Monday, December 26, 2011

On Pleasure and Pain

In Freud’s Beyond the Pleasure Principle, written in his mid-60s at the end of WWI as influenza killed one of his daughters, he tries to sort out why our lives generally suck even though we seem to be driven towards pleasures and away from pains.

What I love about Freud is that, like Montaigne, he’s just figuring. He doesn’t suggest that he knows all the answers; he’s just throwing out some ideas for consideration:
“We must hold ourselves in readiness to abandon the path we have followed for a time, if it should seem to lead to no good result….I am neither convinced myself, nor am I seeking to arouse conviction in others” (part VI).