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The Art of Loving

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The fiftieth Anniversary Edition of the groundbreaking international bestseller that has shown millions of readers how to achieve rich, productive lives by developing their hidden capacities for love Most people are unable to love on the only level that truly matters: love that is compounded of maturity, self-knowledge, and courage. As with every art, love deman The fiftieth Anniversary Edition of the groundbreaking international bestseller that has shown millions of readers how to achieve rich, productive lives by developing their hidden capacities for love Most people are unable to love on the only level that truly matters: love that is compounded of maturity, self-knowledge, and courage. As with every art, love demands practice and concentration, as well as genuine insight and understanding. In his classic work, The Art of Loving, renowned psychoanalyst and social philosopher Erich Fromm explores love in all its aspects—not only romantic love, steeped in false conceptions and lofty expectations, but also brotherly love, erotic love, self-love, the love of God, and the love of parents for their children.


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The fiftieth Anniversary Edition of the groundbreaking international bestseller that has shown millions of readers how to achieve rich, productive lives by developing their hidden capacities for love Most people are unable to love on the only level that truly matters: love that is compounded of maturity, self-knowledge, and courage. As with every art, love deman The fiftieth Anniversary Edition of the groundbreaking international bestseller that has shown millions of readers how to achieve rich, productive lives by developing their hidden capacities for love Most people are unable to love on the only level that truly matters: love that is compounded of maturity, self-knowledge, and courage. As with every art, love demands practice and concentration, as well as genuine insight and understanding. In his classic work, The Art of Loving, renowned psychoanalyst and social philosopher Erich Fromm explores love in all its aspects—not only romantic love, steeped in false conceptions and lofty expectations, but also brotherly love, erotic love, self-love, the love of God, and the love of parents for their children.

30 review for The Art of Loving

  1. 5 out of 5

    Jeruen

    My goodness, what is this dude smoking? Someone close to me made me aware that this book existed, and so out of curiosity, I decided to borrow the book from the library and read it. It took me 2 days, and really, I hated every bit of this book, for several reasons that I will delineate below. But first, let me tell you what this book is about. Obviously, this is non-fiction. This is written by Erich Fromm, a prominent German social psychologist who happens to belong to the My goodness, what is this dude smoking? Someone close to me made me aware that this book existed, and so out of curiosity, I decided to borrow the book from the library and read it. It took me 2 days, and really, I hated every bit of this book, for several reasons that I will delineate below. But first, let me tell you what this book is about. Obviously, this is non-fiction. This is written by Erich Fromm, a prominent German social psychologist who happens to belong to the Frankfurt School, also known as the proponents of Critical Theory. And in this book, Fromm outlines his theory of love, and how it is an art. As with other arts, such as painting and sculpture, he claims that love has two parts: theory and practice. The book is divided accordingly. In the theory section, he goes over five different types of love: brotherly love, motherly love, erotic love, self-love, and love of God. He explains the different functions of these different types, and its various characteristics. And in the practice section, he basically gives various factors that affect and influence the practice of love. So, where do I begin criticizing this work? First of all, I deeply hated the fact that his arguments are all along the lines of speculation. I am all for empiricism, and he has all these grandiose claims that were never proven with evidence, all throughout the book. He has claims for example about the difference between motherly and fatherly love, about the importance of the male-female divide, about mothers and instinct, but all of his arguments are conjecture, and not actually supported by empirical evidence. I being a scientist have big problems with that. I also think that he suffers from a cultural bias, in that in Eurocentric cultures, at least, love as a concept actually refers to various different things, which roughly corresponds to the different "types" of love. However, I think that it is just an accident of language that English has one word to refer to all of those, which gives the illusion that all of these concepts are inter-related and compose a superset of human emotions. However, one simply has to look to other cultures, and one will realize that there are actually different words that refer to these "types" of love. Greek for example has four different words for what the English language refers to as "love". C. S. Lewis actually has a book discussing the Four Loves as seen in Christianity. Thus, I fear that this book, which is in a way a typology of "love" may actually be resting on the false premise that there is something in common will all manifestations of love, and that Fromm is just undergoing an endeavor that is ontologically faulty. This can be seen by the various differing assumptions that he makes regarding the different types of love. Speaking of assumptions, this is another part in which I have problems with. He makes all these assumptions about the various characteristics of various "loves" but I can think of so many counter-examples to prove him wrong. One assumption he has is the instinct of the mother to her offspring, and how that is the defining factor in motherly love. He claims that mothers by virtue of giving birth of her child, are predisposed to love her child unconditionally. I believe the contrary. I think I can re-explain every phenomenon he tackles with a simpler rule, without resorting to various other assumptions, and that is by claiming that "love" as we know it is simply a matter of constraint satisfaction and selfishness. We show love to a target because we need something from the target: whether it be one's child, one's brother, one's sexual partner, or one's God. If the need goes away, then we stop showing love. Thus, in the case of motherly love, when there is another need that is present in the mother, that runs counter to the need pertaining to the infant, then the mother will sooner or later give up the child for adoption, abandoning the infant in one way or another. If motherly love were instinctive, then we won't actually be witness to the grave number of orphanages around the world. Another assumption he makes is the centrality of the male-female opposition. He claims that these two poles are necessary for real erotic love to happen. By implication, he explicitly claims that homosexuals are incapable of love. I tend to disagree. Personally, I believe that humans can be post-gendered and has the ability to be attracted to another person, regardless of the other person's gender, if one's constraints are set up that way. Thus, gender variation for me is just a matter of constraint setting. I do not like the fact that Fromm categorically eliminates the ability to love from non-heterosexual people. Perhaps it is just the sign of the times he was living in (the book was published in 1956), and important studies by Alfred Kinsey and Evelyn Hooker were not around yet. As of 1956, homosexuality was still listed as a mental illness according to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, and wasn't removed from the list until 1974. Alfred Kinsey published two seminal volumes on sexual behavior of the human male and female, and Evelyn Hooker did several series of experiments providing evidence that self-identified homosexuals were no worse in social adjustment than the general population. I actually found her experiments rather neat, where she took two groups of samples: homosexuals and heterosexuals. She conducted three tests across the two groups: the Thematic Apperception Test; the Make-a-Picture-Story Test; and the Rorschach Inkblot Test. She then asked other specialists to determine whether there is a significant difference between the two samples based on their test performance. In all tests, the specialists' ability to differentiate was no better than chance, suggesting that there are no significant differences between homosexuals and heterosexuals when it comes to social performance. Fromm also has a section on love of God. Again, I can explain this by selfishness. Love of God for me is simply another term for therapeutic delusion. Humans sometimes need to feel that they are not in total control of their lives, to the point that they construct an entity "higher" than them. This in effect removes the blame from themselves, whenever there is a tragic event that has happened. Things that are seemingly beyond their control are given an explanation by invoking the notion of God. This for me is a selfish act, because it's basically a form of a survival mechanism. The human basically victimizes oneself and removes the responsibility and reassigns it to God. Having belief in God also has a second function, and that is to give hope, hoping that the afterlife is better than the present, which again is a survival mechanism, because otherwise, people may not be able to survive the present. Now, I have tried to explain the concept of love by recasting it in terms of selfishness. I do believe that human behavior can be reduced to two terms: selfishness and curiosity. Love is never self-sacrificing. Someone told me that we only continue to love if we are loved in return: we love our mates as long as our mates love us. If not, then the relationship breaks down. So the question is, do I believe in love? I guess the answer depends on what that question actually means. If by believing in love, it refers to the act of immediately finding oneself attracted to some other person, with no rhyme or reason, then I have to answer no. However, if by believing in love, it refers to the act of ascertaining whether an individual is beneficial for oneself, that even though one can survive by its own, one has determined that the system can be improved by factoring in the other person, and therefore pursuing that person, then my answer is yes. Love for me is a selfish act: it's an act of system improvement. It is an economic act, getting something from someone else in exchange for something else. Thus, a successful relationship occurs whenever there are two people who mutually satisfies the needs of each other. So, I have offered here a counter explanation to the phenomenon of love. I believe that it is a simpler explanation, satisfying Occam's Razor. I have fewer assumptions: constraint satisfaction and selfishness. I only assume that those are the two big factors, and the variation on human behavior can be explained by modulating the various constraints that are different across the board. I believe that my thesis here is also testable: I could easily imagine a way to sample this, and one can run a regression model and see whether the factors really are significant or not. Needless to say, I belong more to the experimental psychology camp, than the Frankfurt School. And needless to say, I was dissatisfied with this book. I am giving it 0.5 out of 5 stars.

