Tuesday, August 02, 2005


what a dick.

People like to say nasty things about all sorts of intellectual people--Derrida and Foucault come to mind, Darwin, Marx, etc. I am of the opinion, however, that Freud was, at least, one of the most corrupting, corrosive influences on reasonable discourse in the history of history. I'm not much of a Freud scholar; I've read two or three books of his essays, but on the whole, very little of it sticks in my head because, I think, it's so contrived that my mind has nothing to hang on to. (On the other hand, I'm not even sure it's Freud himself that I have a problem with.)

Why does this come up today? Well, I'll tell ya. Yesterday, I got myself involved in an argument about atheism. (I do this unfortunately often, and in my circles it's usually just me against quite a mob of folks.) When this happens I am frequently subjected to claims like the following:

To the religious mind, the payoff is the imagined safety from the existential struggle, especially the fear of death and eternal oblivion. All religion evolves from overwhelming fear -- fundamental, all-consuming, visceral fear -- so devastating that it will sacrifice reason, honor, children, cultures and nations just to placate an imaginary placebo god. If you believe, it matters not how silly the belief is, nor what price you have to pay -- it gets you through the night of existence.

It's like there wasn't ever a man named Kierkegaard or something. That aside, I'm not sure why one would expect that so precise an indictment of "all religion" would turn out even half correct, given how many different forms religion takes, even among the adherents to a single story. When I hear this sort of thing from a person, I hear in it the little snippets of half-learned, half-remembered, half-imagined psychoanalysis that have burrowed so deeply into our minds. There was a time when one could happily assume that other people were conscious agents.

Carry on.