Comparative Essay of William James vs Sigmund Freud | 650 Words

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Comparative Essay of William James vs Sigmund Freud

The essay “Why War?” by Sigmund Freud expresses the idea of why wars 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 the social environment and how honor affects our behavior. It’s natural 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?” It is the idea that individuals with the same interests 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 growing emotional ties between a group of people can determine how they behave, and it influences their behavior, whether positive or negative. The people we surround ourselves with are the people we are like.

This is similar to what William James said in his “The Social Me” essay. 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 shows a different side of himself to each of these groups.” He’s saying that however many different groups of people we surround ourselves with, we as humans act differently to the groups of people we have. We naturally choose to act differently depending on how much the people we around matter to us.

Another topic they share is how honor can affect our behavior. Humans honor many things, and having honor for something 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.” James is saying that people have their own image in life of what is good and bad, and whatever they choose to believe determines how they will behave.

Having honor is a strong influence on human lives, and it’s different for everyone. Sigmund also says something similar to this in “Why War?” when he says, “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 gone 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, which is sort of what honor can do. The essays “Why War?” by Sigmund Freud and “The Social Me” by William James all connect with 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 social 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 emotional connections can also determine that. They also believe that honor gives them a reason to do things and affects their actions depending on what they honor.


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