  2. 4 out of 5

    John Kulm

    I went through this book again partly because it has so much to say, and partly because I wanted to re-read Erich Fromm's instructions on how to meditate. I like the way he puts it, on pages 101 - 102: “If I am attached to another person because I cannot stand on my own feet, he or she may be a lifesaver, but the relationship is not one of love. Paradoxically, the ability to be alone is the condition for the ability to love. Anyone who tries to be alone with himself will discover how difficult i I went through this book again partly because it has so much to say, and partly because I wanted to re-read Erich Fromm's instructions on how to meditate. I like the way he puts it, on pages 101 - 102: “If I am attached to another person because I cannot stand on my own feet, he or she may be a lifesaver, but the relationship is not one of love. Paradoxically, the ability to be alone is the condition for the ability to love. Anyone who tries to be alone with himself will discover how difficult it is. He will begin to feel restless, fidgety, or even to sense considerable anxiety. He will be prone to rationalize his unwillingness to go on with this practice by thinking that it has no value, is just silly, that it takes too much time, and so on, and so on. He will also observe that all sorts of thoughts come to mind which take possession of him. He will find himself thinking about his plans for later in the day, or about some difficulty in a job he has to do, or where to go in the evening, or about any number of things that fill his mind – rather than permitting it to empty itself. It would be helpful to practice a few very simple exercises, as for instance, to sit in a relaxed position (neither slouching, nor rigid), to close one’s eyes, and to try to see a white screen in front of one’s eyes, and to try to remove all interfering pictures and thoughts, then to try to follow one’s breathing; not to think about it, nor force it, but to follow it – and in doing so to sense it; furthermore to try to have a sense of 'I'; I = myself, as the center of my powers, as the creator of my world. One should, at least, do such a concentration exercise every morning for twenty minutes (and if possible longer) and every evening before going to bed.”

  3. 5 out of 5

    Ahmad Sharabiani

    The Art of Loving, Erich Fromm The Art of Loving, is a 1956 book, by psychoanalyst and social philosopher Erich Fromm, which was published as part of the World Perspectives Series, edited by Ruth Nanda Anshen. In this work, Fromm develops his perspective on human nature, from his earlier work, Escape from Freedom and Man for Himself – principles which he revisits in many of his other major works. تاریخ نخستین خوانش: دز یکی از روزها سال 1974 میلادی عنوان: هنر عشق ورزیدن؛ نویسنده: ا The Art of Loving, Erich Fromm The Art of Loving, is a 1956 book, by psychoanalyst and social philosopher Erich Fromm, which was published as part of the World Perspectives Series, edited by Ruth Nanda Anshen. In this work, Fromm develops his perspective on human nature, from his earlier work, Escape from Freedom and Man for Himself – principles which he revisits in many of his other major works. تاریخ نخستین خوانش: دز یکی از روزها سال 1974 میلادی عنوان: هنر عشق ورزیدن؛ نویسنده: اریش فروم؛ مترجم: پوری سلطانی؛ تهران، امیرکبیر، 1348؛ در 235 ص؛ موضوع: عشق از نویسندگان آلمانی تبار امریکایی - سده 20 م آنکه هیچ نمیداند، به چیزی عشق نمیورزد، آنکه عشق میورزد، بیگمان چیزی میداند. پایان نقل. بسیار یاد گرفتم از خواندن دوباره اش، همیشه آفرین بر هنر عشق، درک و تمیز جدائی و وصال، نسخه مرداد ماه سال 1353 هجری خورشیدی، با گفتاری از« جاب «مجید رهنما». ا. شربیانی

  4. 5 out of 5

    Trevor

    If my mate George hadn’t recommended this book there is no chance at all that I would have read it. I’ve a strange relationship with LOVE – in that I think it is grossly overrated by our society. You could get away with thinking that if you were not ‘in love’ in our society then there is something terribly wrong with you. Never mind that the notion of being constantly ‘in love’ – in a world where this is all too frequently confused with being infatuated – would be a nightmare not worth living.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Nawal

    This book confirms the idea that reading is a basic tool in the living of a good life, a better one indeed. Reading the Art of love awoke inside me some long dormant craving to approach the subject matter of love in a Tangible and Lucid way as Fromm did. In this book, Fromm asserts that love is essential to human flourishing and survival "love is the answer to the problem of human existence" he discusses frankly and candidly his theory of love in all its aspects: not only r This book confirms the idea that reading is a basic tool in the living of a good life, a better one indeed. Reading the Art of love awoke inside me some long dormant craving to approach the subject matter of love in a Tangible and Lucid way as Fromm did. In this book, Fromm asserts that love is essential to human flourishing and survival "love is the answer to the problem of human existence" he discusses frankly and candidly his theory of love in all its aspects: not only romantic love, so steeped in false conceptions, but also love of parents for children, brotherly love, erotic love, self-love and love for God. Learning to love, he suggests, requires care, responsibility, respect, and knowledge to master the art of love as he metaphorically puts it. Fromm also writes about the disintegration of love in contemporary western society; he stressed tirelessly that modern Western society practices “the socially patterned pathology of love”, thus, love in the forms he describes is a relatively rare phenomenon in capitalist society, and that its place is taken by a number of forms of pseudo-love which are in reality so many forms of the disintegration of love.” In short, Erich Fromm believes that love is not a noun or object, but a verb or practice, the way you practice love depends on your approach and understanding of the existential problems of your life and at the same time, determines the wholeness you will experience as a human being. In a more practical sense, reading The Art of Loving can give you tools to help you learn the art of living as well. “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 judgment and decision.” “Modern man has transformed himself into a commodity; he experiences his life energy as an investment with which he should make the highest profit, considering his position and the situation on the personality market. He is alienated from himself, from his fellow men and from nature. His main aim is a profitable exchange of his skills, knowledge, and of himself, his "personality package" with others who are equally intent on a fair and profitable exchange. Life has no goal except the one to move, no principle except the one of fair exchange, no satisfaction except the one to consume.”

