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Unformatted text preview: -1-Chrysoma Associates LimitedPublications Division - Electronic Books LibraryCivilization and Its DiscontentsBySIGMUND FREUD1929Product Code: GSFX023This electronic version is copyright © 2000-2005. All Rights ReservedChrysoma Associates Ltd,12 Gainsborough Place, Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire HP19 8SFEngland-2-Civilization and Its DiscontentsTHEimpression forces itself upon one that men measure by false standards, that everyone seeks power,success, riches for himself and admires others who attain them, while undervaluing the truly precious thingsin life. And yet, in making any general judgment of this kind, one is in danger of forgetting the manifoldvariety of humanity and its mental life. There are certain men from whom their contemporaries do notwithhold veneration, although their greatness rests on attributes and achievements which are completelyforeign to the aims and ideals of the multitude. One might well be inclined to suppose that after all it is onlya minority who appreciate these great men, while the majority cares nothing for them. But the discrepancybetween men¡s opinions and their behaviour is so wide and their desires so many-sided that things areprobably not so simple.One of these exceptional men calls himself my friend in his letters to me. I had sent him my little book whichtreats of religion as an illusion and he answered that he agreed entirely with my views on religion, but thathe was sorry I had not properly appreciated the ultimate source of religious sentiments. This consists in apeculiar feeling, which never leaves him personally, which he finds shared by many others, and which hemay suppose millions more also experience. It is a feeling which he would like to call a sensation of eternity,a feeling as of something limitless, unbounded, something ¢oceanic.¢ It is, he says, a purely subjectiveexperience, not an article of belief; it implies no assurance of personal immortality, but it is the source of thereligious spirit and is taken hold of by the various Churches and religious systems, directed by them intodefinite channels, and also, no doubt, used up in them. One may rightly call oneself religious on the groundof this oceanic feeling alone, even though one reject all beliefs and all illusions. These views, expressed bymy friend whom I so greatly honour and who himself once in poetry described the magic of illusion, putme in a difficult position. I cannot discover this ¢oceanic£ feeling in myself. It is not easy to deal scientificallywith feelings. One may attempt to describe their physiological signs.Where that is impossible¤I am afraid the oceanic feeling, too, will defy this kind of classification¤nothingremains but to turn to the ideational content which most readily associates itself with the feeling. If I haveunderstood my friend aright, he means the same thing as that consolation offered by an original andsomewhat unconventional writer to his hero, contemplating suicide: ¢Out of this world we cannot fall. ¢ somewhat unconventional writer to his hero, contemplating suicide: ¢Out of this world we cannot fall....
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