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The Frankfurt School had the luxury and misfortunate privilege of existing in unique times. During the Interwar Period (1918-1939) in the heart of rising Fascism an incredible group of academics and scholars found each other in Germany with a like-minded goal: to provide societal research and reach greater understanding. These are the goals of philosophy in a nutshell. Erich Fromm was part of this group.
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Erich Fromm argued that if the people in society that are part of the 75% – the neutral, majority party – had a fundamental misunderstanding of Love and Freedom, which they did, then the 75% would be more likely to fall into authoritarianism. This is because authoritarianism pushes you in...
Erich Fromm was forced to flee Germany during the Fascist takeover in the 1930s. He first went to Geneva, ultimately finding residency at Columbia University in New York.
During this time Fromm began wondering about what was wrong with humanity.
The fundamental problem of huma...
Love is a decision, it is a judgment, it is a promise. If love were only a feeling, there would be no basis for the promise to love each other forever. A feeling comes and it may go. How can I judge that it will stay forever, when my act does not involve judgme...
The next two aspects of love that are required to change our understanding go hand in hand: they are courage and faith. Courage to Fromm is by far the most difficult of the aspects to achieve. Most likely you and all of us are part of the neutral group of societ...
A little perspective is required to understand Fromm’s pursuit and interest in Love. Erich Fromm grew up and got a Ph.D. from the University of Heidelberg in Germany in 1922. He wrote his final dissertation, “On Jewish Law”, as a nod to his Jewish parents and roots.
Those aware of history k...
The answers to these issues with love and loneliness are found in The Frankfurt School and Erich Fromm’s other major work, Escape from Freedom (1941). In this work, Fromm describes a problem we can still see in contemporary society: Individuation. This individualization that occu...
Getting away from this mindset by treating Love not as a feeling and commodity but as an art is the key.
Pursuing an art requires courage to continue, humility to understand that you are just beginning in this practice and faith that if y...
Love is not primarily a relationship to a specific person; it is an attitude, an orientation of character which determines the relatedness of a person to the world as a whole, not toward one “object” of love. If a person loves only one other person and is indif...
Many of the descriptions used by Fromm have parallels to our society today. We are feeling more and more lonely in a world that is more and more interconnected. We are seeing into each other’s lives in ways that are inherently commodified. We subscribe to a “grind” mindset that tells ...
When we have humility we can avoid the egoism that plagues most relationships, romantic or otherwise. We should avoid the commodification of both ourselves and the other person by seeing that they do not need to justify themselves and prove their worth to remove your loneline...
Our contemporary understanding of love and how we find love falls into this category, as illustrated by our use of dating app sites that specifically limit the number of matches that you can have or profiles that you can see based on the level of income and other filters. Fromm w...
No one needs to justify themselves to you and this creates an atmosphere of sincerity; and sincerity is love. More importantly, that is where the faith aspect comes in for Fromm. Anyone who gives out love to everyone they meet does not commodify their fellow members of society and trusts ...
Yet, Fromm noticed something unexpected while working on the problem facing humanity. Everybody was already searching for Love. People were obsessed with the idea. Books on Love were being taken off all the shelves in every book store. Singles clubs were rapidly becoming popular and roma...
What Erich Fromm means by immature love is love generated from a point of narcissism. The most narcissistic facet of this type of love is a transa...
This submission to social hierarchy is easy to see in retrospect, but during the time Fromm was living in it was much harder. Erich Fromm put forward this idea of people shying away from freedom and leaning toward authoritarian principles in the late 1920s. The original argument by The Fr...
This understanding and practice though will inevitably face backlash. People will fight against it because it is scary. Our society, and the society that The Frankfurt School was a part of in the 1930s, have institutionalized the commodification of the people within themselves. Fighting a...
Nationalism is our form of incest, is our idolatry, is our insanity. 'Patriotism' is its cult...Just as love for one individual which excludes the love for others is not love, love for one's country which is not part of one's love for humanity is not love, but ...
Here, it’s easy to see the correlation between the philosophy Erich Fromm developed and the life he lived in Germany. Seeing his country tear itself apart with authoritarian principles and people willfully submitting to and using the power of hierarchical society to feel less existential ...
Sadomasochists wish for there to be an order or hierarchy that limits the access to positive freedom; they are more comfortable when there is an order and ranks within society. In agreeing to this rank they submit themselves to hierarchy and restrictions in life. This is the masochist in ...
Negative Freedom according to Erich Fromm is the “freedom from”. This type of freedom has been gradually increasing within society ever since the time of hunter-gatherer tribes, where humanity started. It represents the removal of things that can control us entirely: free...
Those who find this “freedom to” in front of them may have a negative response to opportunity. They may see all that opportunity and freedom and wish for a more rigid way of life, a life where choice is limited in advance instead of the weight of endless possibilities they can choose for ...
Positive Freedom, on the other hand, is a sort of “freedom to”. For example, we have the opportunity to choose what things we pursue. If we have “freedom to” then we are not restricted to a life of needs; we are not limited to a caste we may be born into. We have a reasonable amo...
This existential loneliness that affects humanity comes from our ability to judge and be aware of our own actions. Our search for a tribe or a group often finds us excluding those not in that tribe. Some of the time the tribe we want to belong to excludes us or perhaps we are within the t...
Erich Fromm believed that the solution to this behavior in society and to our existential loneliness that causes it is one the same thing: it is to Love effectively.
Shockingly, Fromm’s idea for this solution started ironically: Love should begin with being comfort...
This comfort with loneliness and ourselves helps us see that everyone is struggling with the same things. Every race, sex, gender, and all peoples live in a society.
Everyone within society struggles with loneliness and finding a place to fit in.
Love means to commit oneself without guarantee, to give oneself completely in the hope that our love will produce love in the loved person.
Love is an act of faith, and whoever is of little faith is also ...
“An idea is something that won’t work unless you do.” - Thomas A. Edison
One of the main scholars of the Frankfurt School was Erich Fromm, an intellectual who, faced with hatred and being labeled a political dissident, chose to study the opposite of what he saw as the main problem facing all of humanity: hate, segregation, and divisiveness. He chose to study Love.
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