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"... But I will curb my ardour and admit the possibility that I too am chasing after an illusion."
on April 22, 2017
Publication date: 1927
"... If you wish to expel religion from our European civilization you can only do it through another system of doctrines, and from the outset this would take over all the psychological characteristics of religion, the same sanctity, rigidity and intolerance, the same prohibition of thought in self-defence."
(This is not Freud speaking, but his "imagined antagonist." Still, I admire the equanimity with which Freud states objections to his thesis. This too, is more than we get from other militant atheists:)
... There is another point in which I wholeheartedly agree with you. It is, to be sure, a senseless proceeding to try and do away with religion by force and at one blow—more especially as it is a hopeless one. The believer will not let his faith be taken from him, neither by arguments nor by prohibitions. And even if it did succeed with some, it would be a cruel thing to do. A man who has for decades taken a sleeping draught is naturally unable to sleep if he is deprived of it. That the effect of the consolations of religion may be compared to that of a narcotic is prettily illustrated by what is happening in America. There they are now trying—plainly under the influence of petticoat government—to deprive men of all stimulants, intoxicants and luxuries, and to satiate them with piety by way of compensation. This is another experiment about the result of which we need not be curious.
I admire the brevity, and dare I say, the grandeur of this book, written by Freud when he was seventy. His theory of society is positively Hobbesian:
"... Insecurity of life, an equal danger for all, now unites men into one society, which forbids the individual to kill and reserves to itself the right to kill in the name of society the man who violates this prohibition. This, then, is justice and punishment."
Worth reading, and re-reading.