Humanity ≠ Outside


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They did not seek power, but avoided it. Not even the power of being a prophet. They were not impressed by might, and they spoke the truth even if this led them to imprisonment, ostracism, or death. They were not men who set themselves apart and waited to see what would happen. They responded to their fellow man because they felt responsible. What happened to others happened to them. Humanity was not outside, but within them.

 

— Erich Fromm

On Disobedience, 1963

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Greed & Peace


Greed & Peace preclude each other.

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It means: that I want everything for myself; that possessing, not sharing, gives me pleasure; that I must become greedy because if my aim is having, I am more the more I have; that I must feel antagonistic toward all others: my customers whom I want to deceive, my competitors whom I want to destroy, my workers whom I want to exploit. I can never be satisfied, because there is no end to my wishes; I must be envious of those who have more and afraid of those who have less. But I have to repress all these feelings in order to represent myself (to others as well as to myself) as the smiling, rational, sincere, kind human being everybody pretends to be.

— Erich Fromm

‘To Have or To Be’ (1975) p. 5

Productive Activity


What is Being Mode?

In nonalienated activity, I experience myself as the subject of my activity. Nonalienated activity is a process of giving birth to something, of producing something and remaining related to what I produce. This also implies that my activity is a manifestation of my powers, that I and my activity and the result of my activity are one. I call this nonalienated activity productive activity.*

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Empty & Poor


What is Being Mode?

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Only to the extent that we decrease the mode of having, that is of nonbeing — i.e., stop finding security and identity by clinging to what we have, by “sitting on it,” by holding onto our ego and our possessions — can the mode of being emerge. “To be” requires giving up one’s egocentricity and selfishness, or in words often used by the mystics, by making oneself “empty” and “poor.”

 

 

—Erich Fromm

“To Have or To Be” (1975) p. 72