Great Works of Western Tradition: The Treatment of Time and History Essay

Not a few of the greatest plants in the Western tradition tackle the development of humanity and of civilisation throughout the ages. The inquiry of the development of civilisation is all the more hard since it seems to be Byzantine instead than additive and progressive. As it shall be seen. minds from really different times have pictured civilisation in different ways. stressing either its fantastic development or its blazing imperfectnesss. Thomas More. Voltaire and Sigmund Freud belong to really different ages of human civilisation and have held really different sentiments about history and the development or involution of adult male.

As it shall be seen nevertheless. the major subject in all of the plants under treatment is the development of adult male and society throughout the class of clip. Furthermore. in Utopia. Candide and Civilization and its Discontents the development of civilisation is questioned and the accomplishments of humanity doubted. Despite the fact that the semen from different turning points in human history. which had seen a colossal progress of civilization and apprehension of the universe. the three writers argue that the human civilisation is really far from its ideal province.

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Thomas More’s Utopia is an fanciful undertaking of the perfect human society which resembles Plato’s Republic. As a representative of Renaissance. More is a humanist and a socialist. who criticizes the province of thing in his native England. The work is hence. in many ways an reverse mirror of his modern-day society. More openly addresses the unstable society and the political relations in England and at the same clip creates a rearward opposite number for these on the island of Utopia. The most outstanding mark of the scholar’s unfavorable judgment is the specific signifier of authorities feature for his society: feudal system.

In his fanciful universe. everyone is equal and no 1 is hapless or in demand. since everything is distributed rightly: “In Utopia. where every adult male has a right to everything. they all know that if attention is taken to maintain the populace shops full. no private adult male can desire anything ; for among them there is no unequal distribution. so that no adult male is hapless. none in necessity. and though no adult male has anything. yet they are all rich ; for what can do a adult male so rich as to take a calm and cheerful life. free from anxiousnesss. ” ( More 86 ) Harmonizing to More. money and ownerships in general are the key of civilisation as he saw it.

As such. he attacks his modern-day society at its really roots. by recommending a society in which everyone would be equal and in which money would keep no importance. As he saw it. the human universe was moved and impulse by inequalities and disproportion in ownerships: “And who does non see that the frauds. larcenies. robberies. wrangles. uproars. contentions. seditions. slayings. perfidies. and witcheries. which are so instead punished than restrained by the badnesss of jurisprudence. would all fall off. if money were non any more valued by the universe?

” ( More 87 ) Another of import facet that More notes is that. all the offenses and bad lucks originating from the monetary jobs are punished instead than restrained by jurisprudence. This facet of the human society has remained true even today. since money is still a cardinal component in the universe and since the jurisprudence is merely designed to assist keep a comparative order. Therefore. More sees the province of civilisation during Renaissance as really unstable. since the character of people and their morality is continuously undermined by the inequality sing the distribution of ownerships.

Expressing genuinely radical thoughts for his age. More perceives that the nature of the authorities in his ain clip is nil more than a “conspiracy of the rich” to monopolise the goods and to keep sway over the remainder of the population. under the pretence of administrating the public personal businesss: “Therefore I must state that. as I hope for clemency. I can hold no other impression of all the other authoritiess that I see or know. than that they are a confederacy of the rich. who on pretension of pull offing the populace merely prosecute their private terminals. and invent all the ways and humanistic disciplines they can happen out.

” ( More 157 ) More’s intuition about the workings of political relations and economic sciences in his ain society is hence improbably accurate. Utopia is furthermore a complete society. holding all the establishment of the modern universe. including political relations. faith. scientific discipline. civilization and household. More basically reconstruct the societal order of his clip. planing an ideal community marked by simpleness. For case. the political system is democratic. in the sense that we understand it today. with all of the members of society take parting in the elections:

“Once a twelvemonth every group of 30 families elects an decision maker. who used to be known as a syphogrant. but in modern times has been called a phylarch. There is another decision maker in charge of every group of 10 syphogrants with their families. He used to be called a tranibor. and is now called a senior phylarch. All the syphogrants–there are two hundred of them–elect the main executive. ” ( More 96 ) The household is an of import cell of this society which hints at the rules of brotherhood that should rule and modulate the universe.

The society has really few Torahs. moreover. which emphasizes More’s positions of the modern-day justness system. Harmonizing to him hence. the human society is necessarily based on complex and fringy Torahs. which strive to penalize delinquency but which do non pull off to keep it. Furthermore. scientific discipline and the humanistic disciplines are made accessible to the big public and non limited to a privileged class. More evidently points out to another indispensable characteristic of socialism which stipulates the rational equality of all people.

