In an article for the New York Times, Mark Edmundson writes:

Late in life — he was in his 80s, in fact — Sigmund Freud got religion. No, Freud didn’t begin showing up at temple every Saturday, wrapping himself in a prayer shawl and reading from the Torah. To the end of his life, he maintained his stance as an uncompromising atheist, the stance he is best known for down to the present. In “The Future of an Illusion,” he described belief in God as a collective neurosis: he called it “longing for a father.” But in his last completed book, “Moses and Monotheism,” something new emerges. There Freud, without abandoning his atheism, begins to see the Jewish faith that he was born into as a source of cultural progress in the past and of personal inspiration in the present. Close to his own death, Freud starts to recognize the poetry and promise in religion.

A good deal of the antireligious polemic that has recently been abroad in our culture proceeds in the spirit of Freud’s earlier work. In his defense of atheism, “God Is Not Great,” Christopher Hitchens cites Freud as an ally who, he believes, exposed the weak-minded childishness of religion. Sam Harris and Richard Dawkins come out of the same Enlightenment spirit of hostile skepticism to faith that infuses “The Future of an Illusion.” All three contemporary writers want to get rid of religion immediately and with no remainder.

But there’s more to Freud’s take on religion than that. In his last book, written when he was old and ill, suffering badly from cancer of the jaw, Freud offers another perspective on faith. He argues that Judaism helped free humanity from bondage to the immediate empirical world, opening up fresh possibilities for human thought and action. He also suggests that faith in God facilitated a turn toward the life within, helping to make a rich life of introspection possible.

You can read the rest of the article here. I wont say too much about this article, beyond pointing out that it is one of the most creative arguments by omission (the author makes no mention of the account of God and the experience of the sacred as developed in Totem and Taboo, The Future of an Illusion, and Civilization and Its Discontents, and speaks of Freud’s late life “turn”, as if Freud had somehow changed his position on these matters), I’ve ever come across. Note the way the author hints that Freud was undergoing some sort of “death-bed” conversion due to his cancer. The author’s argument is a bit like suggesting that Marx later had a change of heart with respect to capitalism and the bourgeois because he often spoke of the emancipatory potentials of these things. Moreover, he conmpletely ignores the nature of genetic and immanent critique that strives to account for how some phenomena came to be on the basis of immanent devlopment and historical conditions. These sorts of sophistries seem increasingly common… Or perhaps they’ve always been about. It would appear that rightwing media spin has now even entered academia.

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