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Outline of Herbert Marcuse “Eros and Civilization”
Eros and Civilization, by Herbert Marcuse
Outline by Philip Turetzky, email@example.com
Psychological categories have become political categories: Task = to develop the social substance of psychological forces.
A) Freud’s thesis: civilization is based on the permanent subjugation of instincts: sacrifice and delayed satisfaction are necessary for progress.
B) Technical progress has paid off, but at the cost of increased domination.
C) Q: Are the connections between progress & domination, productivity& destruction, freedom & repression essential to civilization or are theyhistorically specific? i.e. is a non-repressive civilization possible?
Part I: Under the Rule of the Reality Principle:
1. The Hidden Trend in Psychoanalysis:
Freud: History is the history of repression. Culture constrains instincts,which would destroy society and self because instincts seek unattainablesatisfactions. Yet this constraint is the precondition of progress.
A) Pleasure principle and reality principle:
1) Objectives of instincts change from pleasure principle (largely unconscious, primary processes) to reality principle (largely conscious secondary processes) (cf. p.12).
2) The latter restrains yet safeguards the former to deal with nature and society. This alters pleasure itself.
3) The ego strives for the useful, developing reason (attention, memory, judgment, i.e. becomes a subject) which tests reality.
4) Phantasy retains pleasure principle and the rest of the mind is devoted to action.
5) Civilization struggles against freedom (absence of repression).
B) Genetic and individual repression:
1) Both ontogenetically and phylogenetically the reality principle represses the pleasure principle.
2) The reality principle must be continually re-established.
C) “Return of the repressed” in civilization:
1) The repressed pleasure principle is never destroyed and returns in the unconscious.
2) The dynamic: enslavement->rebellion->more domination; makes repression into a social and historical phenomenon.
3) This dynamic of repression and the oppressor is internalized.
D) Civilization and want: rationalization of renunciation:
1) Scarcity reinforces repression and the reality principle.2) Freud thinks that because of scarcity the dynamic of repression isunavoidable. He shows the barbarous roots of the highest values. Constraint and unfreedom are then the price of culture.
E) “Remembrance of things past” as vehicle of liberation:
1) The unconscious is the drive for integral gratification and so is the immediate identity of necessity and freedom.2) It thus contains the memory of integral gratification in the past, and utopian aspirations for the future.3) The truth value of memory lies in such betrayed utopian promises.4) Liberating memory yields critical standards exploding rational repression and restoring phantasy.
2. The Origin of the Repressed Individual (Ontogenesis):
A) The mental apparatus as a dynamic union of opposites:
unconscious/ conscious; primary/secondary processes; inherited/acquired forces; soma-psyche/external reality
B) Stages in Freud’s theory of instincts;
1) Sexuality is privileged in the mental apparatus as pleasure and life oriented.
2) Early theory: libido (sexuality is one group of instincts)/self-preservation (another group); middle: narcissism as pan-sexual); later Erosincludes self-preservation and life instincts/death instincts.
C) Common conservative nature of primary instincts:
1) Yet the instincts come to seem to have a common regressive nature.
2) They seeking a return to quiescence and the removal of inner tension.The instincts serve repetition and death.
D) Possible supremacy of Nirvana principle:
1) Nirvana principle = seeking removal of internal tension due to stimuli.
2) This seems to splits into Eros and Thanatos. Eros delays & counteracts tendency toward death by producing new tensions.
3) Q: Does Eros just serve as a long detour to death? The delay is long enough to see Eros as unifying force preserving all life. Yet Eros ultimately seems to partake of the the same conservative nature as the death instinct.
4) Death instinct is not just blind impulse to destruction but serves as anunconscious flight from suffering, to relieve tensions.
E) Id, ego, superego:
The historical character of the instincts requires anew model of the person.
1) Id (the “it”) = unconscious primary instincts, a temporal, non-social and valueless.
2) Ego (the “I”) splits off from the id under external pressures and mediates between instincts and the external world. Perception andconsciousness are the part of the ego that test reality and preserve its existence.The ego represents the external world for the id, and it asserts the reality principle,ordering and controlling the id’s impulses. Ego thinks as a detour from past to repeated gratifications, and defends them against external world and destructive impulses.
3) Superego: Derives from parental influence it represents morality as social restrictions introjected as guilt, conscience, the need for punishment.
F) “Corporealization” of the psyche:
1) Conscious condemnation becomes unconscious repression and the individual becomes re-actionary.
2) Psyche enforces past prohibitions, even when maturity makes them unnecessary.
G) Reactionary character of superego:
1) Mental development lags behind real development: id carries past pleasure, superego past adjustments to reality.
2) Memory of unity of freedom and necessity, yield an acceptance of the necessity of unfreedom.
H) Evaluation of Freud’s basic conception:
I) Analysis of the interpretation of history in Freud’s psychology:
1) The external world for humans is an historical world.
2) Freud’s conception is unhistorical in that it derives all civilization from organized domination justified biologically.
