Social Psychology and the Perspectives Essay

Excerpt from Essay :

Therefore, the person who chooses to suspend his interests to comply with those artificial externally-imposed social values for the benefit of others will ultimately always suffer disadvantage because others cannot be counted upon to do so consistently and in a meaningful way, at least not beyond the ability of the state to control and ensure.

To Freud, modern civilization provides various tangible benefits to the individual but only at a tremendous cost. While living in society and with the benefits of government protection against the uncontrolled expression of the selfish will of others is a benefit, the fact that our goals and values, and the component elements of our psychological personas are determined and shaped to such a great extent by external society generates much if not all of the psychological pain and trauma experienced by individuals.

Personal Response and Conclusion

There is substantial value as well as inherent weaknesses in both positions articulated by Mill and by Freud. Of particular value is Mill's view that the most important function of modern society and of its political and government institutions is to protect individuals from potential harms caused to them by others without justification. That is a notion that is perfectly consistent with personal autonomy because, in principle, it regards the rights and freedoms of every individual as virtually unlimited up to the point that they threaten the corresponding rights and autonomy of other individuals. While Mill's analysis might have failed in its attempt to fully define the objective principles by which specific concepts or limitations might be defined objectively, it fully supports the underlying premise that individuals are much better off living in civilized societies than they would ne fending for themselves in the wild.

Freud's position also has tremendous value, particularly in the recognition of external social values as precipitators of some of the psychological strains experienced by many individuals. Conversely, Freud's view of the relative uselessness of the Golden Rule may be less helpful, partly because it assumes that the rule cannot be enforced equitably by modern social institutions. In that respect, Freud's analysis might fail, mainly because it presumes that in order for the individual to reap greater benefit from living in society than its corresponding psychological price, the Golden Rule must be completely internalized. Mill would argue, successfully, that it is unnecessary for every individual to love every other individual, provided that social and government institutions can sufficiently guarantee equal protection to all from the degree to which they may not genuinely love one another in their…

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