Psychoanalysis and realism

Rae, Andrew Kenneth McKenzie (2003) Psychoanalysis and realism. Masters thesis, Rhodes University.




International politics has always been characterised by conflict. This has been true regardless of the political systems in place or of any specific time in the history of humanity. Inter-state conflict exists today despite the fact that the vast majority of the states of the world are members of the United Nations and signatories to various treaties aimed at removing conflict as a means of state action. The realist school of thought argues that the international system is characterised by continual state conflict, caused by competition over scarce resources. The propensity towards conflict is argued to be an essential characteristic of human nature and, as such, human nature is considered to be aggressive and conflictual. Thus, for the realist, inter-state competition, coupled with aggressive human nature, constitutes the primary cause of interstate conflict. This thesis aims to examine two criticisms of the realist position in depth. The first concerns the attribution of human nature to states. This logical progression is problematic because it creates a type of „state-nature‟ that cannot be defended without providing a logical link between the individual, the group and the state. It is therefore an aim of this thesis to provide this link, using methodological individualism, in order to provide a basis for the attribution of human nature to states. The second aim of this thesis is to examine the notion of human nature that is offered by the realists. It is not enough to claim that human nature is aggressive and conflictual merely because conflict has characterised international relations throughout history. Rather, one should examine the individual‟s psychological development, in order to gain an understanding of aggressive instincts apparent in human nature. The thesis therefore examines psychoanalysis in order to attempt an understanding both of human nature, and of the conditions under which human nature may manifest itself in an aggressive, conflictual manner. The intention of this thesis, then, is to provide a defence of political realism, highlighting the shortcomings of the two criticisms outlined above.

Item Type:Thesis (Masters)
Uncontrolled Keywords:Psychoanalysis, Realism, International relations
Subjects:J Political Science > JA Political science (General)
Divisions:Faculty > Faculty of Humanities > Political Studies and International Studies
ID Code:2371
Deposited By: Mrs Carol Perold
Deposited On:16 Jan 2012 07:28
Last Modified:16 Jan 2012 07:28
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