3) Yet, this implies an historical development that is hidden in natural(biological) reified processes.
J) Distinction between repression and “surplus-repression”:
1) Unfolding the social-historical nature of Freud’s concepts requires parallel socio-historical concepts:
2) Surplus-repression = restrictions necessitated by social domination as opposed repression which modifies the instincts necessary for survival.
3) Performance principle: the prevailing historical mode of the reality principle.
K) Alienated labor and the performance principle:
1) Work (some pain and delayed gratification) is necessary to deal withscarcity.2) But this is fallacious if applied to consequences of particular historicalorganizations of scarcity. The mode of work, distribution of scarce goods,direction of goods to needs have been imposed on individuals by violence andthe rational use of power.3) Domination = exercise of power to serve the interests of a particulargroup. Different modes of domination will yield different forms of repression:who works, under what sort of production and economy, e.g. patriarchal family,hierarchical division of labor, public control of private lives.
L) Organization of sexuality: taboos on pleasure:
1) Surplus repression and basic repression interact.2) e.g. senses of smell & taste are repressed aesthetically re: feces and alsounder strict taboos on bodily pleasures, if eroticized smell & taste wouldundermine the desexualization necessary for useful labor.3) Sex instincts are repressed re: procreation function and primacy of genitality make non-genitality and partial gratification taboo.4) How can Eros both opposed civilization and yet be an integrative forceuniting people through love? This tension in Freud’s thought is unreconciled.5) Civilization involves a dialectic (cf. N below) in which the repressionof Eros calls up the very destructive forces that repression was meant to quell.6) The performance principle is historically specific to modernity. Itassume rationalized domination in which the interests of domination and of thewhole coincide.7) But work is increasingly alienated and restrictions on libido general,negating the pleasure principle. Restrictions operate as objective laws and areinternalized in individual desires (p. 46). Body and mind become instruments of alienated labor under the distribution of time. Work time is separated from “freetime” and free time is increasingly regimented by the culture industry.
8) Libido is spatially unified and restricted to the opposite sex andgenitality. Sexuality is originally polymorphous-perverse. The perversions areseductive in promising greater satisfaction, express rebellion against theperformance principle, claim instinctual freedom, are allied with phantasy andart. The order of procreation is endangered showing the identity of Eros and thedeath instinct and the drive to fulfillment regresses from the pleasure principle tothe Nirvana principle.
M) Organization of destruction instincts:
1) There is no social organization of the death instinct. It is manifest insadomasochistic perversions and is taboo.2) But the death instinct is used in the punishments and morality of thesuper ego, which turn the ego against the id and split the personality, andtechnological progress as aggressive forms of alteration, mastery, andexploitation of nature in the service of Eros.
N) Fatal dialectic of civilization:
The very progress of civilization leadsto the release of increasingly destructive forces.
3. The Origin of Repressive Civilization (Phylogenesis):
A) “Archaic heritage” of the individual ego:
1) Repression originates in pre-individual and generic experiences not inindividual ones.2) The severity of the superego, guilt, and need for punishment are out of proportion with individual acts & impulses.3) So we must turn to the psychology of the species (the universal), thearchaic heritage, of which the individual is an instance.
B) Individual and group psychology:
1) The individual (self consciousness & reason) seem to be frozenrepression. The ego dissolves: the pre- & sub-individual make the person.2) This undermined the ideology of the autonomous individual. The, notyet mastered, past (of both child & species) defines the present.
C) The primal horde: rebellion and restoration of domination:
1) The archaic heritage leads back to the domination of humans byhumans and the incomplete rebellion against the father. We are still haunted bythe memory of these prehistoric impulses.2) Freud’s anthropology is symbolic. Its truth eludes verification, butexplains actual historical consequences.3) The father dominated the horde and reserved the pleasures of thewomen, the sons had to steal wives, and channel energies into useful work.Domination suppressed pleasure and created the conditions for labor andprogress to continue. (
exogamy & labor)4) By his success the father creates order and inspires others to want toidentify with him and his pleasures. The father and his later images embody thereality principle.5) Hatred of the father-order inspires the sons to kill him and establishthe brother clan (civilization), deify the father and institute taboos, morality, andthe development of introjected guilt feelings [cf. quote p63-64]. (exogamy exchange -economy of marriage)6) Repression permeates the group releasing energy for work, since thesons want lasting gratification just like that the father guaranteed. 7) Matriarchy and liberation follow domination (\not natural) and leadto the reaffirmation of domination. Religion reinforces this order polytheismturns to monotheism and restores the all powerful father.
D) Dual content of the sense of guilt:
1) Guilt about the original patricide threatens to destroy the group byremoval of the preserving authority and by return of the pleasure principle.2) Sons restore domination but having internalized the father they betraythe promise of pleasure (represented by women and the fear of incest and returnto the mother) and are guilty of a second crime. They then embody the realityprinciple.3) Anxiety continues because the crime against the pleasure principle isnot redeemed
E) Return of the repressed in religion:
1) The primal crime is repeated throughout history, a cycle of revolt andrestoration of authority.2) The return of the repressed is exemplified in religion: Moses – Judaismfirst born and source of Christianity, then Christ as redeemer of flesh(Eros/Agape), and betrayal, Christ as divine source of law.3) NB: Freud accepted Enlightenment’s view that science would liberateus from the myths of religion and create progress, but science has createdinstruments of destruction and given us good consciences in the face of sufferingand alienation.
