Erich Fromm was popular in the 1960s
following his book „The Art of Loving“. Also „To Have Or To
Be“ became renown and influential for the wider public. Is Fromm's
somewhat leftist thinking still relevant in a world beyond ideology?
The author of „The Fear of Freedom“
made basic observations of the human being which he moulded into his
idea of „society character“. Fromm was a psychoanalyst by
profession and a studied philosopher. He argued that the human mind
is shaped by society and against inner and outer resistance striving
to liberate from the constraints of this very shape.
Having fled from the Nazis his journey
took Fromm to Mexico in 1949 because of the bad health of his second
wife Henny Gurland. His wife died one year after their arrival.
Why then did he stay? Why did he
continue to found the Mexican Psychoanalytic Institute? What made
Fromm turn to philosophy again? Why does this matter at all for
psychoanalysis. Or is there an idea behind the readings which appeals
to all humanity? His assistant in the study Michael Maccomby says
that during this time Fromm turned from teacher to master. What kind
of thinking made the change? What did the patients teach the analyst
that could be understood through philosophy?
Is Fromm a philosopher in the first
place? Is he a humanist? It still today is commonly known that being
nice to people might be a personal asset. There is no need neither
for psychology nor philosophy to find that out. The question arises
exactly where people are not nice and still in the firm belief to act
righteously. What is the best possible world and how can we achieve
it without destroying the world before getting there? Fromm left an
overwhelming fortune of critical and analytical thinking in which he
entwines the ways of the world and the errants of man.
The question remains as valid as the
problem itself: Is Fromm's contribution to humanistic thinking of
relevance today as it was in his days? If yes, on which basis can it
be so and if no - is humanism relevant today anyway?
Keywords: Erich Fromm in Mexico, Psychoanalysis, Social Philosophy, Humanism
Author: Blaha, Georg (none, Austria / Österreich)