2014-01-26T13:24:00

The active concern for the life and the growth.

Here my notes from book The Art of Loving by Erich Fromm.

  • p1 Is love an art? Then it requires knowledge and effort. Or is love a pleasant sensation, which to experience is a matter of chance, something one "falls into" if one is lucky?
  • p2 As a matter of fact, what most people in our culture mean by being lovable is essentially a mixture between being popular and having sex appeal.
  • p3 "Attractive" usually means a nice package of qualities which are popular and sought after on personality market.
  • p3 Two persons thus fall in love when they feel they have found the best object available on the market, considering the limitations of their own exchange values.
  • p4 If two people who have been strangers, as all of us are, suddenly let the wall between them break down, and feel close, feel one, this moment of oneness is one of the most exhilarating, most exciting experiences in life. It is all the more wonderful and miraculous for persons who have been shut off, isolated, without love.
  • p5 The first step to take is to become aware that love is an art, just as living is an art; …
  • p5 Could it be that only those things are considered worthy of being learned with which one can earn money or prestige, and that love, which "only" profits the soul, but is profitless in the modern sense, is a luxury we have no right to spend much energy on?
  • p7 Man can only go forward by developing his reason, by finding a new harmony, a human one, instead of the prehuman harmony which is irretrievably lost.
  • p8 Man is gifted with reason; he is life being aware of itself; he has awareness of himself, of his fellow man, of his past, and of the possibilities of his future. This awareness of himself as a separate entity, the awareness of his own short life span, of the fact that without his will he is born and against his will he dies, that he will die before those whom he loves, or they before him, the awareness of his aloneness and separateness, of his helplessness before the forces of nature and of society, all this makes his separate, disunited existence an unbearable prison. He would become insane could he not liberate from this prison and reach out, unite himself in some form or the other with men, with the world outside.
  • p10 Similarly, the human race in its infancy still feels one with nature. The soil, the animals, the plants are still man's world. … But the more the human race emerges from these primary bonds, the more it separates itself from the natural world, the more intense becomes the need to find new ways of escaping separateness.
  • p11 … in many individuals in whom separateness is not relieved in other ways, the search for the sexual orgasm assumes a function which makes it not very different from alcoholism and drug addiction.
  • p12 If I am like everybody else, if I have no feelings or thoughts which make me different, if I conform in custom, dress, ideas, to the pattern of the group, I am saved; saved from the frightening experience of aloneness.
  • p15 Equality is bought at this very price: women are equal because they are not different any more.
  • p18 The power of the one to whom one submits is inflated, may he be a person or a god; he is everything, I am nothing, except inasmuch as I am part of him. As a part, I am part of greatness, of power, of certainty. The masochistic person does not have to make decisions, does not have to take any risks; he is never alone - but he is not independent; he has no integrity; hi is not yet fully born.
  • p21 Love is an activity, not a passive affect; it is a "standing in," not a "falling for."
  • p22 It is well known that the poor are more willing to give than the rich. Nevertheless, poverty beyond a certain point may make it impossible to give, and is so degrading, not only because of the suffering it causes directly, but because of the fact that it deprives the poor of the joy of giving.
  • p23 What does one person give to another? He gives of himself, of the most precious he has, he gives of his life. This does not necessarily mean that he sacrifice his life for the other; but that he gives him of that which is alive in him; he gives him of his joy, of his interest, of his understanding, of his knowledge, of his humor, of his sadness - of all expressions and manifestations of that which is alive in him.
  • p25 Love is the active concern for the life and the growth of that which we love.
  • p28 Love is active penetration of the other person, in which my desire to know is stilled by union. In the act of fusion I know you, I know my self, I know everybody - and I "know" nothing. I know in the only way knowledge of that which is alive is possible for man - by experience of union - not by any knowledge our thought can give. Sadism is motivated by the wish to know the secret, yet I remain as ignorant as I was before. I have torn the other being apart limb from limb, yet all I have done is to destroy him. Love is the only way of knowledge, which in the act of union answers my quest. In the act of loving, of giving myself, in the act of penetrating the other person, I find myself, I discover myself, I discover us both, I discover man.
  • p33 Sexual desire is one manifestation of the love and union.
  • p33 The aim of the sexual desire is the removal of this painful tension; sexual satisfaction lies in the accomplishment of this removal. This view has its validity to the extent that the sexual desire operates in the same fashion as hunger or thirst do when the organism is undernourished. Sexual desire, in this concept, is an itch, sexual satisfaction the removal of the itch. In fact, as far as this concept of sexuality is concerned, masturbation would be the ideal sexual satisfaction.