  6. 5 out of 5

    Carlo

    One of my favorite books. I've read it three times now, and i'll probably read it several more times in the future. I really appreciate what a "down to earth" way of dealing with his subject matter that Fromm has. He recognizes that no book can make you a more loving person, but he does recognize that by calling our attention to the myriad ways that we misunderstand, and deceive ourselves about love, we can begin to approach a better understanding of what it might take to become better lovers. H One of my favorite books. I've read it three times now, and i'll probably read it several more times in the future. I really appreciate what a "down to earth" way of dealing with his subject matter that Fromm has. He recognizes that no book can make you a more loving person, but he does recognize that by calling our attention to the myriad ways that we misunderstand, and deceive ourselves about love, we can begin to approach a better understanding of what it might take to become better lovers. He implicates everything from our philosophical assumptions to the way we work in a capitalist society to the way we endlessly pursue idle amusement over the development of the kind of character that energizes a person to act more lovingly in the world. Being principally a psychoanalyst, Fromm is also extremely helpful at helping us see the connections between how we act, how we think, and what we learned early on about the meaning (or illusion/delusion/frustration) of love. Another book I think I could benefit from reading every other year.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Alli

    Have you ever held an idea so closely to the sides of your skull, you could never find the words or phrases to articulate it until someone stopped by and presented you with exactly what you had been searching for? Erich Fromm did this for me in the context of mature and fulfilling relationships. In the words of a good friend "more people should realized that 'serious' philosophers devote think about such things" - 'such things' being how interpersonal relationships are the bedrock of most human Have you ever held an idea so closely to the sides of your skull, you could never find the words or phrases to articulate it until someone stopped by and presented you with exactly what you had been searching for? Erich Fromm did this for me in the context of mature and fulfilling relationships. In the words of a good friend "more people should realized that 'serious' philosophers devote think about such things" - 'such things' being how interpersonal relationships are the bedrock of most human beings' sanity, and the fact that most of us have the incredible ability to create very unhealthy relationships. Fromm tells us that first, being an happy, full person on your own, full of self-love, discipline, and productivity is necessary. Then, wishing for all the same in another human being, creates a bridge of emotion. Respect, awareness, and rationality then form the basis of "practicing" love. Above all, Fromm tells us that loving someone is a decision, and as such, we have full control over our relationships with others and the satisfaction that we derive from them. As a critique, I will say this: Fromm very obviously had little understanding (or concern with) homosexuality, or any other sexual identity not in line with heterosexual, adult couples. This ignorance on his part is apparent at a point in his writing, but I feel also colors his opinions on fatherhood and the relationship between parents and children. After all, if one believes that a parent's role is directly related to their gender to the extent that it restricts and forms their emotional attachments, then that person could not understand healthy and fulfilled couples of the same gender (or no gender) who successfully fill all the necessary roles of parenthood.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Ebony

    I underestimated the power of this rather unsophisticated looking book. I have no idea who Fromm is but I imagine since he’s a German Jew and lived through both world wars that he’s a pretty insightful scholar. He writes so eloquently about what love is and what is it not that I felt enlightened with every sentence. Actually, I was imagining myself as bell hooks reading it for the first time in preparation to write All About Love. So many of her premises are grounded in Fromm’s theories and I lo I underestimated the power of this rather unsophisticated looking book. I have no idea who Fromm is but I imagine since he’s a German Jew and lived through both world wars that he’s a pretty insightful scholar. He writes so eloquently about what love is and what is it not that I felt enlightened with every sentence. Actually, I was imagining myself as bell hooks reading it for the first time in preparation to write All About Love. So many of her premises are grounded in Fromm’s theories and I love All About Love. Basically Fromm argues that love is an art that requires practice and it requires that we get outside of ourselves enough to want to get into the deeper parts of another person. He writes about the human passion for connectedness and our angst with the constant knowledge of our separation from the world. Love is a form of (re)union that puts us back in connection with God and earth and other beings. Sometimes we try to recreate that union with sex but sex without love does not solve the problem in earnest. He writes a lot about how love attachments are formed in childhood through our parental relationships—a mother’s love is unconditional; a father’s love is earned. He argues that our concept of a father God is rather infantile because we only aim (in Christianity in particular) to gain the approval of God instead of aiming to be like God—the embodiment of love. He admits to not believing in God so his God love sections are biased, but thought-provoking nonetheless. He also makes the argument that God had to become love. Well, that’s not his argument really, but after reading I understand God becoming love throughout the Old Testament in his increasing promises not to simply kill as punishment anymore until we get to Jesus as the perfect sacrifice. I like the idea of God growing into love and me trying to be like God—it suggests that there is hope. I like his idea of love and sex as essentially giving and how one cannot love if one is either selfish or selfless because self-love is the premise for all other types of love and how one cannot have erotic love without brotherly love because to love the object of one’s erotic affection is to embody the capacity to love humankind. Good stuff. All day.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Steph

    More than just an average self-help book on (spoiler: you must love yourself and develop the capacity to love before you can love others), Fromm takes a socio-political-historical-psychoanalytic approach to the topic of Love. There are times when it does get a bit theoretical (which is a PLUS for me because I am a nerd), but the book is very much accessible. A friend recently commented that if more people read this book, there would be a lot more happy, functional relationships. True dat. < More than just an average self-help book on (spoiler: you must love yourself and develop the capacity to love before you can love others), Fromm takes a socio-political-historical-psychoanalytic approach to the topic of Love. There are times when it does get a bit theoretical (which is a PLUS for me because I am a nerd), but the book is very much accessible. A friend recently commented that if more people read this book, there would be a lot more happy, functional relationships. True dat. This book came at a very critical time in my personal development, so that may be why it was so profound. I think that anyone can take something away from it (I have a friend who reads this book once a year!). It may not affect you the same way, but at the very least, it will make you think about Love in a more complex, critical manner. Love as a way of living, rather than an object to be procured or given away. And of course keep in mind the time period that this was written (50s), so there are some outdated references.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Amanda

    Gave up at 1/3 because it simply became unbearable. If you are a very traditional conservative white middle-class cisgender person, who is familiar with the bible but still loves Freud: you have found your guide. If you are any other category of human, this book is probably not for you. The constant denial of non-binary genders, the labelling of love between gay people as a mistake and a failure, the endless sexism in describing the roles of men and women, I could go on and Gave up at 1/3 because it simply became unbearable. If you are a very traditional conservative white middle-class cisgender person, who is familiar with the bible but still loves Freud: you have found your guide. If you are any other category of human, this book is probably not for you. The constant denial of non-binary genders, the labelling of love between gay people as a mistake and a failure, the endless sexism in describing the roles of men and women, I could go on and on... I can see a little spark in the text every now and then, some hopeful words that can be seen as wise and guiding. But if the wrapping of these messages is just one big pile of discrimination (not very lovable..) then I simply cannot take it. If you have this book on your shelves and want to make it useful somehow: for a good workout, do some push ups every time you encounter the word 'penetration'.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Thomas

