourself to build your present so that you can be happy and live in the absence of suffering – it’s a revolutionary healing thought!

Onfray believes that Lucretius’ work was left unfinished, and so there is a clear doctrine on friendship that might be found in the missing pages. There are, however, a few lines, which Onfray believes represent an idea that an individual can have a companion or a being in his life, with whom the capacity to share something serene, calm, without hatred, without war, without contempt, with gentleness and tenderness, develops. There is here the idea of love as a remedy for passion.

An invitation to a sculpture of the self: the psychological construction

Lucretius’ work echoes my own thinking in the sense that it is an encyclopedic elaboration. Lucretius left us an encyclopaedic poem, a knowledge where he painted a dynamic world. Like the logic of the organismic theory of psychological construction that we have developed, Lucretius’ perspective is quite similar since he is a dynamic atomist, not a purely mechanical and reductionist one. He starts with the atom and then explains life; we start with the individual organism and then explain everything by extrapolating a theory derived from established work in various fields, respecting a logic based on scientific observation while valuing clarity in the explanation.

Like the organismic theory of psychological design, Lucretius’ work is also an invitation to sculpt the self, in its psychological depth, in order to re-establish sound philosophical foundations that allow one to structure one’s thinking and thus modify one’s perception for a more harmonious life; it is an aesthetics of existence that aims to decorate and reshape the mind in order to promote mental equilibrium and thus keep the mind harmonious in all the dramatic situations of life.

The Romans proposed a conversion, which was also a consolation quite similar to the initiation ceremony of Freemasonry in the sense that there is the life before which one renounces, and then there is the life after which one adopts for good; it is like a new birth, and so by accepting the conversion, one is reborn – it is a rebirth.

Conversion among Roman thinkers means adopting a new life: rebirth

Among the Romans, when one has accepted one’s conversion, it is no longer the same life; among the followers of Epicurean philosophy there is no initiation ceremony as in Freemasonry, but simply the meeting with, or one could say the adoption of, a “maître” (master); a wise man who initiates us by transmitting his knowledge and reminding us the real is simply made of atoms in free fall in the void; that the real is material and does not constitute reality; that the idea is truer than reality; that this physics of the here below dispenses with a metaphysics of the world beyond; that paradise exists on earth but it must be built with determination!

As Michel Onfray also points out, when we meet this “maître” (master of thought), one fine day he enters our lives, opens the curtains (metaphorically) and everything becomes clear. In Roman antiquity it was like this, with an existential maître of truth who asks us to strip ourselves of all our old clothes (metaphorically – to describe our old life) in order to live another life from now on; a life that will allow us to be sovereign over ourselves, lord of ourselves, and in becoming so we will know truth, freedom and enjoyment.

Onfray emphasises that hedonism is this: be the master of yourself, and you will see what jubilation there is in being so! Lucretius’ Epicurean thought finally seems to wake us up by showing us what an excellent life we have the possibility to live – without pain and without horror.

Rome was founded from a collection of people of different origins, so the Romans genuinely believed in the concept of assimilation and never had any problems imagining that a foreigner could become fully Roman [As explained in detail in the essay, “Psychological Explanations of Prejudice & Discrimination and the Conceptual Philosophy of Assimilation à la Française“]. The Europe of the 21st century – at least in nations with a sophisticated breed of refined thinkers such as those of the French intellectual heritage – is a direct heir to this large-scale assimilation of the Roman tradition.

Matter: everything can be explained from the atom

Lucretius’ philosophy is atomistic and shows us that reality is simply material and consists only of atoms that fall into the void and nothing else. Epicureanism is a very subtle thought, and in Lucretius’s work we find a vitalist materialism. Onfray points out that it is not just the atom that is found in the atom, but much more; there is an arrangement of atoms.

Epicureanism is therefore not a vulgar, simplistic or reductionist mechanism. Obviously, it starts with an atom, but this atom goes on to explain the creation of civilisation, i.e. the whole world; in this sense, Lucretius’ Epicureanism is a profoundly sophisticated proposition.

This idea of the atom was already present in the work of the Greeks and Democritus. The latter had found inspiration in a very ordinary everyday scene. Democritus was in his room with the curtains closed, and through a small opening a ray of light entered, and at that moment Democritus saw a very fine cloud of dust dancing in that ray of lightan event that man does not see with the naked eye, but which is revealed by the light. These dust particles that constitute our whole world and reality as it is, represent the atoms (the term “Atomos” is used in Greek, referring to the hypothetical ultimate particles of matter, a word that meant uncut, since the atom is the smallest indivisible unit of matter).

In Lucretius’ work, everything is explained from the atom: one atom meets another atom and so on to start a chain process and eventually we see the world structured into an infinite number of universes. In this sense, it is a coherent thought, intuitive but also empirical. Onfray points out that even if we visit the works of Lamarck and Darwin, the evolutionary explanations, quantum mechanics, the theory of the multiverse and the multiverse, we can see that Lucretius’ thought cannot be disqualified, since it resonates with the whole scientific philosophy of the modern world.

When we speak of atoms, we are speaking of the making of the whole universe and of all life, and so there is a certain mystical and spiritual aspect where we might well associate the creative process which for many is connected to God, that is, the divine creation of everything from matter. How something as simple and mundane as seeing a few particles of dust in the light through the curtains in a bedroom can reveal to us this idea of the atom giving birth to the world and the universe is truly amazing; moreover, 25 centuries later, the atom and the intellectual debates about creation are still part of our reality.

Anything that has mass and take up a given amount of volume is defined as matter. As such, everything around us is made up of matter, and to go further, everything is made up of atoms. Atoms however are incredibly far from one another since they are more void than they are matter. Every atom has a nucleus  in the centre, surrounded by electrons.

To understand the relative size of the empty space that represents the void in an atom, we can imagine the nucleus [noyau in French] being the size of a peanut, and if that was the case, the entire atom would be about the size of a large football stadium. Around the edges of that stadium the electrons exist, their numbers varying by different elements. Hence, a nucleus is about 100 000 times smaller than the atom in which they are locked in, hence the atom is practically empty space.

If all the empty space was removed from every single atom in every single human being on earth (i.e. around 7.6 billion people), then compressed together, the overall volume of all the particles that make up the whole human population would be smaller than a sugar cube. This may sound ridiculous, however, it makes sense when we consider the weight of that sugar cube of human beings, because it would weight exactly the same as the sum of weight of all human beings on earth. If we assume an average weight of 45 Kg (considering children weight less and adults more) for 7.6 billion people, that small sugar cube would reach a weight of 345 billion Kg, which is the equivalent of around 1000 huge skyscrapers.

Atoms make up 100% of the universe and since 99% of the atom is empty space, we come to the conclusion that a human being is made up of nothingness. Every human being on planet Earth is made up of several millions of atoms [around 7,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 (7 octillion) per person], and every single atom is 99% empty space.

If everything is made of matter, what are the gods made of? Matter!

Onfray explains it in a simple way accessible to all, this notion in Lucretius that atoms are extremely subtle, and that there is a theory of simulacra. If you and I are on stage and there is an audience that sees us, this theory of simulacra suggests that metaphorically there is a kind of aura, a layer, or a skin that comes off of us that is made of atomic particles and that diffuses into the external environment.

If you hear me, it is because my speech passes through in the form of sound as I speak, and the act of speaking emits atoms according to this theory of simulacra: these atoms of my speech travel all over the world, and they are simulacra which penetrate into the ears and into the minds of those who listen to us; into the eyes as far as vision is concerned; at which point one develops the possibility of the art of communication.

“Tête Raphaélesque Éclatée” par Salvador Dali (1951)

To sum up Lucretius’ theory of simulacra clearly, it is simply to understand that there are simulacra everywhere, all the time! Onfray invites us to imagine that these atoms of simulacra are like waves during the use of a mobile phone; waves which are invisible to the eye but which remain very present. Simulacra operate in the same way; they are extremely tenuous atoms that travel, circulate and offer the possibility of seeing, tasting, hearing, perceiving, among many other capacities.

Since these atoms of simulacra are indeed present in the environment and proceed subtly in the effects they generate while being invisible, then the gods must be made of this kind of subtle matter. Onfray explains that we have one world, two worlds, many worlds, and this multiplicity of worlds implies that there are interworlds. The gods are present in the interworlds and are made of matter, and represent an autonomous power that is satisfied with itself; a power that knows ataraxy (which means the end of suffering).

The gods rejoice in being and enjoy the power of existence; the Epicureans ask man to resemble these gods, to know the absence of trouble – this absence of suffering is enjoyment!

So, we see that this enjoyment is not crude as Cicero’s Stoic thought conceived it.

Based on this theory of atoms, the Epicureans tell us that death is not to be feared because it is simply a disorganisation and reorganisation of matter and not its suppression; all matter that decomposes will eventually recompose itself, it is an eternal cycle and an atomic recycling of the universe.

This idea of the eternal recycling of matter (and thus of atoms) seems to suggest that there might be a kind of resurrection in atomic terms, that a dead being can have fragments of the matter of which it was composed transported into another being generations later; this is perhaps one of the many reasons for the presence of the qualities of great dead men in succeeding generations, whether in terms of personality or physical resemblance; it is something for deep atomic thinkers to ponder: the atom cannot be destroyed and is eternal, there is a limited amount of matter and on earth it follows an eternal cycle of recycling. This observation seems to echo a metaphoric interpretation of reincarnation in Hinduism, where it is believed that a living being begins a new life in a different physical form or body after biological death.

Most of the atoms on Earth have been present since the formation of the planet itself; a small amount came from outer space and through nuclear reactions. As such, human beings are just a composition of atoms that used to part of something else, we are all recycled. The atoms in our living body used to be the food, the water and the air we consume to remain alive; since our conception in the womb, food, water and air (and all tha atoms that consitute them) has been used by our organic body and transformed into what we are.

When a person dies, the atoms that made up its body is quickly recycled. If a human corpse is buried, the bacteria in the intestinal tract are starved from not being given any food, and they start devouring the corpse itself which leads to decomposition. Decomposition is also dependent on temperature, i.e. a corpse in the tropics will be reduced to a skeleton within days or weeks. If a corpse is buried in a wooden coffin, it quickly becomes food for organisms that live in the soil (e.g. worms), and the atoms that were part of that dead body quickly re-enters the food chain – those atoms become part of whatever consumed the corpse and later of whatever consumes that organism. When the bones decay, which is a slower process, the calcium and phosphorous in those bones will be incorporated in plants. Eventually, those plants will be consumed by people or animals, and those living organisms eventually die, and the cycle through the biosphere goes on over and over. If a corpse is buried in a hermetically sealed container or crypt, then the recycling process is interrupted and that body turns into a soup of rotting flesh and bones. If a corpse is embalmed, then the decomposition process is slowed down, but not halted completely. If a person dies in a very cold region, e.g. on a glacier, then the corpse may be found perfectly frozen and intact dozens or hundreds of year later. In the case where a corpse is cremated, the organic body is combusted, the soft tissues are consumed by oxygen and mostly turn into carbon dioxide: the gases are released into the atmosphere and the bones are reduced to ash, which is mostly carbon. The atoms released in the air from combustion are quickly recycled into other things in the biosphere [environment]; if a person’s ashes are spread around, they eventually re-enter the food chain or are converted into minerals. As such, tiny pieces of a person [his atoms] of this generation, may eventually end up in the pork chop, the corn flakes or the potato salad of his or her grand children.

Hence, the atoms that make up our body come from outer space, and have been around for billions of years since the creation of Earth. We get to use them for a very short amount of time, since our average lifetime is incredibly short and meaningless when we speak in planetary terms [consider a very young planet being 25 million years]. We should make the most of our atoms while we can, because our life is short and once we are gone, our atoms are converted into something else.

The law of thermodynamics states that both matter, which is made up of atoms, and energy can neither be created nor destroyed. Thus, all the atoms in our physical dead body eventually get recycled.

Hence, we can ask ourselves this question:

“Are we truly dead if our atoms still exist?”

Philosophy, Poetry, Tragedy & Comedy were Linked for Centuries

12 hommes en colère de Reginald Rose dpurb 2022

Image : “12 hommes en colère” de Reginald Rose, adaptée par Francis Lombrail et mise en scène par Charles Tordjman (Théâtre Hébertot, Paris, 2022) / Photo : Fabienne Rappeneau

Lucretius’ philosophical work is a huge poem that has been poorly translated like all ancient poetry. Aeschylus, Euripides, Sophocles and the Roman comedy (e.g. The Iliad, The Odyssey) were all written in verse; this aspect has been forgotten because all translations were made in prose. 5 or 6 years before Christ, intellectuals had to memorise, and poetry was used because it facilitates memorising: just as a song allows us to memorise the words more easily (e.g. Aragon’s poem, sung by Jean Farrain).

There is a lyrical dimension to Lucretius, it is a poetic and scenic dimension. Onfray finds that Lucretius, in his style, tries to get people on board. This is a tangible deduction when we know the extent of Lucretius’ Epicurean thought, which gives the concrete feeling of a real intellectual journey that transforms us for good.

If we take the example of a passage of Lucretius in “De Rerum Natura” which is in the last section of Canto VI, where he describes the plague in Athens, we can see with what descriptive mastery he makes the scene of the plague present, explaining to us a detailed chronology of the beginning, the development and then the horrors of death on men. Onfray wonders if this is really reality and asks himself:

– Is it metaphorical?

– Is it allegorical?

Anything is possible in Lucretius, Onfray notes that he seeks to reach those who are listening, in a message that tries to make the point that the real plague is the human condition – again a metaphor that seems to describe what might be called mental illness in the 21st century.

Philosophy, poetry, tragedy and comedy were linked for centuries. What Lucretius leaves us is an immense existential treatise synthesized in an encyclopedia of the world. Translated into prose, it is an intellectual material available for everyday life where pleasure, which means the absence of suffering, is what we seek and aim for!

