Date of Award
Master of Arts (MA)
This thesis is an examination of Herbert Marcuse's concept of human nature. Starting from within the framework of traditional psychoanalysis, Marcuse uses some of its basic tenets such as "repression" to reveal a dimension of thought not usually associated with Freudianism. Marcuse's emphasis on repression, for example, reiterates Freud's basic position. That is, repression must be understood in its capacities as both an ontogenetic (individual) and phylogenetic (societal) function. But, unlike Freud, Marcuse views this notion of repression as more than simply a "given" psychoanalytical fact. The character of repression is, rather, historically acquired and, consequently, modifiable through time. Accordingly, an appreciation of psychoanalytical categories suggests an investigation into their political composition.
It is argued that the relationship of psychoanalysis, as an investigation of individual psychology; to politics clearly indicates an inextricable link between the two. The individual or ontogenetic factors contributing to human nature cannot be disassociated from societal or phylogenetic considerations. Moreover, Marcuse's view of this correspondence as a dynamic or dialectical rather than static relationship illustrates his radical point of departure from traditional psychoanalytical thought. That Marcuse arrives at this conclusion using some of the most fundamental assumptions posited by Freud represents his unique contribution to the field of psychoanalysis.
Mason, Richard, "Herbert Marcuse's Concept of Human Nature" (1982). Open Access Dissertations and Theses. Paper 2928.