    3.5 stars "Love is an activity, not a passive affect; it is a 'standing in,' not a 'falling for.' In the most general way, the active character of love can be described by stating that love is primarily giving, not receiving." Thank goodness this book exists. Often in contemporary society we misconstrue love as a cure-all for all of our problems: instead of learning the art of love, which requires great depth and practice, we resort to insta-love, to using others to complete ourselves, and to projecting our o/>"Love 3.5 stars "Love is an activity, not a passive affect; it is a 'standing in,' not a 'falling for.' In the most general way, the active character of love can be described by stating that love is primarily giving, not receiving." Thank goodness this book exists. Often in contemporary society we misconstrue love as a cure-all for all of our problems: instead of learning the art of love, which requires great depth and practice, we resort to insta-love, to using others to complete ourselves, and to projecting our own insecurities onto the people around us. In his book The Art of Loving, Fromm deconstructs the shallow image of love so many people possess, and he delves into what constitutes true love: care, responsibility, respect, and knowledge. Another quote that stood out to me and will remain one of my favorites: "Love is possible only if two persons communicate with each other from the center of their existence, hence if each one of them experiences himself from the center of his existence. Only in this 'central experience' is human reality, only here is aliveness, only here is the basis for love. Love, experienced thus, is a constant challenge; it is not a resting place, but a moving, growing, working together; even whether there is harmony or conflict, joy or sadness, is secondary to the fundamental fact that two people experience themselves from the essence of their existence, that they are one with each other by being one with themselves, rather than by fleeing from themselves. There is only one proof for the presence of love: the depth of the relationship, and the aliveness and strength in each person concerned; this is the fruit by which love is recognized." While this book contains a ton of eye-opening insight, I did not agree with all of its ideas, in particular the concepts it drew from exclusive heterosexual relationships and religion. I understand that The Art of Loving came out in 1956, which may explain its arguments that homosexuality suffers from the pain of never-resolved separateness, or that we must equal love of God with love of man. Still, these parts of the book clouded the rest of its conviction and radiance, which saddened me because Fromm combined theories from history, philosophy, religion, and more. Overall, recommended to those interested in love or psychology. While my rating might look a little low, I believe that reading this book could change many people's lives for the better.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Abby

    Everyone should read this book. It's for people who are in or trying to be in a relationship, but it's really also for any person who wants to be a better world citizen, in terms of how we relate to everyone (significant other, family, friends, strangers, etc.). The premise is really that today's modern/Western/Capitalistic society does not allow for people to truly practice the "art of love"--that being the art of loving a significant other or of brotherly love or neighborly love. That is why s Everyone should read this book. It's for people who are in or trying to be in a relationship, but it's really also for any person who wants to be a better world citizen, in terms of how we relate to everyone (significant other, family, friends, strangers, etc.). The premise is really that today's modern/Western/Capitalistic society does not allow for people to truly practice the "art of love"--that being the art of loving a significant other or of brotherly love or neighborly love. That is why so many people have difficulty keeping/finding/understanding love. Essentially the ability to love and have compassion for others is a state of being that requires characteristics that are made use of throughout life, not only in relationships. The beginning of the book gets a little cynical about society, but the last two or three chapters more than make up for it. Discipline, responsibility, faith (not in God/religion, but in yourself and others), not being lazy/apathetic, not being narcissistic, giving, etc. are some of the key concepts discussed. I don't have the book with me, otherwise, I would write down some of my favorite quotations, but at the very least, everyone should read through the last two chapters.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Jareed

    Also posted on my blog: i'mbookedindefinitely There's a lot of grain of truth in this theorizing and objectification of love that Erich Fromm successfully wrote. Let me quote with liberality such instances more so for the inherent beauty and magnificence of such statements. One page xix "It (book) wants to convince the reader that all his attempts at love are bound to fail; unless he tries most actively develop his total personality so as to achieve a productive orientation." On page 22 Also posted on my blog: i'mbookedindefinitely There's a lot of grain of truth in this theorizing and objectification of love that Erich Fromm successfully wrote. Let me quote with liberality such instances more so for the inherent beauty and magnificence of such statements. One page xix "It (book) wants to convince the reader that all his attempts at love are bound to fail; unless he tries most actively develop his total personality so as to achieve a productive orientation." On page 22 "Love is an activity, not a passive effect; it is a 'standing in' not a 'falling for.' In the most general way the active character of love can be described by stating that love is primarily giving, not receiving." On page 56 "To love somebody is not just a strong feeling — it is a decision, it is a judgement, it is a promise. If love were only a feeling, there would be no promise to base the promise to love each other forever. A feeling may comes as it may go. How can I judge that it will stay forever, when my act does not involve judgement and decision?" On page 71 "Most people believe that love is constituted by the object not by the faculty. Because one does not see that love is an activity, a power of the soul, one believes that all that is necessary to find is the right object - and that everything goes by itself afterward. This attitude can be compared to a man who wants to paint but who, instead of learning the art, claims that he has just to wait for the right object and that he will paint beautifully when he finds it. If I truly love one person I love all persons, I love the world, I love life. If I can say to someone 'I love you,' I must be able to say, 'I love in you everybody, I love through you the world, I love in you also myself." From a scholar and an academician's perspective, Art of Loving is highly reminiscent and indicative of the great scholar Fromm is. His arguments are well thought out and psychologically anchored. The conclusions are convincingly rationalized. My propensity to disagree however trickles in regarding certain points in his arguments. Fromm situates fatherly love as love that is conditional in contrast to motherly love as unconditional. This condition, Fromm writes, depends on the child's capacity to please, satisfy and fulfill every fatherly expectation, requirement and demand. Now before anything else, the strength of this forthcoming argument is not anchored on personal disposition (for I am neither a father nor a husband yet) nor is it on a personal father-son relationship but on the patent criticism on Freud's study —that much of adult psychological development is founded on the child's experience (because it perpetuates that development is not progress and change but accumulation of the same static component). Now for you Fathers out there, is Fatherly love truly conditional? Does it really depend upon any fulfillment of a condition? Isn't it a bit partial, bordering sexism for fatherly love to be labeled as conditional? This is pivotal since Fromm forwards the argument that conditional fatherly love is the significant half component for the development of a mature being capable of truly loving. Cannot fatherly love be demanding, hard-driving, expectant and directing while at the same time be unconditional? Because in contrast to what Fromm writes, that the failure to transcend the conditional fatherly love results to one extreme end of the stick, the incomplete and incapable-of-loving person, perhaps such incapability have resulted from such conditional fatherly love in a very fundamental manner. Fromm's proposition of this kind of a fatherly love however carries something more portentous because as much as reality has put it, the general rule is non-fulfillment of such 'condition' and the fulfillment being the exception which necessarily forwards the conclusion that most individuals are incapable of loving. The social milieu (having been published at 1956) at the time of the writing of this book is gleamed from the very words and arguments Fromm has employed. Take for example Fromm's argument on homosexuality, capitalism, and on criticism on Freud. What surprised me however is Fromm's repeated employment of biblical passages and resources. In hindsight this should have come with no surprise at all as no better book talks (categorically and objectively) about love than the Bible, and this is true whether one reads it as a religious keystone or as a plain literary work. Basically one of the theses of this book is that an individual has to be a complete individual by himself/herself. And I have always believed this to be true and found that acclaimed romantic statement 'you complete me!' to be a grossly incorrect statement. Fromm hits that mark masterfully. Considering it all, Art of Loving is one enlightening work, something I'd never fail to recommend.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Tanvika

    ' love is the only sane and satisfactory answer to the problems of human existence' This very little book dispels a lot of myths about 'love'.our culture is obsessed with love. We have innumerable romantic movies,songs, literature,dances centred on it. 'falling in love' is valued highly. Humans are on the look out for ' the one's ( generally judging on the basis of material prosperity, physical attractiveness) Young people are expected to get married. brotherhood,concern for othe ' love is the only sane and satisfactory answer to the problems of human existence' This very little book dispels a lot of myths about 'love'.our culture is obsessed with love. We have innumerable romantic movies,songs, literature,dances centred on it. 'falling in love' is valued highly. Humans are on the look out for ' the one's ( generally judging on the basis of material prosperity, physical attractiveness) Young people are expected to get married. brotherhood,concern for others is also emphasised during festivals. On the other side,there is endless violence,poverty,loneliness,despair, alienation,depression in the world. So, do we actual know what love is? Fromm disagrees with the popular notions about love. He considers love as an art : to be understood and practiced sincerely. People cultivate an attitude of loving universally, not craving 'to be loved'. In particular, the writer points out to our notions of love being developed by the western capitalistic culture. The nature of work is standardized routine tasks. The individual is also expected to be a standardized consumer. The individual become alienated,insecure,anxious and becomes a machine. The person seeks escapes of various kinds: more work,passive amusments. Such an individual cant love.the marriage is according to exchange value where people are still strangers to each other, trying to maintain it somehow. This section did horrify and disturb me. Finally the solutions that he offers are quite sketchy as love is an experience. patience,concentration, art of listening,overcoming narcissism. It is quite similar to mindfulness in buddhism. Fromm vision is lofty and idealistic. It isn't impractical.it makes us question the way we have played with words and feeling ,unaware about its essence. As Camus says ' the opposite of idealist is very often a man without love's.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Sarah

