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Freud and Nietzsche: The Principle of Pleasure (Essay Sample)


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Freud and Nietzsche: The Principle of Pleasure
Many commentators have drawn parallels between Freud and Nietzsche, although important differences between the two men are less appreciated. There are share cultural backgrounds between Sigmund Freud (1856-1939) and Fredrich Nietzsche (1844-1900), which may explain the similarities in Freud’s ideas with those of Nietzsche (Cybulska 1). Poetry and philosophy influenced the two men and psychology played a role in explaining their ideas related to human nature. In the “Beyond the Pleasure” principle, Freud’s reference to the works of Schopenhauer and Nietzsche is evidence. Grimwade (359) attempts to divulge the two sides of Freud’s philosophical inheritance and explores the structure of Freud’s inconsistency toward his intellectual antecedents. Besides the concept of pleasure, Freud shares striking similarities with Nietzsche and Schopenhauer in important views on consciousness, dreams, ego, and sex drives (Cybulska 5). While many pointers may reveal similarities in their views, Freud tends to differ with Nietzsche in important aspects, including the theory of desire and the pleasure principle. Freudian’s “Pleasure Principle” that is the driving force of the id seeking immediate human gratification of needs, urges, and wants is a product of views expressed by other thinkers including Nietzsche.
Among other things, the philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche regarded himself as a psychologist and his works in psychology included the understanding of the unconscious, function, and meaning of dreams, unconscious guilt, drives turned inward upon the self, and sublimation of drives. Freudian pleasure principle tends to borrow from the work of Nietzsche as well as from the views of Schopenhauer (1819-1844). According to Schopenhauer’s work on “Cessation of the Will” existence tends to be a ceaseless arising and passing away. This means that creation and destruction are imbued with suffering emerging from worldly desires. Such creates a state of mental equilibrium, which Freud terms as the Nirvana or pleasure principle. According to Freud, the state could be achieved by abandoning the desires and renouncing the will. Freud asserts that the dominating tendency of mental life is the struggle to reduce, to remove internal tension, and to keep constant due to stimuli (Cybulska 8). Freud coined the term “Nirvana principle” and attributed it to Barbara Low but many parallels can be drawn from the works of Nietzsche.
Nietzsche is a veteran of the concept of suffering and views pain and pleasure as two different sides of the same coin. According to Nietzsche, pleasure is a form of pain, and the philosopher goes beyond the concept of duality to proclaim that suffering is a necessary ingredient to having joy (Cybulska 8). He understands that pain and pleasure should not be treated as opposites and that pleasures must include pain. According to the philosopher, for pleasure to be at its optimum, then the pain has to be protracted and the tension of the bow has to be tremendous. For Nietzsche, avoiding pain means avoiding human joys and pleasures. He prescribes that for one to have ultimate joy, humans should anticipate maximum pain.
Humans feel uncomfortable and vulnerable and to inhibit any aggressive instincts, civilizations organize internalization. This internalization is the sense of guilt that originates from the fear of losing a loved one or from conscience fear that is accomplished by the super-ego. Civilization restrictions cause a huge amount of suffering to humanity. Civilization's impression forces itself to make every person seek power, riches, and su...

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