Chip Taylor Communications

Subject: History

Europe and America in the Modern Age Series

Stanford University Professors James Sheehan and David Kennedy present in-depth lectures on the concept of liberalism as a theoretical framework for examining the interrelationships between the histories of Europe and America. Produced by the Stanford University Channel. Programs available on 20 individual Click for more

13. The Crisis of Liberal Social Thought

13. The Crisis of Liberal Social Thought

During the late 19th century, the honeymoon with liberalism ended in Europe. Many of the predicted benefits of liberal political thought never materialized, and competing ideological movements gained support from an increasingly disaffected populace. In this program Professor James Sheehan discusses the social and historical factors that caused liberal ideology to come under scrutiny. He focuses on the theories developed by modernist Sigmund Freud and the historical context in which those theories were formulated. During his adolescence, Freud saw liberalism challenged by radical Nationalists, Marxist Social Democrats, and anti-Semitic Christian Democrats. It was in a context of social and intellectual discomfort that Freud developed his theories of human behavior, theories that directly challenged liberal concepts of childhood, reason, and happiness. As Sheehan points out, Freud believed that childhood was "indelibly connected with the world of the adult," that human powers of reason were essentially feeble, and that individuals were doomed to lives of unhappiness, constrained by society. American practitioners, unlike their European counterparts, embraced Freud's ideas as useful in understanding and treating mental illness, but only after modifying Freudianism so that it could be seen as consistent with the modern liberal agenda of providing "the ultimate fusion between self and society." 99/10DE SCA 55 min.

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