To Have or to Be? The Nature of the Psyche

By Erich Fromm

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To Have Or to Be? is one of the seminal books of the second half of the 20th century. Nothing less than a manifesto for a new social and psychological revolution to save our threatened planet, this book is a summary of the penetrating thought of Eric Fromm. His thesis is that two modes of existence struggle for the spirit of humankind: the having mode, which concentrates o To Have Or to Be? is one of the seminal books of...

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September 6th 2005 by Continuum International Publishing Group

(first published 1976)

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Quotes From "To Have or to Be? The Nature of the Psyche"

"We are a society of notoriously unhappy people: lonely, anxious, depressed, destructive, dependent — people who are glad when we have killed the time we are trying so hard to save."
"Our conscious motivations, ideas, and beliefs are a blend of false information, biases, irrational passions, rationalizations, prejudices, in which morsels of truth swim around and give the reassurance, albeit false, that the whole mixture is real and true. The thinking processes attempt to organize this whole cesspool of illusions according to the laws of plausibility. This level of consciousness is supposed to reflect reality; it is the map we use for organizing our life."
"If I am what I have and if what I have is lost, who then am I?
Nobody but a defeated, deflated, pathetic testimony to a wrong way of living."
"Pleasure and thrill are conducive to sadness after the so-called peak has
been reached; for the thrill has been experienced, but the vessel has not
"..فالسمة الأساسية للطبيعة الإنسانية هي مقدرتها على معرفة ذاتها ومعرفة ما ليس منها، أو ما هو مختلف عنها. وما أن يعي الإنسان هذه الحقيقة حتى نعزل عن الطبيعة وبقية الكائنات، وهذا الإنعزال أو الإنفصال إذا نظرنا إليه من ناحيته الإيجابية يكون الحرية، أما من ناحيته السلبية فهو الإغتراب"
"،أن يكون الإنسان نشيطًا يعني أن يجد نفسه وأن ينمو، ويتدفق، ويحب، ويتجاوز سجن ذاته المنعزلة، وأن يكون شغوفًا ومنصتًا ومعطاء"
"The deepest yearning of human beings seems to be a constellation in which the two poles (motherliness and fatherliness, female and male, mercy and justice, feeling and thought, nature and intellect) are united in a synthesis, in which both sides of the polarity lose their antagonism and, instead, color each other."
"But a map is not enough as a guide for action; we also need a goal that tells us where to go. Animals have no such problems. Their instincts provide them with a map as well as with goals. But lacking instinctive determination and having a brain that permits us to think of many directions in which we can go, we need an object of total devotion, a focal point for all our strivings and the basis for all our effective - not only our proclaimed - values. We need such an object of devotion in order to integrate our energies in one direction, to transcend our isolated existence, with all its doubts and insecurities, and to answer our need for a meaning of life."

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