erich fromm

erich fromm.png

adding page after jeff mentioned fromm.. and i’d heard of him but not studied him.. then @feldercarb asked if i’d read him when i shared gabor’s clip from crazywise.. on how our commercialized society alienates us from our normal crazy..


to have or to be (reading it now)

1 min – if based on what i have.. person always anxious.. that might lose it.. and then .. am nothing.. based on to be.. is entirely diff

2 min – i see.. i love.. all these human experience which can be expressed in verbs.. human activities.. that cannot be lost/destroyed.. therefore if human based on what he is.. inner faculties.. not on what he does.. does not have anxiety to lose himself.. free from that danger..

4 min – whole concept of having/being comes from marx: the less you are and the less you express your life the more you have .. and the greater is your alienated life.. everything the economist takes away from you life and humanity.. he restores to you in the form of money and wealth

that’s the clearest expression of diff between having and being

marx is concerned with the question of labor (life) and capital (massed wealth) – question for marx is..

what is superior.. things or life..

7 min – saint or insane.. at extremes of being and having.. but both in all.. coming to know what proportion

8 min – we live in a society in which everything is based.. in the first place.. on private property.. private property is in a way.. sacred.. and the threat against private property arouses feelings.. which go far beyond the existing danger that somebody may be deprived of what he has.. it’s really an attack against his religion

ownership ness

9 min – even those who have no private property.. to speak of.. private property is sacred

10 min – you’ll find it’s very difficult for those people who are essentially living in the having structure.. of sitting still..

and doing/thinking nothing.. not talking.. they get very anxious after 5 min or earlier.. because.. this actually constitutes one very pure form of the being.. to be.. and not to think about anything.. and to be quiet.. and in a peculiar way.. happy.. in the act of being.. this is me.. here i am.. i sit..

pascal quiet law ness.. still

11 min – there’s no purpose to it.. by having.. having is always a purpose.. getting something.. me.. in it’s last things.. has no purpose.. it is just me..  in a way..

being is life.. as against .. acting purposefully to make a living

which is what most people think about.. because they have nothing else to think about

12 min – on knowledge as having: the type of professor who knows everything and tells us nothing.. and person who knows very little.. but will tell story with so much aliveness and with so much of his being in it.. that the story becomes very interesting and the person becomes interesting.. all it is:

there is an expression of being and not an exposition of having knowledge..

13 min – rare professors who don’t express knowledge as a think i give to another but who exude aliveness.. the knowledge is almost secondary

on change having to be of the mind/psych.. is change possible: i believe.. as long as man is man.. and one has not yet interfered with his brain.. and has not given him drugs which deprive him of his power of reasoning.. as long as that is so.. *there is the hope.. that man will do what he has done so far throughout his history.. namely prevent his self-destruction.. as a species

*let’s go deeper – ie: rat park.. a nother way – short\bit

14 min – but today.. we are in a situation that by continuing with a powerful technique and a powerless reasoning.. we might bring it to a catastrophe which just wipes out the human species

15 min – skeptical of list of .. new man.. not that i’ve said anything beyond what other people .. but i think in situation.. provided one is concerned with the future of man.. everybody has to be witness to the truth.. and there i can’t believe that the percentage of hope counts.. in betting.. one cannot bet on horse with only 5% chance.. in saving the life of a person..a whole apparatus is put into action to save a single life.. when it goes in the direction of life and death.. one cannot count percentages

16 min – as long as there is life.. there’s only one thing to do.. to shout and to try and make people more aware of where .. leading to destruction

19 min – each person has his own aura.. his true self.. he can try and put something else instead.. which is fraudulent.. but in the long run.. i think people have the capacity to distinguish between.. that which comes from the real person and that fraudulent thing which has built up..

talking – eudaimonia and eudaimoniative surplus.. and i think/hope.. how public consensus (from bit on a council) always oppresses someone.. ie: always oppresses authenticity..

20 min – we also make judgments about another person.. but we don’t permit ourselves to be aware of them.. because it’s not decent/conventional.. on impressions.. when he first talked to me.. talked in words he thought would please me.. and i thought.. well nice man.. but then i saw him one day.. before he saw that i was coming.. and like that.. i knew.. what this man was..

i don’t know.. you knew what this man was acting like.. prisoner of the alienation ness.. but i know you ness.. begs to bring us out of that mindset.. so we can all go to freedom..

