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The Illusion of Civilization and Illusions Within

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modern history
Boston College

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  1. Introduction
  2. The men who have a pessimistic view of humanity
  3. A contrasting view of human nature and the writings of the philosophers John Locke
  4. The illusion created by religion
  5. The use of illusion in civilization
  6. Conclusion

An illusion has the ability to distort the perception about reality. It can be used as a way to disguise something from its true nature. In his work The Future of an Illusion, Sigmund Freud offers an analysis on illusions. He suggests that an illusion is different than an error, because an illusion does not necessarily have to be false. Illusions are ?derived from human wishes,? in that they blind us to reality and make us see and believe only in what we want. The greatest illusion of all is that of civilization. Civilization is an illusion to the true nature of man, a type of makeup that masks the nature of man to let him be part of a successful society.

[...] that is beautiful and noble is the result of reason and calculation.?[8] Baudelaire believed that civilization was ?beautiful and noble?. This beauty of civilization stems from the fact that civilization was created through reason, not through the natural tendencies of man. James Frazer, in his work The Golden Bough, echoes a similar notion. In his discussion of myths, which he says are a creation of men of civilization, Frazer declares that myths are a way for men to hide their true nature. [...]

[...] These writers say that civilization is necessary to cure the evils of man's nature. On the other hand, the proponents of the nature of humanity suggest that man has been on a steady decline since he came into the world. These proponents include men such as John Locke and Michel de Montaigne. The men who have a pessimistic view of humanity believe that man is a selfish creature, who only looks out for his self interest. Thomas Hobbes proclaimed that the voluntary acts of every man, the object is some good to himself.?[4] If man was left in his natural state, unrestrained by the bounds of society, than the world would be an all out war, with every man fighting for themselves. [...]

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