    This book is absolutely unbelievable. It's no surprise it's considered one of the most important books of the 1960s. Erich Fromm's ideas about what "loving" means are mind-blowing, and bring to the forefront every problem I've witnessed in myself, and in others, in relationships. It's not a stupid self-help guide on how to love people or something cheesy like that. It's an honest look at how people's perceptions of love and loving have changed. And it's sensational.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Emad Attili

    “Love isn't something natural. Rather it requires discipline, concentration, patience, faith, and the overcoming of narcissism. It isn't a feeling, it is a practice.” Is it a coincidence that I embark on the journey of reading Fromm’s Art of Loving right after I finished reading Eagleton’s Meaning of Life –which he concluded by considering ‘love’ as the ultimate answer for the question of existence? To be honest, I don’t believe in coincidences. It must be destiny. In this book, Fromm explored LOVE thoroughly beginni “Love isn't something natural. Rather it requires discipline, concentration, patience, faith, and the overcoming of narcissism. It isn't a feeling, it is a practice.” Is it a coincidence that I embark on the journey of reading Fromm’s Art of Loving right after I finished reading Eagleton’s Meaning of Life –which he concluded by considering ‘love’ as the ultimate answer for the question of existence? To be honest, I don’t believe in coincidences. It must be destiny. ‎‫‏‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬ In this book, Fromm explored LOVE thoroughly beginning from ‘brotherly love’ and eventually ending with ‘love of God’- which he considered as the purest form of love there is. The whole book was short and pleasant and reading it was truly interesting. I didn’t feel bored at all. This is the fifth book I read for Erich Fromm (I guess) and I intend on reading the rest of his books. I get new ideas and perspectives from each book I read for him.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Farhan Khalid

    The process of learning an art can be divided into two parts: One, the mastery of the theory The other, the mastery of the practice The mastery of the art must be a matter of ultimate concern Man is gifted with reason He is life being aware of itself He has awareness of himself, of his fellow man, of his past, and of the possibilities of his future There is no good and evil unless there is freedom to disobey The process of learning an art can be divided into two parts: One, the mastery of the theory The other, the mastery of the practice The mastery of the art must be a matter of ultimate concern Man is gifted with reason He is life being aware of itself He has awareness of himself, of his fellow man, of his past, and of the possibilities of his future There is no good and evil unless there is freedom to disobey After man and woman have become aware of themselves and of each other, they are aware of their separateness Adam defends himself by blaming Eve, rather than trying to defend her The awareness of human separation, without reunion by love is the source of shame, guilty and anxiety The deepest need of man, then, is the need to overcome his separateness, to leave the prison of his aloneness The absolute failure to achieve this aim means insanity But the more the human race emerges from these primary bonds, the more it separate itself from the natural world, the more intense becomes the need to find new ways of escaping separateness It seems that after the orgiastic experience, man can go on for a time without suffering too much from his separateness The sexual act without love never bridges the gap between two human beings, except momentarily Equality today means "sameness" rather than "oneness" The desire for interpersonal fusion is the most powerful striving in man The failure to achieve it means insanity or destruction - self destruction or destruction of others There can be masochistic submission to fate, to sickness, to rhythmic music, to the orgiastic state produced by drugs or under hypnotic trance - in all these instances the person renounces his integrity, makes himself the instrument of somebody or something outside of himself The sadistic person commands, exploits, hurts, humiliates, and the masochistic person commanded, exploited, hurt, humiliated This is a difference in a realistic sense: fusion without integrity Mature love is union under the condition of pressing one's integrity, one's individuality In love the paradox occurs that two beings become one and yet remain two Spinoza: the virtue and power are one and same Envy, jealousy, ambition, any kind of greed are passions Love is an action, the practice of human power, which can be practiced only in freedom and never as the result of a compulsion Love is an activity, not a passive affect Love is a "standing" not a "falling for" The active character of love can be described by stating that love is primarily giving, not receiving Giving is more joyous than receiving, not because it is a deprivation, but because in the act of giving lies the expression of my aliveness The basic need to fuse with another person so as to transcend the prison of one's separateness is closely related to another specifically human desire, that to know the "secret of man": Way of complete power over another person The other path to knowing "the secret" is love Love is active penetration of the other person The problem of knowing man is parallel to the religious problem of knowing God The idea of polarization of masculine and feminine is most strikingly expressed in the myth that originally man and woman were one In the love between man and woman, each of them is reborn Infantile love: I am loved because I am Or: I love because I am loved Mature love: I am loved because I love Immature love: I love you because I need you Mature love: I need you because I love you The development of the capacity of love is the development of the object of love The relationship to mother loses some of its vital significance, and instead the relationship to father becomes more and more important Father does not represent the natural world He represents the other pole of human existence: the world of thought, of man-made things, of law and order, of discipline, of travel and adventure Father is the one who teaches the child, who shows him the road into the world Fatherly love is conditional love Its principle is "I love you because you fulfil my expectations ,because you do your duty, because you are like me" Obedience becomes the main virtue, disobedience is the main sin I can work for it, his love is not outside of my control as motherly love is If a person loves only one other person and is indifferent to the rest of his fellow men, his love is not love but a symbiotic attachment, or an enlarged egotism Brotherly love is based on the experience that we all are one Brotherly love is love between equals In erotic love, two people who were separate become one In motherly love, two people who were one become separate A woman can be a truly loving mother if she can love, if she is able to love her husband, other children, strangers, all human beings Erotic love is by its very nature exclusive and not universal It is perhaps the most deceptive form of love there is Sexual desire can be stimulated by the anxiety of aloneness, by the wish to conquer or conquered, by vanity, by the wish to hurt and even to destroy, as much as it can be stimulated by love Married couple: they are two people who identify themselves with each other, and who solve the problem of separateness by enlarging the single individual into two. They have the experience of overcoming aloneness 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 Love is exclusively an act of will and commitment Love of others and love of ourselves are not alternatives Love, in principle, is indivisible as far as the connection between "objects" and one's own self is concerned Genuine love is an expression of productiveness and implies care, respect, responsibility and knowledge If an individual is able to love productively, he loves himself too, if he can love only others, he cannot love at all Meister Eckhart: if you love yourself, you love everybody else as you do yourself The understanding of concept of God must start with an analysis of character structure of the person who worships The concept of God is only a historical conditioned one in which man has expressed his experience of his higher powers, his longing for truth and unity The teacher of paradoxical logic says that man can perceive reality only in contradictions From the standpoint of paradoxical logic the emphasis is not on thought, but on the act Paradoxical thought led to tolerance and an effort toward self-transformation The Aristotelian standpoint led to dogma and science, to the Catholic Church, and to the discovery of atomic energy In Western religious system: the love of God is belief in God, in God's existence, God's justice, God's love In the Eastern religions and mysticism: the love of God is an intense feeling experience of oneness The love for God cannot be separated from the love for one's parents Modern capitalism needs men who cooperate smoothly and in large numbers, who want to consume more and more, whose tastes are standardized and can be influenced and anticipated Modern man is alienated from himself, from his fellow men, and from nature The strict routine of bureaucratized, mechanical work, which helps people to remain unaware of their most fundamental human desires, of the longing for transcendence and unity Amusement industry Idea of the team Love is not the result of adequate sexual satisfaction, but sexual happiness For Freud love is in itself an irrational phenomenon Falling in love always verges on the abnormal, is always accompanied by blindness to reality and compulsiveness Love as mutual sexual satisfaction and love as "teamwork" and as haven from aloneness, are two "normal" forms of the disintegration of love in modern Western society The basic condition for neurotic love lies in the fact that one or both of the "lovers" have remained attached to the figure of a parent These men still feel like children; they want mother's protection, love, warmth, care, and admiration Their aim is to be loved, not to love If they have found the right women, they feel secure and on the top of the world If failed: The man feels deeply hurt and disappointed Idolatrous love: man loses himself in the loved person instead of finding himself Sentimental love: love is experienced only in the phantasy Consumers of screen pictures, magazine love stories and love songs Projective mechanisms: 1. Avoiding own problems, and being concerned with the defects of "loved" person 2. Projection of one's own problem on the children Love necessarily means the absence of conflict Love is constant challenge. It is not a resting place but a moving, growing, working together Life has no goal except the one to move, no principle except the one of fair exchange, no satisfaction except the one to consume The belief in God has been transformed into a psychological device to make one better fitted for the competitive struggle The practice of an art requires discipline, concentration, patience and supreme concern Without discipline, life becomes shattered, chaotic, and lacks in concentration One does not begin to learn an art directly, but indirectly Concentration is to learn to be alone with oneself without doing anything Concentration means to be able to be alone with oneself 1. Try to see white screen 2. Follow one's breathing 3. I = myself, as the center of my powers, as the creator of my world One must learn to be concentrated in everything one does To be concentrated in relation to others means primarily to be able to listen One cannot learn to concentrate without becoming sensitive to oneself Analyze oneself State of relaxed alertness The opposite pole to narcissism is objectivity The faculty to think objectively is reason Emotional attitude behind reason is that of humility The ability to love depends on one's capacity to emerge from narcissism The practice of the art of loving requires the practice of faith Rational love: certainty and firmness Irrational love: one's submission to irrational authority Rational love is rooted in productive intellectual and emotional activity In experience, confidence, power of thought, observation and judgment Education is identical with helping the child realize his potentialities The basis of rational faith is productiveness To have faith requires courage, the ability to take a risk, the readiness to accept pain and disappointment Whoever insists on safety and security as primary conditions of life cannot have faith The faith in power is opposite of the faith in love Love is an act of faith The capacity to love demands a state of intensity, awakeness and enhanced vitality Love is the only sane and satisfactory answer to the problem of human existence

