Human and Fromm

1 January 2017

I believe that it is true that many depressed individuals have a compelling desire to buy something or to eat something. I believe that by doing so we are trying to fill a “void” within ourselves. So much so, that Fromm states it is a “powerful drive”. He is saying that man has “commodity hunger”. When we constantly need new things, we’re looking for something outside of ourselves to provide us with satisfaction. 2) There are many people who live to buy–they always want to find the newest gadgets, games, or fashions.

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Pondering how we strive to be able to “save time” (i. e. fast food, internet, texting) the question does appear to me, what do we do with all this saved time? Our lives are our lives, and it’s important that we develop who we are, not what we have. Possessions are a very positive part of life–there are many things that I have that I love to have–but if we ever let them control us, then they’ve become an obstacle to our happiness. “It is the preoccupation with possession, more than anything else, that prevents people from living freely and nobly”.

The reality in economy and society, to overcome our suffering in other words: to eliminate the causes for our suffering. And that exactly has not taken place. Nothing at all has been changed in economy or society, at the most some symptoms have changed. On the whole, everything has become worse. 4) As Fromm calmly yet scarily says, “Human history began with an act of disobedience, and it is not unlikely that it will be, terminated by an act of obedience.

The disobedience Fromm is speaking of is universal in its mythological roots. He describes how Adam and Eve of Hebrew mythology achieved their own identities by disobeying God. Instead of living in “harmony with nature” they defied it and became free. We learn that when we obey orders we are good, and righteous, and will be rewarded. If we disobey, we are wrong, on the side of the Devil, and we are punished. This mentality creates a psychological state of dependence on authority to tell us what is right and what is wrong.

We become so conditioned to making decisions based on what we feel we are “supposed to do” that we fail to evaluate the consequences of our actions. 5) “Education makes machines which act like men and produces men who act like machines”. Education from a humanist perspective focuses on developing rationality, autonomy, empowerment, creativity, affections and a concern for humanity. This concern for humanity expresses the relation to other people. Appreciating diversity and democracy are humanist ways of living together as human beings.

A challenge in humanist thinking and acting is the linking of autonomy and humanity. Autonomy is not isolated individuality but it is the way a person relates to the other. It implies the possibility of taking responsibility for your own life and your own ideas. 6) Fromm’s definition of humanism was based on the idea that the human unconscious ‘represents the entire person … and all of humanity’. In any culture humans have all manner of potentialities for what they may become. What they do become, however, depends largely on ‘which possibilities are cultivated and which are hindered and repressed’.

When Fromm writes that disobedience is “the first step into independence and freedom” he means that disobedience sets individuals free and open’s their eyes. A person is able to evolve from acts of disobedience because they are able to break primary bonds with nature and authority. A person is able to rely on their own powers and become fully human when they act disobedient. Therefore, Fromm means that disobedience is the first step into independence and freedom because an individual is breaking away from what is right and is acting in ways that he feels are appropriate.

He felt that human beings are social beings whose beliefs and motivations are deeply inscribed by the societies and cultures of which they are a part. Fromm expressed concern for mankind in the One World. The experience of powerlessness and isolation results in what Fromm calls the psychic – or sometimes existential – need for relatedness and oneness. Fromm regards this need as a fundamental drive for unity with one’s fellow man and with the world at large.

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