Eros in a Narcissistic Culture: An Analysis Anchored in the Life-World

Eros in a Narcissistic Culture: An Analysis Anchored in the Life-World

by R.D. Ellis
     
 

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While many books have been written about human sexuality, few have seriously explored the philosophical and psychological meaning of erotic love. This reflects a bias and a problem in contemporary culture: the misunderstanding of eros out of a theory of physiological drive-reduction (ignoring the countervailing motivation toward intensification rather than

Overview

While many books have been written about human sexuality, few have seriously explored the philosophical and psychological meaning of erotic love. This reflects a bias and a problem in contemporary culture: the misunderstanding of eros out of a theory of physiological drive-reduction (ignoring the countervailing motivation toward intensification rather than reduction of conscious feeling) has led to an egocentric view of human nature, which in turn motivates a simplistic hedonism in value thinking and an atomistic-individualist conception of society. The ultra-competitive nature of this kind of culture leads to overconcern with masks of invulnerability - i.e., narcissism - which prevents the dropping of superficial defenses necessary for deep and authentic love relationships to mature. But the intense, direct experience of the intrinsic value of another being embodied in authentic love experiences is needed to combat the existential threats to the meaningfulness of life (alienation, powerlessness, relative insignificance in the ultimate scheme, and death). This experience is motivated by the need to be pulled out of oneself into a non-egocentric way of experiencing which cares as much about expressing value feelings, in order to deepen and intensify them, as it does about reducing egocentric drives. The misunderstanding, neglect, and dysfunction of this basic human need thus reflects a serious problem in the psychology of the self and the structure of the community, whose study requires a phenomenological rather than a merely empirical-scientific approach, since the latter approach alone leads almost inevitably to the very reductionism at issue.

Editorial Reviews

Booknews
Some academic speculations on one of the major preoccupations of all time: love. Ellis's elevated attitude doesn't detract from the common sense underlying his thesis: humans need to love and be loved, but contemporary society's uncertainties and narcissism conflict with the essential ingredient needed for successful relationships--the ability to give up one's self-preoccupation. He outlines the patterns of "eros" from its awakening to the fear of ego loss that accompanies "that funny feeling" and all the projections and strategies people use to shield themselves from that fear, as well as describing a "hubris" ridden urban society that doesn't help a person get a date on Saturday night or foster the valuable love experience the author advocates for a healthy society. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780792339823
Publisher:
Springer Netherlands
Publication date:
03/31/1996
Series:
Contributions to Phenomenology Series , #22
Edition description:
1996
Pages:
286
Product dimensions:
8.27(w) x 11.69(h) x 0.24(d)

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