Throughout this essay, we have also seen how so many thinkers across different generations have had their thoughts echo each other’s perspectives and beliefs with many also confirmed by modern science.  Good ideas, or good people, find each other and fit together. This reminds the world that all intellectual work that is built on the solid foundations of reason, logic and rationality will echo in eternity. Voltaire was completely right in his correspondence with M. Thiériot dated June 30, 1760, when he wrote: « Les beaux esprits se rencontrent. » [French for: “Beautiful minds meet.”]

« Les beaux esprits se rencontrent. » // Traduction[EN]: “Beautiful minds meet.” – Descartes

In Lucretius’ writings, there is a multitude of ethical and moral propositions that give man the ability to liberate himself by elevating his mind, to lead an Epicurean philosophical life in particular, a life that is made for happiness – “l’art de vivre” according to Lucretius!

Danny J. D’Purb | DPURB.com

*****

Références

  1. Camus, A., (1948). Ni victimes ni bourreaux. Combat.
  2. Carmel, S., Tovel, H., Raveis, V. and O’Rourke, N., (2018). Is a Decline in Will to Live a Consequence or Predictor of Depression in Late Life?. Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, 66(7), pp.1290-1295.
  3. Cohen, S., Frank, E., Doyle, W.J., Skoner, D.P., Rabin, B.S. & Gwaltney, J.M., Jr. (1998) Types of stressors that increase susceptibility to the common cold in adults, Health Psychology 17: 214- 23.
  4. Cohen, S. (2005) The Pittsburgh common cold studies: Psychosocial predictors of susceptibility to respiratory infectious illness, International Journal of Behavioral Medecine 12: 123-31.
  5. Cowen, A. and Keltner, D., (2017). Self-report captures 27 distinct categories of emotion bridged by continuous gradients. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 114(38), pp.E7900-E7909.
  6. Eisenthal, Y., Dror, G. and Ruppin, E., (2006). Facial Attractiveness: Beauty and the Machine. Neural Computation, 18(1), pp.119-142.
  7. France Inter., (2022). La fécondité des Françaises de plus de 40 ans en hausse depuis 1980, d’après l’Insee. France Inter: Société.
  8. Grammer, K. and Thornhill, R., (1994). Human (Homo sapiens) facial attractiveness and sexual selection: The role of symmetry and averageness. Journal of Comparative Psychology, 108(3), pp.233-242.
  9. Hagman, G., (2002). The Sense of Beauty. The International Journal of Psychoanalysis, 83(3), pp.661-674.
  10. Haughton, N., (2004). Perceptions of beauty in Renaissance art. Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology, 3(4), pp.229-233.
  11. Hubbard, T., (2014). A companion to Greek and Roman sexualities. Chichester: West Sussex, UK.
  12. Kiecolt-Glaser, J.K., Marucha, P.T., Malarkey, W.B., Mercado, A.M. & Glaser, R. (1995) Slowing of wound healing by psychological stress, The Lancet 346: 1194-6
  13. Kiecolt-Glaser, JK., McGuire, L., Robles, TF., Glaer, R. (2002) Psychoneuroimmunology: Psychological Influences on Immune Function and Health, J Consult Clinical Psychology, 70, 537-47
  14. Lazarus, R.S. & Folkman, S. (1984) Stress, Appraisal and Coping, New York: Springer
  15. Le Monde, (2015). Thomas Piketty refuse la Légion d’honneur. Culture. Le Monde.
  16. Liu, C. and Chen, W., (2012). Beauty is Better Pursued: Effects of Attractiveness in Multiple-Face Tracking. Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology, 65(3), pp.553-564.
  17. Lucrèce. and Combeaud, B., (2021). La naissance des choses. Bordeaux: Mollat Editions.
  18. Marcucci, L., (2016). L’« homme vitruvien » et les enjeux de la représentation du corps dans les arts à la Renaissance. Nouvelle revue d’esthétique, 17(1), p.105.
  19. Marucha, P.T., Kiecolt-Glaser, J.K. & Favagehi, M. (1998) Mucosal wound healing is impaired by examination stress, Psychosomatic Medicine60 362-5
  20. Murr, D., Lavaud, L. and Trinquier, J., (2020). Présentation. Aitia. Regards sur la culture hellénistique au XXIe siècle, (10).
  21. O’Connor, D.B., Hendrickx, H., Dadd, T. et al. (2009) Cortisol awakening rise in middle-aged women in relation to chronic psychological stress, Psychoneuroendocrinology 34: 1486-94
  22. Onfray, M., (2021). La conversion: Vivre Selon Lucrèce. Bordeaux: Mollat Editions.
  23. Schmutte, H., (2016). Nietzsche: Entre Génie Et Démence. ARTE
  24. Schopenhauer, A., Roos, R. and Burdeau, A., (2014). Le monde comme volonté et comme représentation. 3rd ed. Paris: Presses Universitaires de France.
  25. Singh, D. and Singh, D., (2011). Shape and Significance of Feminine Beauty: An Evolutionary Perspective. Sex Roles, 64(9-10), pp.723-731.
  26. Stansbury-O’Donnell, M., (2013). Desirability and the Body. A Companion to Greek and Roman Sexualities, pp.31-53.
  27. Sypeck, M., Gray, J. and Ahrens, A., (2004). No longer just a pretty face: Fashion magazines’ depictions of ideal female beauty from 1959 to 1999. International Journal of Eating Disorders, 36(3), pp.342-347.
  28. The Encyclopedia of Greek Tragedy, (2012). Male and Female Body in Greek Tragedy. pp.789-791.

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Essay // History on Western Philosophy, Religious cultures, Science, Medicine & Secularisation

Mis à jour le Samedi, 17 Avril 2021Essay History Histoire danny d'purb dpurb site web

Part I: Western Philosophy

The fact that philosophy’s focus has never remained static over time makes its history very complex with the added possibility that most of the early writers may have even been philosophers before historians. The world’s main philosophical trends and traditions can however be traced with a decent amount of precision while considering that the ruling philosophy of any period is determined by the socio-cultural climate and economic context [when it was written and published].

The first Western philosophers, starting with Thales of Miletus (c.620-c.555BC), were cosmologists who made inquiries about the nature and origin of all things; what defined them particularly as a new type of thinkers was that their speculations unlike those before them were purely naturalistic and not based on or guided by myth or legend. The traditions of Western philosophy originates around the Aegean Sea and southern Italy in the 6c BC in the Greek-speaking region which saw its philosophical traditions and teachings blossom with Plato (c.428-c.348BC) and Aristotle (384-322BC), who have remained highly influential in Western thought, and who probed virtually all areas of knowledge; no distinction separated theology, philosophy and science then.

As the centuries came, Christianity grew as a major religious and socio-cultural force in Europe (2-5c), and apologists such as Augustine de Hippo (354-430) started to synthesise the Christian world-view with ancient philosophy, a tradition that continued with St Thomas Aquinas (1225-1274) and throughout the Middle Ages.

As the 16c and the 17c were the years that experienced the Scientific Revolution, the physical sciences started to assert their authority as a field of their own and grow separate from theology and philosophy. A new age of Rationalist philosophers, notably Descartes (1596-1650) started their works based on the minute analysis and interpretation of the philosophical implications of the ground-breaking new scientific discoveries and knowledge of the time. The 18c produced the empiricist school of thought of John Locke and David Hume (1711-1776) in the search for the foundations of knowledge, to conclude the turn of the century with Immanuel Kant (1724-1804) who developed a strong synthesis of rationalism and empiricism as a school of philosophy. Further, the development of positivist philosophy in the 19c was inspired and based solely on the scientific method and American pragmatism [with the competing philosophy of Utilitarianism and Marxism]. Later, the individual experienced the philosophy of existentialism based on the works of Soren Kierkegaard (1813-1855) and in the 20c the discipline of psychology had firmly invented itself as a field separate from philosophy [including many branches such as neuroscience, psychiatry, cognitive-behavioural, etc].

 

The 20c and Western Philosophy’s influence across civilisation

Perhaps due to its wide use in maintaining reason among intellectuals and society, philosophy had fragmented into different precise and specific branches by the 20c [philosophy of mind, philosophy of science, philosophy of religion, philosophy of medicine…]. However at its core, the emphasis of philosophy remained on the analytics and linguistic philosophy due to the huge influence of Ludwig Wittgenstein (1889-1951).

Indian philosophy for example shares similarities with some aspects of Western philosophy in its foundations based on the development of logic from the Nyaya School, founded by Gautama (fl. 1c). The tenet of most schools were codified into short aphorisms (sutras) commented upon by later philosophers in the Southern parts of Asia, and India. More specifically the emphasis on linguistic expression and the nature of language which is believed to be similarly important as in the West, but different in theme as India’s language was greatly enhanced by the early development of linguistics or Sanskrit grammar, and the nature of knowledge and its acquisition. In modern times, Indian philosophy has seen an increasing Western influence especially from the social philosophies of utilitarian schools which inspired a number of religious and socio-cultural movements, such as the Brahmo Samaj. The 20c saw the Anglo-American linguistic philosophy form the basis of research, with added influence from European phenomenology present in the works of scholars such as KC Bhattacharya who was known for his method of “constructive interpretation” through which ancient Indian philosophical systems are studied like matters of modern philosophy. Bhattacharya was interested in the problematic of the apparently material universe that the “mind” generates and encouraged the idea of an immersive cosmopolitanism where Indian systems of philosophy were modernised through assimilation and immersion, instead of a blind imitation of Western ideas – fairly similar to the works of Arthur Schopenhauer [See: Philosophy Review: “The World as Will and Idea”, by Arthur Schopenhauer (1818)]. The trend of Western philosophy as inspiration continued to be disseminated by intellectuals in the East, and Chinese philosophy too which first made its appearance during the Zhou Dynasty (1122-256BC) later experienced Western influence in the 20c, most notably in the introduction of the leftist branch of Marxism which became China’s official political philosophy. Around the same period, a New Confucian movement rose, attempting to synthesise the traditions of the West and the East [traditional Confucian values with Western democracy and science].

As for the African continent, starting from the Middle-East and North-Africa, it may be unsurprising that Western values or philosophy had no major influence in the Islamic territories and Muslim world who had been subjugating non-Muslin civilisations with violent wars [jihad] in the name of their God. The major European incursions and hence influence in the Arab world comes from the time of Napoleon I’s invasion of Egypt (1798) which led to the promotion of Western philosophy in the area for a short time before a backlash from Islamic circles called for a religious and politically-oriented philosophy to counter foreign domination.

Regarding African philosophy, it is to this day a subject of intense debates among intellectuals and cultured circles whether such a thing exists, along with the definition that ‘African philosophy’ may include: for example, many scholars associate the term to communal values, beliefs and world-views of traditional Black African oral cultures, highlighting the rich, long and sometimes violent tradition of indigenous African philosophy [stretching back in time] with tales of supernaturalism and communally-derived ethics by tribes. What seems to be a certitude is that African philosophy is unlike Western, Indian, Chinese and Arabic traditions as there is very little in terms of African philosophical traditions before the modern period. However, the logical question remains, and that is: if African philosophy are works that were created within the geographical area that constitutes Africa, then perhaps all of the writings of ancient Egyptians may quality as African, and also Christian apologists of the 4-5c period like St Augustine de Hippo. Indeed, to further the argument of logic, the whole world’s culture and societies could all be qualified as African, since it has recently been proven scientifically that all humans evolved after leaving Africa.

allafricans

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Part II: Religious Cultures

religiouschoices

Image: The Atlantic

SigmundFreudOnReligion

The main driving power behind the psychological movement focused on the “Human Mind”, Sigmund Freud, was an atheist unlike Isaac Newton who was a devout Christian with complex and heterodox private beliefs

The world’s cultures are generally classified into the five major religious traditions:

  • Buddhism
  • Islam
  • Hinduism
  • Judaism
  • Christianity

Buddhism

The tradition of Buddhism which is made up of thought and practice originates in India around 2500 years ago, it was inspired by the teaching of Buddha (Siddhartha Gautama). The concept of Buddha is explained in the ‘Four Noble Truths’, which concludes by the claim of a path leading to deliverance from the universal human experience of suffering. One of its main tenet is the law of karma, which states that good and evil deeds result in the appropriate reward or punishment in life or in a succession of rebirths. 

SONY DSC

Dharma day commemorates the day when Buddha made his first sermon or religious teaching after his enlightenment

Division

Dating from its earliest history, Buddhism is divided into two main traditions.

  • Theravada Buddhism adheres to the strict and narrow of early Buddhist writings, where salvation is possible only for the few who accept the severe discipline and effort necessary to achieve it.
  • Mahayana Buddhism is the more ‘liberal form’ and makes concession to popular piety by seemingly diluting the degree of discipline required for salvation, claiming that it is achievable for everyone instead. It introduces the doctrine of bodhisattva (or personal saviour). The spread of Buddhism lead to other schools to expand, namely Chan or Zen, Tendai, Nichiren, Pure Land and Soka Gakkai.

 

Theravada Buddhism in South and South-East Asia

While being nearly eradicated in its original birthplace, the practice of Theravada Buddhism has turned into a significant religious force in the states of Burma, Cambodia, Laos, Sri Lanka and Thailand. Traditionally, it is believed that missions in the area by the emperor of India, Ashoka in the 3c BC introduced Buddhism. While the evidence lacks the consistency to be conclusive, it is assumed and believed by most that many different variations of Hindu and Buddhist traditional movements were present, scattered across South-East Asia up to the 10c. Theravada Buddhism eventually acquired more influence from the 11c to 15c as it experienced growing contacts with Sri Lanka where the movement was outward looking. In Burma (now Myanmar), Buddhist states arose and soon others followed, namely Cambodia, Laos, Java and Thailand, including the Angkor state in Cambodia and the Pagan state in Burma. During the modern period [at the exception of Thailand which was never colonised], the imperial occupation, Christian missionaries and the Western world-view challenged Theravada Buddhism [the strict version of Buddhist philosophy] in South=East Asia. 

