Sigmund freud moses and monotheism pdf

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sigmund freud moses and monotheism pdf

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It views Vedic allusive humor as the way epic poets give play to repressed sexual themes. To say that, however, is to say that theory has worked in oblique ways. It is probably fitting that his last work should have provided the inspiration for this last chapter.

Porto Alegre, RS, Brasil. We are interested in understanding the subjective operation through which it is possible to become an heir , based on the assumption that the Freudian work itself bears witness to how its author was able to appropriate the heritage both of the Jewish culture and his family genealogy. To this end, we will examine the writing of three of his texts in contrast to his personal experiences, suggesting that the relationship between trauma, mourning, and transmission provides a key to comprehend the constitution of a psychoanalytic theory of history. If, on the one hand, he put much effort into not letting psychoanalysis associated with the image of a Jewish science - when trying to, for example, entrust Jung with his succession -, then on the other hand, he himself confesses in some letters certain pride in regards to the fact that it stemmed from the spirit of a Jew Gay, In fact, we will not recover the stone, since it lies at the bottom of the lake, lost in the history of each subject and the culture.

Sigmund Freud's Theories About Religion

Porto Alegre, RS, Brasil. We are interested in understanding the subjective operation through which it is possible to become an heir , based on the assumption that the Freudian work itself bears witness to how its author was able to appropriate the heritage both of the Jewish culture and his family genealogy.

To this end, we will examine the writing of three of his texts in contrast to his personal experiences, suggesting that the relationship between trauma, mourning, and transmission provides a key to comprehend the constitution of a psychoanalytic theory of history. If, on the one hand, he put much effort into not letting psychoanalysis associated with the image of a Jewish science - when trying to, for example, entrust Jung with his succession -, then on the other hand, he himself confesses in some letters certain pride in regards to the fact that it stemmed from the spirit of a Jew Gay, In fact, we will not recover the stone, since it lies at the bottom of the lake, lost in the history of each subject and the culture.

Nevertheless, its circles on the surface are like sheet music to be read a posteriori as words, whose reading effect presupposes its inscription 5. Finally, we also suggest that the relationship between trauma, mourning and transmission provides an essential key to comprehend the constitution of a psychoanalytic theory of history. As already demonstrated by Jean Allouch , this individualizing and romantic notion of mourning in Freud seems to have brought together a series of generalizations about its later understanding and appropriation.

It might be relevant to remember here that in his text Freud sought, first of all, to solve the enigma of melancholia, whose absence of surrogate was very disconcerting to Western psychiatry. Freud, founded on a normal notion of mourning, proposes, as a counterpoint, that melancholia would consist in the association of the narcissistic libido to the lost object.

However, once he defined this concept, Freud did not return to the basic notion of normal mourning in order to observe whether such assumptions coincided with his clinical experience.

We do not have to go far to note that there is an inaccuracy, if not an omission. It is possible, however, that Freud himself had no words to thematize such an inversion. Among the aspects that support the definition of , maybe the non-transformation of the mourner through the election of a surrogate object is the greatest gap in this Freudian study, even if it remains consistent with his theory of object disinvestment, narcissistic investment, and object reinvestment.

The work of mourning, whose main objective is to make the subject once again free and without inhibitions for new pulsional investments, leaves unexplored the whole development of a theory of identification and its relationship with the status of transmission in psychoanalysis.

Freud appears to fall into contradiction with clinical observations regarding the psychological and social changes of all those who undergo mourning.

We do not need to address this matter in greater detail here: it is no mere coincidence that there are names used socially to refer to those that become orphans, widows, etc.

In short, every mourning process flows into a subjectivation of the loss inflicted, transforming the choices of object, the narcissistic supports, and the genealogical position of the mourner. It is not without surprise, therefore, that the exhaustive work he himself underwent when he lost his firstborn, Sophie, contradicts this claim. Indeed, the postulation of a surrogate object is not as evident as Freud intended. Jean Allouch points out a possible reason: before writing this letter, Freud confesses to Binswanger that he had effectively asked his sister-in-law, Mina, to send Binswanger a letter asking him to rewrite the first one sent, because his handwriting was illegible.

