Dissertation > Philosophy, religion > Aesthetics

Research on the "Taboo" Theory of Freud

Author LiWenYing
Tutor ZhangLiQun
School Guangxi Normal University
Course Literature and Art
Keywords taboo aesthetic anthropology psychological mechanisms taboo’s ceremony aesthetic mechanism
Type Master's thesis
Year 2012
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"Taboo" is one of the important categories of Freud’s psychoanalysis and anthropological theory. As the unspoken rule of folk culture, taboo always permeates into the folk customs and people’s ideology. It is the basic guarantee of human normal reproduction, the objectification of the human nature forces, and the self-corroboration of the human strength, its ultimate meaning points to the existence of human being and life awareness. Through sorting out and studying the taboo theory, this dissertation is to comprehend the psychological basis and the generant ground of taboo, and explore the original taboo ceremony (Tabu ceremony) as well as the relationship of taboo and artistic origin from the perspective of aesthetic anthropology, and also explore aesthetic anthropological sense of taboo.In Freud’s Totem and Taboo, he gives the "taboo" such a definition:"taboo" has two different meanings. On the one hand, it is noble and divine, manifested on people’s worship and respect for totem; on the other hand, it is mysterious, dangerous and dirty. Taboo has many features, such as, the symbolism, the regulation, the infectivity, etc. These features reflect that taboo not only constraints people, but also ensure the survival of human. The symbolism of taboo makes it mysterious; the regulation of taboo makes it has a general binding effect; the infectivity of taboo makes its power can be magnified."Taboo" theory of Freud reveals the amalgamation, offset and substitution of two kinds of instincts---the life instinct and death instinct. Taboo’s occurrence is relative to the unknowable meaning of the world and uncertainty of the world. Taboo is the psychological and behavioral norm that the "uncivilized" ancestors reverenced to the nature; it has the origin of totem worship. In other words, taboo originates from the incest fear which comes from totemism and primitive totem worship. In addition, Freud held that taboo had a great similarity with obsessive-compulsive neurosis, they both hide non-resisting mandatory awareness inside.The original taboo is show through the ceremony called "tabu ceremony". The word "tabu" in Freud’s Totem and Taboo refers to the taboo in ancient times; it is the objectification of fear to God power. Tabu ceremony is the bearing mode of taboo behavior; its manifestation embodies the threshold and blend of the symbolic power. Through the code, the ritual process performances conversion process from the individual to the social groups, aiming to achieve a group identity effect. Taboo ceremony has a primitive relationship with original art. The prayer, totem dance and decoration in taboo ceremony implicit the primitive factors of art, whcih is the embryo of the original art. Through the rite, taboo achieves the effect of defamiliarization and objection, so it is the intermediary which transfer taboo into art. The ritualized art maintains artistic authenticity, and keep the first original practical value of art. Ritualizion expresses the worship to beauty and art with the most ordinary form. In Freud’s psychoanalytic theory, taboo reflects on depression of "id" and the pursuit "superego". As the psychological mechanisms of aesthetic sense, taboo embodies the repression and sublimation of subconsciousness, and it means the repression of subconciousness, the repression often achieves balance through the displacement role and ways of "sublimation". Taboo achieves the characterization of the aesthetic needs and desires of consciousness, so it is the expression mechanism of desire. Taboo has its collective unconscious psychological basis; it is not the individual but the collective statute. In addition, the taboo theory has its dynamic significance to the literary and artistic creation. The psychoanalytic theory and psychological trauma theory which implied in it, has a major role in promoting the literary and artistic creation. Literary and artistic creation exceeds the regulation of reality, and makes mankind free from the repression of the "taboo" to some extent, vents out the desire which can not be satisfied by the legal and rational means, thus obtains the psychological satisfaction.Taboo has its value and significance of aesthetic anthropology. Primitive culture system includes not only the early human’s rational thinking and emotional feelings, but also implicit in a set of rules and taboos. As a cultural driving force,"rules and taboos "is the core of the aesthetic anthropological system. The taboo theory provides a set of rules of the language for aesthetic anthropology to interpret the world, and also provides an important practical basis for the development of anthropology; aesthetic anthropology has legalized and standardized the interpretation of the "taboo" theory. The aesthetic anthropology tends to standardize and the aestheticization of passed daily life. Primitive men grasped and understood the world by primitive and wild thinking. The aesthetic mechanism is the aesthetic ideological manifestation of taboo. Aesthetic mechanism is the aesthetic ideology manifestations of taboo; Taboo is the basis and expression of the aesthetic mechanism. Aesthetic self-regulation is subject to the constraints of aesthetic heteronomy. Aesthetic subject tries to find an interdependent relationship from the aesthetic object.Therefore, a set of aesthetic mechanism should be invented to explain and construct the world by relatively stable and universal principles.

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