Ethics of Discontent

Authored by: Shai Frogel

The Routledge International Handbook of Psychoanalysis and Philosophy

Print publication date:  November  2022
Online publication date:  November  2022

Print ISBN: 9780367276454
eBook ISBN: 9780429297076
Adobe ISBN:


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Freud made great efforts to convince that psychoanalysis is not an ethical view but a science. However, in his essays on culture he presents a very clear ethical preference of the secular existence over the religious one and justifies it by psychoanalytical concepts. This line of thought connects Freud and psychoanalysis to the developing of modern secular ethics. The chapter shows the linkage between the ethical ideas of Spinoza and Nietzsche, the great precursors of modern secular ethics, and the ethical foundation of psychoanalysis. The chapter names it “ethics of discontent” because psychoanalysis understands human good life in terms of sublimation of existential discontents rather than in the traditional terms of harmonic happiness.

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