This besides pinpoints the fact that. in More’s position. the fiscal inequality of people is the cardinal factor doing inequality in all other respects. It should be noted that More constructed his Utopian universe chiefly as a sarcasm for his modern-day society. He did non believe himself in the ideal society he proposed. merely because the undertaking came well before its clip and before there would be the necessary conditions to set up it. His chief contention therefore is that the human civilisation of the Renaissance England was a corrupted and dysfunctional system that revolved around the ownerships and involvements.

All the establishments. the authorities. the jurisprudence. the economic system. political relations and even the humanistic disciplines and scientific disciplines suffered from this corruptness as they were based on inequality between people. More’s position is all the more radical since the universe of Renaissance believed in order and in the concatenation of things. This graduated table or hierarchy of things evidently applied to the human society every bit good. where the male monarch was the highest nexus in the concatenation. being set there by Godhead will. In this context. More’s encouragement of equality is all the more mystifying.

As it shall be seen. about three centuries subsequently. Voltaire published a sarcasm that attacks the myth of human civilisation and points out its chief failings. As More belongs to the Renaissance. Voltaire belongs to another period of cultural revolution and promotion. the Enlightenment. More so than the Renaissance that had established the religion in adult male and in his powers. the Enlightenment brought unbelievable grounds of man’s concluding capacities and his ability for commanding nature and the existence and doing these work in his ain favour.

As More before him. Voltaire satirically attacks the really roots of his modern-day society. His Candide can be easy considered one of the most powerful philosophical sarcasms of all times. as it is directed non to a peculiar facet of the universe but to the universe as a whole and to the full human race. What Voltaire mocks is non so much the province in which the universe and humanity are in. but the chronic optimism that characterized the Age of Reason.

The values and credos of the Enlightenment philosophers are demolished one by one in Voltaire’s work: the celebrated statement maintained by Leibniz and Rousseau that our universe is “the best of all possible worlds” . the belief that the existence is in a province of firm harmoniousness that merely gives the feeling of pandemonium. the general optimism that regarded even the dreariest events in the universe as good. the religion in the human ground and the free will of adult male and many other similar optimist sentiments.

Voltaire makes the eponymic character of his work. Candide ( who is. non by accident and as his name indicates. improbably naif and simple ) experience. through his journeys and escapades. the full scope of human sufferance: wars. natural catastrophes. maladies. bondage. spiritual persecution. colza and so on. In his manner. Candide experiences all there is to see and meets with all the immorality in the universe. His fleeceable nature disposes him to believe the more comfy theory. which is that of his maestro Pangloss.

Pangloss is therefore the paradigm of the Enlightenment mind. the professed optimist who believes in the absolute flawlessness of the universe. Despite of the catastrophes he meets with and despite of the evil nature of the work forces he encounters. Pangloss remains a obstinate optimist. an advocate of the perfect harmoniousness of the existence: “Master Pangloss taught the metaphysico-theologo-cosmolo-nigology. He could turn out to esteem that there is no consequence without a cause ; and. that in this best of all possible universes. the baron’s palace was the most brilliant of all palaces. and my lady the best of all possible baronesses.

” ( Voltaire 27 ) As More before him. Voltaire ironically notes here the manner in which the belief in the flawlessness of the universe is used by some to warrant their ain rights. The eulogium of the baron and baroness. who are evidently far from moral uprightness and nobility. is a intimation to the manner in which people of rank had to be treated as great work forces despite the fact that in truth they were full of imperfectnesss. Another acrimonious allusion is the image of war as one of the most absurd immoralities stalking the human society.

This is one of the most terrific cogent evidence that adult male has non reached yet the province of absolute civilisation. and that he is still a barbarian: “Never was anything so gallant. so good accoutered. so superb. and so finely disposed as the two ground forcess. The huntsman’s horns. fifes. oboe. membranophones. and cannon made such harmoniousness as ne’er was heard in snake pit itself. The amusement began by a discharge of cannon. which. in the blink of an eye of an oculus. laid level about 6. 000 work forces on each side.

The musket slugs swept off. out of the best of all possible universes. nine or ten thousand villains that infested its surface. “ ( Voltaire 9 ) In highly light tones. Voltaire describes the slaughter and absurdness specific to war. suggesting that such a catastrophe would be sufficient to acknowledge the universe and the province of civilisation for what it is. Alternatively of the ordered. harmonious universe that some of the greatest philosophers and scientists of the clip discerned. Voltaire points to the existent province of humanity as he saw it.

Discoveries were so being made. but adult male was far from populating in an ideal and balanced existence. There are some obvious similarities between More’s and Voltaire’s satires hence. More imagined an ideal society which would be the contrary of his modern-day universe and Voltaire imagined a narrative of a naif character who is confronted with all the ailments and immoralities of humanity and civilisation. Both of the writers therefore imply that the human development is non every bit important as it is believed.