F) The failure of revolution:
1) How is the return of the repressed manifested historically? By findingthe “memory traces” of repressed material in the institutions and ideologiesreproduced daily by force, identification, repression, sublimation forming theego & superego, reproducing both domination and the impulse to revolt. Actualhistory matters little, the consequences are the same.2) Objective laws and institutions (e.g. monogamy, private property,universalized labor) more rationally distribute repression throughout the societymaking rewards more secure.
G) Changes in father-images and mother-images:
1) The pleasure principle transformed into the performance principlechanges the object of struggle.2) The mother combined Eros and Thanatos the aim of sex and the returnto Nirvana. These become divided by the incest taboo which separates affection(created by abstinence) from sensual desire, making lasting group relationspossible.3) The father is perpetuated as proper authority in every child andinstitutions for the satisfaction of needs expand. But the industrial age developsthese institutions past their limits. They begin to destroy civilization.
4. The Dialectic of Civilization:
A) Need for strengthened defense against destruction:
1) Freud argues, from the nature of the instincts and the increase incontemporary wars and bigotries, that progress requires an increase in the senseof guilt.
2) The superego takes over renounced aggression from the death instinct.The father’s prohibitions inhibited the death instinct, serving Eros by unifyingthe sons, creating affection, exogamy, sublimation.3) Guilt seems to lose its irrationality as domination becomes the onlyrationality of civilization. But strengthening defences against aggression needsto and cannot enlist a strong Eros as a binding force, since civilization is foundedon the suppression of Eros.
B) Civilization’s demand for sublimation (desexualization):
1) Civilization = work, which is painful and must be enforced.2) Aim inhibited sexuality inhibits and socializes erotic impulses:civilization = sublimation and desexualized Eros.
C) Weakening of Eros (life instincts); release of destructiveness:
1) Culture demands continuous sublimation weakening Eros’s bindingforce, unbinding destructive impulses.2) Objections: not all work is unpleasurable/cultural inhibitions alsolimit destructive impulses; work is social use of aggressive impulses and soserves Eros. So the performance principle is not absolute instead the image of anon-repressive civilization bears examination.
D) Progress in productivity and progress in domination:
1) Creative work must be distinguished from necessary labor.2) Sublimation is an inappropriate concept for the former, but most laboris the latter, alienated from individual needs.
E) Intensified controls in industrial civilization:
1) Progress is base in technics; technical rationality seems identicalw/civilization as power over nature. These destructive violations of nature arenot as effectively sublimated as Eros and seldom strengthen life.2) The instincts of self-preservation, self-assurance and mastery functionto lead to death only fulfilling human needs as a by product.3) The amount of surplus repression (historical rather than biologicalsources of suffering) is the gauge of instinctual repression. Mastery over natureand better social arrangements change historically and lessen the need fordelayed gratification and inhibition of the instincts, so less regimentation couldstill indicate more repression.
F) Decline of struggle with the father:
1) The domination-rebellion-domination cycle progresses with increasingimpersonal, objective, universal, rational, productive domination. (e.g. theperformance principle embedded in the division of labor). Instincts becomecontrolled by social use of labor power.2) Hierarchical social labor contains rebellions: historically all revolts toabolish domination have ended in new improved forms of domination. Why?3) The rationalization of guilt is completed when no replacement of thedomination of society seems possible and revolutionaries identify with thepower against which they revolt. Revolt becomes crime against the whole socialorder which secures goods and fulfills needs, so maximizes guilt.4) This rationality is bogus. With growing mastery over nature, the alibiof scarcity is a mask for poor distribution. Technics free energy that could be putinto free play for the satisfaction of needs beyond those of survival. 5) Instead productivity is used against the individual to reinforceuniversal control (totalitarianism), lest the order of domination dissolve. Noteven a symbolic killing of the father must be allowed, lest no successor arise.
