Sigmund Freud, the founder of psychoanalysis, declared that religion is a universal obsessional neurosis in his famous work of 1927, The Future of an Illusion. This work provoked immediate controversy and has continued to be an important reference for anyone interested in the intersection of philosophy, psychology, religion, and culture.
Included in this volume is Oskar Pfister’s critical engagement with Freud’s views on religion. Pfister, a Swiss pastor and lay analyst, defends mature religion from Freud’s “scientism.” Freud’s and Pfister’s texts have been updated in Gregory C. Richter’s translations from the original German.
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Table of Contents
Introduction, Todd Dufresne
Sigmund Freud: A Brief Chronology
Translator’s Note, Gregory C. Richter
The Future of an Illusion
Appendix A: “The Illusion of a Future”: Oskar Pfister’s Response to Freud’s The Future of an Illusion
Appendix B: Other Works by Freud and Pfister on Religion
- Sigmund Freud, “Obsessive Actions and Religious Practices” (1907)
- From Sigmund Freud, Totem and Taboo (1913)
- From Sigmund Freud, “Scientific Interest in Psychoanalysis” (1913)
- From Sigmund Freud, Civilization and Its Discontents (1930)
- From Sigmund Freud, Moses and Monotheism: Three Essays (1939)
- From Oskar Pfister, On the Psychology of Philosophical Thought (1923)
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
In this book Freud shows how the need for religion and a god who will protect us at all times stems from the helplessness of our childhood. Basically, there comes a point in our adolescence when we realize that we will die one day. This thought is much too threatening for our immature and underdeveloped brain to deal with. In order to satisfy our infantile wish of never dying, primitive humans invented a god figure who will save us from the inevitability of this. Freud shows how the protection we received from our mother/father/guardian easily converts, in our older age, to the concept of god. If logic, reasoning and science are the tools you use to run your life read this book. If faith is the method in which you acquire your information, read at your own risk.
Well written and well preserved till this day. I was raised a Presbyterian. I went to all boys catholic boarding high school. I am well vested in the bible. I am also a chemist. That said. i do believe as a black male in America who is usually the target of uniform agents of the law, reading the origin of civilization, and how from the onset our free will is constricted made very much sense in the book. The book implies that regardless of if man behave perfect to the last bottom line of angelic perfection, someone within the alliance of perfect band of men will be a scapegoat to government enterprise. This is proven in the rantings of Nikolia Mackevelli and the roman government of antiquity. this is proven in american and the promotion of their strength. this is proven between husband and wife. Relationship between the creatures of the earth to remain reciprocal, there must be a two or multiple shade to separate. Religion was one way to do that because we are wired to to accept authority.
First things first, I'm a high school senior and at first this book is intimidating. People pointed and laughed when they saw that I was reading "for fun." Fortunately, and this is one of the best decisions of my life, I persisted. I'd never been very clear as to what my feelings were on religion, so I decided to read a selection of religious papers advocating religion and giving logical points confirming God's existence, then making myself familiar with atheistic theories. After doing both, Freud's "The Future of an Illusion" being my atheistic selection and a collection of papers attempting to use mathematical evidence to back up The Bible being my religious selection, I made my choice overwhelmingly to do away with any thoughts of religion.
I am a devoted follower of many of Freud's psychological theories (except those sexist ones), and this is one of the best books I've read by him. Without resorting to insults or blantant attacks on Christianity, he goes to show that religion is a sociological disease and must perish or take us all down with it. He could have been a little harsher, though.
I first read this book in college, and I was mesmerized. I have since bought myself another copy, and I have purchased several for friends. Now, I am NOT a Freudian with regard to psychology, but Freud does have a very clear way of writing. This book details the logical argument for atheism yet remains respectful of religion. If you are an atheist/agnostic and have trouble putting your beliefs into intelligent words, this book is for you!!! It analytically explains the psychological reasons for religion, thereby validating it, but it does intelligently state why religion is not likely related to truth or fact in any way. A wonderful, intelligent book...Freud--who knew?
I felt that I should put in a comment if this is considered a review. I read the book about twenty years ago when I started college. I was and still am, a Born Again Christian. The book, to me, had alot of mistakes form a man who totally did not understand true Christianity, despite his knowledge.