  18. 5 out of 5

    Hoda Marmar

    The Art of Loving by Erich Fromm was first published in 1956. It addresses love as an art to practice and master, rather than as a fleeting emotional mystery or a magical lightning strike. He argues that love is holistic and should not be seen as separate from man's nature. Love inherently connects all aspects of man, and all forms of love (brotherly, erotic, parent-child, God, motherly, fatherly, and self loves) are the manifestation of one's way of living (loving or non-loving), his tolerance, The Art of Loving by Erich Fromm was first published in 1956. It addresses love as an art to practice and master, rather than as a fleeting emotional mystery or a magical lightning strike. He argues that love is holistic and should not be seen as separate from man's nature. Love inherently connects all aspects of man, and all forms of love (brotherly, erotic, parent-child, God, motherly, fatherly, and self loves) are the manifestation of one's way of living (loving or non-loving), his tolerance, and his ability to grow. The transforming man seeks mature love and faces his alienation in a capitalist society and his anxiety of being separated from others through discipline, concentration, patience, and practice in all aspects of his life. He learns to cope with being truly alone, and seeks only meaningful bonds and behaviors. Love is a way of living, and not just an emotion or an instinct. Erich Fromm's writing style makes it easy for the non-academic reader to follow through. His ideas are well organized into chapters, and each chapter into subtitles, and within each subtitle, many paragraphs are interlinked and flow smoothly and logically. He gives an explanation or an example when needed. He revisits a concept to further develop it when it helps his argument. He shows pros and cons, and opposing schools of thought before making his own statement such as Aritotle's logic versus Taoist paradoxical logic, Sullivan versus Freud on defining love, and Eastern versus Western spirituality. When he talks of neurotic and projection-al loves, he gives extensive examples of love self-concept gone wrong and unhealthy fixation to a parent figure in the course of its development. In short, the organization and fluidity of the information is so neat and easy to follow. Kudos to Erich! In his arguments, Fromm contrasts many notions, some of which are the following: • Art vs. chance • Being loved vs. loving • Object of love vs. its function • Falling in love vs. being in love • Motherly unconditional love vs. fatherly conditional love • Self love: selfishness vs. unselfishness • Education vs. manipulation • Love thy neighbor vs. radical nihilism in a capitalist society The whole book falls into 4 chapters and 133 pages. It is highly quotable and quite insightful about how love develops psychologically and socially in its many forms. Reading it leads to a better understanding of why we do what we do, why we have certain beliefs and confusions about love and ourselves, and what might hinder our personal growth and our ability to love. Fromm argues that only mature love, stemming from care and responsibility for one another's growth (among other characteristics), only that genuine love can help us face our mortality and the injustice of life and death. I highly recommend this book to those who are willing to introspect and dig deeper into the depths of their psyche and face their insecurities and misconceptions about love, because I firmly believe that nobody fully knows how to love oneself, others, and the world. This book is a good building block; it taught me plenty. I will sum up the book with a line from Neruda: “If nothing saves us from death, at least love should save us from life.”

  19. 4 out of 5

    Philipp

    The first time I read this book I was doing my undergrad - about ten years ago, given to me by a girlfriend at that time. I should've read this closer. Anyway, the central thesis is that love is something very different from what popular/current culture tells you it is. It's not infatuation with a person (even thought his definition encompasses this), it's an attitude, the way a person relates to the world. It's a far cry from the weird American cover which makes it look like a self-h The first time I read this book I was doing my undergrad - about ten years ago, given to me by a girlfriend at that time. I should've read this closer. Anyway, the central thesis is that love is something very different from what popular/current culture tells you it is. It's not infatuation with a person (even thought his definition encompasses this), it's an attitude, the way a person relates to the world. It's a far cry from the weird American cover which makes it look like a self-help book, it's not really that - it's interpretative psychoanalysis in same vein as Freud, very little data, lots of art (a similar and also great book is The Denial of Death). Some things I would like to stuff into a time machine to younger me ('Most people see the problem of love primarily as that of being loved, rather than that of loving, of one's capacity to love. Hence the problem to them is how to be loved, how to be lovable.'), some other stuff is clearly a product of the 50s (to him, homosexuals are incapable of true love - transsexuals don't even exist - gender roles are pretty strict, with maternal love (a caring love) and paternal love (a teaching and directing love) being different and being only available to their respective gender). As it was popular back then it's closer to philosophy than to psychology - he often uses Freud's teachings about love and sexuality as starting points for his own philosophy on love. I wouldn't say it's required, but it's definitely recommended reading - some points fall too short and are underdiscussed, I'm hoping The Sane Society will be more in-depth. P.S.: Bonus quote: I should add here that just as it is important to avoid trivial conversation, it is important to avoid bad company. By bad company I do not refer only to people who are vicious and destructive; one should avoid their company because their orbit is poisonous and depressing. I mean also the company of zombies, of people whose soul is dead, although their body is alive; of people whose thoughts and conversation are trivial; who chatter instead of talk, and who assert cliche opinions instead of thinking.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Cleo

    I would give it 6 stars if I could!