Mahayana Buddhism in North and Central Asia

The Mahayana which is the form of Buddhism commonly practised in China, Tibet, Mongolia, Nepal, Korea and Japan dates from about the 1c when it arose as a more liberal movement within the Buddhist movement in northern India, focussing on various forms of popular devotion.

Tibetan Buddhism

Orthodox Mahayana Buddhism and Vajrayana Buddhism (a Tantric form of Mahayana Buddhism) had been transmitted through missionaries invited from India during the 8c in Tibet. Today’s popular Tibetan Buddhism places an emphasis on the appeasement of malevolent deities, pilgrimages and the accumulation of merit. Since the Chinese invasion in 1959 and the Dalai Lama’s exile from India however, Buddhism has been repressed drastically.

Chinese Buddhism

China’s introduction to Buddhism from India happened in the 1c AD via the central Asian oases along the Silk Route. It had surprisingly established itself as a reasonable presence in China by the end of the Han Dynasty (AD 220). Buddhism had become so successful by the 9c that the Tang Dynasty saw it as ‘an empire within the empire’ and persecuted it in 845 after which the Chan and Pure Land Schools only remained strong, drew closer and found harmony with each other. Buddhism and other religions however was nearly subjugated by the attempts of the Marxist government of Mao Zedong (1949 onwards) when the lands of China were nationalised and Buddhist monks forced into secular employments. Since 1978, the Buddhist movement and other religions have seen a revival in China.

***

Allah

Islam

Islam is simply Arabic for ‘submission to the will of God (Allah)’ and the name of the religion which was founded in Arabia during the 7c throughout a controversial prophet known as Muhammad. Islam relies on prophets to establish its doctrines which it believes have existed since the beginning of time, sent by God like Moses and Jesus, to provide the necessary guidance for the achievement of eternal reward; and the culmination of this succession is assumed by Muslims to be the revelation to Muhammad of the Quran, the ‘perfect Word of God’.

Beliefs and traditions

There are five religious duties that make up the founding pillar of Islam:

  • The shahadah (profession of faith) is the honest recitation of the two-fold creed: ‘There is no god but God’ and ‘Muhammad is the Messenger of God’.
  • The salat (formal prayer) must be said at fixed hours five times a day while facing towards the city of Mecca
  • The payment of zakat (‘purification’) [a form of religious tax by the Muslim community] which is regarded as an act of worship and considered as the duty of sharing one’s wealth out of gratitude for God’s favour, according to the uses laid down in the Quran [such as subjugation of all non-Muslims, the imposition of violent and controversial Sharia law (a section of Islam as a political ideology which dictates all aspects of Muslim life with severe repercussions if transgressed), learning to adapt behaviour to protect Islam at all cost even if it means deceiving (‘Taqqiya’), etc]
  • There is an imposition regarding fasting (saum) which has to be done during the month of Ramadan.
  • The pilgrimage to the Mecca, known as the Haji is part of the sacred law of Islam which applies to all aspects of Muslim life, not simply religious practices. The Haji is described as the Islamic way of life and prescribes the way for a Muslim to fulfil the commands of God and reach heaven, and must be performed at least once during one’s lifetime. The cycle of festivals such as Hijra (Hegira), the start of the Islamic year, and Ramadan, the month where Muslims fast during daytime are two of the most known practices still misunderstood by mainstream media.

Divisions

Although all Muslims believe in the ideology of Islam and its teachings from Muhammad, two basic and distinct groups exist within Islam. The Sunnis are the majority and acknowledge the first four caliphs as Muhammad’s legitimate successors. The other group, known as the Shiites make up the largest minority movement in the Muslim world, and view the imam as the principal religious authority. A number of subsects and derivatives also exist, such as the Ismailis (one group, the Nizaris, regard the Aga Khan as their imam), while the Wahhabis, a movement focussed on reforming Islam begun in the 18c.

Today Islam remains one of the fastest growing religions – probably due to the high birth rate of third world North Africa where it originates. Islam also inculcates strong adversity towards non-muslims, preaching various doctrines such as the subjugation of all non-Muslims into slaves, sexual slavery (Koran 33:50), forced conversation, childhood indoctrination, honour killings and jihad (a war in the name of Islam that guarantees salvation) along with mass migration to promote Islam – and today about 700 million Muslims exist throughout the World.

Since Islam was founded their war on non-muslim civilisation has been relentless and ongoing. During the earlier centuries, the European continent was heavily attacked where Muslim warriors stole, killed, raped and took thousands of slaves from the European continent, including many women as sexual slaves. About 1 million slaves were taken from the Christian world in Europe in order to be put in the hands of the Caliph, who ordered that virgin Christian blonds were to be taken from Spain for him each year.

Marché aux Esclaves Fabbi & Gerome Middle-East Moyen-Orient Islam.jpg

Images: (i): Marché d’Esclaves par Jean-Leon Gerome (1886) | (ii): Marché aux esclaves par Fabio Fabbi (1861 – 1946)

ISIS, the extremist group also go by the Muslim confession of faith, with the message “There is no God but Allah and Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah” on their flag, and fight to re-establish the archetypal Islamic form of governance [the caliphate]. ISIS who are considered as “extremists” justify their actions through endless quotations from the Koran and Sunna [i.e. examples of Prophet Muhammad’s actions that are to be followed by Muslims]. ISIS also implement the standard Islamic response to captured enemies [convert, pay tax or die] as enshrined in the Code of Umar attributed to one of Muhammad’s sucessors as “Commander of the Faithful”; as for the beheadings of disbelieving enemies it is a practice in direct obedience to Koran 8:12: “I will cast terror into the hearts of those who disbelieved, so strike (them) upon their necks and strike from them every fingertip.” and also Koran 47:4, where we can quote: “Therefore when ye meet the Unbelievers (in fight), strike off their heads; at length; then when you have made wide slaughter among them, carefully tie up the remaining captives”: thereafter (is the time for) either generosity or ransom; until the war lays down its burdens.”

We know that ISIS fighters regularly rape women, and Muhammad had his word on rape and sexual slavery in the Koran (33:50), the two trusted sources of Islamic traditions (ahadith) Sahih Muslim and Sahih Bukhari both relate an incident where Muslim warriors were raping some captive women [whom they intended to sell for ransom] while taking care to observe “coitus interruptus” [the withdrawal of the penis before climax]. These warriors asked Muhammad whether their act was religiously lawful, and his answer was shocking in his callousness and its implications for later Muslim behaviour during war: “It does not matter if you do not do it (withdraw before climaxing), for every soul that is to be born up to the Day of Resurrection will be born.” (Sahih Muslim 33:71, see also Sahih Bukhari 34:176:2229). Indeed, when one would expect the perfect example to Muslims to be furious and command them to stop while taking the women in his protection, instead he instructs his followers to do to the women whatever they desired. Even more shocking is the fact that Muslim tradition states that the following verse of the Koran was revealed precisely to ease the qualms of Muslim warriors about having sex with enslaved captives: “Also (prohibited are) women already married, except those whom your right hands posses” (Koran 4:24). Hence, in the world of Allah, if “your right hand possesses” a woman, sex with her is totally lawful even if she is married. The Koran also guides Muslim thought on unbelievers [Kaffirs / infidels]: “are pigs” (5:60); “are asses” (74:50); “Have a disease in their hearts” (2:10); “Are hard-hearted” (39:22); “Impure of hearts” (5:41); “Are deaf” (2:171); “Are blind” (2:171); “Are unjust” (29:49); “Make mischief” (16:88); “Focus only on outward appearance” (19:73-74); “Are impure” (8:37); “Are niggardly” (4:37, 70:21); “Are the worst of men” (98:6); “Are in a state of confusion” (50:5); “Are the lowest of the low” (95:5); “The vilest of animals in Allah’s sight” (8:55); “Are dumb” (2:171, 6:35, 11:29); “Are scum” (13:17); “Are guilty” (30:12, 77:46); “Sinful liars” (45:7); “Allah despises them” (17:18); “Allah has cursed them” (2:88, 48:6); “Allah forsakes them” (32:14, 45:34). Hence, victory is unlikely to be achieved for non-muslims as long as they cannot accept the true nature and motives of Muslims guided by Islam; solutions to countering Islam will always fail if society continues to assume that all the terror is not about Islam when the expansion of Islam is clearly at the very heart of what ISIS fights for.

The constant clash with enlightened movements of the Christian West, with intellectuals such as Dr Bill Warner who initiated the movement for the study of political Islam to help break down and propagate important facts about the ideology of Islam’s political techniques in subjugating global non-Muslim societies, have started to gain major attention from the intellectual crowd [who are active on media platforms such as Twitter, a controversial platform that uses its administrative rights dictatorially, known to restrict freedom of speech, research & factual information that oppose liberal opinions, and many researchers from accessing their archived ‘tweets’ and ‘retweets’, affecting their work and research – a direct breach of Human Rights as specified by Article 10 of the Human Rights Act 1998 – and many have questioned the practice over possibilities of World War III being caused by the USA’s unethical technological monopoly over other Western nations data. Saddam Hussein was assaulted militarily by the UN after breaching human rights]

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Status of Women in the Hadith [purely based on the life, habits & actions of Muhammad]

Islam remains a controversial religions tradition while also being the only religion with a “manual to run a civilisation” as Dr. Bill Warner phrased it, in the Sharia [an Islamic set of doctrines in managing a civilisation – politics, culture, philosophy and economy] which at its deeper core includes the war on other civilisations through jihad, the subjugation of all non-Muslims, the destruction of all non-Islamic historical heritage, forced circumcision of both sexes and a whole set of violent and radical forms of Islamic lifestyle requirements that include violent and sometimes fatal repercussions [for ‘transgressing‘]. Repeatedly France has profoundly rejected Islam as a dangerous religious practice and culture that is incompatible with the values of French society & culture; however the obsolete system of management that is politics remains an atavistic barrier to banning Islam due to the concept of ‘political correctness’ – an invalid ideology created by the most corrupt & untrustworthy adepts of the obsolete practice of ‘politics‘ [for reasons that are now being scrutinised in the name of change]. The late Christopher Hitchens was also a prominent speaker on secularisation and particularly focused on countering the atavistic Islamisation of the West which threatens personal liberty, freedom of expression, education, innovation, development, cohesion and socio-cultural creativity due to its rigid doctrines.

 

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It is quite obvious nowadays that the majority of mediocre and pathetic politicians from the West of our generation prefer aiming for a prize for peace, and are more scared of being seen as politically incorrect than the destruction of their own people, heritage and civilisation since they dodge these questions and pretend not to see the alarming situation while refusing to relocate the excessive foreign mass every time it has piled up – a heap of incompatible and unskilled people who cannot assimilate waiting to be diplomatically relocated. From history, it seems that only the brave have had the courage to tackle those problems, but when they had done so, they were portrayed as the evil ones, when their actions simply seemed to reflect those of the defenders of Western civilisation, one built and rooted in Christian heritage and the intellectual values of the enlightenment.

Evil, aggressive & violent third-world religious practices should be prohibited in non-Islamic Christian territory to protect the native population, just as pagans [Muslims, for example] forbid and persecute Christians on Islamic territory since to them it is protecting their heritage and their religious beliefs against the non-Muslim invaders (Kaffirs). Moreover Islam has never lied, everything is in the Koran, it is written in black and white that they must kill the ‘Kaffir’ [non-Muslim] and their ultimate goal is a total Islamic world, and all that their prophet Muhammad did [e.g. sexual slavery, decapitation of non-Muslims, the destruction of all other cultures and non-Muslim heritage, forced conversion (Koran 8:39) along with the use of deception to infiltrate other cultures via the Jihad technique [which can be achieved by Taqqiya, a technique for lying and deceiving all enemies of Islam (non-Muslims) in order to gain their trust and then promote the values ​​of Islam] is sacred and should be reproduced without discussion.

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Les saints martyrs d’Otrante ou saints martyrs otrantins sont environ 800 habitants (le chiffre de 813 est souvent évoqué) de cette ville du Salento tués le 14 août 1480 par les Turcs conduits par Gedik Ahmed Pacha pour avoir refusé de se convertir à l’islam après la chute de leur ville. Leur canonisation a eu lieu le 12 mai 2013 place Saint-Pierre. Elle a été prononcée par le pape François. / Traduction(EN): The Otranto martyrs are about 800 inhabitants (the figure of 813 is often mentioned) of this city of Salento killed on August 14, 1480 by the Turks led by Gedik Ahmed Pasha for having refused to convert to Islam after the fall of their city. Their canonization took place on May 12, 2013 in St. Peter’s Square. It was pronounced by Pope Francis.

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Les 800 crânes et os des martyrs d’Otranto en exposition: Environ 800, selon les estimations, ont eu le choix entre se convertir à l’Islam ou mourir, ils ont choisi la mort. Leurs dépouilles ont été transportées à la cathédrale et placées dans la chapelle des martyrs dans une vitrine en verre derrière l’autel en souvenir de leur sacrifice. / Traduction(EN): The 800 Skulls and Bones of the Martyrs of Otranto on Display: An estimated 800, were given a choice to either covert to Islam or die, they chose death. Their remains were taken to the cathedral and placed in the Chapel of the Martyrs in a glass fronted case behind the altar as a reminder of their sacrifice

Moreover Muslims who define themselves as moderate cannot do anything to help non-muslims since they too have submitted to the ideology of Islam by being muslims, whether they know it or not; muslims who call themselves “moderate” have no legitimacy to change the writings of Islam, and it is also said in the Koran that no one has the right to change the writings or to deny the orders of their prophet Muhammad who is a total and final authority for Muslims, so there is no diplomacy as such with Islam, because all diplomacy to Islam is considered as the stupidity/ignorance of their enemy [non-muslims or “Kaffirs”] to be exploited to promote Islam and dominate non-muslim civilisations through infiltration, mass migration and reproduction with women of non-Muslim civilizations to promote & expand Islam. It is important to note that all muslims abide by the very same book, the Koran, which preaches the same messages and values to all muslims. Recep Erdogan a fervent Muslim did clearly state: “The term ‘moderate Islam’ is ugly and offensive. There is no moderate Islam. Islam is Islam.” In a poem read by Erdogan, we can quote the following, “The mosques are our barracks, the domes our helmets, the minarets our bayonets, and the faithful our soldiers.”

