April 17, 2022
The Ultimate Guide to the Philosophy of Erich Fromm
Biography, ideas, books
A comprehensive overview of Erich Fromm’s philosophy of happiness. We discuss his life, his ideas and his main works, both in their historical context and how they are still relevant for us today. (more...)
January 24, 2022
The Dialectic of Enlightenment
Horkheimer, Adorno and the Frankfurt School
The Frankfurt School is generally taken to mean a lose collection of thinkers who first congregated around the Institute for Social Research in Frankfurt am Main, Germany. (more...)
Aldous Huxley’s “Island”
An even braver new world?
The last book of visionary writer Aldous Huxley (1894-1963), Island, is a bold attempt to envision a utopian society that provides its members with everything they need to achieve happiness in life. (more...)
Erich Fromm’s New Society
Can we build a better world?
Philosopher and social psychologist Erich Fromm (1900-1980) wrote many popular books throughout the second half of the 20th century analysing the problems of Western, capitalist societies. In this post, we look at his own utopian vision of what a perfect society could look like. (more...)
What is Alienation?
Karl Marx on how society fails us
The philosophy of Karl Marx (1818-1883) has been hugely influential throughout the 20th and 21st centuries. One of his best known concepts is the idea of “alienation” that describes how, in capitalist societies, human beings get estranged from their work and from themselves because of the way the production of goods is organised. (more...)
Erich Fromm: How to Become a Loving Person
What keeps us from finding happiness in love?
The philosopher and psychologist Erich Fromm believes that the main source of pain and anxiety for human beings comes from the feeling of separateness from others. To overcome this loneliness, men have tried many different rituals and relationship forms, but the only true way out is love. For Fromm, real love is based on care, responsibility for the other person, respect and knowledge of the other. (more...)
Erich Fromm: The Art of Loving
Do we need to learn how to love?
In his book “The Art of Loving” (1956) the psychoanalyst and philosopher Erich Fromm (1900-1980) discusses how love is often wrongly perceived as the passive “falling in love.” For Fromm, love is mainly a decision to love, to become a loving person. (more...)
What is “Eastern” Happiness?
Erich Fromm and Lin Yutang on cultural differences
Is there a difference between the way we perceive happiness and life in the West in comparison with “Eastern” cultures? Erich Fromm argues that the capitalist West is stuck in a “mode of having,” while the “Eastern” view or life is more oriented towards “being.” Chinese-American writer Lin Yutang (1895-1976) also thinks that there is a specifically “Chinese” way of being happy – but do they both mean the same? (more...)
How Much Money Do We Need?
The long tradition of finding joy outside of consumerism
From Diogenes and Epicurus to Erich Fromm and modern minimalism activists, from ancient times to the present, there is a long tradition of philosophers suggesting that long-lasting happiness might be easier to achieve if we don’t primarily focus on material gains. (more...)
Decluttering the Mind
Erich Fromm on material possessions
If we want to declutter, we must, according to Erich Fromm, first change our relationship to the world. We must change who we are and how we relate to our families, to our friends, to our possessions – and even to the language we use. We will have to leave the mode of having and switch our whole existence to the mode of being. (more...)
To Have Or to Be
Erich Fromm on two different ways of living one’s life
Erich Fromm distinguishes between two modes of existence. One can live one’s life in the “mode of having” or in the “mode of being”. The mode of having sees everything as a possession, while in the mode of being we perceive ourselves as the carriers of properties and abilities, rather than the consumers of things. (more...)
Erich Fromm on Our Relation to Technology
Rediscovering ancient skills in everyday life
According to Erich Fromm, instead of catapulting us into a utopia of eternal youth and affluence, modern technology has condemned us to a life under constant surveillance, is destroying the planet, and, in the form of AI, now threatening to take away human employment on a grand scale. Rediscovering some of the ancient skills that we all once had may provide a way out of the problem. (more...)
Erich Fromm: Society, Technology and Progress
The false promise of unlimited progress
According to philosopher and psychoanalyst Erich Fromm, society and technology have a crucial influence on individual happiness. According to Fromm, the dream of endless technological development has led to a depletion of natural resources and the destruction of nature. (more...)
Erich Fromm: Escaping from Freedom
The attractiveness of being unfree
Erich Fromm claims that freedom itself can sometimes be the cause of fear and anxiety, forcing us to find ways to “escape from freedom.” Authoritarianism, destructiveness and automaton conformity are three ways how we try to cope with the freedom we fear. (more...)
Erich Fromm (1900-1980)
The unconscious forces that shape our societies
Erich Fromm (1900-1980) was a German social psychologist and philosopher who had enormous popular success from the 1950s all the way to the end of his life in 1980. We discuss his work and his relation to Marxism and Freud. (more...)
Erich Fromm on the Psychology of Capitalism
Our world is turning us into mass products. We should resist
Erich Fromm, philosopher and social psychologist, points out that capitalism, in order to work, requires a large population of identical consumers with identical taste. This is opposed to the vision of a human life as individual, unique, and valuable in its uniqueness. (more...)
Erich Fromm on Being Productive
Are we active, or just busy?
For Erich Fromm, true activity means to fully use one’s talents and abilities in order to grow as a person. The mere display of being busy is, in Fromm’s opinion, not a sign of productive work. Modern society, which relies on hierarchy and alienated work, tends to favour busy-ness over productive activity. (more...)