  • p37 I am loved for what I am, or perhaps more accurately, I am loved because I am. This experience of being loved by mother is a passive one. There is nothing I have to do in order to be loved - mother's love is unconditional. All I have to do is to be - to be her child. Mother's love is bliss, is peace, it need not be acquired, it need not be deserved. But there is a negative side, too, to the unconditional quality of mother's love. Not only does it not need to be deserved - it also cannot be acquired, produced, controlled. If it is there, it is like a blessing; if it is not there, it is as if all beauty had gone out of life - and there is nothing I can do to create it.
  • p38 Motherly love by its very nature is unconditional. Mother loves the newborn infant because it is her child, not because the child has fulfilled any specific condition, or lived up to any specific expectation.
  • p40 Fatherly love is conditional love. Its principle is "I love you because you fulfill my expectations, because you do your duty, because you are like me."
  • p40 The negative aspect (of fatherly love) is the very fact that fatherly love has to be deserved, that it can be lost if one does not do what is expected. In the nature of fatherly love lies the fact that obedience becomes the main virtue, that disobedience is the main sin - and its punishment the withdrawal of father love. The positive side is equally important. Since his love is conditioned, I can do something to acquire it, I can work for it; his love is not outside my control as motherly love is.
  • p41 The mature person has become free from the outside mother and father figures, and has build them up inside. … motherly conscience on his own capacity for love, and a fatherly conscience on his reason and judgment.
  • p46 Mother's love for life is as infectious as her anxiety is.
  • p74 In the dominant Western religious system, the love of God is essentially the same as the belief in God, in God's existence, God's justice, God's love. The love of God is essentially a thought experience. In the Eastern religions and in mysticism, the love of God is an intense feeling experience of oneness, inseparably linked with the expression of this love in every act of living.
  • p75 In the stage of full maturity he has freed himself from the person of mother and of father as protecting and commanding powers; he has established the motherly and fatherly principles in himself. He has become his own father and mother; he is father and mother.
  • p77 No objective observer of our Western life can doubt that love - brotherly love, motherly love, and erotic love - is a relatively rare phenomenon …
  • p77 Capitalistic society is based on the principle of political freedom on the one hand, and of the market as the regulator of all economic, hence social relations, on the other. The commodity market determines the conditions under which commodities are exchanged, the labor market regulates the acquisition and sales of labor. Both useful things and useful human energy and skill are transformed into commodities which are exchanged without use of force and without fraud under the conditions of the market. Shoes, useful and needed as they may be, have no economic value (exchange value) if there is no demand for them on the market; human energy and skill are without exchange value if there is no demand for them under existing market conditions. The owner of capital can buy labor and command it to work from the profitable investment of his capital. The owner of labor must sell it to capitalists under the existing market conditions, unless he is to starve. This economic structure is reflected in a hierarchy of values. Capital commands labor; amassed things, that which is dead, are of superior value to labor, to human powers, to that which is alive.
  • p79 Modern capitalism needs men who cooperate smoothly and in large numbers; who want to consume more and more; and whose tastes are standardized and can be easily influenced and anticipated. It needs men who feel free and independent, not subject to any authority or principle or conscience - yet willing to be commanded, to do what is expected of them, to fit into the social machine without friction; who can be guided without force, led without leaders, prompted without aim - except the one to make good, to be on the move, to function, to go ahead.
  • p80 The world is one great object for our appetite, a big apple, a big bottle, a big breast; we are the suckers, the eternally expectant ones, the hopeful ones - and the eternally disappointed ones. Our character is geared to exchange and to receive, to barter and to consume; everything, spiritual as well as material objects, becomes an object of exchange and of consumption.
  • p90 Mother can give life, and she can take life. She is the one to revive, and the one to destroy; she can do miracles of love - and nobody can hurt more than she.
  • p93 … a general attitude characteristic of modern man. He lives in the past or in the future, not in the present.
  • p94 If I am domineering or indecisive, or greedy, I accuse my partner of it, and depending on my character, I either want to cure him or to punish him. The other person does the same - and both thus succeed in ignoring their own problems and hence fail to undertake any steps which would help them in their own development.
  • p94 When a person feels that he has not been able to make sense of his own life, he tries to make sense of it in terms of the life of his own life, he tries to make sense of it in terms of the life of his children. But one is bound to fail within oneself and for the children.
  • p95 Any detailed study would show, however, that the atmosphere of tension and unhappiness within the "unified family" is more harmful to the children than an open break would be - which teaches them at least that man is able to end an intolerable situation by a courageous decision.
  • p95 … the "conflicts" of most people are actually attempts to avoid the real conflicts.
