Freud’s cultural writings - concerning modernity, secularism, science, and religion - are often seen as unscientific speculations. But the questions explored in those works deserve serious attention. Just as fascism provided the historical context in which the critical theorists of the Frankfurt School developed a psychoanalytic social theory in the 1930s and 1940s, so the rise of fundamentalism demands a similar effort today. The "project of autonomy" conceptualized by Cornelius Castoriadis can be used to see psychoanalysis as part of the emancipatory movement of modernity, and to elucidate fundamentalism as an attempt to reinstate the values of premodern societies. Given Freud’s view of religion, it is time to formulate, using the work of Hans Loewald, a more sensitive psychoanalytic view of religion. Yet the legitimate desire to do justice to religion must not trump the need to advance the project of autonomy as a first priority.
Keywords: Religion, fundamentalism, project of autonomy, Cornelius Castoriadis, Hans Loewald