Erich Fromm – “The Art of Loving”

Mentioned in the previous “Reading List” post I was reading Erich Fromm “The Art of Loving” – though have no recollection of exactly how I picked-up the reference. (Help anyone?)

[Recently from McGilchrist … Fromm, Scheler, Schelling axis?
But Fromm was on my list before McG’s latest

My recurring “What’s So Funny ‘Bout Peace, Love and Understanding” mantra (*) means I’ve always taken “love” as a serious component of life, the universe and everything – to understand, is to know intimately, is to love, etc. Hard though it is to articulate its place in rational discourse, beyond basic care and responsibility for fellow man, even in argument.

[(*) Examples: What’s So Funny ? and Building Bridges.]

Fromm does not disappoint. Well OK, it’s 1957 and there is a lot of Christian God talk, so non-conformant gender roles and sexuality are given zero schrift, even though the paradox of conformance and individuality feature highly in our escape from the “prison” of loneliness through the joy of giving (and receiving, enabling the giving of others).

Lots of good stuff. Plenty of Spinoza, that most loveable of philosophers. Corrections to Freudian confusions. Knowing oneself and the world. Confusion over transactional misunderstandings of the golden rule in our capitalist market-based western societies. Etymological arguments in respect and education. The “Zen” practice of being at one with some thing or some activity – discipline, concentration & patience. Mindfulness, breathing, atma. One better than his “Art of …” title he even references the original “Zen and the Art … ” of Eugen Herrigel’s archery. One for Pirsig and Motorcycle Maintenance fans too.

“The insane person or the dreamer fails completely in having an objective view of the world outside: but all of us are more or less insane, or more or less asleep; all of us have an unobjective view of the world, one which is distorted by our narcissistic orientation. Need I give examples?”

If you can discount or otherwise get beyond the overt God-talk and the sexist pronouns & stereotypes in 2022, this is a recommended 1957 read. Full of good thinking and practical advice.

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