Diplomacy masked under the term “Political Correctness” could eventually be the downfall of non-Muslim civilisation when dealing with Islam. During the history of mankind, defending and fighting the Islamic oppressors used to be called war, now in a generation of ignorance many seem to see it as “Islamophobia”. Islam is anti-Western, anti-Christian, and against anything that is not Islamic and pro-Muslim brotherhood.

Jihad vs Crusades
 

Islam is a society of warriors and they do not hide this fact, it is the ignorance of other civilisations that they exploit globally [fairly similarly to what the Jews do, another bedouin tradition from North Africa] and those who are ignorant due to their lack of knowledge on the writings and philosophies of Islam pay the consequences violently in more ways than one. By the writings of the Koran, and by the analysis of their technique of subjugation, it is therefore almost impossible to trust Muslims, because their religious text ensures that non-Muslims cannot trust them because their words can always be lies [Taqqiya / deception to be used as a war technique as instructed in the Koran against non-muslims], and ultimately they have no power over Islamic instructions themselves because they are forced to follow the Koran’s words to the letter, and if they do not do so, they would be eligible to be murdered by the ‘Ummah’ [Muslim Brotherhood]. It is even well written in the Koran (4: 144) that Muslims should not take non-Muslims as friends because they would give their god Allah a reason to punish them, and also (Koran 3:28) that those who take non-Muslims for friends instead of Muslims will not have the protection of their god. So, ultimately Islam is a civilisation that is based on its own expansion where all blows are allowed to destroy Kaffirs (non-Muslims) and the Muslim existence is based on war and their prophet, who gives them permission to take women of other civilisation as sexual slaves because it is seen as part of the holy war to spread Islamic civilisation (9:5).

To good muslims abiding by the Koran, our western politicians are very likely perceived as corrupt, ignorant and unscrupulous Kaffirs [non-muslims], i.e. ignorant primates who contribute to tear apart and shatter their own civilisation to then parade in the mainstream Jewish press who shape the opinion of the mass mediocrity of the majority by portraying these bureaucrats as the guardians of peace and diplomats who want an understanding with a civilisation [Islamic] that is not based and has no place in their text and philosophy for understanding between different religious faiths/traditions [e.g. crucifix images and symbols of Christianity are banned in many Islamic countries where many Christian houses are marked and burned by Muslims].

Mullah Krekar stated it clearly; some politicians understand but they do not really want to understand: Islam is not like Christianity, because Islam is a political movement and the Bible is not similar to the Koran which has 500 verses about politics and ruling and about its Sharia laws and justice system. Hence in Islam it is impossible to separate politics and religion, because they are one. So, we can conclude here that Islam is unique because it is a political movement and not just a religion. At its core, Islam is about the conquest [by all means possible] and the subjugation and destruction of all non-muslim civilisation and heritage, because in the end it is Islam and its ‘Ummah’ (community) that must dominate the world – this is the revelation of their text, the Koran. Hence, Islam being a bedouin warrior religious political movement and culture that has never stopped waging war on non-muslim civilisations shows that chivalry in war [specially defensively] must be revised and considered by the non-Islamic Christian West, as a necessary and noble act in the protection and expansion of our own people and civilization.

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Geographical management by exploring the logic of the « Organic Theory » involves prioritizing our own organisms [i.e. those who are part of, have become part of, and have the skills, attributes, values, sensibilities and sense of belonging to thrive in our environment and also contribute to the continuity and growth of our people and society]. Hence, as an act of honour, Muslims could consider relocating their whole community on islamic territory to prevent further wars and murders. Using myself as an example, if I was a burden to Western Europe because of my religious beliefs, maladaptive needs, education, intelligence, organic composition, philosophical perspectives, traditions, psycholinguistic heritage and national outlook, then I would change geographical location to one that is more suited to myself. But since, I am of 100% Franco-British heritage and would not be able to thrive in a different environment other than Western Europe, I live here and have fully assimilated, thus, the concept of « geographical management », which is simply to bring together organisms sharing similar beliefs, philosophy, culture, vision, intellect and identity for peace, harmony and mutual understanding.

Muslims would certainly face less problems and stress from religious and cultural differences if they left non-muslim environments and civilisation and moved back on Islamic territory with an islamic community, because the West is a product of Christian civilisation and heritage, does not want to become Islamic and has more to lose on the long term in welcoming the followers of Muhammad with the ideology of Islam since it fragments it own people and societies due to an incompatible system of values. Former Muslim, Magdi Allam thought that Mosques are the terror factories of Islamic terrorism and that open borders must be stopped to defeat islamic terrorism; that we should stop believing in the myth of “moderate Islam”. Allam also declared that in Sousse, a Tunisian Islamic ISIS terrorist massacred 45 tourists who were sunbathing on the beach, the Tunisian government ordered the closure of 80 mosques calling them ‘terrorist hideouts’. Hence, Allam made the point that if the Muslim governments warn that mosques are ‘dens of terrorism’, we cannot behave more Islamic than the Islamists, granting blindly the mosques to the Islamic militants. He said: “It is time for our government to stop chasing the chimera of sponsoring mosques of a ‘moderate Islam,’ adding: “The truth is that there is only one Islam because there is only one Koran and one Muhammad.” Allam dismissed claims deporting terrorists reduced terror, stating the mosques would just produce replacements. “If we scratch the tip of the iceberg without undermining the iceberg, it will not save us from catastrophe. In this case, the iceberg is a ‘terror factory’ that starts from the hate preaching in mosques and sites where the Islamic holy war is promoted, the practice of brainwashing which transforms the faithful into robots of death, leads to enlistment and training to arms, and culminates in a terror attack”, Allam argued, and questioned: ““What sense does it make to raise the level of alert in our ports if we continue to have open borders that bring hundreds of thousands of illegal immigrants without papers and without identification?”

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Campaigns against islamophobia are generally held by islamic migrants who may themselves be ignorant about the atrocities of their religion on non-muslim civilisation or simple-minded leftist movements who do not understand islamic doctrines and their history of wars against classic civilisation and have become brainwashed puppets in encouraging speech suppression techniques on constructive criticism of Islam. Islamophobia or Islamorealism?

There is no such thing as Islamophobia for non-muslims but rather “Islamorealism”. Any non-muslim who is not Islamophobic yet is either ignorant [brainwashed by leftist media who are ignorant and have not studied Islamic literature], stupid or suicidal towards his own civilisation. If non-muslims read and understood the Koran, then they should all logically be Islamophobic, because there is no reason or long term benefit for a non-muslim to support or protect Islam. Islam is about war, and about the destruction all non-muslim civilisations by every possible means for a total Islamic world, that is the goal, and indeed the most guaranteed way to reach heaven according to Islam, is to die in the war for its expansion; those who die of natural causes are not ensured a place in heaven as those who die fighting the Jihad war, as we can quote on reaching heaven: “Those who kill and are killed for the sake of Allah (Sura 3:156; 9:111)” and those who “emigrate (participate in hijra) for the purpose of ‘cultural jihad’ (Sura 4:100)”. Muhammad was a ruthless murderer of non-Muslims that Islam depicts as the perfect Muslim who dedicated his life to expanding the Islamic empire that all Muslims should imitate since his every actions are perfection, i.e. “Sunna”.

Jihad violence, beheadings and sexual slavery is not extreme to Islam, it is part of a bedouin-styled warrior tradition where the killing of non-muslims is commonplace and promoted as the ‘perfect’ Islamic path based on the life of Muhammad in ensuring the islamisation of the world while cleaning the world of the impure “Kaffirs” [non-muslims] and subjugate the unbelievers (Koran 9:29). We can come to this deduction from the statement of the French islamist Mohammed Merah’s mother at a family meeting after her son, in three expeditions murdered seven people: « Mon fils a mis la France à genoux. Je suis fière de ce que mon fils vient d’accomplir ! » [French for: “My son brought France to its knees. I am proud of what my son has just accomplished! »]. According to one of Mohammed Merah’s brothers Abdelghani, the radicalisation of his brothers Abdelkader and Mohammed and his sister Souad is the result of the “fertile ground” spread by his parents; his mother taught them, for example, that “Arabs were born to hate Jews”.

“Whoever changes his Islamic religion, then kill him.” (Sahih Bukhari Vol 9, Book 84, Number 57)

“I have been made victorious with terror.” – Prophet Muhammad (Sahih Bukhari 4.52.220)

Hence, the idea that terror has no religion would have some as a bit of a surprise to a certain prophet. As Sam Harris also pointed out, “When it says in the Qu’ran (8:12), ‘Smite the necks of the infidels’, some people may read that metaphorically… nowhere in these books does God counsel a metaphorical or otherwise loose interpretation of his words.”Quran (5:33) says that I can be crucified. Should I fear crucifixion? Or, is that phobic?” asked Bill Warner. “We must stop the stupid blindness to jihadism, which consists in saying that it has nothing to do with Islam“, declared Salman Rushdie. “Islam is not a race… islam is an ideology or simply a set of beliefs and it is not islamophobic to declare that it is incompatible with liberal democracy,” observed Ayaan Hirsi Ali, who also added, “there is a huge difference between being tolerant and tolerating intolerance.”

Sharia is the supreme code of ethics [justice system] in Islam, while in the societies of the civilised world, we tend to have a constitution. But to Islam, our constitution is considered as “Jahiliyah”, which is ignorance, which means that it is not Muslim, it is not Islam, it is not Allah, it is man-made so it must be destroyed and taken down. This process of course does not happen overnight, but it is a continuous and gradual process. The Sharia does not accommodate the Kaffir (non-muslim) other than to subjugate the Kaffir; in the Sharia all non-Muslim are less than Muslims, the Kaffir is to be a “Dhimmi”, a sort of third-class citizen.

When one civilisation invades another, and when the Islamic civilisation is a supremacist civilisation, it means that the land they emigrate to must become Islamicised. For example, Muslim refugees with health problems demand that the Sharia law be obeyed, and that a woman not be seen or touched by a male physician [and vice-versa]; this is the process of Sharia Law and a process of subjugating, where a civilisation is struggling against another in order to prevail. We have also spectated for the first time in history a mass movement of Muslims into non-Muslim civilisation, and it must be clearly understood that migration (hijra) is a fundamental part of Islam as it is considered as “Sunna” [sacred & perfect] since it was the path of the prophet Muhammad and thus, it is a strong example to be repeated by all good Muslims. Hijra is indispensable to Islam’s goal and central to the unrelenting war of jihad for 1400 years, a war that has laid waste to entire nations, cultures and civilisations. Since 2014, we have seen about than 2.5 million Muslim refugees being resettled in Germany and Europe [an amount that constitutes the average population of a small country, e.g. Lithuania] and this will transform Europe forever as the population breeds and expands [as Islam preaches], overtaxing the welfare economies of its wealthiest nations and altering the cultural landscape beyond recognition. We may be witnessing the demise of Europe, and are in a position where we can observe what is happening and refrain from repeating the same mistakes.

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As of the 21st of November 2019, a total of 2, 059, 048 (i.e. 2m+) Refugees and Migrants have been resettled into Europe / Source: UN Mediterranean sea and land arrivals

According to the Koran, immigration (“hijra”) and “jihad in the cause of Allah” are two sides of the same coin, and we can quote “Those who have believed and those who have emigrated and fought in the cause of Allah – those expect the mercy of Allah” (Koran 2:281); “Indeed, those who have believed and emigrated and fought with their wealth and lives in the cause of Allah and those who gave shelter and aided – they are allies of one another” (Koran 8:72). In Islam, the main purpose of migration (hijra) is to start the Jihad war on Kaffir (non-muslim) civilisation and impose the Sharia law. Under Sharia law other religions are subjected to taxes, domination and humiliation, eventually after enough time, everyone becomes a Muslim as Islam overcrowds the environment. This may take time, even centuries but the beginning of the annihilation of our non-Muslim civilisation has begun due to the deference we pay to Islamic migration and Sharia by refusing to acknowledge the true goals of Islam – complete domination of all aspects of society. For example, in North Africa, Egypt, they were all Christians but today they are Islamic with a few Christians left who will also disappear over time too since we have a clash of civilisations.

Low, or unskilled mass migration encouraged by miscalculated policies leads to an organised replacement of the Western working class population and creates competition and social instability among these classes. It also threatens to completely reshape the landscape and culture when the foreign population has a higher growth and birth rate. Western Europe is already struggling to assimilate the unskilled mass who are already here, hence the result of the continued imposition of mass immigration simply means endless systemic and social instability; it is the first time in history that we have seen such a massive shift of population from Islamic lands to what they consider as the Kaffir (non-muslim) lands of the Christian West, and this will lead to a struggle over the centuries but Islamisation must go forward if Islam is to fulfil its mission as instructed by their prophet Muhammad. The Kaffir (non-muslim) is the unbeliever, the infidel, and everything about the Kaffir is bad according to Islam and must be taken down. As we know, Jews are taught from the Talmud that non-Jews are inferior, worthless and disposable; the Koran also teaches muslim men that they are superior to the Kaffir, and that Kaffir (non-Muslim) women are worth less than cattle and Allah has permitted them to do what they please with Kaffir women, what could possibly go wrong?

