Re: Freud on vehicles?

From: Scott Chase (
Date: Sun 07 Mar 2004 - 16:42:06 GMT

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    >From: Keith Henson <>
    >Subject: Re: Freud on vehicles?
    >Date: Sun, 07 Mar 2004 10:01:30 -0500
    >At 02:21 AM 06/03/04 -0500, you wrote:
    >>Selfish gene enthusiasts might want to grok this one from Freud that, in
    >>its very archaic way, touches on the issue of individuals as vehicles
    >>carrying immortal coils. Freud says (BTW, I've sifted through a lot of
    >>silt for this gold nugget so cut me some slack):
    >>(bq)"The individual does actually carry on a double existence: one
    >>designed to serve his own purposes and another as a link in a chain, in
    >>which he serves against, or at any rate without, any volition of his own.
    >>The individual himself regards sexuality as one of his own ends; while
    >>from another point of view he is only an appendage to his germ-plasm, to
    >>which he lends his energies, taking in return his toll of pleasure- the
    >>mortal vehicle of a (possibly) immortal substance- like the inheritor of
    >>an entailed property who is only the temporary holder of an estate which
    >>survives him."(eq)
    >That's quite a find! At the least someone who has Richard Dawkin's email
    >should send this to him.
    I'd be hesitant in assuming I'm the first to notice this apparent parallel. Another person familiar with memetics might have commented on this somewhere already.

    I read Frank Sulloway's book _Freud: Biologist of the Mind_ quite a while ago. I can't recall if he concentrated on this topic in any manner. If so, maybe he put it in historical context. My head's full of cobwebs, and I'd like to reread Sulloway. I would think Freud fits into the context of August Weismann, Wilhelm Roux and others of that time period. I already know Ernst Haeckel's biogenetic law may have had an influence on Freud, but haven't noticed anything overt in my recent readings yet. Also Freud mentions Eugen Bleuler and Carl Jung of the Swiss school, both of whom I know were familar with Richard Semon's work on mnemism. Freud's discussion of memory traces intrigues me in this light.

    Freud picks up this topic again on page 415 of the below cited book in his work "Instincts and Their Vicissitudes" (also translated by Cecil Baines). Freud says: (bq)"...[T]he relation existing between the ego and sexuality may be conceived of in two ways, apparently equally well justified: in the one, the individual is regarded as of prime importance, sexuality as one of his activities and sexual satisfaction as one of his needs; while in the other, the individual organism is looked upon as a transitory and perishable appendage to the quasi-immortal germ-plasm bequesthed to him by the race. The assumption that the sexual function differs from other bodily processes in virtue of special chemical processes is, I understand, also a postulate of the Ehrlich school of biological research."(eq)

    I'm not sure how Ehrlich would fit into all this.

    Freud wrote a lot of stuff. Given his neuroanatomical and biological background some of it is more interesting than the rest.
    >>Granted this has been translated from the German by somebody named Cecil
    >>Baines and I've no idea how the original reads compared to the
    >>translation, but the use of words like mortal vehicle and immortal
    >>substance strikes me as rather fascinating.
    >>This quote is from Freud's "On Narcissism" (1914) as found on page 401 of
    >>_The Major Works of Sigmund Freud_ (Great Books of the Western World
    >>(vol54) 1952/1986. Encyclopedia Britannica, Inc. Chicago)
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