G) Depersonalization of superego, shrinking of ego:
1) Domination defends itself by strengthening control over consciousness(the “automatization” of the superego), which if free might recognize therepression hidden in the growing satisfaction of needs (e.g. popular culture).This transfer of control over formerly free consciousness allows relaxation of restrictions on sexuality.2) Sexuality has been so aligned with the reality principle that sexualliberty is harmonized with profitable conformity (e.g. the unhappy romance andcommercials).3) The family father/son image is no longer primary, but is replaced bythe social system and its images. The social function of the family declinedunder technical, economic, political and cultural rule and the superego is nolonger individual but depersonalized and social (e.g. media),4) The son now knows better (reality principle) than the father.Domination takes the form of administration. Even people at the top seem toserve objective laws of the apparatus: frustration & impotence derive from aproductive system providing a good living.5) The aggressive impulses cannot be directed toward anyone (it findsonly smiling functionaries). Aggression is introjected and guilty, but not guiltyof anything. So, with its co-ordinated consciousness, lack of privacy, conformityof emotions, the ego shrinks and the classic tensions of ego, id, superego cannotdevelop.6) Guilt is collective. What is repressive is the containment of productiveforces, and the concealment of universal co-ordination under bogus choices,liberties, and individualities. That production and consumption reproduce and justify domination: material culture increases but sustains domination.Individual time, consciousness, dreams, and social liberty, justice and peace aresacrificed. [repressive desublimation]
H) Completion of alienation:
1) The whole is protected against aggression by administrative power, soaggression accumulates and turns against “the enemies of the whole” in socially“useful” labor camps, civil wars, punitive expeditions, etc.2) Contemporary destruction is qualitatively different, since it is directedtoward whole populations using vast technical resources, both as war and control of consciousness. Terror combines with normality, destruction withconstruction.3) The alienation of labor is almost complete: work is divorced fromhuman potential. Individuality and spontaneity are superficial and people in thework world have become a system of administered things. The psycho-dynamics of the id, ego & superego have become automatic
I) Disintegration of the established reality principle:
1) The co-ordination of the individual with the whole, as the last task of the ego, has decreased unhappiness by decreasing awareness of repression.2) This pseudo-happiness in the mere feeling of satisfaction has replacedreal happiness in real freedom and satisfaction which requires knowledge, whichhas been administered and confined.
3) As people function less as agents of their own life, culture seems tohave abandoned its function as inhibition of instincts by the reality principle.The elimination of human potentials from alienated labor is the precondition of the elimination of labor from human potentials. [repressive desublimation].
5. Philosophical Interlude:
A) Freud’s theory of civilization in the tradition of Western philosophy:
1) Instincts are organized (a) by repression of sexuality expanding grouprelations, and (b) the inhibition of destructive instincts produces mastery overnature and morality. Eros gains by use of death instinct for social use, but thruprogress the death instinct increases aggression and sublimation.
2)Freud’s metapsychology has ontological implications: An innermosttendency of organisms is to rebel against repression they aim not only at the non- being of Nirvana but at a new mode of being, i.e. at the limits of the realityprinciple. This joins a mainstream of western philosophy.
B) Ego as aggressive and transcending subject:
1) Scientific rationality gradually becomes conscious that it is anaggressive subject mastering objects. Nature given as object to be controlled.2) Since Plato, reason has been seen as functioning to repress oursensuous-appetitive faculties. This has become domination over nature,[knowledge is power]. Work of the ego is a priori power and overcoming theresistance of nature. Reality (being as such)= resistance & target of aggression
C) Logos as logic of domination:
1) “Logic” = ordering, classifying, mastering reason.2) Reason comes to seem opposed to the receptive tendencies towardgratification, which appear to be irrational. As means to realizing fulfillment,logic becomes domination: the means dominate.
D) Philosophical protest against logic of domination:
1) Philosophy tries to harmonize the logic of use-value and the logic of gratification by trying to unify subject and object as “being-in-and-for-itself.” Inwhich becoming returns in a circle of being that is self defined and not defined by anything outside itself (Aristotle’s god)2) Yet the empirical world can only yearn (Eros-like) for its end-in-itself.Aristotle’s god is a telos in which all potential is actual.
E) Being and becoming: permanence versus transcendence;
1) With Hegel the absolute idea is a circle that ends unhappy consciousness and contains the whole.2) Reason develops self-consciousness out of desire and the other, whichis ultimately negated in being-for-itself against all others [domination]: ego asnegativity becomes free by the denial of its own freedom and then via a life anddeath struggle where one’s entire being is at stake.3) The Phenomenology of Spirit leads to the overcoming of freedom asantagonism towards the other. True freedom is rest in transparent knowledgeand gratification of being (in mutual recognition). Truth lies in the negation of the principle of civilization.
F) The eternal return in Aristotle, Hegel, Nietzsche;
1) Reason in its highest form is a dynamic union of subject and objectwhere all becoming is free self expression and enjoyment of potentials. Spiritnegates time in the recollection of the past rather than the conquest of the future, replacing progress with cyclical time. W/o memory progress = continualtransgression. But this true freedom remains only pure thought, testifying to thereality principle in the experience world.2) Philosophy and being as the logos of domination ends and being aswill (which first must be negated – Schopenhauer) then as will-to-power inNietzsche. The will-to-power is not sufficient because it cannot overcome time(the past), breeding the spirit of revenge justifying repression. The fallacy of western morality is treating the historical as essential and the deification of time,which justify slavery, productive efficiency and the decline of the life instincts.Nietzsche speaks for a new reality principle of joy and “being-as-end-in-itself”eternal return as finite, concrete and total affirmation of life instincts w/o escapeor negation. This is an erotic attitude toward being, as a thus I willed it not asimple repetition.3) Nietzsche’s affirmation of pain still continues the morality he strives toovercome. But it contains the new reality principle which sees guilt as denial of life and not its affirmation.