21 min – i think we all have this experience.. but we don’t dare to be aware of what we know

one word on repression.. freud’s concept of repression was that we would repress our irrational strivings.. as he thought.. being of a sexual nature.. but i think.. especially today.. one can see the sexual strivings are not so particularly repressed.. but

what we do repress is.. the knowledge of the truth.. we know much more than we admit.. because if we admit to this knowledge.. we are in a very uncomfortable situation..

because then we see that most of what we hear is mere swindle/distorted/distortion/illusion and that a word of truth is rare.. and so we prefer to repress what we know.. what the truth/reality is.. and i think that is.. today.. a much more important damaging kind of repression than the one freud was speaking about..


wikipedia small

Erich Seligmann Fromm (German:[fʀɔm]; March 23, 1900 – March 18, 1980) was a German social psychologist, psychoanalyst, sociologist, humanistic philosopher, and democratic socialist. He was associated with the Frankfurt School of critical theory.

Erich Fromm was born on March 23, 1900, at Frankfurt am Main, the only child of Orthodox Jewish parents. He started his academic studies in 1918 at the University of Frankfurt am Main with two semesters of jurisprudence. During the summer semester of 1919, Fromm studied at the University of Heidelberg, where he began studying sociology under Alfred Weber (brother of the better known sociologist Max Weber), psychiatrist-philosopher Karl Jaspers, and Heinrich Rickert. Fromm received his PhD in sociology from Heidelberg in 1922. During the mid-1920s, he trained to become a psychoanalyst through Frieda Reichmann‘s psychoanalytic sanatorium in Heidelberg. He began his own clinical practice in 1927. In 1930 he joined the Frankfurt Institute for Social Research and completed his psychoanalytical training.


Beginning with his first seminal work of 1941, *Escape from Freedom (known in Britain as Fear of Freedom),

*Fromm distinguishes between ‘freedom from’ (negative freedom) and ‘freedom to’ (positive freedom). The former refers to emancipation from restrictions such as social conventions placed on individuals by other people or institutions. …….a common substitute for exercising “freedom to” or authenticity is to submit to an authoritarian system that replaces the old order with another of different external appearance but identical function for the individual: to eliminate uncertainty by prescribing what to think and how to act.

Fromm’s writings were notable as much for their social and political commentary as for their philosophical and psychological underpinnings. Indeed, Escape from Freedom is viewed as one of the founding works of political psychology. His second important work, Man for Himself: An Inquiry into the Psychology of Ethics, first published in 1947, continued and enriched the ideas of Escape from Freedom. Taken together, these books outlined Fromm’s theory of human character, which was a natural outgrowth of Fromm’s theory of human nature. Fromm’s most popular book was The Art of Loving, an international bestseller first published in 1956, which recapitulated and complemented the theoretical principles of human nature found in Escape from Freedom and Man for Himself—principles which were revisited in many of Fromm’s other major works.

human nature 


According to Fromm, the awareness of a disunited human existence is a source of guilt and shame, and the solution to this existential dichotomy is found in the development of one’s uniquely human powers of love and reason.

Fromm believed that freedom was an aspect of human nature that we either embrace or escape. He observed that embracing our freedom of will was healthy, whereas escaping freedom through the use of escape mechanisms was the root of psychological conflicts.

Fromm outlined three of the most common escape mechanisms: automaton conformity, authoritarianism, and destructiveness. 1\ Automaton conformity is changing one’s ideal self to conform to a perception of society’s preferred type of personality, losing one’s true self in the process. Automaton conformity displaces the burden of choice from self to society. 2\ Authoritarianism is giving control of oneself to another. By submitting one’s freedom to someone else, this act removes the freedom of choice almost entirely. Lastly, 3\ destructiveness is any process which attempts to eliminate others or the world as a whole, all to escape freedom. Fromm said that “the destruction of the world is the last, almost desperate attempt to save myself from being crushed by it”.

The word *biophilia was frequently used by Fromm as a description of a productive psychological orientation and “state of being“.

*The biophilia hypothesis suggests that humans possess an innate tendency to seek connections with nature and other forms of life.


The term “biophilia” means “love of life or living systems.” It was first used by Erich Fromm to describe a psychological orientation of being attracted to all that is alive and vital. This is the kind of freedom typified by the existentialism of Sartre, and has often been fought for historically, but according to Fromm, on its own it can be a destructive force unless accompanied by a creative element, ‘freedom to’ the use of freedom to employ spontaneously the total integrated personality in creative acts. This, he argues, necessarily implies a true connectedness with others that goes beyond the superficial bonds of conventional social intercourse: “…in the spontaneous realization of the self, man unites himself anew with the world…”

For example, in an addendum to his book The Heart of Man: Its Genius For Good and Evil, Fromm wrote as part of his humanist credo:

“I believe that the man choosing progress can find a new unity through the development of all his human forces, which are produced in three orientations. These can be presented separately or together: biophilia, love for humanity and nature, and independence and freedom.”

