Sunday, January 30, 2011
Dostoevsky and Freud
While reading Freud's "The Anatomy of the Mental Personality," I recollected the Underground Man's views of pain and pleasure. On page 556 of the Norton Anthology, the Underground man declares, “Don't you see: reason is a fine thing, gentlemen, there's no doubt about it, but it’s only reason, and it satisfies only man’s rational faculty, whereas desire is a manifestation of all life, that is, of all human life, which includes both reason, as well as all of life’s itches and scratches.” Freud discusses how "id" or "untamed passions" can take over the ego (reason). He constructs a metaphor comparing the battle for control between id and ego with the power struggle between a horse and its rider. Like Dostoevsky's Underground Man, Freud recognizes the power of passion and its constant struggle with logic. However, Freud seems to think the ego can be strengthened through psychoanalysis to overpower the id, unlike Dostoevsky's Underground Man who questions what our "best interest" even means. What do you all think?