During the New Year’s celebrations on 31 December 2015, a wave of collective sexual assaults, robberies, and at least two cases of rape – all directed against women – are reported across Germany, mainly in Cologne, but also in Finland, Sweden, Switzerland and Austria. In Germany, in addition to Cologne, eleven cities are affected: Hamburg, Stuttgart, Bielefeld and Düsseldorf mainly. 12 of the 16 Länder [Federal States] were affected in an upwardly revised balance sheet on 24 January 2016. The number of aggressors is estimated at 1,500 in Cologne alone. The attacks are coordinated and committed by groups of 2 to 40 men, described as North African or Arab. The suspects are mainly asylum seekers and/or illegal immigrants. The number of complaints in Cologne increased steadily from 4 to 21 January, reaching 30 on Monday 4 January to 1,088 on 17 February involving more than 1,049 victims. The silence of the police and the media, the police laxity, the statements by the Mayor of Cologne blaming German women and the delay in reporting the facts by the media, especially the public service broadcasters (ARD, ZDF and others), were strongly criticised in the days that followed. Then, six weeks after the facts, the German police made an update on the investigation. In Cologne, of the 1,088 complaints filed, 470 concerned sexual assaults and 618 robberies, assaults or injuries. According to the alleged victims and Cologne police chief Wolfgang Albers, who was forced to retire on 8 January 2016, the men responsible for the attacks are “Arab or North African in appearance”, aged between 15 and 35 years, and do not speak German. The police report on the investigation of North African offenders states: “Since 2011, offenders from North African countries, particularly Morocco, Algeria and Tunisia, have accounted for a significant proportion of pickpocketing in Cologne. This group is prone to violence and frequently uses weapons, such as knives or tear gas. As of the evening of 21 January 2016, the 30 suspects identified are all North African. As the investigation progresses, the German Federal Police identify 73 suspects, 18 of whom have asylum seeker status, the others being in an illegal situation. This group includes 30 Moroccans, 27 Algerians, 3 Tunisians, 1 Libyan, 1 Iranian, 4 Iraqis, 3 Syrians and 3 Germans3. Only 12 of these suspects are suspected of sexual assault. On 5 April 2016, according to a report published by the local authorities, of the 153 people suspected of having committed assaults, particularly sexual assaults during the New Year 2016, 103 are of Moroccan or Algerian nationality. 68 of them have asylum seeker status and 18 are in an illegal situation in Germany. [See: Agressions sexuelles du Nouvel An 2016 en Allemagne]

So, we can ask ourselves the question whether the clueless politicians who represent non-muslims will likely encounter horrific surprises when they choose to fully welcome thousands of Muslim refugees constituted by mostly men; whom many have suggested are a muslim “army” of migrants looking for opportunities on the Western social security (free money, free housing, free education and free healthcare) and to carry their Islamic duty since they know that they will find a place in the Islamic communities that are already established across the major cities of Europe, and for the most are not refugees facing a serious humanitarian crisis since the number of males are significantly higher than women.

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Muslim walking with the Islamic State flag in broad daylight, Paris, France.

Two of the terrorists involved in the Paris attacks entered France as “Syrian refugees”, while an Islamic State (ISIS) commander was arrested in Germany while posing as a Syrian refugee. Letters from jihadists also revealed plans to hide terrorists among refugees, and in recent times ISIS threatened to release 500 000 migrants who have sworn allegiance to Islamic State to cause chaos in Europe. It is also important to consider that the refugees crisis was ignored by neighbouring countries in the Islamic world; Qatar, United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Bahrain have not offered any resettlement places to Syrian refugees when Saudi Arabia had about 100 000 air conditioned tents that could house 3 million people that are empty, but the Saudi Arabian King Salman instead offers to build 200 mosques in Germany. As we know hijra and jihad work together, there are also other forms of jihad except from the jihad of violence, we have the jihad of speech [e.g. Islam means peace], the jihad of writing [e.g. accusations of islamophobia], and the jihad of money [e.g. Saudi Arabian prince donated millions to major educational businesses such as Harvard, Yale and other core US institutions for the purpose of cultural jihad, i.e. to never criticise Islam and indirectly support the progression of Sharia]. The cultural jihad is composed of the jihads of speech, writing and money and are is much more powerful than the jihad of violence since it is what brings a civilisation closer to Sharia; and Sharia annihilates a civilisation.

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This graph shows how over centuries [700 years approx.] Islam grew and drowned the initial Christian population of Turkey. Note that this is a graph from facts of Islamic history and an example of one of the many societies and people Islam erased.

Nowadays, muslims do not remain in Islamic territory, but migrate to Kaffir lands and involve themselves in various forms of militant political action to bring Sharia to Kaffir culture. In Islam, Migration is not as we Westerners see it since for us migration may simply mean an individual gain – a better job for instance. But for Islam, migration [known as “Hijra”] was the beginning of Muhammad’s success, since it is through hijra [migration] that he conquered so much land and spread Islam. Our calendars are maked with B.C. and A.D., but Muslim calendars are marked with HJ (in the year of Hijra). Muslim calendar does not begin with Muhammad’s birth or death, but starts with Muhammad’s hijra (migration) from Mecca to Medina [this shows the importance of migration is Islam to fight the Jihad war on Kaffir (non-muslim) civilisation]. Hijra [migration] is so important in Islam that the calendar of Muslim’s start with it; because it was hijra [migration] that led to the creation of Jihad in Medina, and it was Jihad that made Islam triumphant. If it was not for Hijra (migration), there would no Islam today; hijra turned Islam as the fastest growing religion in the world.

Muhammad preached islam for 13 years and converted 150 Arabs to Islam. After he migrated to Medina, he became a politician and a great jihadist (warlord) which led to every Arab in Arabia to convert to Islam and hence become muslims. As we said, the process of the Islamic conquest does not happen overnight. Islam crushed Anatolia, which is now known as Turkey in 1453, but it took centuries for all of the Sharia law to dominate Turkey and turn it completely Islamic; so it is a slow process but it is a process that has always worked. For example, the Middle-East used to be Christian, then it was conquered by Islam, the Sharia Law was implemented, the Christians became “Dhimmis” and were eliminated over a couple of centuries. Syria, Lebanon and all the nations of Northern Africa (incl. Egypt) were Christian nations before Christianity was replaced with Islam. Afghanistan was Buddhist, Iran was Zoroastrian, and Pakistan was Hindu before their civilisations and cultures were consumed by Islam as a result of jihad by hijra (migration).

Hijra, Islamic Migration

Those who call themselves “moderate” Muslims may seem normal to Westerners, but it is important to understand that it takes only a few to be leaders, which does not mean that every single Muslim we encounter is unfriendly or is all about Sharia Law, many may not even know what it means. However, their Imam and their leaders in the Muslim brotherhood know, and they are the people who influence the mass; the point people who drive the dialogue in the media and influence politics for migration and Islamic expansion to create “Eurabia”. Hence, although a Muslim may be friendly to non-muslims, all Muslims accept and abide by the Sharia Laws, otherwise they would not be Muslims; because Sharia is the codification of the Koran and is the path (Sunna) of their prophet Muhammad, hence if a Muslim rejects Sharia, then he is rejecting the “Sunna” of Muhammad and the Koran.

Sheikh Muhammad Ayed ordered Muslims fleeing Iraq, Syria and northern Africa to show the world what a fertile culture looks like. “They have lost their fertility, so they look for fertility in their midst We will give them fertility!” the imam said during a sermon at Jerusalem’s Al-Aqsa mosque. “We will breed children with them, because we shall conquer their countries – whether you like it or not, oh Germans, oh Americans, oh French, oh Italians, and all those like you. Take the refugees!” “We shall soon collect them in the name of the coming caliphate. We will say to you: These are our sons. Send them, or we will send our armies to you”, Ayed said. So, it does not seem unlikely for terrorists to exploit any refugee crisis because it is a chance that may never be repeated. This was translated by the Middle East Media Research Institute [MEMRI], a non profit organisation started in 1998 to monitor Arab media. Migration [hijra] is a tactic part of the Jihad war that Muhammad preached to Muslims, and hence it is a sacred path (Sunna) to be followed by Muslims in the Islamic conquest, i.e. the process of “hijra” [which simply means migration]. Therefore, we see that Jihad does not only exist in a violent form but also in the form of migration [and mass breeding and other political and financial ways to ease Islamisation] which also annihilates a civilisation gradually as it outnumbers the initial resident population; once Muslims are the majority, it becomes easier to impose their rules and dominate the society through various means; this can be a very slow process, starting from a small area where Islam imposes itself [e.g. Mosques and other Islamic cultural centres], but Islam has never lost its territorial gains and the growth is never ending and eventually it drowns the native population as it has done for 1400 years of migration, conquest, conversion and eventually complete take over. 

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Marwan Muhammad, spokesperson for the Collectif Contre l’Islamophobie en France (CCIF) said: “Qui a le droit de dire que la France dans 30 ou 40 ans ne sera pas un pays musulman? Qui a le droit? Personne dans ce pays n’a le droit de nous enlever ça. Personne n’a le droit de nous nier cet esport là. De nous nier le droit d’esperer dans une société globale fidèle à l’Islam. Personne n’a le droit dans ce pays de définir pour nous ce qu’est l’identité Française.” [French for: Who has the right to say that France in 30 or 40 years will not be a Muslim country? Who has the right? No one in this country has the right to take that away from us. No one has the right to deny us this hope. To deny us the right to hope in a global society faithful to Islam. No one in this country has the right to define for us what French identity is.] This is a statement that shows complete indifference and even lack of concern or respect for the values and identity of the societies that allows Islam on their territory and in their societies; this shows that Islam is a supremacist movement that does not aim to and cannot assimilate. When a French muslim feels that he first belongs to his foreign religious origins he seems to indirectly suggest that the game of “secularism” and “living together” [vivre ensemble] should be over, and with veils, burkinis, religious laws and sometimes weapons Islamist groups simply send the message that they remain Muslims first and have decided to pay no attention to the culture and values of the nations that “accepted” them.

We know from Islam’s history that when it migrates to another nation, that nation starts to be eaten away by a long and slow process of the Sharia, and over time [even centuries], the Kaffir (non-Muslim) nation falls as we have learned from history as the society eventually becomes Islamic since Islam is supremacist and does not aim to assimilate but to impose itself and dominate because of its Sharia laws. Mohammed Mahdi Akef, the head of the Muslim Brotherhood from 2004 to 2010 said, “I have complete faith that Islam will invade Europe and America, because Islam has logic and a mission. The jihad will lead to smashing Western Civilisation and replacing it with Islam which will dominate the world.”

In a study conducted by the Berlin Social Centre in 2015, 73% of Muslims in France consider religious Sharia laws to be above those of the State. To reach this conclusion the people surveyed responded “YES” to the 3 questions: (i) Muslims must return towards the roots of faith; (ii) There is only one interpretation of the Koran. Every Muslim must abide to it; (iii) Religious rules are more important than the law.

A wise Arab tells Muslims the truth about themselves

An unconventional and smart Arab critises the Islamic world

Billet Retour à Bagdad : un léger vent d’espoir après 15 ans de violences

 

The 20th century has been seeing many intellectuals and religious scholars study the Islamic texts deeply to assess the claims made and considered as divine authority for Muslims, and also the legitimacy of Muhammad as Allah’s [God] prophet. Many questionable statements and contradictory parts can be found in islamic doctrines. On the question of man’s creation by Allah, at (96:1-2) it is said that Allah created man from blood, then water (25:54); then clay (15:26), then dust (30:20), and also from nothing (3:47). On Kaffirs: They lost their own souls, who will not believe (6:12), then (Allah) causes to stray whom He wills (16:93) [This seems to suggest that Allah could guide someone out of the rules of Islam for a higher purpose]. Does Allah command to do evil? The answer is No (7:328) and also Yes (17:16). Will intercession be possible at the Day of Judgement? We are told “No” (2:122-123, 254) and also “Yes” (20:109). On whether the slander of chaste women be forgiven, we are told yes (24:4-5) and also no (24:23). It is also said that Earth was created before heaven (2:29), then we are told the opposite, i.e. heaven created before Earth (79:27-30). Koran 3:20, we are told that if unbelievers turn reject the message leave them be, your duty is to “convey the message; then we are also told that if unbelievers reject the message fight them until all religion is “for Allah” (8:38-39). On the act of creation, we are told that it is an act of “bringing together” (41:11), but also that creation was an act of “splitting apart” (21:30). Regarding the identity of the first muslim we are told that it was Muhammad (6:14, 6:163, 39:12), then Moses (7:143) and also some Egyptians (26:51).

Ibn Umar reported Allah’s messenger as saying that a non-Muslim eats in seven intestines while a Muslim eats in one intestine (Sahih Muslim vol.III, no. 5113 Chapter DCCCLXII). Abu Huraira reported Allah’s apostle saying, “People should avoid lifting their eyes towards the sky while supplicating in prayer, otherwise their eyes would be snatched away (Sahih Muslim vol.I, no. 863 Chapter CLXXIII). Abu Haraira: “Allah’s apostle said, if a fly fall in the vessel of any of you, let him dip all of it into the vessel and then throw it away, for in one of its wings there is disease and in the other wing there is healing” (Sahih Al-Bukhari vol. VII, no. 673). The prophet ordered them to go to the herd of camels and drink their milk and urine (Sahih Al-Bukhari vol.I no. 234). On the topic of alcohol we can also find contradictory comments. Most non-Muslims are aware that Muslims are not supposed to drink alcohol and from the Koran the case seems both open and shut. In Koran 5:90, it is said: “O you who believe! Strong drink and games of chance and idols and divine arrows are only an infamy of Satan’s handiwork. Leave it aside that you may succeed.” So, we can deduce here that alcohol is an infamy of “Satan’s handiwork”, but in the Koran 4:43, we see that Islam does not take believers to task for drinking but only say that they should not come to pray when they are drunk. In Chapter 16 of the Koran, Allah reminds people of all the blessings that he bestows on humanity. He also lists: “And from the fruit of the date-palm and the vine, ye get out wholesome drink and food: behold, in this also is a sign for those who are wise.” (Koran 16:67). It is important to consider that the “wholesome drink” here is not grape juice; the Arabic word is “sakaran” and a version of the same word is used in Koran 4:43, “sakura” to describe drunkenness; so it can be translated as “intoxicating drink” which is described as Allah’s blessing to humanity but which is also “Satan’s handiwork” – this is contradictory. To make things even more complicated, Muslims are told that they will drink wine (Satan’s handiwork?) in paradise (Koran 47:5, 83:22).

