- Pieces from “To Have or to Be” by Erich Fromm
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- Book Summary: To have or to be? | HCoder
- To Have or to Be by Fromm
But it is not real in a deeper sense, for our feeling or understanding. He is, in fact, aware only of what is outside, inasmuch as it affects him. Hence, he has no love, no compassion, no rational, objective judgment. The narcissistic person has built an invisible wall around himself. He is everything, the world is nothing. Or rather: He is the world. A parallel peril to well-being comes from the egotism and selfishness seeded by our ownership-driven society, a culture that prioritizes having over being by making property its primary mode of existence.
Fromm writes:. A person living in this mode is not necessarily very narcissistic. Nevertheless, he wants everything for himself; has no pleasure in giving, in sharing, in solidarity, in cooperation, in love. He is a closed fortress, suspicious of others, eager to take and most reluctant to give. Growth, he argues, requires a dual breakthrough — of narcissism and of property-driven existence. Although the first steps toward this breaking from bondage are bound to be anxiety-producing, this initial discomfort is but a paltry price for the larger rewards of well-being awaiting us on the other side of the trying transformation:.
If a person has the will and the determination to loosen the bars of his prison of narcissism and selfishness, when he has the courage to tolerate the intermittent anxiety, he experiences the first glimpses of joy and strength that he sometimes attains. And only then a decisive new factor enters into the dynamics of the process. This new experience becomes the decisive motivation for going ahead and following the path he has charted… [An] experience of well-being — fleeting and small as it may be — … becomes the most powerful motivation for further progress….
Awareness, will, practice, tolerance of fear and of new experience, they are all necessary if transformation of the individual is to succeed. In the remainder of The Art of Being , Fromm explores the subtleties and practicalities of enacting this transformation. Complement it with legendary social scientist John W. Brain Pickings participates in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn commissions by linking to Amazon.
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Pieces from “To Have or to Be” by Erich Fromm
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Published by Abacus Little, Brown. About this Item: Abacus Little, Brown. About this Item: Abacus. Published by Random House Publishing Group. Item added to your basket View basket. Hospitals now have special machines to weigh the obese and special operating tables to accommodate them. Yet none of these considerations can quite extinguish the suspicion that obesity is not just something that happens to you, like multiple sclerosis. Obesity is as much something you have done as something you have.
At the very least, there must be contributory negligence. After all, no group exists of whom it can be said that every member is fat. Even 53 percent of children who are obese at kindergarten stage do not grow up to be obese—and these are the people probably least responsible for their subsequent physical condition.
Book Summary: To have or to be? | HCoder
Even if it were true that fructose is addictive and largely responsible for the obesity pandemic , no substance is so addictive that it is impossible for people to give it up. It seems that people give up addictive substances in proportion to the difficulties, legal and other, in obtaining them.
Fructose is now harder to avoid than to find; and even in good restaurants, one notices a tendency to the sweetening of dishes, presumably in response to changed public taste. O ut of misplaced delicacy, perhaps, certain factors that promote obesity in our societies are seldom emphasized or even mentioned because they refer to the lifestyle and choices of those who become fat.
In the course of my work, I would often visit the homes of the kind of people most prone to obesity: those on long-term welfare, whose unhealthiness, consequent upon obesity, was a further impediment to any employment for which they might otherwise be suitable.
In such homes, I rarely detected any sign of real cooking having taken place, despite the oceans of disposable time for it. The only tool in culinary use was the microwave: there was no table at which members of the household, often with an unstable membership particularly of adult males , could have eaten together. Surveys have shown that a fifth of children in Britain do not eat with other members of their household more than once a week, a figure in keeping with my own observations; at this end of the social spectrum, it was probably much more than a fifth.
It was obvious that children in this environment foraged for industrially prepared, fat- and fructose-rich food, found in the refrigerator whenever the mood took them, which was often, and which they ate distractedly, while sitting in front of the giant flat-screen television on the wall, which was never, in my experience, extinguished, except maybe in the dead of night. Eating, the most elementary of social activities, had become in these settings solitary, almost solipsistic, having lost all connection with anything except the appetite of the moment: and appetite grows by what it feeds on.
All this, again, in circumstances in which no pressure of time could explain or excuse such behavior. No statistical regularities can explain highly complex human conduct, such as the mode of preparation and consumption of food, or prove that individual choices and decisions have nothing to do with the production of those same regularities.
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All individual choices are made in definite and constantly shifting circumstances: Indeed, what could choice possibly be if it were made in the absence of all circumstances? Can one imagine a life without circumstances? And so it is hardly surprising that statistical regularities occur: minds, not necessarily great ones, often do think alike. The inevitable existence of circumstances does not mean absence or abrogation of choice. To know the circumstances of a man is not also to know his future actions. W hy, then, is the element of individual choice generally avoided in discussions of such social problems as obesity?
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I disregard the unconventional wisdom that obesity is not a problem; conventional wisdom is sometimes right. I think there are three main reasons. The first is that those who emphasize poor choices as an explanation often do forget the circumstances in which choices are made, and therefore underestimate their importance. Where individual choice is emphasized to the exclusion of all else, it can blunt human sympathy and betray an unfeeling and unattractive censoriousness.
Second, the element of personal choice suggests that we can never have a society so perfect that good behavior or self-control will no longer be necessary. Thus, the scope of politics and role of bureaucracy necessarily have limits, and this is not flattering to the self-esteem or self-importance of the providential class—those people who feel that, without their detailed guidance and legislative direction, society is doomed to permanent ignorance, sickness, vice, and disorder.
And this is a serious loss for an educated cohort for whom politics has replaced religion or culture as the source of personal meaning and significance. Third, and most important, is the false and sentimental belief that, in taxing people with even partial responsibility for their downfall, you must thereby be withdrawing all sympathy from them. To tell a drug addict, for example, that he is not ill but rather is behaving foolishly or badly, is on this view to deny him understanding or assistance.
This does not in the least follow, however; though the type of understanding and assistance you will give him will be different from what you would give if you regarded him as solely a victim—say, a dweller of a coastal area devastated by a tsunami. It is sentimental—and, in the last analysis, condescending, dehumanizing, and even brutal—to regard people with self-destructive habits as simply victims of circumstances, who contribute nothing to their unhappy situation.
To Have or to Be by Fromm
It is to regard them as animals at best and as inanimate at worst, and also to assume a locus standi to interfere compulsorily in the smallest details of their lives indeed, the previous government in Britain considered installing video cameras in the homes of bad parents to monitor what was going on there. Ordinary people therefore can only be innocent victims, for if to blame them, even partially, for their own condition is to lack all sympathy for them, then to exculpate them totally is to exhibit maximum sympathy for them.
Those who are not victims are then divided into two classes: the perpetrators and the saviors. The saviors, I need hardly add, soon become professionals in the redemption business. Poor things! They need my help. As for the poor things themselves, such is the nature of human weakness that this is precisely what they, or at least some of them, want to hear, for it means that their misfortunes are not attributable to themselves.
The solution lies elsewhere, and in the meantime, they can continue their pleasurable bad habits without guilt or self-blame. N one of this is to deny the effectiveness of bariatric surgery.