  21. 4 out of 5

    Hans

    I would love to have been one Erich Fromm's close friends because we would have gotten along smashingly. Luckily for me he chose to be an author so I could at least get to know him through his immortal writings. This was yet another fantastic and well written book. My favorite concept that really struck me was his explanation of how American Culture though materially wealthy leaves most of us with strong feeling of alienation from others. Fromm explains that this alienation is, in part, due to o I would love to have been one Erich Fromm's close friends because we would have gotten along smashingly. Luckily for me he chose to be an author so I could at least get to know him through his immortal writings. This was yet another fantastic and well written book. My favorite concept that really struck me was his explanation of how American Culture though materially wealthy leaves most of us with strong feeling of alienation from others. Fromm explains that this alienation is, in part, due to our obsession with wanting to be loved rather than developing the capacity to love. We work hard on our appearance, our charm, our sex appeal to try and 'win' love. When our focus instead should be on learning how to grow our hearts so we can love ourselves and others. He believes this can only be achieved like the mastery of any art, through self-discipline, focus, and concentrated effort. Enduring Love is active, and our concept of "falling in love" is passive. Here are my favorite excerpts "Love is the only sane and satisfactory answer to the problem of human existence, then any society which excludes, relatively, the development of love, must in the long run perish of its own contradiction with the basic necessities of human nature" "Human values have become determined by economic values. What is good for machines must be good for man --so goes the logic. Modern man thinks he loses something-time--when he does not do things quickly; yet he does not know what to do with the time he gains --except kill it" "With regard to to the the art of loving, this means that anyone who aspire to become a master in this art must begin by practicing discipline, concentration and patience throughout every phase of his life" "Irrational faith is the acceptance of something as true only because an authority or the majority say so, rational faith is rooted in an independent conviction based upon one's own productive observing and thinking, in spite of the majority's opinion" "The root of the word education is e-ducere, literally, to lead forth, or to bring out something which is potentially present" "Love is possible only if two persons communicate with each other from the center of their existence, hence if each one of them experiences himself from the center of his existence. Only in this 'central experience" is human reality, only here is aliveness, only here is the basis for love. Love, experienced thus is a constant challenge; it is not a resting place, but a moving, growing, working together...they are one with each other by being one with themselves" "First the practice of an art requires discipline. I shall never be good at anything if I do only if "I am in the mood" may be a nice or amusing hobby, but I shall never become a master in that art...Without such discipline, however, life becomes shattered, chaotic, and lacks in concentration". "If his mother, in fact 'loved' him in an overprotective manner, if he finds a wife of the same motherly type, if his special gifts and talents permit him to use his charm and be admired, he is 'well adjusted' in a social sence, without ever reaching a higher level of maturity. But under less favorable conditions and these are naturally more frequent-his love life, if not his social life, will be a serious disappointment; conflicts, and frequently intense anxiety and depression arise when this type of personality is left alone" "This idolatrous love is often described as the true, great love; but while it is meant to portray the intensity and depth of love, it only demonstrates the hunger and despair of the idolator". "The world of thought remains caught in the paradox. Th only way in which the world can be grasped ultimately lies, not in thought, but in the act, in the experience of oneness. Thus paradoxical logic leads to the conclusion that the love of God is neither the knowledge of God in thought, nor the thought of one's love of God, but the act of experiencing the oneness with God" "One thing is certain: the nature of his love for God corresponds to the nature of his love for man, and furthermore, the real quality of his love for God and man often is unconscious--covered up and rationalized by a more mature thought of what his love is." "The economic structure is reflected in a hierarchy of values. Capital commans labor; amassed things, that which is dead, are of superior value to labor, to human powers, to that which is alive" "Modern capitalism needs men who cooperate smoothly and in large numbers; who want to consume more and more; and whose tastes are standardized and can be easily influenced and anticipated" "Human relations are essentially those of alienated automatons, each basing his security on staying close to the herd, and not being different in thought, feeling or action. While everybody tries to be as close as possible to the rest, everyody remains utterly alone, pervaded by the deep sense of insecurity, anxiety and guilt which always results when huamn separateness cannot be overcome" "Mature love is union under the condition of preserving one's integrity, one's individuality"; a power which breaks through the walls which separate man from his fellow men, which unites him with others; love makes him overcome the sense of isolation and separateness, yet it permits him to be himself, to retain his integrity" "Almost half of marriage end in divorce, in part because of the temptation to "trade-up" as if each individual has a fixed worth, some calculable integration of youth, beauty, cleverness, status and (especially) wealth. Often as not these rearrangements result in marriages that feel empty" "even love as a haven from aloneness is bound to fail" "Most people see the problem of love primarily as that of being loved, rather than that of loving, of one's capacity to love" "'Attractive' usually means a nice package of qualities that are popular and sought after on the personality market". Man, in an attempt to overcome his sense of separateness, uses conformity to seek union'

  22. 4 out of 5

    Nyamka Ganni

    "IS LOVE an art? Then it requires knowledge and effort. Or is love a pleasant sensation, which to experience is a matter of chance, something one "falls into" if one is lucky? This little book is based on the former premise, while undoubtedly the majority of people today believe in the latter. Not that people think that love is not important. They are starved for it; they watch endless numbers of films about happy and unhappy love stories, they listen to hundreds of trashy songs about love-yet h "IS LOVE an art? Then it requires knowledge and effort. Or is love a pleasant sensation, which to experience is a matter of chance, something one "falls into" if one is lucky? This little book is based on the former premise, while undoubtedly the majority of people today believe in the latter. Not that people think that love is not important. They are starved for it; they watch endless numbers of films about happy and unhappy love stories, they listen to hundreds of trashy songs about love-yet hardly anyone thinks that there is anything that needs to be learned about love."