Well, Binswanger had a reason for trembling! The letter communicated the loss of his son on the same day that the deceased firstborn, Sophie, would celebrate her 36th birthday. In other words, it is possible that there is something traumatic in the loss, whose working-through would not be limited to becoming aware of the transience of life or to finding a surrogate. Three years before Mourning and melancholia , Ferenczi employs an old vernacular of the Charcotian traumatology repertoire to describe the mourning operation.

The trace of a traumatic loss could only be symbolized through an operation of mourning, whose destiny would not necessarily entail a surrogate. Freud does not seem to apply his model of mourning to his experience of personal loss. And, yet, would it be possible that in the prior mourning there was a rest to be updated by the new loss? Far from intending to exhaust the issue, we propose that the concept of the surrogate object is not only insufficient to describe the status of the loss in metapsychological terms, but also that it hides or omits the dimension of transmission, namely, the operation of becoming heir.

Well, it is because the object is irreplaceable that mourning may prove so acute and inconsolable, especially when there is a genealogical inversion. In other words, that the operation of mourning implies the relationship of the subject and their finitude that does not cease to update itself in its historicity.

We know that Freud himself had an ambivalent relationship with his father and the religion of his ancestors. Before the submission from the young Jacoh, who merely takes the hat back and continues on his way, in his imagination Freud compares himself to the Semite hero Hannibal, who would later come to avenge him at another time. This, however, was not just any bible; this was the same one he had offered to his son at the age of seven, when he began his studies on Judaism.

This is an interesting fact, since Freud could no longer read Hebrew. Why, in his gift, did Jacoh employ a code that was unknown to his son?

A request to which Freud does not seem to obey orthodoxally, but psychoanalytically, so to speak! Not irrespectively, the figure of Moses remains enigmatic to him.

In , in his essay on the Moses of Michelangelo, Freud proposes - in contrast to current critical readings - a new aesthetic understanding of the Moses statue in the chapel of San Pietro in Vicoli. In lieu of the angry reaction from the father of Judaism, seconds before breaking the tablets of the law that are in his right hand, Freud sees the act of suspending the destruction as a psychological effort against the most primitive pulsions in favor of the cause to which he, Moses, was dedicated.

Would that be the procedure he had employed to understand the message - whose code was strangely familiar - of his own father, when offering his old bible? As we know, this essay would not suffice to exorcise the enigmatic image of Moses from the Freudian spirit. He returns to the conqueror metaphor, whose goal is to take Rome, through his work - a testimonial par excellence - about the oneiric life. In one of his own dreams, we find again the scene of the father, this time on his deathbed, during which he wakes up without knowing he had died.

These would be, according to his hypothesis, phylogenetic internalizations that would be updated in the ontogeny of the subject. To handle this originary scene, Freud sets a scientific myth, divided into three moments, in order to explain how the structure of culture produces the unconscious subject. First moment: a primitive horde is dominated by a tyrannical father who controls the possession of all women and applies violence as a means of control over the children.

Second moment: the insurrection led by the union of these leads to parricide and a devouring of the father in a celebratory cannibal feast. However, it is worth remembering that this obedience does not occur passively. Freud seems to inscribe in his theory the key that would enable he himself to conduct his mourning. That is, there is not a simple passive assimilation of heritage, but an appropriation, whose effects of transformation and creation presuppose the transmission.

However, we do not read a single mention of this operation of mourning in Thus, we support the hypothesis that he needed two moments for that: first Totem and taboo , then Moses and monotheism Let us hope that the Exodus from Egypt is not repeated as in times of yore.

The work is divided into three essays of considerably different extensions, published separately over a period of four years, with the first and second essays being preceded by one preface and the third by two. This last essay is also divided into two large sections, interspersed by a sort of recapitulation. Although it was only fully published in , Freud had already prepared a first draft in , since it was that same year that he sent a long letter to his friend Arnold Zweig describing his main hypotheses.

