One thing that has jumped out at me in my recent study of Freud is his interest in the relationship between ontogeny and phylogeny. He really wants to be able to extrapolate from the personal histories of his patients to the origin of the human race — and in fact, he even attempts to go back to the origin of life itself in Beyond the Pleasure Principle. I had always had the impression that Totem and Taboo was a later work, more or less marginal to his project, but it was actually published in 1913, toward the beginning of his period of greatest theoretical productivity. What’s more, he cites it near-obsessively in the later works.
Sometimes it can seem as though he believes that the fate of drives that was formed after the murder of the primal father is more or less “directly” passed down in some kind of quasi-biological way. The more “sensible” hypothesis would be that the structure is passed along through the process of socialization, yet the inheritance can seem just as unavoidable. And then of course there’s the matter of how the project of Moses and Monotheism fits in here — if all human culture is structured in this way, why can it make a difference that the Jews in particular repeated it in their own particular history?
Consider this an open thread. What do you think is going on with the relationship between ontogeny and phylogeny in Freud?