William James vs. Sigmund Freud Essay Example: Comparative Analysis

The essay “Why War?” by Sigmund Freud expresses the idea on why wars actually happen and the logic behind it all. In the essay “The Social Me” by William James, he discussed how we as humans all have different social selves depending on our society, environment and the people with whom we surround ourselves. In both of these essays, they present how we as people adapt to social environment, and how honor affects our behavior. 

It's a natural thing for humans to adapt to their social environment just like we adapt to many other things in life.  What Sigmund Freud is saying in his essay “Why War?” Is the idea that individuals who share the same interest and beliefs usually stick together. He says “The recognition of a community of interest such as these leads to the growth of emotional ties between the members of a united group of people - communal feelings which are the true source of its strength.” 

The effect of emotional ties growing between a group of people can really determine how the people behave and it influences their behavior whether its positive or negative. The people we surround ourselves with are basically the people we are like. This is very similar to what William James was saying in his essay “The Social Me”. He says “ We may practically say that he has as many different social selves as there are distinct groups of persons about whose opinion he cares. He generally shows a different side of himself to each of these different groups.” He’s saying that how ever many different groups of people we surround ourselves with, we as humans act accordingly different to the groups of people we have. We naturally choose to act differently depending on how much the people we are around matter to us. 

Another topic they share is how honor can affect our behavior. Humans honor many things and by having honor for something it determines a part of who they are and how they act upon their actions. William James says “A man’s fame, good or bad, and his honor or dishonor are names for one of his social selves. The particular social self of a man called his honor is usually the result of one of those splittings of which we have spoken.” What James is saying is that people have their own image in life on what is good and bad and whatever they choose to believe really determines how they will behave. Having honor is a strong influence in human lives and its different for everyone. Sigmund also says something similar to this in “Why War?” when he said “ So that when human beings are incited to war they may have a whole number of motives for assenting - some noble and some base, some which are openly declared and others which are never mentioned.” By saying this it explains how people might have went to war because they had plenty of reasons they wanted to go whether it was good or bad. Their opinions and beliefs helped them decide if they wanted to go to war and that's sort of what honor can do as well. 

The essays “Why War?” by Sigmund Freud and “The Social Me” by William James all share a connection with the topics on how humans adapt to their social environment and how honor affects our behavior. Even though the essay “Why War?” is about war and why wars happen and the essay “The Social Me” talks about how humans are socially with themselves and around others, they have connections to very similar topics. They concluded that the social environment people put themselves in affects them and their behavior and having emotional connections can determine that too. They also believe that honor gives them reason to do things and affects their actions depending on what they honor.



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