The urgency of the historical context, namely the rapid rise of Nazism and the persecution of Jews, accompanied his writing and is also evidenced in this letter. Freud says:. The starting point of my work is a subject that is familiar to you. Considering the new persecutions, I once again ask myself how the Jews were born and the reason why they attract this unquenchable hatred towards themselves. I rapidly found a formula. The Jews were created by Moses. The immersion into one of the most important biblical texts to Judaism, not irrespectively, happens precisely when Freud sees himself in danger as a result of the rise of Nazism, which was a threat not only to his physical existence as a Jew, but also a profound questioning in regards to the foundations of his own identity.

In advocating the idea that Moses was an Egyptian and, consequently, that the Jewish people had been created by someone who at first did not belong to it, Freud sought to show precisely - and paradoxically - that the very condition of alterity occupies the core of the Jewish identity. Moses, accordingly, is usually defined as a hero who frees his people and leads them back to their rightful land, Canaan.

The history of the Hebrew people becomes the history of the Jewish nation precisely through the act of departing Caruth, It should be noted that Freud was also departing : in , after the annexation of Austria by the Third Reich in , he heads - after much reluctance - towards recessed British territories.

Shaken by the forced exile and the deterioration of his health, Freud was once again concerned with the issue of disseminating the discipline that he had developed throughout his life. Such concern would be reflected in the writing of the third essay of Moses , which constitutes an investigation into the ways through which the monotheistic tradition would have been transmitted , from generation to generation, since the departure from Egypt until his then current time.

The look directed to the past of his people is concomitant to his concern with the future of psychoanalysis. Accordingly, one can say that becoming an heir , - this operation of two hands in the course of time - was necessary so that he himself could depart. Aware of the distortions entstellung , of the processes of denial verneinung and disavowal verleugnung of its historical truth historische wahrheit , he reads the text as the writing of a trauma that is heir to the origin myth of culture, which is updated in the exodus of the Jews and is repeated indefinitely throughout history - including in the creation of Christianity - to reach the persecution of Jews in the 20th century.

Freud assumes, thus, that the biblical text would hide, through a distortion, that the Jews themselves would have revolted against the tyrannical leader and murdered him. This act would have been suppressed, disavowed, and smothered, but after two generations the characteristics of the single God of Moses would have been shifted to a volcanic God called Yahweh and the deeds of Moses would have been incorporated into his corresponding priest, who was also named Moses.

To explain this enigmatic gap, he resumes the theory of trauma with an example:. It may happen that someone gets away, apparently unharmed, from the spot where he has suffered a shocking accident- for instance, a collision of trains. But in the course of the following weeks, he develops a series of grave psychological and motor symptoms that can only be a result of his shock. A posteriori, despite the fundamental difference of the two cases, it will draw our attention that there is, between the problems of the traumatic neurosis and Jewish monotheism, a correspondence in one point.

Namely, in the feature one might term latency. According to Cathy Caruth , the most interesting point in this comparison relates to the fact that the traumatic experience - be it the train accident or the murder of Moses - is simply not lived consciously. These repetitions, however, always take place in another time and another space; the historical experience is only accessible through its own distortion.

The testimonial character of the Freudian text is very clear. Freud seems to want to reproduce the same distortions found and analyzed in the bible in his text. How do we understand this lamentation of the failed attempt to erase his traces? Well, as Freud himself had already taught, we can only erase what we have already identified and know. As argued by Carina Basualdo , we read in the failure to erase his tracks the intrinsic relationship between his mourning for the father and his writing.

Let us here recall the metaphor of the ballerina used by Freud in describing the effort of appropriating the assassination of the first Moses, leaving it out of the holy scripture. The moving and erratic figure of the ballerina, which does not touch the ground except for the toes, seems to reflect the writing effort by imaginarily discerning the symbolic trace left by the Jewish people, by the father Jacoh in the guidance of his interest.

Thus, the metaphor of the ballerina seems to occupy the function of the concept of Real that is nonexistent in Freud. There is no way to read Moses without Totem and taboo , one presupposes the other.