G) Eros as essence of being;
1) The struggle: being/becoming; ascending curve/closed circle;progress/eternal return; transcendence/rest in fulfillment: The logic of domination struggles with the will to gratification. The struggle is to claim thereality principle: being as logic/being as alogic of will & joy.2) Freud’s theory touches this philosophical dynamic. Life seeksenrichment, but this Eros organizes the death instincts for self-preservation,which then transform the erotic basis of culture into the logic of domination.[NB: the history of the metaphysical notion of Eros is yet to be written: [cf.Foucault]]
Part II: Beyond the Reality Principle:
6. The Historical Limits of the Established Reality Principle:
Q: What does a“new reality principle” mean? Must we take for granted the continued rule of the performance principle as the reality principle? Or has it created conditionsfor a new reality principle?
A) Obsolescence of scarcity and domination:
Q: What is the role of technical reason & technology?
1) Productivity has increased so that interests in domination motivaterepressive organization more than the “struggle for existence.”2) Technical reason contains both a standard of domination and a visionof a higher form of reason; receptivity and enjoyment (a subjectivity that comesto rest in a mode of being that absorbs all otherness).
B) Hypothesis of a new reality principle:
Q: What is this hypothesis?
1) Freud’s theory of the instincts treats the performance principle as the absolute ahistorical reality principle and the Eros/Thanatos dynamic as final.2) If the performance principle is historically constituted, then if it were made obsolete, then new organizations of the instincts would be possible and surplus repression could be eliminated.3) But such a possibility must be “read off” the historical conditions, by means of a critique of the performance principle.
C) The instinctual dynamic toward non-repressive civilization:
Q: Whatis the argument for historicity of the reality principle?
1)The conflict between the reality and pleasure principles is notnecessarily inevitable, because repressive organization is due to factors that are not “natural” but arise in specific historical conditions (as Freud accepts). Thisdistinguishes between biological and sociological struggles, which while both are historical the latter are more relative and change faster.2) Freud’s denial of possible liberation assumes that scarcity is aspermanent as domination. This begs the question, and the possibility of decontrolling instinctual development needs consideration.3) The death instinct seems to be the barrier to the possibility of non-repressive civilization. The death instinct is rooted in the strong tendency of early life to relieve tension by returning to inanimate condition, external forceslengthen the detour to death.4) Different dynamics of the instincts are historically acquired when exogenous factors intervene, e.g. unrelieved tension in the beginnings of organic life generating the death instinct which relieves tension viz. regression, secondly the struggle for existence enforces repression of sex instincts and transformation of the death instinct into labor and morality, eventually to weaken Eros and strengthen aggression.5) The historically acquired nature of the instincts changes if the fundamental exogenous causal factors change. As conditions change, scarcity and domination become obsolete while their principle is retained.
D) Problem of verifying the hypothesis:
Q: What is the test?
1) The derivatives of the death instinct work only when fused with the sex instincts. Changes in libido will then alter the death instinct.2) The possibility of non-repressive civilization must be tested againstthe possibility of the non-repressive development of libido in mature culture.
7. Phantasy and Utopia:
A) Phantasy versus reason:
1) Unconscious mental processes can’t provide standards for making anon-repressive personality. But, phantasy is both conscious and relatively freefrom the reality principle (since it is not dependent on real objects). It links theunconscious (sexuality) with art, consciousness and reality.2) The reality principle guides the ego re: the useful and splits off (manipulative) reason (= judgment, truth, rationality) which interprets realitydividing good(useful)/evil, from phantasy which becomes useless, powerless,untrue – play.
B) Preservation of the “archaic past”:
1) Phantasy retains pre- individual structures and memory of the life of the genus & image of the unity of the particular w/universal under the pleasureprinciple. The ego develops as an individual and conflicts w/genus.2) The performance principle subdues both instincts through the conflict between individual & genus – individuation under the reality principle useslibidinal energy which tries to cancel this individuation and reunite w/archaicpast.
C) Truth value of phantasy:
1) The truth value of phantasy lies in overcoming antagonistic humanreality. Envisioning reconciliation of individual w/whole; happiness w/reason;desire w/realization (i.e. this vision can and must become real).2) Phantasy takes form in art, which realizes in perception andcomprehension the unity of sensuousness and reason and acts to critique theperformance principle and domination.3) Art opposes institutionalized repression and the image of freedom bythe negation of unfreedom, but unfreedom must be represented by anappearance in and of something real. Since art is linked w/pleasure (enjoyment),art deprives that reality of its terror (e.g. surrealism & atonality, art survives oncancelling its traditional forms)
D) The image of life without repression and anxiety:
1) For Freud the image of freedom is one of an unrecoverable past. Sothe idea of a non-repressive reality principle is a regression. so Freud deniesfuture freedom [NB: Jung develops the most reactionary tendencies in Freud andhe eliminates critique.]2) Imagination can presage future freedom and happiness. Surrealists see this and try to make dreams real w/o compromise: the Great Refusal of presentreality.
