Freud provides another example of keen psychological observations mixed with needlessly anti-religious philosophy. He challenges the religious idea, found in the Hebrew Bible and the New Testament, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” While Freud approved of altruism in certain circumstances, he saw the generalized call to “love your neighbor as yourself” as foolish and dangerous. However, if we transplant his critique into the garden of a spiritually-centered philosophy, we find a group of useful cautions.
· You need to receive love if you want to give love.
· Maintain self-respect.
· Do not be driven to become emotionally involved in the life of every person you meet.
· Do not neglect your duties as a family member, friend, co-worker, neighbor, and citizen.
· With strangers, let trust grow gradually.
· Remember that what you can reasonably expect of yourself is less than your ideal of perfection.
· Develop a psychologically sound technique for acknowledging and rechanneling your own aggression.
When Freud’s critique is reformulated in this way, these cautions can help our love to be intelligent and wise. Philosophy thus shows how scientific living complements spiritual living.
The duty to love the neighbor is found in Leviticus 19:18 and Mark 12:31. The ideas of Freud that I re-interpret come from Ernest Wallwork, “Thou Shalt Love Thy Neighbor As Thyself: the Freudian Critique,” The Journal of Religious Ethics, vol. 10, no. 2, Fall 1982, pp. 264-319.