Reconnecting with Judaism is not a religious movement, but its cultural re-appropriation before the out-rooting and, therefore, traumatic movement of exile. The problem of history is inscribed in the place of this subject who is, per se , dynamics of difference, historicity of the non-self-identity. Based on the reading of the Freudian texts Totem and taboo and The man Moses and the monotheistic religion through the concepts of trauma and mourning, and in contrast to some events that marked the life of their author, it is possible to highlight some elements to compose a psychoanalytic theory of history.

The metaphor of the Freudian ballerina would, accordingly, be the dimension of the impossible inscription of the Real that Freud seems to skim over with the tip of his pen. If the biblical history is written as an attempt to work through the traumatic assassination of Moses after the exodus, if the very text about Moses is written by Freud as a consequence of his exile, then one might say that it is from the assassination of the father to the edification of the Totem, from death to writing, that the trauma is converted into the very condition of history Rabinovitch, The relationship between trauma and history still evokes some ethical problems.

According to Dominick LaCapra , a North-American historian also interested in the dialogue with psychoanalysis, one of the main aporias of the field refers precisely to the possibilities and limits of the historiography of major catastrophes, such as the Holocaust. A documentary and self-sufficient historical research approach, whose extreme form is positivism, LaCapra says, would probably fall short of describing the traumatic dimension of these events, since there is no direct and conscious access to that content.

Book Reviews

Search hundreds of books on our site. Moses and Monotheism is a book by Sigmund Freud. It was first published in In it, Freud argues that Moses was actually an Ancient Egyptian and in some way related to Akhenaten, an ancient Egyptian monotheist. The book was written in three parts and was a departure from the rest of Freud's work on psychoanalytic theory.

Moses and Monotheism: By Sigmund Freud. Price, 8 s. This memorable book is one of the most interesting Freud ever wrote. It is further remarkable in that, while even his nearest friends and followers are likely to find things in it—including perhaps the central theme itself—from which they may dissent, no one with any imagination can fail to be kindled by the continuous sparkle of brilliant and enlightening ideas it displays. Someone has suggested that Freud's works, rather like Beethoven's symphonies, tended to alternate in their attitude towards his audience. In one type, of which Beyond the Pleasure Principle is a good example, he seems to be writing essentially for himself, to be thinking aloud, as it were; the audience must be content to extract what they can from the impressive process going on and be grateful for the remarkable privilege so vouchsafed them. In such a case what the reader gets out of the experience is proportional to the effort he puts into it; he has not the feeling that he is being helped by a sympathetic teacher and he has to struggle hard himself.

By Sigmund Freud. To deny a people the man whom it praises as the greatest of its sons is not a deed to be undertaken light-heartedly especially by one belonging to that people. No consideration, however, will move rne to set aside truth in favour of supposed national interests. Moreover, the elucidation of the mere facts of the problem may be expected to deepen our insight into the situation with which they are concerned. The man Moses, the liberator of his people, who gave them their religion and their laws, belonged to an age so remote that the preliminary question arises whether he was an historical person or a legendary figure. If he lived, his time was the thirteenth or fourteenth century B.

Abstract and Keywords

Sigmund Freud is most famous for his psychoanalytic school of thought, but he also took a keen interest in religion. As an adult, Freud considered himself an atheist, but his Jewish background and upbringing and background played an important role in the development of his ideas. He even wrote several books focused on the topic of religion. Religion, Freud believed, was an expression of underlying psychological neuroses and distress.

Moses and Monotheism German : Der Mann Moses und die monotheistische Religion is a book about monotheism by Sigmund Freud , the founder of psychoanalysis. It shocked many of its readers because of Freud's suggestion that Moses was actually born into an Egyptian household, rather than being born as a Hebrew slave and merely raised in the Egyptian royal household as a ward as recounted in the Book of Exodus. The book consists of three essays and is an extension of Freud's work on psychoanalytic theory as a means of generating hypotheses about historical events, in combination with his obsessive fascination with Egyptological scholarship and antiquities. Archaeological evidence of the Amarna Heresy , Akhenaten's monotheistic Aten cult, had only been discovered in and the interpretation of that evidence was still in an early phase. In Freud's retelling of the events, Moses led only his close followers into freedom during an unstable period in Egyptian history after Akhenaten's death ca.

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