E) Possibility of real freedom in a mature civilization:
1) The reality principle relegates real possibilities to utopia. This is essential to ideology of the performance principle.2) This projects a third turning point adapting archaic mental structures to new external conditions: it may happen w/mature civilization by consciousrational subject.3) Scarcity may still be a barrier to universal gratification, but thatdoesn’t undermine the goal of eliminating surplus-repression: (a) archaic non-repressive distribution of scarcity (matriarchy?), or (b) rational organization of understand society that has conquered scarcity. (a) & (b) –> no surplusrepression and eliminate work.
F) Need for a redefinition of progress:
1) Reduction of working day is the first prerequisite of (b), and so isdecrease in standard of living in advanced civilizations. Arg: freedomconditional on standard of living serves the entrenchment of repression.Standard of living as material goods vs. as satisfaction of basic needs andfreedom from guilt and fear. This is progress redefined beyond the performanceprinciple.2) Objection (Freud): civilization would disintegrate w/o privation andrepression, because (a) free sexuality is hostile to work, (b) work uses sexualenergy, (c) privation sustains social organization.Reply: repression is mostly surplus repression due to specific socialorganizations. Hence erotic liberation would create lasting work relations.3) This reply assaults the sacred cow of productivity & efficiency, whichcontradicts the pleasure principle and becomes an end-in-itself. But labor canrelease time and power for free play. Negating the performance principle de-realizes technical rationality and promotes a new rationality of gratification (≠ leisure as consumption which are values of the performance principle) which would change the Eros and Thanatos dynamic and therefore change humanexistence.
8. The Images of Orpheus and Narcissus:
A) Archetypes of human existence under non-repressive civilization:
1) There is a long history which says that the truth content of art andimagination gives standards that surpass [useful] reason has not born any fruitre: mature culture.2) Prometheus as archetype: he produces culture out of trickery and atthe price of endless pain. Women, Pandora, are viewed as a curse, not as joy.
B) Orpheus and Narcissus versus Prometheus:
1) Orpheus and Narcissus (& Dionysus) offer images of joy andfulfillment, song, generosity, peace, absorption of death, liberation from time &“order”, but have not become cultural heroes. [cf. quotes esp. p. 164]2) Against Prometheus, these images are unreal and impossible, poeticcall to life and commitment to the memory of death.
C) Mythological struggle of Eros against the tyranny of reason — againstdeath:
1) O & N w/o moral message, they are real in being-there not a use.They reconcile human and natural, subject and object. O’s song pacifies theanimal world, moving it to joy in love and care. N symbolizes sleep and death, but also lives by Eros (he doesn’t know it is his own image!!), through theNirvana principle, and lives on as the flower N.2) Even Freud’s notion of narcissism integrates the ego and the externalworld and so may presage a new reality principle by libidinal cathexis(investment) of the objective world. Sublimation may change sexual ego aims toobjects via primary narcissism, suggesting possible non-repressive sublimationwhich extends rather than deflects the libido.
D) Reconciliation of man and nature in sensuous culture:
1) O-N images: Great Refusal of separation from libidinous object/subject aiming at reunion. Orpheus creator poet who establishes a higher orderw/o repression (combines art, freedom & culture).2) Orpheus torn to bits by crazed women: he rejects normal reproductiveEros for play = work and song = language. Narcissus lives in beauty andcontemplation. A new reality principle is found in the aesthetic.
9. The Aesthetic Dimension:
A) Aesthetics as the science of sensuousness:
1) The etymology of “aesthetic” unites pleasure, sensuousness, beauty,truth and freedom.2) Kant connects theoretical reason, which constitutes nature undercausal laws, w/practical reason, which constitutes freedom under moral laws.Since the autonomous laws of freedom are meant to have an effect in the causally closed realm of nature, judgment mediates these via pleasure/pain.
B) Reconciliation between pleasure and freedom, instinct and morality:
1) Kant’s aesthetics connects aesthetic re: sense w/aesthetic re: beauty &art. Pleasure of the sensuous is the center of the mind mediating freedom andnature symbolically, since no sense can realize the idea of freedom.
For Kant the beautiful is delight that pleases (i) w/o interest (ii)universally w/o a concept (iii) form of finality w/o an end (iv) apart from aconcept is known as a necessary delight.2) Orpheus and Narcissus are symbols of creative receptivity & union of humans and nature in aesthetic attitude of beautiful order and play = work. Forthis to serve as a reality principle the aesthetic must be valid for bothsensuousness and morality.3) Aesthetic dimension: sensuous (not conceptual) receptivity,disinterested pleasure in the pure form of the object. Representation of puresensuous form is work of the faculty of imagination: subjectively universal andnecessary for any perceiving subject, i.e. principles valid for an objective (non-repressive) order purposiveness w/o purpose = form of beauty, and lawfulnessw/o law = form of freedom. Both give pleasure in the free play of humanpotentials, i.e. aesthetic judgment suspends links between object andUnderstanding and Reason, the object appears as just being-there. Hence,aesthetic conformity to law links nature/freedom pleasure/morality, suggestingthe strengthening of sensuousness as a means to liberation from the repressivedomination of useful reason.
