Freud and the Good Life

Freud and the Good Life (UNXD-400)

This brief course will consider alternative pathways beyond inauthenticity to a life marked by freely chosen purpose and authentic selfhood.     

Course Details


Why Take This Course?

Sigmund Freud’s “Civilization and Its Discontents” painted a darkly pessimistic vision of current and future prospects for human happiness.  He explained that as civilization grows it will gain an increasingly repressive upper hand with the result that coming generations can look forward to diminished freedom for self, family, pleasure, and love.  To make matters worse, the expectations and demands of civilization will unavoidably be internalized through socialization, making it virtually impossible for individuals to know what life could be like if they were truly free and able to choose authentic lives. 

The first portion of the course will study and respond to Freud’s Introductory Lectures on Psychoanalysis  and Civilization and Its Discontents and to Herbert Marcuse’s interpretation of Freud.  The second portion of the course will confront the Freudian idea of the healthy person with various interpretations of secular and religious ideals.  The course is intended as an introduction to this discussion that is taking place at the interface of religious thought and the human sciences.  It presupposes nothing of the student.

Professor Terrence Reynolds was born in New York City and received degrees from Queens College (B.A.), Concordia Theological Seminary (M.Div.), Princeton Theological Seminary (Th.M.), and Ph.D. from Brown University. Before coming to Georgetown in 1991, he taught at Brown, Connecticut College, and the United States Coast Guard Academy.

His research interests focused initially on the thought of Dietrich Bonhoeffer, but are now concentrated on the meaning, truth, and justification of moral claims, as well as the ways in which faith-based convictions can play a role in the public square.

In addition to serving as Chair of the Main Campus Executive Faculty (2001-2005 and 2009- present), Reynolds has been the Chair of the Department of Theology since 2006, the Chair of the Core Faculty of the Liberal Studies Program (2002-present), and the Director of Doctoral Studies in the Liberal Studies Program. He was also the grateful recipient of the Distinguished Faculty Award for Teaching Excellence in the Liberal Studies Program, the College Dean’s Award for Excellence in Teaching, The Fund for American Studies Professor of the Year Award, and the national Association of Graduate Liberal Studies Programs Annual Faculty Award. Dr. Reynolds’s teaching interests lie in the areas of ethical theory and moral issues, the intersections between psychology and religious faith, Enlightenment philosophy and theology, and the thought of Søren Kierkegaard.