Abstract

Abstract:

This article compares notions of progress and evolution in the social theories of Freud and Herbert Spencer, thus revising Freudian social theory and relocating it within a social-evolutionist tradition. It first argues that the two authors held similarly complex theories that contained mixed elements of positivism and teleology –in its positivist aspects, both authors made use of unified natural laws and, in its teleological aspects, they understood progress and the evolution of civilization along a linear path of progressive development. It is further examined how both authors made use of analogies between organisms and social aggregates–in Freud's case, he formulated a libidinal analogy between the stages of psychosexual development and the civilizatory stages. Finally, it is examined the ethical commitments to the individual that are consequences of such an understanding of the natural law.

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Additional Information

ISSN
1085-7931
Print ISSN
0065-860X
Pages
pp. 105-130
Launched on MUSE
2021-04-22
Open Access
No
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