Spheres and civilization

Plato’s Aristophanes and Sigmund Freud’s politics of the psyche

Keywords: Plato, Freud, Aristophanes, myth, eros, politics, psyche


This article argues that Sigmund Freud in Civilization and Its Discontents draws heavily from the human origins myth of Plato's Aristophanes to expound his own political theory. More specifically, the politically relevant psychical conflicts that lie at the center of Civilization and Its Discontents—the desire to return to an earlier state of psychic existence, the erotic drive, and the death drive—find their original articulation and political application from Plato’s Aristophanes as presented in the dialogue, Symposium. The exploration of connections between Freud’s work and Plato’s (1) shows how attuned ancient sources are to modern concerns; (2) increases our understanding of Freud’s theories by providing a more substantial context for considering his work; and (3) offers the possibility of alternative answers to modern questions.


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How to Cite
Brophy, C. J. (2022). Spheres and civilization: Plato’s Aristophanes and Sigmund Freud’s politics of the psyche. Psychotherapy & Politics International, 20(1 & 2). https://doi.org/10.24135/ppi.v20i1and2.04