If the following comments were made by myself or any other Westerner, it would be considered as completely unacceptable, we would most likely be accused of “hate speech”, be described as Islamophobic imbeciles or racists, and end up in a range of legal troubles in many parts of the so called “civilised” world, e.g.: (i) Muslims are the worst kind of animals; (ii) Be merciful to one another but hard towards Muslims; (iii) Muslims are perverse; (iv) Strike terror into the hearts of Muslims and strike off their heads and fingertips; (v) Fight the Muslims who are near you; (vi) When Muslims make mischief against you murder and crucify them. Yet, we should now ask ourselves whether these same comments if made against non-Muslims would be considered as “hate speech”, because these exact statements can be found in the Koran towards those who reject Allah and his prophet Muhammad: (i) Surely the vilest of animals in Allah’s sight are those who disbelieve (8:55); (ii) Muhammad is the messenger of Allah. And those with him are hard (ruthless) against the disbelievers (Kaffirs) and merciful among themselves (48:29) [according to some theologians, the second most important teaching of Islam whic means that Muslims are to love what Allah loves, i.e. Islam and Muslims, and hate and despise what Allah hates and despises, i.e. Kaffirs; we have a dual-system here where Muslims are to be treated in one way and non-Muslims in another, hence the separation of civilisations]; (iii) And the Jews say: Ezra is the son of Allah, and the Christians say: The Messiah is the son of Allah… Allah (himself) fights against them. How perverse are they! (9:30); (iv) I will cast terror into the hearts of those who disbelieve. Therefore, strike off their heads and strike off every fingertip of them (8:12); (v) O you who believe! Fight those of the unbelievers who are near to you and let them find in you hardness (9:123); (vi) The punishment of those who wage war against Allah and his messenger and strike to make mischief in the land is only this, that they should be murdered or crucified or their hands and their feet should be cut off on opposite sides (5:33).

As we can see, Islam has a treatment for Muslims and another for non-Muslims. When Muhammad cut off the heads of 800 Jews in Medina, to Muslims this was a great victory for Islam, to Kaffirs [i.e. non-Muslims] it was an evil act of terror. The intellectual, Bill Warner, argued that Islam wants to win the race to be the supreme people/civilisation and the non-Muslim civilisation just want to tie, and in the sports field the side who wants to tie is crushed, and unless the non-Muslim civilisation decides that it wants to win at all cost and prevail in the future it will be crushed eventually and its people will become “Dhimmis” since Islam works that way as it can be seen from its history of 1400 years of ruthless Islamic conquest.

Muhammad was an incredibly successful and talented speaker, warlord and military tactician who expanded his population and empire while imposing his ideology and taught his followers [muslims] to put Islam before everything, including their own lives & to deceive if necessary to protect and propagate it.

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Victims of Terrorist Attacks in Western Europe since 1970 / Source: Statista

Hence to be able to counter the islamisation of the West founded on Christian heritage and thought, people must know Islam, use fact-based reasoning from reliable sources [e.g. the Islamic religious texts and their history], not subjective opinions that do not affect Islam’s foundation, and also know Islam’s history of persecution and slavery, refrain from the vague and questionable concept of “political correctness” [which is simply a set of rules implemented by ignorant bureaucrats] and discuss rational solutions to defend and prioritise our civilisation and ensure its supremacy and continuity. To counter and discourage the promotion of Islamic ideology in Switzerland, many areas have implemented a ban on the “burqa” [an enveloping outer garment worn by women in some Islamic traditions to cover themselves in public, which hides the body and the face] with fines reaching up to £ 8000. The cult of Muhammad, Islam, has claimed 270 million lives in 1400 years, this is 528 people per day and about 22 people every hour, this is 9 times more than Stalin and the German Reich combined. The university professor, islamologist and historian Marie-Thérèse Urvoy denounced the pathos used to promote a “theology of peace” that denies Islam’s violent potential stating: “Violent ou modéré, le devoir de tout musulman est de faire triompher l’islam.” [French for: “Violent or moderate, the duty of every Muslim is to make Islam triumph.”] To counter Islamisation and defend our civilisation, it is important to foster debates based on critical thought and not supress them, because it is only through all points of views debated that we can work out the truth and find a solution. We could also be asking ourselves why isn’t the history of persecution of non-Muslims by Islam taught at schools on a similar level to the horrors of World War II?

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Hinduism

Hinduism does not trace its origin to a particular founder, does not have any prophets, no set creed, and no institutional structure, but instead focuses on the ‘right way of living’ (dharma) rather than a set of doctrines. It embraces a variety of religious beliefs and practices. Variations exist across different parts of India where it was founded, differences in practice can be found even from village to village in the deities worshipped, the scriptures used, and the festivals observed. Those of the Hindu faith may be either theists or non-theists, and revere one or more gods or goddesses, or none, and instead represent the ultimate in personal (e.g. Brahma) or impersonal (e.g. Brahman) terms. Over 500 million Hindus exist today.

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Beliefs

Most forms of Hinduism assume and promote the idea of reincarnation or transmigration. The process of birth and rebirth continuing for life after life is a process referred to and termed ‘samsara. The state of rebirth (pleasant or unpleasant) is believed to be the results of karma, the law by which the consequences (good or bad) of actions reflect when life is transmigrating from one form to another which influences its character. Hindus’ ultimate spiritual goal is maksha – release from the cycle of samara.

 Literature

No specific text is regarded as specifically authoritative unlike any other religion, Hinduism is based on a rich and varied literature with the earliest dating from Vedic period (c.1500-c500BC), known collectively as the Veda. Later (c.500BC-AD500) the religious law books (dharma sutras and dharma shastras) surfaced; they codified the classes of society (varna) and the four stages of life (ashrama), and formed the basis of the Indian caste system. The great epics were added to these, notably the Ramayana and the Mahabharata which includes one of the most influential Hindu scriptures, the Bhagavad Gita.

Caste

The concept of Hinduism is founded centrally on the caste system which is believed to have been structured since the first Aryans came to India and brought a three-tiered social structure of priests (brahmanas), warriors (Kshatriyas), and commoners (vaishyas), to which they added the serfs (shudras), the indigenous population of India which may have been hierarchically structured. The Rig Veda (10.90) gives sanction to the class system (varna), describing each class as coming from the body of the sacrificed primal person (purusha). Orthodox Hindus regard the class system which is derived from the caste system as a sacred structure in harmony with natural or cosmic law (dharma). The system of class developed into the caste (jati) system which exists today and there are thousands of castes within India based on inherited profession and concepts of purity and pollution. The upper castes are generally regarded as ritually and philosophically purer than the lower ones. While this practice was outlawed in 1951, a number of castes are still considered so ‘polluting’ that their members are known as ‘untouchables’ [too ‘polluting’ to be touched or meddled with], thus marriage between castes is forbidden and transgressors have been known to be harshly punished.

Gods

Shiva, Vishnu and Brahma are the main chief gods in Hinduism, and together form the triad (the Trimurti). Many lesser deities also exist, such as the goddesses Maya and Lakshmi. It is common to most Hindus to go on pilgrimages to local and regional worship sites with an annual cycle of local, regional and all-Indian festivals.

Shiva: The Almighty

seigneur shiva

Shaivism is the main religious school in Hinduism and is devoted primarily to the worship of the god Shiva, who is thought to be the creator, the preserver, the transformer, the concealer and the revealer [through his blessings]. In the Smriti tradition, he is considered as one of the five primordial forms of God. Shiva is often revered in the abstract form of Shiva-Lingam, and is also represented in deep meditation, or dancing the tandava in the form of Nataraja. The theonym Shiva comes from an epithet of Rudra, the adjective Shiva “kind, lovable” euphemistically used for the god, who in the Rig-Veda also carries the epithet ghora “terrible”.

Shiva is the god of destruction, illusion and ignorance. He represents destruction but the aim of it is for the creation of a new world: Shiva transforms, and leads the manifestation through the “stream of forms”. Shiva’s emblem is the lingam [phallic representation], a symbol of creation associated with yoni, a stone slab representing the female organ: the matrix of the world. By the union of lingam and yoni, the absolute unfolding un the world proves that it overcomes male-female or spiritual-material antagonism.

shiva-lingam hinduism

The Lingam is often anointed with buffalo milk, cow milk or coconut milk and ghee (clarified butter) or surrounded by fruits, sweets, leaves and flowers as offerings of appeasement to Lord Shiva for all the pain he endured for humanity. The immensely powerful god is known for his unpredictable nature with a short, punitive and devastating temper in the face of evil and wrong, but he can also be incredibly affectionate, kind and generous to his worshippers, especially if they are righteous and devout.

Lingam also represents the cosmos, but also the power to know the conscience as the axis of reality. No longer oriented towards the natural end of life force and incarnation, the phallus erected towards the sky represents the gathering of the energies of the yogi on the sensible plane and their conversion to a subtle level. In Brahmanic Shaivism, the fundamental phallic characters of the lingam are always found clearly, both in the legends explaining the origin of this cult and in the bodily qualities occasionally attributed to the God. As portrayed in deep meditation, he has his eyes half-closed, for he opens them when the world is created and closes them to end the universe and begin a new cycle.

According to legend, Shiva and Vishnu went to a forest to fight 10 000 heretics. Furious, they sent a tiger, a snake and fierce black dwarf armed with a club. Shiva killed the tiger [he is traditionally seen sitting on a tiger’s skin], since “master of creatures”, “master of the herd” and “master of nature” [Pashupati], he tamed the snake and placed it around his neck as a collar [a symbol of control of passions] and placed his foot on the black dwarf and performed a dance developing with such power that the dwarf and heretics recognised him as their lord. Shiva dancing represents the universal and eternal soul radiating all the energy (shakti), in particular by the symbol of destructive and creative fire. This continuous dance generates the succession of days and nights, the cycle of seasons and that of birth and death. Eventually, his energy will cause the destruction of the universe, but he will then recreate it. This creative dance of the world symbolises the eternal process.

Shiva and Dionysus

shiva and dionysus

Shiva & Dionysus

According to the French orientalist, Alain Daniélou (October 4, 1956 – January 27, 1963), also known as “Shiva Sharan” (the protégé of Lord Shiva), a member of the French Institute of Indology and the French School of the Far East (1963 – 1977) and director of the International Institute of Comparative Sciences of Music in Berlin and Venice, Shiva and Dionysus lead to the worship of a common cult in Europe and maintained that we would be swept away by India.

alain daniélou - d'purb - dpurb website

Alain Daniélou (1956 – 1963) / Source: alaindanielou.org

“In India, we can revive and understand sometimes almost completely the rites and beliefs that were those of the Mediterranean world and the Middle East in antiquity.”

– Alain Daniélou, Shiva and Dionysus, Fayard 1979

Daniélou opposes two types of religions (one agricultural and the other urban) based on the work of Mircea Eliade. In this logic, he argues that the cult of a naturist and phallic  god, assimilated to the the bull, would be a universal model but that this belief would have been marginalised by the expansion of monotheistic urban culture. According to Daniélou always, not only the two divinities, Greek and Indian, share many myths in common, but in addition their epithets have comparable meanings.

“[…] Dionysos is the Protogonos (the Firstborn) as Shiva is Prathamaja (Firstborn), the” oldest of the gods “, also called Bhaskar (Bright) or Phanes (the illuminator) in the tradition Orphic. This god who teaches the fundamental unity of things is called Shiva (benevolent) or Meilichios (benevolent). He is Nisah (Bliss), the god of Naxos or Nysa. The very name of Dionysus probably means the “god of Nysa” (the sacred mountain of Shiva) as Zagreus is the god of Mount Zagron. Shiva-Dionysus is also Bhairava (the Terrible) or Bromios (the Noisy), Rudra or Eriboas (the Howler). […] »

Alain Daniélou, Shiva and Dionysos, Fayard 1979

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Like Christianity & the other major religions, Hinduism too gradually spread in influence across the globe. However, 94% of people who practice Hinduism  are the native Hindi-speaking population of India

Inde : Quand les Millionnaires se Font Moines

Some Western religious scholars have proposed a possible connection between Christianity and its founding philosophies with the origins of Hindu dharma. Many Christian rites have similarities from Vedic literature, hence the position of some scholars [See: Western Historians believe Christianity might have roots in Hindu dharma]. Others have pointed the kernel of scientific truth in a number of rituals from Hinduism, although solid empirical evidence is lacking [See: 20 reasons why Hinduism is a very scientific religion], and how Hinduism predicted many recent scientific practices through its mythological stories, such as cloning and embryo transfer [See: What are proven scientific facts that are said in Hindu mythology?]

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judaism

Judaism

Judaism is the religion of the Jews where the central belief in one God is the foundation. The primary source of Judaism is the Hebrew Bible, with the next important document being the Talmud, which consists of the Mishnah (the codification of the oral Torah) along with a series of rabbinical commentary. Jewish practice and thought however would be shaped by later documents, commentaries & the standard code of Jewish law and ritual (Halakhah) produced in the late Middle Ages.

Communal Life

UglyLeeches

Peinture: Sandrine Arbon

Most Jews see themselves as members of a group whose origins lie in the patriarchal period – however varied the Jewish community may be. There is a marked preference for expressing beliefs and attitudes more through rituals that through abstract doctrine. In Jewish rituals, the family is the basic unit although the synagogue too has developed to play an important role in being a centre for community study and worship. The Sabbath, a period starting from sunset on Friday and ending at sunset on Saturday is a central part of religious observance in Judaism with a cycle every year comprising of festivals and days of fasting, the first of these being Rosh Hashanah, New Year’s Day; in the Jewish year, the holiest day is Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement – others include Hanukkah and Pesach, the family festival of Passover.

