02 December 2006

Worldview: Sigmund Freud & C S Lewis

All of us, whether we realize it or not, have a worldview; we have a philosophy of life our attempt to make sense out of our existence. It contains our answers to the fundamental questions concerning the meaning of our lives, questions that we struggle with at some level all of our lives, and that we often think about only when we wake up at three o'clock in the morning. The rest of the time when we are alone we have the radio or the television on anything to avoid being alone with ourselves.

Pascal maintained the sole reason for our unhappiness is that we are unable to sit alone in our room. He claimed we do not like to confront the reality of our lives; the human condition is so basically unhappy that we do everything to keep distracted from thinking about it.

The broad interest and enduring influence of the works of Freud and Lewis result less from their unique literary style than from the universal appeal of the questions they addressed; questions that remain extraordinarily relevant to our personal lives and to our contemporary social and moral crises.

From diametrically opposed views, they talked about issues such as, “Is there meaning and purpose to existence?” Freud would say, “Absolutely not! We cannot even, from our scientific point of view, address the question of whether or not there is meaning to life.” But he would declare that if you observe human behavior, you would notice the main purpose of life seems to be to find happiness to find pleasure. Thus Freud devised the ‘pleasure principle’ as one of the main features of our existence.

Lewis, on the other hand, said meaning and purpose are found in understanding why we are here in terms of the Creator who made us. Our primary purpose is to establish a relationship with that Creator.

[Dr Armand Nicholi, speech at a faculty/alumni luncheon hosted by Dallas Christian Leadership at Southern Methodist University on September 23, 1997]

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