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Eros and civilization, herbert marcuse paper


Take-Home Paper Assignment 1

Your papers must be 7-8 pages long Word Documents (1750-2000 words), 12” font Times Roman, typed, double spaced, with 1”margings all around, and properly footnoted (e.g. Marcuse, Herbert. Eros and Civilization (Boston: Beacon Press, 1955, p. 197). You must turn in both a hard copy in the beginning of class on the due date, February 20 and an electronic copy through Turnitin on the same day, February 20 by midnight.  Please make sure your name goes only onto the last page of your paper.  Late papers will suffer the penalty of a reduced grade (whether they are handed in late or electronically late). All papers will be checked for possible plagiarism through Turnitin, and any found to be in violation will be dealt according to the administrative guidelines outlined in the Students’ Rights and Responsibilities Handbook. For sources, you are only allowed to use the primary texts from the class, and any academically reputable sources (run them by me first), including the two recommended secondary sources: https://plato.stanford.edu/ (Links to an external site.)

http://www.iep.utm.edu/ (Links to an external site.)

Using any other sources or failing fully to cite the sources used will constitute plagiarism and a grade of zero for your paper. 

  1. One of Marcuse’s criticism of Freud is that Freud considered the Reality Principle to necessarily manifest itself in the form of the Performance Principle, and since the Performance Principle necessitates domination, alienation, and instrumental rationality, repression of both Eros and Thanatos becomes a necessity. Explain why Marcuse thinks that Freud is mistaken about the relationship between the Reality Principle and the Performance Principle and how, by severing the necessary relationship between the two, a non-repressive development of Eros and Thanatos becomes possible (the emphasis here should be mainly on the possibility of transforming the performance principle).   
  2. One of Freud’s core contentions is that civilization is only possible through work, and that work is only possible through thorough repression of our libidinal instincts. Marcuse, on the other hand, believes in the possibility of non-repressive development of our libidinal instincts compatible with our modern civilization. Explain Marcuse’s argument for this latter possibility and assess the strength of Marcuse’s argument (the emphasis here should be mainly on the possibility of liberating the Eros from an exclusive genital interpretation as is done in ch.10).

3. Marcuse contends that some of our most elevated achievements, such as art, music, and literature—as well as our leisure time—are easily coopted and integrated by our repressive society under the performance principle.  In spite of this, he claims that not everything in us can be so coopted and/or integrated and that we do have a source of revolutionary resistance in us.  Explain what the content of this revolutionary resistance is and how it can allegedly escape the material comforts of modern society.  Is Marcuse’s argument plausible?

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