- Paperback: 182 pages
- Publisher: Continuum International Publishing Group Ltd.; Rev. Ed edition (2005)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0826417388
- ISBN-13: 978-0826417381
- Product Dimensions: 12.7 x 1.3 x 19.6 cm
- Average Customer Review: 3 customer reviews
To Have or to be? (Bloomsbury Revelations) Paperback – 2005
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About the Author
Born in Frankfurt-am-Main, Erich Fromm (1900-1980) studied sociology and psychoanalysis. In 1933, he emigrated as a member of the Frankfurt School of social thinkers to the United States, moved to Mexico in 1950, and spent his twilight years between 1974 and 1980 in Switzerland. His books Fear of Freedom (1941) and The Art of Loving (1956) made him famous. Other well-known books are Marx's Concept of Man, Beyond the Chains of Illusion, and The Essential Fromm.
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3 customer reviews
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He traces the origin of the shift from 'being' to 'having' being the driving force of America to the beginning of the Industrial Revolution. Once goods were able to be mass-produced, more people were able to afford a wider variety of things. Eventually most people had enough disposable income to buy goods that have no other function but to be a symbol of status.
From outlines how his readers can revert to a life revolved around 'being' to enjoy the unlimited joys life has to offer.
Most helpful customer reviews on Amazon.com
I FIRST read this as a recreational read in my twenties and it made a positive impression. Read this book and you'll be able to answer this question for yourself: What is the Point of Living: To Have or To Be?
In my twenties, I was most impressed with this quote (capitalization mine): "If you are what you HAVE and you lose what you have, what then are you? But if you are what you ARE and you lose what you have, no man controls your destiny."
Now, with 25+ years of REAL living behind me, I've seen the real-world impact of what Fromm describes as the true cost of the soul-crushing alienation of the obsessive "having" state typically pursued in our society. The end result of this lifestyle choice is not pretty: neither for individuals, nor for societies in general. Think "Crash of 2008" and its aftermath and re-alignment. Or think of your Best Friend who's out shopping for her 12th Cadillac, trying oh-so-desperately to keep ahead of the neighbors.
Fromm clearly spells out the choices inherent in HAVING or BEING and the polar opposite results those two pathways ultimately produce, in terms of neurosis, happiness, or the lack thereof. My older eyes see Fromm as a Utopian Idealist, but I still think this is a terrific guidebook for individual ethics, offering many deep insights into the Art of Living Well. Read it and get a healthy head start on Knowing Thyself.
I recommend his books to anyone that wants insight into the American culture of capitalism and behaviors
from the American people's psyche. He's highly underrated or even non-existent as an author, by today's 20,30,and 40 year old's.
That's a real shame.
For me, Otto Rank, William James, and Erich Fromm are the three psychologist which have had the most influence on me in my life. While it may not be possible to cover all of the latest research discovered in recent decades of the academic psychology research world, it would be possible for a lay person to basically get a much better understanding of the human condition from reading a couple of books from Fromm, and Rank.
In short, if you have been struggling with doubt or depression over many things you do in life and are ready to consider making profound changes for your essential happiness, try giving this book a read. I have already passed it among three of my friends and seen some substantial changes.