Sigmund Freud, Rene Descartes, and B.F. Skinner all share different beliefs and ideas regarding mankind and manâ€™s place in society. There are many distinctions between the three on the subjects of individuality and religion. The mind and body relationship also varies.
Freud believes that the individual is helpless to his/her animal instincts and primal desires. Man possesses only a small amount of self-control. This self-control is simply self-awareness. Man is aware that he is a living, breathing being who must interact with other people in a conformed society. The organization and rules of a civilization repress manâ€™s primal desires. He is constantly faced with trials and tribulations in which he is expected to respond to in a civilized manner. According to Freud, this repression only leads to bigger problems and ultimately it is the cause of manâ€™s unhappiness. The response to these problems is guilt. Guilt is a civilized way of expression. If man would only follow his instincts, those that have been biologically and genetically implanted within him, the world might be a different and possibly better place. Presently, man is just a wild animal trapped in a cage.
Descartesâ€™ ideas on the individual are quite the opposite of Freudâ€™s. In his Meditations, man is described as â€œa thinking thingâ€¦It is a thing that doubts, understands, affirms, denies, wills, abstains from willing, that also can be aware of images and sensations.â€ (pg. 206) The body is simply a container for the mind. The mind and the soul are the most important parts of the individual because they are everlasting. The body will eventually perish and return to the earth. The mind and the soul will be eternal. Man is born with a place in the world for himself. His physical senses may detect varying factors in the world around him. Regardless of his surroundings, he will always be the same person