Eros and Thanatos: A Nondualistic Interpretation: The Dynamic of Drives in Personal and Civilizational Development From Freud to Marcuse

Psychoanal Rev. 2018 Feb;105(1):67-89. doi: 10.1521/prev.2018.105.1.67.


The Freudian theory of drives gave prominence to the idea that there is an inherent principle of entropy, a tendency for dissolution of life, referred to as the Death drive, or Thanatos. Freud recognized a counterbalancing tendency for sustaining life, known as the Life drive, or Eros. The psychoanalytical expounding of the struggle of Eros and Thanatos in the context of the civilizational process sparked the philosophical critique of civilization. Although Freud tended to consider repression an indispensable dimension of this process, the author proposes in this paper that Herbert Marcuse's political critique took Freud's metapsychology further philosophically, suggesting a nondualistic interpretation of Freud's position.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Civilization*
  • Death*
  • Drive*
  • Freudian Theory
  • Human Development*
  • Humans
  • Life*
  • Psychoanalysis
  • Psychoanalytic Theory*