Sigmund Freud is a highly controversial figure among philosophers, often criticized. Despite the significant number of published works, they have often been considered frauds. Nevertheless, some of Freud’s writings, especially later ones, deserve more detailed attention. One such work is “The Future of an Illusion”, in which Freud examines the question of religion from the perspective of psychoanalysis. Since the issue of the position of faith in human life is still relevant, this essay aims to respond and reflect on the philosopher’s text, analyzing its relevance and value in the modern world.
Religion is an integral part of human culture, accompanying society throughout its development. According to Freud, this institution was created as a rationale for the natural processes (Freud, 1961). The humanization of such phenomena allowed humanity to better respond to them and subsequently find solace in the created images. I believe Freud’s reasoning makes sense from a scientific perspective and explains the need to reinforce moral norms. However, while one can agree with the first half of the book, the second has, in my opinion, a much weaker argument, which dramatically reduces its value. Since Freud himself (1961) was a committed atheist and adherent of scientism, he actively advocated the rejection of religion as an institution contrary to logic. Moreover, he considered the morality offered by religious concepts unstable (Freud, 1961). Instead, Freud adheres to scientific ideals that reflect his worldview. Simultaneously, he emphasizes that he can be mistaken since he draws conclusions based on assumptions (Freud, 1961). From my perspective, the thoughts expressed by Freud are not only really delusions but also do not stand the test of time.
Modern society is closely connected with science, while technological progress is improving people’s lives at a tremendous pace. The vast majority of the community knows about science and its achievements thanks to various media. However, this does not lead to the decline of the religious system, which is seen in countries with many believers, such as America. Moreover, in the face of the need for a unifying ideology, some religious communities are only becoming closer. Freud’s rhetoric on this issue is exceptionally unfounded and is built only on general assumptions, primarily dictated by the philosopher’s worldview. Consequently, “The Future of an Illusion”, despite the departure from the theory of sexual instincts, is still a controversial work, which in many respects does not correspond to objective reality and modernity.
Freud, S. (1961). The future of an illusion. (J. Strachey, Trans.). W. W. Norton & Company.