Social Recognition of the Human Individual

"From the time of puberty onward the human individual must devote
himself to the great task of freeing himself from his parents."
-Sigmund Freud (General Intro. to Psychoanalysis)

As a child develops from infancy to adulthood, it soaks up its environment and processes it like a biological computer. As it matures, so does the way it copes with the challenges life presents to him. If the child has the opportunity to be well educated, than he may learn from his history studies, and begin to recognize the different patterns of thought that society has gone through. Perhaps he will learn from these patterns and make an effort to use his knowledge to prevent making many of the same mistakes in his daily life that men have made before. If he studies medieval Europe, he may become skeptical of his own faith. Resulting in his search for a new religion that he can believe in, rather than continue to blindly participate as a member of the faith his parents had chosen for him. If he were to study Imperialism in Europe, than perhaps he would join an athletic team. He would form strong bonds with those within the team, but hopefully he could learn from Europe’s mistaken extreme nationalism and sees that the best thing he can do for his team is remain an individual, not conform to some unwritten code. He would see that it is best to create one’s own identity within a group. Perhaps he has read Erich Fromm, and sees that he must recognize himself as a separate entity apart from the world around himself. He individuates. The development of this boy into an individual is exactly what Sigmund Freud would describe as a healthy development toward the formation a personal identity. It is the interactions that take place between a developing individual (the boy) and the society in which that individual lives in which we find the essence of human existence. Man has under gone hundreds of years of dialectic thought, shifting paradigms and intellectual synthesis. Only to have the culmination of human progress come down to Sigmund Freud’s recognition of the individual, (with individual thoughts, emotions, morals and experiences) create a singularity through which all future perception must travel through.

To get a sense of what type of society Freud changed forever, one must first examine the society from the last major paradigm before Freud, as to understand the society’s influences and biases. In 1789 the fruits of the Enlightened Age were ripe and the conditions in France were right for an explosion of enlightened ideals that would define the western world for the next two centuries. Liberty, Equality and Fraternity began as the cries of the French Revolution, but would go on to mold western society into its present day form. It was Napoleon who took the fruits of the revolution and planted them in the minds of people across Europe as he conquered eastward. Despite his failure to conquer Russia and his eventual defeat, the Napoleonic Wars are the most successful and influential campaigns in western history. Napoleon institutionalized l,e,f via his Napoleonic Code. Imagine the concepts of the revolution as fruit, and France as the original orchard where the fruit was bred over hundred of years into the perfect crop. Now picture Napoleon as this great farmer who plants the seeds of this fruit across the European landscape. The stage is now set for these seeds to fructify into the paradigm of the next era of western civilization. Throughout the 1800’s each one of these concepts matured and ripened in the Industrial Revolution which acted as the fertilizer and the soil as it provided the nutrients in the form of the technology, class antagonism, as well as a modern insecurity of insignificance.

Liberty became the most economical of the three fruitful ideals of the revolution. It was the emerging Bourgeois who first embraced it. They were an upper-middle class that was the product of the industrial revolution and its factory systems. These were the factory owners who sought nothing more than personal economical gain. Due to the restrictive economies of the early 1800’s, they were vocal supporters of the British Economist Adam Smith, most notably his ideas concerning laissez-faire, or a free trade economy without