The Here and the Hereafter: Reflections on Tragedy and Comedy in Human Existence
In Civilization and Its Discontents, one of his germinal works, Sigmund Freud’s basic thesis regarding civilization is that it issues from the struggle in human existence between Eros and Thanatos, love (life) and death. He claimed that it is the agonies of this struggle which nursemaids attempt to alleviate with their lullabies of Heaven. Regardless of our disagreements with detailed elaborations of this thesis by Freud and his followers, we cannot deny the basic truth in his assertions. Death is a central fact of human existence. It is the conclusion of aging, which we call, in the early years, growth and, in later years, deterioration. Aging, and therefore death, are implicit in birth.
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