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Full text of "Man In The Modern World"

MAN IN TIIK  MODKKN  WORLD
necessity, as life-force or as God. Man stands alone as the agent of
his fate and the trustee of progress for life. To accept his responsi-
bility consciously is itself an important slop toward more rapid
progress. Here is a field where a philosophy based on the scientific
outlook is of the utmost practical importance.
But the problem that most perplexes our present age remains the
question of moral certitude. As Dean Sperry says, it is the Joss of the
"ethical universal* " with which Christianity has equipped Western
civilisation that creates the "grave moral perplexities" of the present
This is where modern psychology (Miters the picture. For a justifica-
tion of our moral code we no longer have to have recourse to
theological revelation, or to a metaphysical Absolute; Freud in com-
bination with Darwin suffice; to give us our philosophic, vision. The
great contribution of Freud was the discovery of the unconscious
mind. What matter if logicians assert that the phrase is a contradic-
tion in terms? It is now firmly established that through the process
known as repression, desires and ideas, emotions and purposes, can be
forced out of consciousness, or at least out of contact with the main
organization of consciousness that we call the self or ego. They are
then "in the unconscious," but in the unconscious they continue
operating just as if they wen; ordinary processes of the mind, and they
arc still able to influence the conscious life of the ego in the most
varied ways,
Repression is the banishment from consciousness of desires and
ideas that produce otherwise intolerable conflict, It Is a special form
of what psychologists and neurologists call inhibition. The repressed
ideas arc so intolerable that consciousness will not even recognize
their existence or examine them rationally; yet they are so powerful
that they distort consciousness itself. They may manage to enter, in
suitably disguised forms, into the very forces of the mind that aid in
their repression, and lead to a neurotic conflict that is indefinitely
prolonged. They may emerge under the guise of perversions, sub-
limations, compulsions, or mere oddities of behaviour. Most im-
portant for our purpose, the conflict, since it is never faced in the light
of conscious reason, has to be resolved by irrational methods; emo-
tional force must be met by emotional force. This is accomplished by
the development of what psychoanalysis call the super-ego, a mental
construction embodying both the repressive forces and also the feel-
ings of guilt engendered by the conflict. From another angle, the
super-ego may be looked on as the injection of external authority into
the infant's developing personality, where it takes root under the form
of a sense of moral compulsion. To complete the story, we may add
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