Wednesday, July 14, 2021

Erich Fromm's Theory in "To Have or to Be"

The philosopher Erich Fromm was born at the beginning of the 20th century and was able to witness all of its major developments . Not only did this bring technological advancement and new ideologies, but also bitter fruits of war that mankind had never seen before. He reflected on the motives for aggression and violence that led him to the study of psychology and sociology. 

Fromm's last work, "To Have or To Be" (1976), is the culmination of his effort to find and explain the purpose of human life. He saw our existence as being motivated by either having or being and explained this idea using psychological findings fused with sociological evidence. For Fromm, both modes of existence are inherent in our nature. The two contradictory efforts - the desire to possess and the desire to unite with others - are both present in us. Humans have certain purely biological desires, but at the same time, they have the so-called "conditions of human nature" caused by their advanced intellect and self-awareness. These conditions create certain needs that humans want to meet, such as the need to overcome feelings of loneliness. In the having mode, the feeling of satisfaction comes from a sudden fulfillment of the desire to have. However, such a desire is not only aimed at material things but also at things such as power, money and other people. The opposite of having is being, in which people meet their needs through mutual love and sharing. The having mode is destructive both for the individual and for society, while the being mode is quite the opposite. 

For Fromm, most of the world, especially western civilization, is ruled by the having regime. Therefore, he is on the brink of disaster. It is interesting to see how Fromm exposes his theory from the point of view of the two great religions of the world - Christianity and Judaism. 

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