232 Chapters
Medium 9781855757806

Prologue: Psychoanalysis and human goodness: theory

Karnac Books ePub

Salman Akhtar

Sigmund Freud’s (1915b) wry observation that “most of our sentimentalists, friends of humanity, and protectors of animals have been evolved from little sadists and animal tormentors” (p. 282) is but one illustration of his pessimistic view of human nature. With a stoic ethic and sceptical intellect as his chief allies, Freud suspected that instinctual and pleasure-based motives underlay most, if not all, human endeavour. Vast swathes of humanity, in his eyes, were “good for nothing in life” (1904, p. 263) besides being “lazy and unintelligent” (1927c, p. 7). Indeed, he went so far as to declare that “belief in the goodness of human nature is one of those evil illusions by which mankind expect their lives to be beautified and made easier while in reality they only cause damage” (1933a, p. 104). Freud’s (1933b) discourse on why nations go to war also underscored his view that human beings were basically destructive and violent.

From a different perspective, Freud’s (1912-1913) proposal of an actual, even if “pre-historic”, murder of the primal father saddled man with ancestral “badness” and a sort of “original sin”. His pronouncement that the “two great human crimes” (1916-1917, p. 333) were incest and parricide had a similar result. Since wishes to commit these “crimes” were integral to the childhood Oedipal experience, and since no one ever fully gave them up, all human beings remained criminal at the bottom of their hearts. Actually, Freud (1927c) did say that human beings were “antisocial and anti-cultural” (p. 7) at the core of their beings. All in all, for Freud, the essential human nature was nothing to be celebrated. In fact, it was rather dismal.

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Medium 9781855756274

3: The past of an illusion: an evolutionary perspective on religious belief

Karnac Books ePub

3

J. Anderson Thomson, Jr

Biology is truly a land of unlimited possibilities. We may expect it to give us the most surprising information, and we cannot guess what answers it will return in a few dozen years to the questions we have put to it. They may be of a kind which will blow away the whole of our artificial structure of hypotheses.

Sigmund Freud, Beyond the Pleasure Principle (1920g), p. 60

We do not have the option of “choosing” absolute truth or faith. We only have the right to say, of those who do claim to know the truth of revelation, that they are deceiving themselves and attempting to deceive—or to intimidate— others. Of course, it is better and healthier for the mind to “choose” the path of skepticism and inquiry in any case, because only by continual exercise of these faculties can we hope to achieve anything. Whereas religions are merely “fossilized philosophies” or philosophy with the questions left out. To “choose” dogma and faith over doubt and experiment is to throw out the ripening vintage and to reach greedily for the Kool-Aid.

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Medium 9781782201663

Chapter 7 - Animals and Religion

Karnac Books ePub

EDWARD F. FOULKS, M.D., Ph.D.

There is a universal tendency among mankind to conceive all beings like themselves and to transfer to every object those qualities with which they are familiarly acquainted and of which they are intimately conscious [Hume, 1755, p. 477).

Comparative anatomy has revealed homologous organ systems and physical structures basic to humans and animals from all phyla. The human genome project and recent studies of DNA sequencing have discovered further basic structures at the biochemical level which are common between humans and all other animals. Evolutionary theory has been substantiated by such findings, and links humans to other animals in the chronological sequences and branches of species differentiation. Humans are phylogenetically related most predominately to ancestral anthropoidal apelike species of primates, a family of placental mammals related to a vast array of extinct and living kindred creatures, including horses, cows, sheep, dogs, cats, rats, and others. Evolutionary theory furthermore connects the origin of this group of mammals to reptilian ancestors, who developed endothermal regulation of their body temperature. All bird species developed similarly from a different branch of warm-blooded reptilian ancestors; one perhaps related to dinosaurs. Furthermore, all reptiles evolved over time from land-based amphibians who had thicker skin and protective covering over their eggs. Creature relationships, furthermore, go from the amphibians to semiland adapted fishes back to more primitive creatures of the sea, including tubal tridermal coelenterates and clumped and mobile single-cell protoplasmic foragers. From these we are ultimately related to the autosynthesizing, self-replicating amino acid chains that began the whole process billions of years ago.

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Chapter 3 - Human to Animal Transformations in Literature

Karnac Books ePub

THOMAS WOLMAN, M.D.

Animal stories abound in ancient myths and folktales. Aesop's fables, for example, make use of animal characters almost exclusively. Creation myths of all cultures assign important roles to animals. Interestingly, the personification of animal characters can help dramatize the human elements in the story, as it does, for example, in the modern fable Animal Farm by George Orwell (1946).

The Bible, by contrast, presents animals in more supportive roles, in accordance with God's wish that Adam have dominion over the animal realm. The domination of the animal world goes hand in hand with the power to give every creature a name. The Bible explicitly separates humans from animals by granting only the former the capacity for speech and language. Thus stories such as Noah and flood, Jonah and the whale, and Daniel in the lion's den tend to present animals as mute, according to the conventions of future realistic literature. An interesting exception to this rule is the serpent in the Garden of Eden. The serpent not only speaks, but also dominates. One could say that it sets a chain of events in motion that results in Adam and Eve's expulsion from Eden. The serpent is also different from other biblical representations of animals because it symbolizes a complete human attribute—sexuality. Sexuality is given bestial form, not because it is nonhuman, but because it is the very essence of humanity, the element which thrusts humanity out of the innocent world of the animal kingdom.

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Medium 9781782202554

Chapter One: The Development of Greed in Childhood

Karnac Books ePub

Ann Smolen

Violet Beauregarde, the overindulged young girl in the popular children's book, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (Dahl, 1964) insists upon “acquiring” an elf (an “Oompa-Loompa”) for herself. She refuses to take no for an answer. Her fate is an unhappy one when she defies warnings and demonstrates oral greed as she shoves a gobstopper into her already overfilled mouth. She turns purple and blows up into a giant grape. Her ending is not pretty, as she is rolled away to the juicing room protesting loudly, where she is to be “juiced” by the very Oompa-Loompa she demanded to possess. Veruca Salt, the other greedy girl character in the story, is a spoiled child who demands everything, as she whines, “I want! I want! I want!” Veruca is given everything she wants and takes what is not given and what is not hers for the taking. When she insists that she be given a golden egg, the Oompa-Loompas determine that she is a “rotten egg” and Veruca is propelled down the garbage shoot where all the bad eggs must go. Augustus Gloop, one of two greedy male characters, is described as enormously fat as he refuses to listen and keeps bingeing on sweets. He too, meets a grim end when he dives head first into a chocolate river and is sucked down the drain. Mike Teavee, the second greedy male character, is only content when he is watching television. He is thrilled to be dissolved into tiny particles and transported into the TV where he can have everything he ever wanted. Only Charlie, the hero of the story, is portrayed as a child who has his desire for acquisition in check. Charlie is not perfect; he too, cannot deny temptation and takes something he is not allowed to have, but he can control his greediness, is apologetic for stealing, and is grateful for the little material things he has. The author, Roald Dahl, makes it clear that the parents of the overly greedy children are not able to help their children or love them in the way they need to be loved, while Charlie is born into a family where there is barely food on the table, but an abundance of love. In the end, Charlie wins the prize; he gets the whole chocolate factory. The moral of the story is that nothing good will come of overly greedy children.

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