8136 - Critisizing Humanism - Erich Fromm's Mexican Changes

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)


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