No Comment, Quotation — November 13, 2007, 12:00 am

Freud on the Question of Humankind’s Fate

sigmund_freud-loc

Die Schicksalsfrage der Menschenart scheint mir zu sein, ob und in welchem Maße es ihrer Kulturentwicklung gelingen wird, der Störung des Zusammenlebens durch den menschlichen Aggressions- und Selbstvernichtungstrieb Herr zu werden. In diesem Bezug verdient vielleicht die gegenwärtige Zeit ein besonderes Interesse. Die Menschen haben es jetzt in ihrer Beherrschung der Naturkräfte so weit gebracht, dass sie es mit deren Hilfe leicht haben, einander bis auf den letzten Mann auszurotten. Sie wissen das, daher ein gut Stück ihrer gegenwärtigen Unruhe, ihres Unglücks, ihrer Angststimmung. Und nun ist zu erwarten, dass die andere der beiden „himmlischen Kräfte“, der ewige Eros, eine Anstrengung machen wird, um sich im Kampf mit seinem ebenso unsterblichen Gegner zu behaupten. Aber wer kann den Erfolg und Ausgang voraussehen?

The fateful question for humankind appears to me to be whether and in what measure its cultural development will succeed in mastering the disruption of communal life which results from the human drives towards aggression and self-destruction. The present times warrant special attention in this regard. Human beings have gained control over the forces of nature to such an extent that at length they will have no difficulty in exterminating the species down to the last man. They know this, and hence is to be derived a good portion of the current unrest, unhappiness and the sense of anxiety. And thus it is to be expected that the other one of the two “celestial powers,” namely the eternal Eros, will make an effort to assert itself in battle with its equally immortal adversary. But who can foresee with what success and with what result?

Sigmund Freud, Das Unbehagen in der Kultur pt. viii (1930-31) in: Werkausgabe vol. 2, p. 424 (A. Freud & I. Grubrich-Simitis eds. 1978)(S.H. transl.)

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