Divisions

Rabbinic Judaism is the root of modern Judaism with a diverse historical development. Most Jews today are the descendants of either Ashkenazim or Sephardim, while many other branches of Judaism also exist. The preservation of ‘traditional’ Judaism is generally linked to the Orthodox Judaism movement of the 19c. Other branches, such as Reform Judaism attempt to interpret Judaism in the light of modern scholarship and knowledge, a process pushed further by Liberal Judaism – unlike Conservative Judaism which attempts to emphasise on the positives of ancient Jewish traditions in attempts to modify orthodoxy.

Modern Controversies

Waves of anti-Semitic prejudice and persecution during World War II have been regular features of Western media outlets’ [mostly Jewish owned] focus, who throughout history have clashed with the Christian influenced heritage of European civilisations, and this ongoing tension between Semitic traditions/philosophies/beliefs and Western Christian-influenced cultures was to take a turn when the rise of a form of “patriotic socialism” [neither left or right, but all encompassing] nationalism across Europe was marked by the spectacular election of the talented Adolf Hitler, who had been the leader of the National Socialist party [Nationalsozialismus later tarnished as “NAZI” by a jew known as Konrad Heiden from the Social Democratic Party of Germany (Sozialdemokratische Partei Deutschlands)] in Germany, and implemented the core ideologies of National Socialism [a focus on self-sustainability and socio-cultural and economic independence while creating a healthier – psychologically & physically – nation] with Darwinian influence on policies, along with developing the arts and a philosophy centred around science and research.

Exaggeration surrounding the event known as “the holocaust” based on Communist propaganda, Global Zionist interests, along with the credulity of mediocre politicians across the globe, has today been implanted in the minds of the ignorant mass media consumer as being the “dark legacy” of Adolf Hitler when no solid evidence has ever been found of him giving any order to exterminate the jews. This exaggerated picture that the media had already been circulating to the disapproval of some leading world figures such as John Kennedy and Gandhi [Article: Quand Gandhi écrivait à son « cher ami »… Adolf Hitler], is still being reviewed by a wave of daring, talented and modern historians of whom many have questioned and challenged the credibility of the facts used for claims of gas chambers used to exterminate the Jews; revisionist have claimed that gas chambers were not present or inadequate to be used as gas chambers on most of German soil. More testimonies of camp survivors gave notes of swimming pool, orchestras, shower rooms and even a canteen, without ever mentioning gas chambers. Others explained how the media propaganda videos of mass deaths with emaciated bodies were due to the outbreak of Typhus carried by lice which was caused by low hygiene due to the Allied bombing of train tracks which restricted many cities from supplies of food, medicines & sanitation; causing the starvation and death of not only camp detainees but many German men, women and children who were scavenging the streets for food. A large amount of shower rooms in the camps on German soil were also documented as working shower rooms that were vital for hygiene and the delousing process.

English historian David Irving was jailed for his revision of events linked to Adolf Hitler while other ground breaking documentaries such as ‘The greatest story never told’ by Dennis Wise keep spreading lesser known facts that are never part of mainstream media to the new generation of the internet era who seek factual analysis over historical controversies, such as the 150 000 Jews who gave up their heritage and had firmly assimilated German society in Adolf Hitler’s Third Reich and served loyally against Bolshevism & Communism until the very end. One of the most shocking statement comes from the Jewish Rabbi Yosef Tzvi Ben Porat who thought that Hitler was right to hate the jews for what they “do” [i.e. cause instability through their various business ventures on the various systems of the countries they migrated to, e.g. media control to trigger tension and friction in fields that support their monetary and other interests].

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The 1290 Edict of Expulsion from England, the expulsion from France in 1306 to name a few & the Chart showing all the times throughout human history that the Jews have been expelled from the locations they had migrated to. Many books over some despicable practices regarding human sacrifices have been written by a range of  non-Jewish intellectuals and thinkers who opposed such vile ancient traditions.

Jews have long been accused of violent religious sacrifices to their blood thirsty gods that involve the sacrifice of Christian children, which they have been accused of doing over the centuries throughout history, with many mutilated corpses of young Christian children found across Europe drained of all their blood – this myth is still alive in the 21st century, as a recently published article in the Times of Israel also suggests [See: Accusation antisémite de meurtre rituel]. This is perhaps one of the many reasons why the Jews are the only group who throughout human history has been persecuted and banned from so many countries. Even after the Holocaust, there were pogroms against Jewish survivors in Poland in which the blood libel was regurgitated by the local Catholic population. A particularly notable example of this was the assault on the Jewish survivors in the Polish town of Kielce, where an outbreak of anti-Jewish violence resulted in a pogrom in which thirty-seven Polish Jews were murdered out of about two hundred survivors who had returned home after World War II. As the International Emergency Conference to Combat Antisemitism discovered, that type of incident had “something of a religious character about them.”

Studying the teachings of the Talmud may perhaps offer some hints why the Jews have been persecuted in so many Christian countries and hated by the Pope Innocent III himself. As in our languages Christians take their name from Christ, so in the language of the Talmud Christians are called Notsrim, from Jesus the Nazarene. But Christians are also called by the names used in the Talmud to designate all non-Jews: Abhodah Zarah, Akum, Obhde Elilim, Minim, Nokhrim, Edom, Amme Haarets, Goim, Apikorosim, Kuthrim.

The Talmud is the central book of modern Judaism (that is, the one that was built after the coming of Christ). It is probably the most hateful and racist religious text ever written in the history of humanity. Anything is allowed against goyim (“non-Jewish”, in Hebrew, in the singular form, “goy”) who are lowered to the rank of beasts. Christ is insulted and his name blasphemed in the most despicable ways and the Blessed Virgin described as a prostitute. Going by the ignoble mentality transmitted by such a text, it seems to reveal the reason why Ovadia Yosef, Chief Rabbi of Israel, not long ago said: “The Goïm were born only to serve us. Without it, they have no place in the world. » In the Middle Ages, when Christian societies discovered the contents of this book with horror (thanks in particular to converted Jews, see: A List of Publicly known Jews who converted to Christianity), the text was banned and burned (especially under St. Louis). Edited versions were then published by the rabbis for the “general public”. These are still the ones that can be found behind shop windows but they do not reveal the truth about Judaism as seen from the leaders of their community.

Here is a collection of some controversial extracts from the original version of the Talmud:

Hilkhoth X, 2: Baptized Jews must be put to death.
The jews teach that since Christians follow the teachings of that man [Jesus], whom the Jews regard as a Seducer and an Idolater, and since they worship him as God, it clearly follows that they merit the name of idolaters, in no way different from those among whom the Jews lived before the birth of Christ, and whom they taught should be exterminated by every possible means.
In the same book Sanhedrin (107b) we read:
« Mar said: Jesus seduced, corrupted and destroyed Israel. »
The book Zohar, III, (282), tells us that Jesus died like a beast and was buried in that « dirt heap…where they throw the dead bodies of dogs and asses, and where the sons of Esau [the Christians] and of Ismael [the Turks], also Jesus and Mahommed, uncircumcized and unclean like dead dogs, are buried. »(25)
In Iore Dea (81,7, Hagah) it says: « A child must not be nursed by a Nokhri, if an Israelite can be had; for the milk of the Nokhrith hardens the heart of a child and builds up an evil nature in him. »
In Iore Dea (153,1, Hagah) it says: « A child must not be given to the Akum to learn manners, literature or the arts, for they will lead him to heresy. »
In Zohar (1,25b) it says: « Those who do good to the Akum . . . will not rise from the dead. »
Hilkhoth X, 6: We can help goyim in need, if it saves us trouble later on.
In this way they explain the words of Deuteronomy (VII,2) . . . and thou shalt show no mercy unto them [Goim], as cited in the Gemarah. Rabbi S. Iarchi explains this Bible passage as follows: « Do not pay them any compliments; for it is forbidden to say: how good that Goi is. »
Rabbi Bechai, explaining the text of Deuteronomy about hating idolatry, says: « The Scripture teaches us to hate idols and to call them by ignominious names. Thus, if the name of a church is Bethgalia— »house of magnificence, » it should be called Bethkaria—an insignificant house, a pigs’ house, a latrine. For this word, karia, denotes a low-down, slum place. »
JESUS is ignominiously called Jeschu—which means, May his name and memory be blotted out. His proper name in Hebrew is Jeschua, which means Salvation.
MARY, THE MOTHER OF JESUS, is called Charia—dung, excrement (German Dreck). In Hebrew her proper name is Miriam.
CHRISTIAN SAINTS, the word for which in Hebrew is Kedoschim, are called Kededchim (cinaedos)—feminine men (Fairies). Women saints are called Kedeschoth, whores.
A CHRISTIAN GIRL who works for Jews on their sabbath is called Schaw-wesschicksel, Sabbath Dirt.
Eben Haezar 44, 8: Marriages between goyim and Jews are void.
Since the Goim minister to Jews like beasts of burden, they belong to a Jew together with his life and all his faculties: « The life of a Goi and all his physical powers belong to a Jew. » (A. Rohl. Die Polem. p.20)
It is an axiom of the Rabbis that a Jew may take anything that belongs to Christians for any reason whatsoever, even by fraud; nor can such be called robbery since it is merely taking what belongs to him.
In Babha Bathra (54b) it says: « All things pertaining to the Goim are like a desert; the first person to come along and take them can claim them for his own. »
In Babha Kama (113b) it says: « It is permitted to deceive a Goi. »
The Babha Kama (113b) says: « The name of God is not profaned when, for example, a Jew lies to a Goi by saying: ‘I gave something to your father, but he is dead; you must return it to me,’ as long as the Goi does not know that you are lying. »
(4) cf. supra, p.30, A similar text is found in Schabbuoth Hagahoth of Rabbi Ascher (6d): « If the magistrate of a city compels Jews to swear that they will not escape from the city nor take anything out of it, they may swear falsely by saying to themselves that they will not escape today, nor take anything out of the city today only. »
In Zohar (I, 160a) it says: « Rabbi Jehuda said to him [Rabbi Chezkia]: ‘He is to be praised who is able to free himself from the enemies of Israel, and the just are much to be praised who get free from them and fight against them.’ Rabbi Chezkia asked, ‘How must we fight against them?’ Rabbi Jehuda said, ‘By wise counsel thou shalt war against them’ (Proverbs, ch. 24, 6). By what kind of war? The kind of war that every son of man must fight against his enemies, which Jacob used against Esau—by deceit and trickery whenever possible. They must be fought against without ceasing, until proper order be restored. Thus it is with satisfaction that I say we should free ourselves from them and rule over them. »
In Choschen Ham. (425,5) it says: « If you see a heretic, who does not believe in the Torah, fall into a well in which there is a ladder, hurry at once and take it away and say to him ‘I have to go and take my son down from a roof; I will bring the ladder back to you at once’ or something else. The Kuthaei, however, who are not our enemies, who take care of the sheep of the Israelites, are not to be killed directly, but they must not be saved from death. »
And in Iore Dea (158,1) it says: « The Akum who are not enemies of ours must not be killed directly, nevertheless they must not be saved from danger of death. For example, if you see one of them fall into the sea, do not pull him out unless he promises to give you money. »
Lastly, the Talmud commands that Christians are to be killed without mercy. In the Abhodah Zarah (26b) it says: « Heretics, traitors and apostates are to be thrown into a well and not rescued. »
And in Choschen Hamm. again (388,15) it says: « If it can be proved that someone has betrayed Israel three times, or has given the money of Israelites to the Akum, a way must be found after prudent consideration to wipe him off the face of the earth. »
Even a Christian who is found studying the Law of Israel merits death. In Sanhedrin (59a) it says: « Rabbi Jochanan says: A Goi who pries into the Law is guilty to death. »
In Hilkhoth Akum (X, 2) it says: « These things [supra] are intended for idolaters. But Israelites [Jews] also, who lapse from their religion and become epicureans [Christians], are to be killed, and we must persecute them to the end. For they afflict Israel and turn the people from God. »
In Choschen Hamm. (425,5) it says: « Jews who become epicureans [Christians], who take to the worship of stars and planets and sin maliciously; also those who eat the flesh of wounded animals, or who dress in vain clothes, deserve the name of epicureans; likewise those who deny the Torah and the Prophets of Israel—the law is that all those should be killed; and those who have the power of life and death should have them killed; and if this cannot be done, they should be led to their death by deceptive methods. »
Rabbi David Kimchi writes as follows in Obadiam: « What the Prophets foretold about the destruction of Edom in the last days was intended for Rome, as Isaiah explains (ch. 34,1): Come near, ye nations, to hear . . . For when Rome is destroyed, Israel shall be redeemed. »
A JEW WHO KILLS A CHRISTIAN COMMITS NO SIN, BUT OFFERS AN ACCEPTABLE SACRIFICE TO GOD / In Sepher Or Israel (177b) it says: « Take the life of the Kliphoth and kill them, and you will please God the same as one who offers incense to Him. »
And in Ialkut Simoni (245c. n. 772) it says: « Everyone who sheds the blood of the impious is as acceptable to God as he who offers a sacrifice to God. »
AFTER THE DESTRUCTION OF THE TEMPLE AT JERUSALEM, THE ONLY SACRIFICE NECESSARY IS THE EXTERMINATION OF CHRISTIANS
In Zohar (III,227b) the Good Pastor says: « The only sacrifice required is that we remove the unclean from amongst us. »
Abhodah Zarah 22a: Do not associate with the goyim; they shed blood.
Rashi Erod.22 30: A goy is like a dog. The Scriptures teach us that a dog deserves more respect than a goy.
Kerithuth 6b p. 78: Jews are humans, not goyim, they are animals.
In Kallah (1b, p.18) it says: « She (the mother of the mamzer) said to him, ‘Swear to me.’ And Rabbi Akibha swore with his lips, but in his heart he invalidated his oath. »(4)
Every Jew is therefore bound to do all he can to destroy that impious kingdom of the Edomites (Rome) which rules the whole world. Since, however, it is not always and everywhere possible to effect this extermination of Christians, the Talmud orders that they should be attacked at least indirectly, namely: by injuring them in every possible way, and by thus lessening their power, help towards their ultimate destruction. Wherever it is possible a Jew should kill Christians, and do so without mercy. Jews must spare no means in fighting the tyrants who hold them in this Fourth Captivity in order to set themselves free. They must fight Christians with astuteness and do nothing to prevent evil from happening to them: their sick must not be cared for, Christian women in childbirth must not be helped, nor must they be saved when in danger of death.
Zohar I, 28b: The goyim are the children of the Genesis serpent.
Yebamoth 98a: All children of goyim are animals
Abhodah Zarah 35b: All daughters of unbelievers are niddah (dirty, impure) since birth.
Sanhedrin 52b: Adultery is not forbidden with the wife of a goy, because Moses only forbade adultery with “the wife of your similar”, and a goy is not a Hebrew’s similar.
Abhodah Zarah 4b: You can kill a goy with your own hands.
Hilkhoth goy X, 1: Do not make any agreement with a goy, never show mercy to a goy. You must not have pity on the goyim because it says: “You shall not look at them with pity”.
Hilkkkoth X, 1: do not save the goyim in danger of death.
Orach Chaiim 57, 6a: No more compassion should be shown for goyim than for pigs, when they are sick of the intestines.
Jalkut Rubeni Gadol 12b: The souls of the goyim come from impure spirits called pigs.
Babha Kama 113a: Jews can lie and perjure themselves, if it is to deceive or convict a goy.
Choschen Ham 26, 1: A Jew should not be prosecuted before a goy court, by a goy judge, or by non-Jewish laws.
Babha Kama 113a: Unbelievers do not benefit from the law and God has made their money available to Israel.
Pesachim 49b: It is permissible to behead goyim on the day of atonement for sins, even if it also falls on a Sabbath day.
Rabbi Eliezer: “It is lawful to cut off the head of an idiot, a member of the people of the Earth (Pranaitis), that is, a carnal animal, a Christian, on the day of atonement for sins and even if that day falls on a Sabbath day”. His disciples replied, “Rabbi! You should rather say “sacrifice” a goy. “But he replied: “In no way! For when a sacrifice is made, it is necessary to pray to ask God to accept it, whereas it is not necessary to pray when you behead someone.”
Sanhedrin 58b: If a goy hits a Jew, he must be killed, because it is like hitting God.
Chagigah 15b: A Jew is always considered good, despite the sins he may commit. It is always his shell that gets dirty, never his own bottom.
Zohar I, 131a: Goyim defile the world. The Jew is a superior being
Chullin 91b: Jews possess the dignity that even an angel does not have.
Iore Dea 151, 11: It is forbidden to give a gift to a goy, it encourages friendship.
Orach Chaiim 20, 2: Goyim dress up to kill Jews.
Shabbath 116a (p. 569): Jews must destroy the goyim books (New Testament).
Sanhedrin 90a: Those who read the New Testament (Christians) will have no place in the world to come.
THOSE WHO KILL CHRISTIANS SHALL HAVE A HIGH PLACE IN HEAVEN
In Zohar (I,38b, and 39a) it says: « In the palaces of the fourth heaven are those who lamented over Sion and Jerusalem, and all those who destroyed idolatrous nations … and those who killed off people who worship idols are clothed in purple garments so that they may be recognized and honored. »
JEWS MUST NEVER CEASE TO EXTERMINATE THE GOIM; THEY MUST NEVER LEAVE THEM IN PEACE AND NEVER SUBMIT TO THEM
In Hilkhoth Akum (X, 1) it says: « Do not eat with idolaters, nor permit them to worship their idols; for it is written: Make no covenant with them, nor show mercy unto them (Deuter. ch. 7, 2). Either turn away from their idols or kill them. »
Ibidem (X,7): « In places where Jews are strong, no idolater must be allowed to remain… »

