To Have or To Be? (Anglais) Broché – 25 avril 2013
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Well... to be, says Fromm.
In response to the materialism of our century and our propensity to reification, psychoanalyst Erich Fromm proposes a mode of living that he argues is the way out of our psychospiritual conundrum.
Within the pages of this book, one of the last before his demise, the author of the bestseller _ The Art of Loving_ describes the two modes possible--that of having and being. 20th century culture he says has developed into employing and relying on the having mode--of appropriating things and even humans for oneself. Even love has been turned into an object, when in fact no such thing exists. Only the act of loving is possible.
In contradistinction to having is being. It is a mode of active participation in life. While the misnomer 'falling in love' is touted by the world as the norm, Fromm argues that true loving is an effortful activity. While accumulating knowledge is the way of having, the being mode of knowing is a process of understanding.
Although written nearly three decades ago, Fromm's worldview continues to be the ideal. This work of his is a timeless caveat against the dehumanization of society.
This book was written in 1976. Fromm debates that there are two possible modes of living: one of having and of being. He points out the differences between the two and of a person living in the having mode to the one living in the being mode. He shows the differences in behavior and attitude between the two in many life's areas and experiences: studying, remembering, talking, reading, faith, love, handling authority. The less you are oriented on having, the more you are being.
The rest of the book, or should I say the actual book, is pure gold, but in order to reach it you need to be prepared to simply trust the author for the duration of the book. Then turn around and if you don't start recognizing things he's talking about in real life - feel free to debate him - during the second reading. If you jump to debate him every time he crushes something you consider 'sacral' you'll just waste your time. Consider this a test of your own brain - is it really working or just being busy filtering the uneasy information.
Also, be prepared to read the book twice, even if you don't feel like debating it :-) The reason is that pretty soon you'll want to quote something from the book but you won't have an easy one-liner. To quote Fromm, you'll need to quote the idea, and ideas take a few paragraphs or even pages to be 'painted' and understood properly.
Last but not least, be aware that Fromm himself was aware of the fact that the one who is discovering or telling a new thing doesn't actually have the vocabulary to express it, so be prepared to fill in and consider it normal if some words don't sound precise or modern. For example, Fromm didn't have the vocabulary of the communication theory so he couldn't spell out loud the role of communication in human relations, but he did use the word 'affecting' in ways that will allow you to see the intrinsic human need for communication.
That is another reason why you need to be able to both trust the author on the first read and keep your own brain ready to use. It's only after you finish the book that the whole picture will start to form and connect apparently missing pieces - and you will read it the second time.