C) Aesthetic theories of Baumgarten, Kant, and Schiller:
1) Schiller aimed at remaking culture under the liberating force of theaesthetic as the possibility of a new reality principle. Sensuousness had been justthe raw material for cognition in prior epistemology; its cognitive contents weredenigrated esp. free creative and reproductive imagination where objects could be given w/o being present. Aesthetics changed this.2) Aesthetics promotes an order of sensuousness against the order of useful reason. Via play aesthesis would harmonize feeling and reason. Beauty isthe perfection of sensuous cognition, so the science (and order) of sensuousness becomes the science (and order) of art. Sensuousness con(with)-fused thecognitive w/the appetitive function of the senses, thereby relegated the senses topassive cognition unsuitable for a reality principle w/o subjection to concepts.The roots of art in pleasure have been repressed by finding gratification in thepure form of the object and confining free play to art relegates it to the unrealand unengaged with human existence.3) Civilization separates means from ends alienating labor, fragmentinghuman being. It has subjugated sensuousness to reason & made sensuousness barbarous instead of making reason sensuous and sensuousness rational. Only anew mode of civilization can reconcile these thru a third, the play, impulse.
D) Elements of a non-repressive culture:
1) The play impulse is the play of life itself (not playing with something) beyond fear and free of all external compulsion. This occurs when reality losesits seriousness and interest in display and appearances. This is freedom inreality (not merely inner freedom). Such freedom would be irresponsible if playonly occurred in an otherwise repressive world, i.e. if not universal (whereabundance replaces need).2) Aesthetic education aims at freedom based on sensuous grounds andsensuousness altered to an order of freedom under self given laws. Naturewould be contemplated, neither dominating nor dominated, freely expressingthe inner life of objects. Human activity would be display neither passivesuffering, nor servitude.
3) Time implies finitude, opposing lasting pleasure. A non-repressivecivilization, through liberating play, must abolish time in time, reconcile beingand becoming, identity and change.4) Play threatens to explode the social structure: a non-repressivesociety reconciles pleasure and reality principles, it includes:(a) the transformation of labor into play (production into display)and presupposes freedom from want.(b) Self sublimation of sensuousness & de-sublimation of reason.(c) The abolition of time.
E) Transformation of work into play:
1) Imagination preserves non-repressive objectives which can be fusedwith the rationality of mature civilization by the intermediary of play. Orpheus,the singing god living to defeat death, and Narcissus uniting his existencew/nature in contemplation symbolize unity of display and beauty in play.2) The precondition of a non-repressive order is abundance; so theidealist and materialist critiques agree: non-repressive order is only possible inmature civilization, freedom is form of the new mode of existence beyondnecessity (
not freedom as performance principle). Possession of means to life is(heteronymous) precondition not content of freedom. Play and display (uselessand unproductive) cancel the repression and exploitation in labor and leisure &also cancel their higher values, de-sublimating reason. Reunion via play maytake these values back into and transform the sensuous organic structure of human existence.
10. The Transformation of Sexuality into Eros:
A) The abolition of domination:
1) Social instantiation of a non-repressive reality principle would entail aregression from the level of civilized rationality and relapse into barbarism.2) But, given success of mature culture in the struggle for existence and afree society and guided by a new rationality, non-repressive society could orderthe world with fully developed knowledge.
B) Effects on the sex instincts:
1) Non-repressive order is possible only if sexual instincts, under newconditions can generate lasting erotic relationships and a libidinal rationality.2) Now, work constrains libido and uses much of its energy for sociallyuseful acts, but with the release of free time libido would exceed its limits.3) Sexuality was sublimated to love and morality was mobilized againstusing the body as a means to pleasure, while reification applied increasingly tothe social body at work. A non-repressive reality principle would tend to reversethese trends; resexualizing the body (reinvesting the entire body w/pleasure)and orienting labor to gratification of needs.
C) “Self-sublimation” of sexuality into Eros:
1) This process transforms libido spreading it over private & socialrelations. Development of libido within performance principle institutionsexplodes suppressed sexuality in sadomasochistic orgies, prison andconcentration camp guards strengthening constraints. But, free development of transformed libido beyond these institutions would transform them too.Eroticizing bodies, time, and integrating sexuality in a larger order.
2) Such self-sublimation of sexuality would transform the perversionswhich would no longer manifest themselves within perverse human existence.(
Oedipal wish is overcome naturally
) Self-sublimation of sexuality implies theeroticization of the whole organism.