Erich Fromm postulated eight basic needs:

Relationships with others, care, respect, knowledge.
Being thrown into the world without their consent, humans have to transcend their nature by destroying or creating people or things.
Rootedness is the need to establish roots and to feel at home again in the world.
Sense of Identity 
The drive for a sense of identity is expressed nonproductively as conformity to a group and productively as individuality.
Frame of orientation 
Understanding the world and our place in it.
Excitation and Stimulation 
Actively striving for a goal rather than simply responding.
A sense of oneness between one person and the “natural and human world outside.”
The need to feel accomplished.

Fromm’s thesis of the “escape from freedom” is epitomized in the following passage. The “individualized man” referenced by Fromm is man bereft of the “primary ties” of belonging (i.e. nature, family, etc.), also expressed as “freedom from”:

“There is only one possible, productive solution for the relationship of individualized man with the world: his active solidarity with all men and his spontaneous activity, love and work, which unite him again with the world, not by primary ties but as a free and independent individual….

However, if the economic, social and political conditions… do not offer a basis for the realization of individuality in the sense just mentioned, while at the same time people have lost those ties which gave them security, this lag makes freedom an unbearable burden. It then becomes identical with doubt, with a kind of life which lacks meaning and direction. Powerful tendencies arise to escape from this kind of freedom into submission or some kind of relationship to man and the world which promises relief from uncertainty, even if it deprives the individual of his freedom.” (Erich Fromm, Escape from Freedom [N.Y.: Rinehart, 1941], pp. 36–7. The point is repeated on pp. 31, 256–7.)

Five basic orientations

In his book Man for Himself Fromm spoke of “orientation of character“. He differentiates his theory of character from that of Freud by focusing on two ways an individual relates to the world. Freud analyzed character in terms of libido organization, whereas Fromm says that in the process of living, we relate to the world by: 1) acquiring and assimilating things—”Assimilation”, and 2) reacting to people—”Socialization”. Fromm asserted that these two ways of relating to the world were not instinctive, but an individual’s response to the peculiar circumstances of his or her life; he also believed that people are never exclusively one type of orientation. These two ways of relating to life’s circumstances lead to basic character-orientations.

Fromm lists four types of nonproductive character orientation, which he called receptive, exploitative, hoarding, and marketing, and one positive character orientation, which he called productive. Receptive and exploitative orientations are basically how an individual may relate to other people and are socialization attributes of character. A hoarding orientation is an acquiring and assimilating materials/valuables character trait. The marketing orientation arises in response to the human situation in the modern era. The current needs of the market determine value. It is a relativistic ethic. In contrast, the productive orientation is an objective ethic. Despite the existential struggles of humanity, each human has the potential for love, reason and productive work in life. Fromm writes, “It is the paradox of human existence that man must simultaneously seek for closeness and for independence; for oneness with others and at the same time for the preservation of his uniqueness and particularity. …the answer to this paradox – and to the moral problems of man – is *productiveness.”


thinking: In old age the emphasis shifts from doing to being, and our civilization, which is lost in doing, know nothing of being. It asks: being? What do you do with it?   – Eckhart Tolle on being

Critique of Freud

Fromm examined the life and work of Sigmund Freud at length. He identified a discrepancy between early and later Freudian theory: namely, that prior to World War I, Freud described human drives as a tension between desire and repression, but after the war’s conclusion, he framed human drives as a struggle between biologically universal Life and Death (Eros and Thanatos) instincts. Fromm charged Freud and his followers with never acknowledging the contradictions between the two theories.

He also criticized Freud’s dualistic thinking. According to Fromm, Freudian descriptions of human consciousness as struggles between two poles was narrow and limiting. Fromm also condemned him as a misogynist unable to think outside the patriarchal milieu of early 20th century Vienna. However, Fromm expressed a great respect for Freud and his accomplishments, in spite of these criticisms. Fromm contended that Freud was one of the “architects of the modern age”, alongside Albert Einstein and Karl Marx, but emphasized that he considered Marx both far more historically important than Freud and a finer thinker.