Now, we can ask ourselves a few simple questions here, which is “Could all the people who have banned the Jews be without any reason to do so?” and “Could people simply walk around and suddenly without any reason decide to hate Jews?” and also “If this has happened to them for so many years, is it not likely that the problem is in fact with the Jews themselves?” I believe it is best to leave the audience to answer these questions and reflect on them alone. Quite surprisingly, there were strong ancient Aryan religious & mythological warrior values and motives embedded in the mind of Heinrich Himmler (the Reichsführer of the SS), the person believed to have taken the decision to exterminate the jews, i.e. the engineer of the “Holocaust” (remember the term itself is related and applicable to the human sacrifices of Jews to their god, Baal). Heinrich Himmler told his personal masseur & physician Felix Kersten that he always carried a copy of the ancient Aryan scripture, the Bhagavad Gita [See Aryan Race & Race Aryenne] with him because it relieved him of the guilt about what he was doing – he declared that he felt like the sacred warrior Arjuna, who was simply doing his duty for his people and their future without attachment to his actions [See the Documentary released in 2014: Himmler: The Decent One, which is made from a collection of letters, notes and journal entries that challenge viewers to see from the perspective of the mind of Himmler and his motivation]. We can also have a range of perspectives from the excellent documentary, Dans la tête des SS [Click here to view Part I and  Click here to view Part II] which came out in 2017 and gave a voice to SS veterans to try to “understand the incomprehensible”.

Hitler’s Shadow: In The Service Of The Führer

However, nowadays, the mainstream mindset about World War II remains stuck on the ‘extermination of the Jews by Hitler’ for most, while no evidence has ever been found of Hitler ordering the extermination of the Jews. Global urgency is given to the Zionist movement, established by the World Zionist Organisation for the creation of a Jewish homeland, which is still pivotal in most relations between Jews and non-Jews to this day, with over 14 million Jews scattered around the world.

Ultra-orthodoxes : ces Juifs français devenus religieux

History of the Jews – summary from 750 BC to Israel-Palestine conflict

Israel-Palestine conflict – summary from 1917 to present

As Michel Onfray, the post-modern and perceptive French philospher noted, nowadays, many seem to divide every topic of civilisational discussion as a matter or “right” or “left”, which comes as outdated: if we mention the term “Islam”, people will suggest that it is a question of the right and look at us suspiciously; if I shift my focus on the “Jewish question” [Oh la la!], then this once again will be a question of the right [for e.g. if we were to ask the question whether the value of French secularism that bans the display of religious signs in public institutions such as the law on the Islamic veil should also apply to them].

La Question Juive et la Kippa

Des juifs en Europe et en France portant la kippa / Jews in Europe and France wearing the yarmulke

On the same line of thought as myself, French philosopher, Michel Onfray explains that this sort of stigmatisation that forbids the freedom to think and to formulate questions is problematic when it is a frame of mind embodied by the mass mainstream media, which are considered as the “dominant” media and the State’s news outlet [being partially funded and/or owned by it], not for the quality of their writers, writing, journalism and/or literary or intellectual value, but simply because they are designed to appeal to the majority of average reading brains. But fortunately, the internet is also evolving as an outlet, and with us and smart active readers out there, those boring media groups and their sympathisers will not stop us from questioning or from questioning their answers, whoever it may be from.

La France sous l'occupation allemande

La France sous l’occupation allemande / France under German occupation

The Hitler regime was not the first regime to ban and persecute the Jews, the Jews have even been banned from England in 1290 by Edward I, and also in 1306 from France by Philippe IV and these are only 2 examples. The Jews have been banned throughout a wide range of societies they moved to due to their insolence, their disrespect to the nation and the values of their heritage that encouraged the systematic destruction and enslavement of all non-Jewish civilisations, their habit of monopolising press business to distort perception and they have also been widely accused  across centuries for occult and violent rituals involving the killing of young Christian children to offer their blood to their violent pagan god. Jews have been banned in a wide range of countries since 1200 B.C until 2014 where they have recently been banned from Guatemala, which leads to about 3213 years of constant persecution and bans from countries they migrated to. In fact, they have been banned from Carthage, Rome, Egypt, Spain, Italy, Switzerland, Hungary, Belgium, Austria, Netherlands, Poland, Czech Republic, Lithuania, the Baltic States, and Russia to name a few. If people want to know the full list, they can use the internet and search “Countries where Jews were banned/expulsed” [also: Resolutions aganst Israel].

A lot of disgust and resentment towards the Jews came from Christian nations. The translation and readings of the Talmud, played a huge part in revealing why the Jews have been persecuted in so many Christian countries and hated by the  Pope Innocent III himself. In the accusations that had been multiplying in Christianity, many unexplained disappearances of children and infanticides were explained as Jewish ritual murder. A theological explanation was even put forward by Thomas de Cantimpré (around 1260), stating that the blood of Christians, particularly that of children, was coveted by the Jews for its ‘curative properties’. According to him, “it is quite certain that the Jews of each province draw lots annually to determine which community or town will send Christian blood to the other communities”.

The Martyrdom of St. Simon of Trento - Giovanni Gasparro

Image: Martyre de Saint Simon de Trente par meurtre rituel juif (The Martyrdom of St. Simon of Trento for Jewish ritual murder) par Giovanni Gasparro (2020)

Thomas added that he frequently spoke with a ‘very learned Jew, who had since converted to the Christian faith’ (perhaps Nicolas Donin of La Rochelle, who in 1240 initiated a dispute on the Talmud with Yehiel of Paris, which led to the cremation in 1242 of a large number of Talmudic manuscripts in Paris). This convert suggested to him that “one of their own, enjoying the reputation of a prophet, towards the end of his life” had predicted to them that haemorrhages (from which the Jews were supposed to suffer since the time when they called out to Pontius Pilate, “His blood be upon us, and upon our children“, a passage of the gospel attributed to Matthew called the “libellus of blood”), could only be relieved by “Christian blood” (“solo sanguine christiano“). According to Thomas of Cantimpré, the Jews, “always blind and impious”, took the words of their “prophet” literally and instituted the custom of sprinkling “Christian blood” in every province every year in order to cure their illness. However, Thomas adds, they misunderstood his words: by “solo sanguine Christiano“, the “prophet” did not mean the blood of every Christian, but that of Jesus the Christ; the only true remedy for all the physical and spiritual sufferings of the Jews would therefore be conversion to Christianity.

***

christianity

Christianity

“Mais moi, je vous dis: Aimez vos ennemis, bénissez ceux qui vous maudissent, faites du bien à ceux qui vous haïssent, et priez pour ceux qui vous maltraitent et qui vous persécutent…”

Matthieu 5:44

Traduction(EN): “But I say to you: Love your enemies and bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who mistreat you and persecute you…”

[Matthew 5:44]

“…afin que vous soyez fils de votre Père qui est dans les cieux; car il fait lever son soleil sur les méchants et sur les bons, et il fait pleuvoir sur les justes et sur les injustes.…”

Matthieu 5:45

Traduction(EN): “…that you may be sons of your Father in heaven; for he makes his sun rise on the wicked and on the good, and he makes it rain on the just and on the unjust….”

[Matthew 5:45]

Le Monde Chrétien.jpg

Christianity is a religion that developed out of Judaism, centred on the life of Jesus of Nazareth in Israel. Jesus is believed to be the Messiah or Christ promised by the prophets in the Old Testament, and in a unique relation to God, whose Son or ‘Word’ (Logos) he was proclaimed to be. He selected 12 men as his disciples during his life, who after his death by crucifixion and his resurrection, formed the very nucleus of the Church as a society of believers. Christians gathered together to worship God through the risen Jesus Christ, in the belief of his return to earth and to establish the ‘kingdom of God’.

Despite sporadic persecution, the Christian faith saw a quick progression and spread throughout the Greek and Roman world through the witness of the 12 earliest leaders (Apostles) and their successors. In 315 Christianity was declared by Emperor Constantine as the official religion of the Roman Empire. The religion survived the Empire’s split and the ‘Dark Ages’ through the witness of groups of monks in monasteries, and made up the basis of civilisation in Europe in the Middle Ages.

The Bible

Christian scriptures are divided into two testaments:

  • The Old Testament (or Hebrew Bible) is a collection of writings originally composed in Hebrew, except for sections of Daniel and Ezra which are in Aramaic. The contents depict Israelite religion from its roots to about the 2c.
  • The New Testament, composed in Greek, is called so in Christian circles because it is believed to represent a new ‘testament’ or ‘covenant’ in the long history of God’s interactions with his people, focussing on Jesus’s ministries and the early development of the apostolic churches.

Denominations

Differences in doctrines and practices however have led to major divisions in the Christian Church, these are the Eastern or Othodox Churches, the Roman Catholic Church, which recognises the Bishop of Rome (the pope) as head, and the Protestant Churches stemming from the break-up with the Roman Catholic Chuch in the Reformation. The desire to convert the non-Christian world and spread Christianity through missionary movements led to the establishment of numerically strong Churches in developing economies such as Asia, Africa and South America.

Passion_Of_The_Christ

Image: Jim Caviezel as “the Lord Jesus Christ” in Mel Gibson’s “Passion of the Christ (2004)” [An extract from the incredible depiction of Jesus Christ’s journey can be viewed here]

Ne vous conformez pas au monde actuel, soyez transformés par l'intelligence - Romains 12-2 d'purb dpurb site web

Romain 12:2 : Ne vous conformez pas au monde actuel, mais soyez transformés par le renouvellement de l’intelligence afin de discerner quelle est la volonté de Dieu, ce qui est bon, agréable et parfait. // Traduction(EN): Romans 12:12 : Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.

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Part III: Science