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date: 29 February 2020

Abstract and Keywords

Freud’s account of morality is distinctive, and right, in focusing on unconscious, emotionalized conflict, and specifically on the repression of love as the centre of moral life. However, Freud misunderstands love in drive terms and confuses conscience with the superego. Conscience is actually an immediate moral understanding, an interpersonal openness that the moral normativity of collectivity (values, ideals, etc.) represses. Thus, conscience is the repressed unconscious of the superego, and ‘morality’ not one thing, but a living contradiction. This chapter details how bad conscience differs from superego guilt, how destructive emotions (e.g. jealousy) are in themselves moralized repressions of love, and how Freud’s officially amoral, drive-based accounts of the Oedipus complex and the installation of the superego break down, but can be understood if reconceptualized in the terms proposed here. The chapter elucidates the concrete sense in which openness and love can be conceived as the very heart of moral understanding.

Keywords: morality, love, openness, repression, conscience, superego, guilt, emotions, Oedipus complex, collectivity

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