Animatism. Before and After Everything

Civilisation and its Discontents?
By Francisco Verardi Bocca

This article deals with the concept of “animatism”, which Freud used in Totem and Taboo (1913), lent to the ethnologist Robert Marett, for whom it consisted of a pre-animist phase of humanity. By using it, Freud broadened his scope in this work of investigating the origin of religion and morality, extending it to the origin and destiny of the civilization itself. He concluded that its emergence would have been marked by an abandonment of the state of nature, motivated by a geological-climatic event, which was followed by a civilizing process with peculiar characteristics. Among them, that of giving rise to a history sustained by a tendency to return to the abandoned state, to which men have remained fixed ever since. As I intend to demonstrate, a history marked by a type of entropic destiny of humanity. Constructed as an unfolding of the philosophies of Charles de Brosses and Auguste Comte, it is a point of view that Freud supported through a phylogenetic and ontogenetic genealogical research about the conditions of possibility of humanity, using certain strata of Anthropology and Psychology. The result of this article, through bibliographical research in primary and secondary sources, was the naming and clarification of what would be the declinist psychoanalytic philosophy of Freud’s history.

  • Freud
  • psychoanalysis
  • animatism
  • civilization and entropy
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