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Grotjahn, M. (1956). Eros and Civilization. A Philosophical Inquiry Into Freud: By Herbert Marcuse. Boston: The Beacon Press, 1955. 277 pp.. Psychoanal Q., 25:429-431.

(1956). Psychoanalytic Quarterly, 25:429-431

Eros and Civilization. A Philosophical Inquiry Into Freud: By Herbert Marcuse. Boston: The Beacon Press, 1955. 277 pp.

Review by:
Martin Grotjahn

Philosophical critiques of psychoanalysis are usually so hostile, defensive, and condescending that the medically oriented analyst has neither patience, inclination, nor qualification to study them. Eros and Civilization is an exception. Marcuse is qualified by his training, by his research in Hegel's philosophy, and by his serious study of psychoanalysis to produce a sincere and serious philosophical critique which has the advantage of being well written and fascinating reading.

The author starts approximately where Freud ended in Civilization and Its Discontents. Civilization requires, according to Freud, permanent subjugation of men's instinctual drives, the methodical regulation of libido, and rigid restriction and renunciation of the pleasure principle in favor of the reality principle. Herbert Marcuse—perhaps because he starts from just this point—does not make sufficiently clear the fact that every adjustment to life is based upon and determined by the reality principle.

Freud's pessimistic belief that increasing cultural repression releases increasing destructive forces is historically correct. This development may have reached its culmination in our own time. According to Marcuse, this pessimistic outlook is philosophically unnecessary when we look at the future.

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