The Obsession Neurosis

According to Paul Ricoeur’s point of view in the idea of theology and religion, there seems to be no exact definition on the context of universality.  The irony follows in the context of the variation of the extent of Naming God and believing in God.  It is evident that the world of today is liberal and is open in the idea of religion and in beliefs, hence, it connotes that for some, the existence of God is still not established—although several followers tend to call for his name.  The valuable conviction of Paul Ricoeur, one which is far admirably different from theology experts, offers a whole new dimension of deliberation and discussion on how individuals name God—philosopher to philosopher, and idea and perception for such delight.

God, leader, saviour—all of which are used in “calling” God and uttering such name for whatsoever it may serve a person.  However, the shallow connotation stressed by the author is blatantly seen in the arena of “conviction.” Ricoeur’s belief is mostly philosophical and thoroughly surfaces in the justification of External Reality.  Religion plays an important role in every man’s life. Its impact is manifested on every person daily affairs and his or her behavior. Hundreds of literatures that explicitly tackle religion have already been written. While the list may be inexhaustible, the Metamorphoses, Aeneid, Inferno and Odyssey serve as some of the popular literary works where a religious strand can be looked into.

The fact that the Metamorphoses by Ovid composed of mythological stories printed in the form of poetry gives one the first impression that divine beings are already incorporated into the book and that, consequently, the “myth” in these literary piece may have something to do with religion. True enough, the various sections found within the book have a common subject— the power of a divine entity and how such power determines the fate of men. Most of the transformations that happen in the stories are of people being “punished” for “the sins” they have committed (Ovid, p. 171).

This punishment of sins can be taken to mean as one way of reflecting justice in the sense that the action of man is essentially incorporated with a corresponding responsibility and that God—or religion—has a corresponding role in the provision of these sanctions.  Moreover, the author does not only fall in the line of rhetoric canonization against his own conviction, rather on the spiritual and doxological context of the question. What are you, then, my God? . . . most high, excellent, most powerful, omnipotent, supremely merciful and supremely just, most hidden yet intimately present, infinitely beautiful and infinitely strong.[1]

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In this certain line, however, there seems to be another standpoint in the idea of Naming God.   In essence, such strengthens the point raised on the earlier part and undeniably gives further analysis and interpretation that there exists a difference in Naming God; although there has been no evidence of the “power” which individuals apparently call as God. The author often used a Freudian philosophy in substantiating his arguments.  He stresses that Freud believes that religion has played a great part in the making of society, of humankind. In his writings before, he regards religion as an illusion, which is clearly equivalent to atheism. He then realizes that the idea of God and the religious teachings are some of human being’s strangest thoughts.

Freud’s argument about religion is that, it is and output of what he called the Oedipus complex, or the sexual desire of the son to the mother (Ricoeur, 1995). In his argument, he states that the child competes against the father, who also has strong libidinal desires towards the mother. Because of this interference by the father, the child is prohibited to express his sexual interests in towards his mother. The father figure represents divergence and hindrance for the child.

If we look at it in another angle, this hindrance creates a limit for the mothers’ happiness, thus creating the reality principle. This leads to reason thus, this reason is the one responsible for regulating desire. This became the basis of the father figure connection, in which the Western religions glorify the submission to the father, thus creating the image of a Father-God (Ricoeur, 1995). This has been a basis of civilization, wherein they are accepting the principle of reality and the acceptance of restraints and prohibitions by an “authority.” This is the main principle in how they were able to connect human desires with the law.

Further, according to Freud, as stresses in the book, neurosis is an individual religion, and religion is a universal obsession neurosis. Freud implies that religion is the suppression, the renunciation of certain instinctual impulses, which are not limited components of the sexual desire or instinct; they seek for themselves and are really socially harmful instincts, regardless of the sexual component.  The subject of illusion is another critical part of Freud’s say of that of religion. But we must always consider that illusion is different from delusion. Illusion is much more of the religious beliefs type. Included in illusions is the concept of religion.

Accordingly, it doesn’t mean that it is not true, or has no validity, where in fact these things maybe true. But, what Freud questions is the source of these beliefs. The undisciplined and uncritical human wishes. By focusing on the relationship between the individuals and God in the Metamorphoses, one can immediately draw the idea that religion is the binding force between the two, bridging the invisible—and perhaps inconceivable—distance that separates the mortal from the immortal.  Consequently, the manner of Naming God depends alone on the beliefs equipped in the individual’s character and personality, per se.

Reference:

Ovid. (2004)  “The Creation.”  Trans. David Raeburn. Metamorphoses. New York, N. Y.: Penguin Classics.

“Perseus (I).”  Trans. David Raeburn. Metamorphoses. New York, N. Y.: Penguin Classics, 2004. 171.

“Scylla and Minos.”  Trans. David Raeburn. Metamorphoses. New York, N. Y.: Penguin Classics, 2004. 293.

Ricoeur, P. (1995). Figuring the Sacred: Religion, Narrative, and Imagination (D. Pellauer, Trans.). Minneapolis: Augsburg Fortress Publishers.

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