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The Illusion Of A Future: Freud's Anxiety And Religion.

The Letter, Issue 6, Spring 1996, Pages 79 - 90


THE ILLUSION OF A FUTURE: FREUD'S ANXIETY AND RELIGION

Tom McGrath


From the dawning of consciousness either collectively or individually, the human subject is faced with wonder, and the response that is evoked is the desire to know, the desire to understand, the Eros of the Mind. The Eros of the Mind expresses itself continually - apparently irrepressibly - in the quest(ions) - the endless questions of the child, the historical and contemporary questions of human subjects about meaning and truth, and beauty and love, and life itself.

One can understand religion in its most general sense as being an hypothetical answer to that quest of the subject. Essential to the notion of question - or quest - is the fact and the experience of limit, of gap, of lack, of what there is not, and by implication of what is anticipated, of what might be, what could be or what should be. In every case the what-is-not-yet, is an indication of a lack, or a gap, or an absence, or a privation, or one might say a pain, and the pain is evoked by the not knowing what it is all about, or not knowing where it is all going, or not knowing what is the point of my life - each in different ways formulates, or is the product of, a lack of meaning. In the absence of that meaning, in the fact of that gap, the human subject has shown enormous ingenuity in inventing or constructing illusions or systems for him self/herself that enables the gap to be bridged or to allow him or her to overlook it, or to ignore it, or to deny it. The exaggerated claims ofhumanistic science amount to a crude denial of what it, that is science, itself can’t explain in its own terms.

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