The problem of the legacy of the Enlightenment traditionally attracted the attention of many specialists, including the most significant ones which made a great contribution in the development of modern science. One of such specialists is Sigmund Freud who could not ignore the legacy of the Enlightenment in his works, even though it was not the main goal of his researches. In this respect, it is worthy of mention his theory of dream interpretation which seems to be the most closely related to Freud’s views on the legacy of the Enlightenment and, at the same time, represents a profound work on the problem of dream and its perception by human beings.
On analyzing his theory of dream interpretation, it is primarily necessary to point out that Sigmund Freud has developed his theory of dream interpretation at the epoch when such concepts as superego and id have not been clearly defined yet and which, nonetheless, could be found in his work dedicated to the problem of dream research. Moreover, the concepts of superego and id are directly linked to Freud’s views on the Enlightenment.
Nonetheless, in order to properly understand his views on the legacy of the Enlightenment, it is necessary to point out that his theory of dream interpretation has played probably the crucial role here. According to the researcher, human dreams could be interpreted and they are actually the result of the combination of work of individuals’ preconscious and unconscious. Sigmund Freud insists that human dreams are just a sort of fulfillment of human wishes, which are not realized in real life but find their realization in human dreams. In such a way, he views dreams as a way of the realization of individuals’ wishes on the subconscious level when human body is in a state of somber and, what is more, Freud underlines that, normally, these wishes cannot be realized in real life.
At the same time, he argues that these wishes are disguised within a dream and, consequently, it is necessary to clearly structure dreams in order to fully realize the wishes hidden within the dreams. In fact, this is where the link to the legacy of the Enlightenment seems to be particularly strong since Freud attempt to understand how human wishes could be understood through the correct interpretation and analysis of dreams. Moreover, on developing his theory, he focuses on the problem whether it is possible to effectively interpret dreams and, thus, be able to better understand the internal world of an individual his/her inclinations and tendency dominating in his/her psychology or current state of mind.
In order to better understand the extent, to which the dreams could be interpreted and hidden wishes understood, Sigmund Freud, in the result of numerous researches, develops four major transformations which help properly interpret dreams and understand human wishes avoiding censorship of conscience. The first transformation is condensation. According to Freud, this means that one dream object may stand for several thoughts. Practically, it means that, when an individual dream some object, it is possible certain associations with some thoughts that could be related to this object, at least for the concrete individual. In such a way, Freud stands on the ground that it is possible to enlighten human internal world by means of interpreting of his dreams objects but, it is worthy of noting that this transformation limits dreams interpretation and enlightenment to the object world. It means that the enlightenment cannot overcome the boundaries of objects that are equivalent of certain thoughts or wishes of an individual.
Furthermore, another transformation that Freud singles out in his theory is displacement. This transformation implies that a dream object’s physical importance is assigned to an object that does not raise the censor’s suspicions. In other words, being applied to the Enlightenment, this means that the dream objects do not actually disturb human conscience but instead acquire some plausible forms in order to be perceived as natural objects without any strong resistance from the part of an individual. In terms of the legacy of the Enlightenment, it means that, according to Freud, the Enlightenment should be perceived by an individual in a comprehensible form without provoking any suspicions concerning its realism or naturalism.
The third transformation that Freud singles out is representation. Basically, representation is viewed by Freud as a thought that is translated to visual images. It should be said that, to a certain extent, visual images here are similar to dream objects in condensation and, consequently, it has similar limitations in terms of the legacy of the Enlightenment. To put it more precisely, an individual’s perception is limited only by imagery tools and, consequently, this transformation may be viewed as supplementary and enlarging the condensation and dream objects interpretation.
Finally, Freud speaks about symbolism, when a symbol replaces an action, person, or idea. In such a way, the dream interpretation as well as the Enlightenment acquires predicative function when some thoughts and images may be accomplished by interpretation of actions and even ideas.
Nevertheless, it should be said that Sigmund Freud apparently indicates at certain limitations of the Enlightenment as he underlines that there exist censorship which an individual has to permanently overcome if he/she wishes to either interpret his dreams and hidden wishes or enlighten his/her internal world. In this respect, it should be said that human unconscious, Freudian id, rather tend to depict individuals hidden wishes fulfilled while human preconscious, Freudian superego, cannot allow it disguising wishes within human dreams.
Thus, taking into account all above mentioned, it is possible to conclude that Sigmund Freud develops a profound theory of dream interpretation and, at the same time, reflects on the legacy of the enlightenment. Eventually, he arrives to the conclusion that it is possible to interpret hidden wishes of individuals through dream interpretation understanding dream objects, images, symbol, etc. but human preconscious constantly limits the Enlightenment and disguises the real wishes of individuals.
Strachey, J. Introductory Lectures on Psychoanalysis. New York: Random House, 2005.
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