  • p97 Modern man has transformed himself into a commodity; he experiences his life energy as an investment with which he should make the highest profit, considering his position and the situation on the personality market. He is alienated from himself, from his fellow men and from nature. His aim is profitable exchange of his skills, knowledge, and of himself, his "personality package" with others who are equally intent on a fair and profitable exchange. Life has no goal except the one to move, no principle except the one of fair exchange, no satisfaction except the one to consume.
  • p98 Just as brotherly love has been replaced by impersonal fairness, God has been transformed into a remote General Director of Universe, Inc.; you know that he is there, he runs the show, you never see him, but you acknowledge his leadership while you are "doing your part."
  • p100 Just because man is forced for eight hours a day to spend his energy for purposes not his own, in ways not his own, but prescribed for him by rhythm of the work, he rebels and his rebelliousness takes the form of an infantile self-indulgence. In addition, in the battle against authoritarianism he has become distrustful of all discipline, of that enforced by irrational authority, as well as of rational discipline imposed by himself. Without such discipline, however, life becomes shattered, chaotic, and lacks in concentration.
  • p101 But, as in so many other aspects, human values have become determined by economic values. What is good for machines must be good for man - so goes the logic. Modern man thinks he loses something - time - when he does not do things quickly; yet he does not now what to do with the time he gains - except kill it.
  • p103 If I am attached to another person because I cannot stand on my own feet, he or she may be a lifesaver, but the relationship is not one of love. Paradoxically, the ability to be alone is the condition for the ability to love. Anyone who tries to be alone with himself will discover how difficult it is.
  • p107 One is aware, for instance, of a sense of tiredness or depression, and instead of giving in to it and supporting it by depressive thoughts which are always at hand, one asks oneself "what happened?" Why am I depressed? The same is done by noticing when one is irritated or angry, or tending to daydreaming, or other escape activities. In each of these instances the important thing is to be aware of them, and not to rationalize them in the thousand and one ways in which this can be done; furthermore, to be open to our own inner voice, which will tell us - often rather immediately - why we are anxious, depressed, irritated.
  • p107 The average person has a sensitivity toward his bodily processes; he notices changes, or even small amounts of pain; this kind of bodily sensitivity is relatively easy to experience because most persons have an image of how it feels to be well. The same sensitivity toward one's mental processes is much more difficult, because many people have never known a person who functions optimally. They take the psychic functioning of their parents and relatives, or of the social group they have been born into, as the norm, and as long as they do not differ from these they feel normal and without interest in observing anything. There are many people, for instance, who have never seen a loving person, or a person with integrity, or courage, or concentration.
  • p108 In previous epochs of our own culture, or in China and India, the man most highly values was the person with outstanding spiritual qualities. Even the teacher was not only, or even primarily, a source of information, but his function was to convey certain human attitudes. In contemporary capitalistic society - and the same holds true for Russian Communism - the men suggested for admiration and emulation are everything but bearers of significant spiritual qualities.
  • p110 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.
  • p114 "Having faith" in another person means to be certain of the reliability and unchangeability of his fundamental attitudes, of the core of his personality, of his love. By this I do not mean that a person may not change his opinions, but that his basic motivations remain the same; that, for instance, his respect for life and human dignity is part of himself, not subject to change. In the same sense we have faith in ourselves. We are aware of the existence of a self, of a core in our personality which is unchangeable and which persists throughout out life in spite of varying circumstances, and regardless of certain changes in opinions and feelings. It is this core which is the reality behind the word "I," and on which our conviction of our own identity is based. Unless we have faith in the persistence of our self, our feelings of identity is threatened and we become dependent on other people whose approval then becomes the basis for our feeling of identity. Only the person who has faith in himself is able to the be faithful to others, because only he can be sure then he will be the same at a future time as he is today and, therefor, that he will feel and act as he now expects to. Faith in oneself is a condition of our ability to promise, and since, as Nietzsche said, man can be defined by his capacity to promise, faith is one of the conditions of human existence. What matters in relation to love is the faith in one's own love; in its ability to produce love in others, and in its reliability.
  • p115 Education is identical with helping the children realize his potentialities. The opposite of education is manipulation, which is based on the absence of faith in the growth of potentialities, and on the conviction that a child will be right only if the adults put into him what is desirable and suppress what seems to be undesirable. There is no need of faith in the robot, since there is no life in it either.
  • p116 … faith and power are mutually exclusive …
  • p117 The courage of despair is the opposite of the courage of love, just as the faith in power is the opposite of the faith in life.
  • p118 To love means to commit oneself without guarantee, to give oneself completely in the hope that our love will produce love in the loved person.
  • p118 The paradoxical situation with a vast number of people today is that they are half asleep when awake, and half awake when asleep, or when they want to sleep.
  • about21 Every society and community group tries to express love in a way that is best suited to its preservation.

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