The beginning of the 20th century. with the morning of modernism saw every bit great alterations in all the facets of human being. Freud’s Civilization and its Discontents makes a powerful review of civilisation as a web of negative inflictions on the modern adult male. Freud puts Forth that civilisation can merely go feasible through an economical rule similar to that employed by the political relations of a province: it restrains man’s instinctual force in order to concentrate his energy on the development of its rational resources.

Therefore. while the two other writers under probe proposed that the universe was mostly crude at its nucleus. despite the promotion of civilisation. Freud points out the antonym. He elaborates on the benefits and unbelievable advancement made by human civilisation. all the same knocking its chances which have restrained the instinctual nature of adult male: “This contention holds that what we call our civilisation is mostly responsible for our wretchedness. and that we should be much happier if we gave it up and returned to crude conditions.

” ( Freud 33 ) In Freud’s position. as radical for his clip as the other two authors’ position during their ain. it is the basic demand of civilisation which has become baneful for adult male. Therefore. civilisation demands a repression of inherent aptitude in adult male. in favour of rational accomplishment: “No characteristic [ … ] seems better to qualify civilisation than its regard and encouragement of man’s higher mental activities–his rational. scientific and artistic achievements-and the taking function that it assigns to ideas in human life.

” ( Freud 41 ) Harmonizing to Freud. it is the really nature of civilisation which causes adult male to go more and more defeated out of his natural freedom and deficiency of restraint: “Civilization is built up upon a repudiation of inherent aptitude. how much it presupposes exactly the non-satisfaction ( by suppression. repression or some other agencies ) of powerful inherent aptitudes. ” ( Freud 44 ) The attempts and consequences of scientific discipline and engineering as they are perceived in modern times are beyond doubt. Man has strived to protect himself from nature therefore going more and more anomic from it.

Civilization is in many ways synonymous with comfort. but. in Freud’s position it is and will ever be contrary to man’s felicity: “Is at that place. so. no positive addition in pleasance. no univocal addition in my feeling of felicity. if I can. every bit frequently as I please. hear the voice of a kid of mine who is populating 100s of stat mis off or if I can larn in the shortest possible clip after a friend has reached his finish that he has come through the long and hard ocean trip unharmed?

” ( Freud 35 ) As Freud pertinently comments. people normally think of the advanced province of civilisation in footings of triumphs over nature. such as the innovation of soap for case: “Indeed. we are non surprised by the thought of puting up the usage of soap as an existent yardstick of civilisation. The same is true of order. It. like cleanliness. applies entirely to the plants of adult male. But whereas cleanliness is non to be expected in nature. order. on the reverse. has been imitated from her. ” ( Freud 40 ) Besides. people tend to believe of the old ages as barbarian in footings of cleanliness. order and comfort chiefly.

In Freud’s sentiment nevertheless. these triumphs are as many defeat for the self-importance. who has definitively lost his autonomy. He argues that civilisation comes into rough struggle with the human self-importance. since the ego’s instinctual nature can non be ‘corrected’ by civilization but merely repressed or silenced. As many facets of human behaviour prove it. instincts merely lie hibernating inside the mind and can be awaken at any clip. Civilization comes with its inflictions and claims. trying to repress the subconscious and promote merely the sublimed features of the head.

Therefore. being denied the attainment of the pleasance rule. work forces have to content themselves with interchanging it for the milder ‘reality principle’ which will merely safeguard them from utmost sufferance. While More and Voltaire have endeavored to demo that civilisation is far from making its flawlessness. Freud points out the indispensable struggle there will ever be between civilisation and adult male in his natural province. Basically nevertheless. all the writers observe the debasement of humanity. despite the attempts of civilisation.

In modern times. as Freud notes. the crude signifiers of force have been subdued for the greatest portion ; nevertheless force has merely changed its signifier and non its nature. The same applies to the bulk of the facets of civilisation today. Therefore. the cardinal thoughts of the three writers selected have a common centre. While the promotion of civilisation seems to be undeniable at each of the turning points in history. Renaissance. Enlightenment and so Modernism. civilisation seems to hold evolved superficially without the possibility of making an ideal province.

Man builds up an unreal civilisation which comes in struggle with the natural universe and therefore it is far from being balanced. Thomas More. Voltaire and Sigmund Freud all note that. from assorted stances. we still do non hold the right expression for civilisation. ? Works Cited: Freud. Sigmund. Civilization and its Discontentments. New York: W. W. Norton. 1961. More. Thomas. Utopia. Trans. David Wootton. Capital of indiana: Hackett Publishing. 1999. Voltaire. Candide. New York: Modern Library. 1918.