Political ideas and activities

Fromm’s best known work, Escape from Freedom, focuses on the human urge to seek a source of authority and control upon reaching a freedom that was thought to be an individual’s true desire. Fromm’s critique of the modern political order and capitalist system led him to seek insights from medieval feudalism. In Escape from Freedom, he found value in the lack of individual freedom, rigid structure, and obligations required on the members of medieval society:

What characterizes medieval in contrast to modern society is its lack of individual freedom…But altogether a person was not free in the modern sense, neither was he alone and isolated. In having a distinct, unchangeable, and unquestionable place in the social world from the moment of birth, man was rooted in a structuralized whole, and thus life had a meaning which left no place, and no need for doubt…There was comparatively little competition. One was born into a certain economic position which guaranteed a livelihood determined by tradition, just as it carried economic obligations to those higher in the social hierarchy

The culmination of Fromm’s social and political philosophy was his book The Sane Society, published in 1955, which argued in favor of a humanistic and democratic socialism. Building primarily upon the early works of Karl Marx, Fromm sought to re-emphasise the ideal of freedom, missing from most Soviet Marxism and more frequently found in the writings of libertarian socialists and liberal theoreticians. Fromm’s brand of socialism rejected both Western capitalismand Soviet communism, which he saw as dehumanizing, and which resulted in the virtually universal modern phenomenon of alienation. He became one of the founders of socialist humanism, promoting the early writings of Marx and his humanist messages to the US and Western European public.

In the early 1960s, Fromm published two books dealing with Marxist thought (Marx’s Concept of Man and Beyond the Chains of Illusion: My Encounter with Marx and Freud). In 1965, working to stimulate the Western and Eastern cooperation between Marxist humanists, Fromm published a series of articles entitled Socialist Humanism: An International Symposium. In 1966, the American Humanist Association named him Humanist of the Year.

For a period, Fromm was also active in U.S. politics. He joined the Socialist Party of America in the mid-1950s, and did his best to help them provide an alternative viewpoint to the prevailing McCarthyism of the time. This alternative viewpoint was best expressed in his 1961 paper May Man Prevail? An Inquiry into the Facts and Fictions of Foreign Policy. However, as a co-founder of SANE, Fromm’s strongest political activism was in the international peace movement, fighting against the nuclear arms race and U.S. involvement in the Vietnam War. After supporting Senator Eugene McCarthy’s losing bid for the Democratic presidential nomination, Fromm more or less retreated from the American political scene, although he did write a paper in 1974 entitled Remarks on the Policy of Détente for a hearing held by the U.S. Senate Committee on Foreign Relations.


…..In reference to Fromm’s leftist political activism as a public intellectual, Noam Chomsky said “I liked Fromm’s attitudes but thought his work was pretty superficial”.

via Maria – sane society self love

Productive love always implies a syndrome of attitudes; that of care, responsibility, respect and knowledge. If I love, I care — that is, I am actively concerned with the other person’s growth and happiness; I am not a spectator. I am responsible, that is, I respond to his needs, to those he can express and more so to those he cannot or does not express. I respect him, that is (according to the original meaning of re-spicere)

I look at him as he is, objectively and not distorted by my wishes and fears. I know him, I have penetrated through his surface to the core of his being and related myself to him from my core, from the center, as against the periphery, of my being.

soul mate ness

gus connection law


George Siemens (@gsiemens) tweeted at 1:10 PM on Sat, Jun 24, 2017:
Media “fill the minds of men with the cheapest trash”

lacking in any sense of reality

science of people

One key source of that tension between sanity and insanity, Fromm argues, is our misconception of “human nature” as a single, static monolith, when in fact the nature of the human experience is varied and dynamic. In a sentiment which Harvard psychologist Daniel Gilbert would echo half a century later in his famous aphorism that “human beings are works in progress that mistakenly think they’re finished,” Fromm writes:

human nature

shaw communication law

Man as he appears in any given culture is always a manifestation of human nature, a manifestation, however, which in its specific outcome is determined by the social arrangements under which he lives. Just as the infant is born with all human potentialities which are to develop under favorable social and cultural conditions, so the human race, in the process of history, develops into what it potentially is.


The most pernicious effect of any given social order, Fromm suggests, is that it breeds a culture of truth by consensus rather than truth by evidence, truth relative to collective opinion rather than absolute truth — the sort of relativism which Karl Popper memorably admonished is “a betrayal of reason and of humanity.”

What is so deceptive about the state of mind of the members of a society is the “consensual validation” of their concepts. It is naively assumed that the fact that the majority of people share certain ideas or feelings proves the validity of these ideas and feelings. Nothing is further from the truth. Consensual validation as such has no bearing whatsoever on reason or mental health… The fact that millions of people share the same vices does not make these vices virtues, the fact that they share so many errors does not make the errors to be truths, and the fact that millions of people share the same forms of mental pathology does not make these people sane.


It is our first task then, to ascertain what is the nature of man, and what are the needs which stem from this nature.


The whole life of the individual is nothing but the process of giving birth to himself; indeed, we should be fully born, when we die — although it is the tragic fate of most individuals to die before they are born.


Reason deteriorates while their intelligence rises, thus creating the dangerous situation of equipping man with the greatest material power without the wisdom to use it. This alienation and automatization leads to an ever-increasing insanity


As long as we can think of other alternatives, we are not lost;

a nother way