D) Repressive versus free sublimation:
1) Eros enlarges the sexual instinct and modifies the concept of sublimation. Sexual sublimation changes libido into cultural uses, by means of the already socially preconditioned pleasure principle.2) In contrast aim inhibited sexual impulses presage the possibility of aninherent trend of the libido toward cultural expression w/o repressivemodification, and so presage the possibility of non-repressive sublimation, if fully developed, w/o desexualization.
E) Emergence of non-repressive societal relationships:
1) If sublimation can proceed for not against the instincts this must not beindividual and so neurotic, it must occur on the social level. So the subject can beculture-creating & self realizing, under a liberated mature civilization.2) Eros could then be extended beyond the material to the spiritualsphere, as suggested by the aesthetic idea of sensuous reason.
F) Work as the free play of human faculties:
1) Eros, as a cultural drive, aims at prolonging life and pleasuring thewhole body. To do this it must achieve a higher unity of people in work relations which are at the same time libidinal relations.2) Scarcity does not sufficiently explain instinctual constraints, nor doesit undermine the possibility of non-repressive libidinous culture. Even Freudrecognizes that work contains a libidinous component.3) Play gratifies in itself, while work aims at self-preservation. A changein instinctual structure is a change in the aim of activities regardless of theircontent. So the same act can be play without losing its useful content. So alteredsocial conditions could create an instinctual base for transforming work intoplay.
G) Possibility of libidinous work relations:
1) Libidinal work applies to “maternal” cultures in the past and could berealized in the future w/ changes in social attitudes esp. to nature. Utopiansocialists (Fourier) almost see the dependence of freedom on non-repressivesublimation, but still retain social organizations of repressive administration.2) (
Assuming a “mastery instinct,” a drive to alter the environment, is incoherent sinceit destroys the structural dynamic of the instincts, and makes nonsense of the realityprinciple
)The performance principle marginalizes libidinous work as hobby, playand directly erotic situations. Even alienated labor can contain pleasure in a “jobwell done.” But, pleasure in external reward or in contributing one’s part to thefunctioning of the apparatus in not instinctual gratification. Efficiency aspleasure glorifies dehumanization [cf. quote p. 221].
11. Eros and Thanatos:
A) The new idea of reason: rationality of gratification:
1) Increasing alienation of labor increases potential freedom bydistancing people from the realm of necessity. This releases time for free playwhich generates new forms of work and discovery which reshape the relations between reason and instinct. Life instincts evolve a sensuous order and reason is sensualized in work (a rationality of gratification, not just in art). Forming aneroticized community, the pleasure principle extends to consciousness.2) The question remains: how under the repressive rule of theperformance principle, hierarchical authority, and the illusory freedom of repressive desublimation (which makes repression so effective that its removal comes toseem totalitarian) can civilization freely generate freedom? The tradition of aneducational dictatorship of the elite has failed, since anyone can verify thedistinctions between rational and irrational authority/repression and surplusrepression if not diverted by ideology & the culture industry. The conditions of afree society are a matter of reason.
B) Libidinous morality:
1) Instinct is beyond good and evil; a distinction required by a freesociety, e.g. that sex instincts are not guided by reciprocity argues against thepossibility of self-sublimation. Can Eros manifest an element of self-restraint?Freud suggested that obstacles might promote pleasure [seduction?]. Prolongationheightens pleasure and distinguishes it from mere satisfaction of desire. This hasserved domination but could create conflicts with libidinal value as an element of freedom.2) Libidinal morality is also possible because the superego does notmerely serve the reality principle it also allies with the id. identifying with themother, recalling the early narcissistic ego which was integrated with theenvironment and opposes the hostile father who eventually triumphs byprotecting the ego against annihilation in the mother. But in mature culture, beyond the reality principle, the maternal image can promise a free future.
C) The struggle against the flux of time:
1) The fact of death seems and the negativity of time seem the finalobstacle to non-repressive development, since timelessness is pleasure’s ideal.the ego introduces painful repressive elements in its anticipation of death. Theflux of time serves social repression as its most basic means of banishing freedomto utopia.2) Forgetting is necessary to life, but also sustains submissiveness andrenunciation, to forget is to forgive even the forces of enslavement w/o defeatingthese forces. Memory, which is the source of slave morality of contract andobligations, can also serve to remember pleasures and freedom. Non-repressivesublimation requires the release of memory’s freeing power, by recapturing losttime [
Proust].3) But this memory is artistic and unreal if it cannot act historically. Timeallied with law and order consigns pleasure to utopia and justifies repression inthe struggle w/death & requiring security as highest value.
D) Change in the relation between Eros and death instinct:
1) This seems to ally the death instinct with the unreasonableness of striving for halting time and conquering death, but the death instinct, under theNirvana principle, tends toward a state w/o need and reduced tension. w/osurplus repression, Eros would absorb the aim of Thanatos in relieving paintransforming the nature of the instincts.2) It is possible that instead of repressive civilization pacifying guilt overunnecessarily painful lives and deaths, that death can become a token of freedomif life is both fulfilling and will continue to be fulfilling and we can die withoutanxiety in a rationally and painlessly.