  23. 5 out of 5

    Erik Graff

    Although I'd avoided most of the "popular" books in high school (The History of Torture being the best seller in the Maine Township H.S. South bookstore), I made an exception for this one because I had heard that Fromm was some kind of socialist--and, heck, I was agonizing a lot about one kind of troublous love in those days. I'm glad to have made the exception because this was useful introduction to the complexity of language, in this case as regards the use of the English word "love". Furtherm Although I'd avoided most of the "popular" books in high school (The History of Torture being the best seller in the Maine Township H.S. South bookstore), I made an exception for this one because I had heard that Fromm was some kind of socialist--and, heck, I was agonizing a lot about one kind of troublous love in those days. I'm glad to have made the exception because this was useful introduction to the complexity of language, in this case as regards the use of the English word "love". Furthermore, it introduced me to the idea that other languages, Greek in this case, can offer a greater variety of nuance than our own. Having received from Dr. Fromm a greater precision in language allowed a greater precision of thinking that helped me survive adolescence. I read this edition on the patio of the Malmstadt's summer house overlooking Lake Michigan while they were out of town. They had the more comfortable patio furniture, the best view and, besides, I could get away from my demanding little brother, then nine.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Anatha

    I couldn't finish it. I just couldn't. Not only does it focus on the psyche through an exclusively heteronormative lens (which made me uncomfortable, yeah, but wasn't an outright deal breaker then), but it also drew too many conclusions based on the outdated archetype of a cartoonishly puffed-up man enslaved by the faculties of reasoning and logic and other things dickweeds of history have attached inalienably to machismo (but never the capacity for love!) and that of the woman who is (of course I couldn't finish it. I just couldn't. Not only does it focus on the psyche through an exclusively heteronormative lens (which made me uncomfortable, yeah, but wasn't an outright deal breaker then), but it also drew too many conclusions based on the outdated archetype of a cartoonishly puffed-up man enslaved by the faculties of reasoning and logic and other things dickweeds of history have attached inalienably to machismo (but never the capacity for love!) and that of the woman who is (of course!) simultaneously soft and the salt of the earth as well as its goddamn scourge. What few beautiful and telling ideas pertaining to erotic, familial, and self-love expounded upon in Fromm's self-help (oh god, self-HELP...?)book are ultimately founded upon harmful psychoanalytic hooplah-relics that were abandoned in the late 20th century for a reason. Just. No. No.

  25. 5 out of 5

    mis fit

    I read this book a couple months back, but I’ve been letting it simmer and slowly collecting my thoughts. I didn’t want to just be done with it-- I wanted to grapple with Fromm’s arguments in the context of my everyday experience. His opinions often seem convincing at first glance, but to what extent do they really hold up? His work has it’s faults (like a bunch of weird homophobic statements in this one…), but I’ve been intrigued by Fromm’s social psychology since I first encountered The Sane Society I read this book a couple months back, but I’ve been letting it simmer and slowly collecting my thoughts. I didn’t want to just be done with it-- I wanted to grapple with Fromm’s arguments in the context of my everyday experience. His opinions often seem convincing at first glance, but to what extent do they really hold up? His work has it’s faults (like a bunch of weird homophobic statements in this one…), but I’ve been intrigued by Fromm’s social psychology since I first encountered The Sane Society a few years ago. Fromm argues that popular, romantic conceptions of love are often very flawed. He critiques the widespread notion that love is an emotion to be felt or an end state to arrive at. For Fromm, love is a creative capacity. It’s built on choices and actions we perform everyday. It is behavior that is characterized by care, responsibility, respect, and knowledge. We don’t just find “the right person” and magically end up in a state of love-- we must learn how to love. Fromm points out the dangers of conceptualizing love as something to “fall” into. It takes away the agency we all have to be loving and obscures what loving behavior is comprised of. It makes love into a thing that one either possesses or lacks, an emotion that must be acquired by way of popularity-- by having the right personality, clothes, and lifestyle that is attractive to an equally popular mate. What I like best about this critique is Fromm’s attention to the social context. He was, of course, a sociologist and that background allowed him to pay special attention to the influence of social structure and economic relations in individual psychology. Fromm’s critique of love in Western society shows that our most private emotions and intimate relationships are profoundly shaped by modern consumer society. The larger forces that we tend to think of as structural do in fact shape how we see ourselves, others, and how we go about loving one another. This is such an important point-- one that has been developed further by sociologists like Arlie Russell Hochschild (The Managed Heart: Commercialization of Human Feeling), Miliann Kang (The Managed Hand: Race, Gender, and the Body in Beauty Service Work), and Eva Illouz (Consuming the Romantic Utopia: Love and the Cultural Contradictions of Capitalism), to name a few. Fromm also argues that one must be an independent, whole person in order to love well, to love in a healthy way. He slogs through a bunch of Freudian psychology, making some good points and some not so good points, in a section on love between parent and child. What’s valuable here though is that love can sometimes go awry. Considering the ideal types of motherly and fatherly love for child, we can see how a child often starts off completely connected, undifferentiated from the mother figure. As the child grows, the mother’s unconditional love is contrasted by the father’s conditional love-- to receive love from the father, the child must live up to the father’s expectations and wants, they must be good enough. And if they are, only then do they receive father’s love. These motherly and fatherly types of love are limiting when they recur in romantic relationships between adults. To put it simply, we can’t be children if we want to learn the art of loving. Only independent adults can master the skills of care, responsibility, respect, and knowledge. This is important and radical-- only through independence can we come into contact with each other and bridge that often painful gap between ourselves and others, addressing a very human longing for connection. Overall, love is a very social phenomenon. It is embedded in the way society is structured, how people are raised, and what options are available for fulfilling the need for human connection. This is an important book, and many of these arguments will stick with me I’m sure.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Pankaj Suneja

    "The Art of Loving" is excellent critical commentary of society driven by economic and commodity values. In this context, the meaning of love is lost which Erich attempts to reinvent. Erich writes that love is an art. And so it requires effort and knowledge. Most of us are occupied with finding the right person, or the object of love, and not concerned about the faculty of function of love. The book is divided in three main chapters. In first, he put forths the theory of love, second chapte "The Art of Loving" is excellent critical commentary of society driven by economic and commodity values. In this context, the meaning of love is lost which Erich attempts to reinvent. Erich writes that love is an art. And so it requires effort and knowledge. Most of us are occupied with finding the right person, or the object of love, and not concerned about the faculty of function of love. The book is divided in three main chapters. In first, he put forths the theory of love, second chapter includes disintegration of love in present western society. He does seem to value to eastern society, but i feel the idea of love that is existing (i need to be loved) is universal. And the third chapter includes practice of love. I am someone who has not read a lot on love. I do not remember about Greek philosophers like Socrates, and indian religious or philosopher talks about love. After reading this book, I feel love is difficult. And the same feeling I got when I read Rainer Maria Rilke's view on love. He said love is difficult, and isn't it true that just because it is difficult we must aspire toward it. I am still contemplating why and how we should be motivated to achieve something difficult. Most people are content with immediate pleasure. Definitely, it feels more real, closer to truth, genuine to go through the difficult experience, but it cannot b forced or pushed. It is essential that human beings are alone. we are separate. Now this separateness is difficult to deal with, so Erich formulates three kind of union. The sexual union which is transitory experience. The union during creative process which is not interpersonal. The third form of union is love. Love is of two kinds. the symbiotic love, which sadistic-masochistic in nature, and which is immature and it means falling in love. But the second form of love, that Erich writes about is one in which person stands in love. He writes about different kinds of love, brotherly love, mother love, father love, sister love, erotic love and love of god. I agree that father love is conditional while mother's love is unconditional. In practice of love, Erich writes about important certain qualities like feeling of humility, concentration, patience, discipline as important to have capacity to give and love. It is very important to be comfortable with being alone, and then only a person can love. Rilke too write about importance of being alone. let the sadness come inside you and transform you. These qualities are difficult to achieve, and rightly so Erich points out at the incompatibility of the modern, practical, city life and the life dedicated to higher order of being. I liked many thoughts and ideas in the book, that I think could bring change in perspective. One reason I like this book is that it talks about divided worlds that very few people are able to perceive. The world of practical matters and the other world focuses toward soulful and spiritual practice. Erich writes love as soulful experience, and hence how the notion of love is disintegrated in practical world. Erich is psychoanalyst, and he does detail discussion of Freud's understanding of love, which I was only partially interested in. What I got is that Freud never developed idea on love. His thought remained till sexuality. This book reverberates in me because I had been preoccupied with thought that for how long I could receive and could not give. This book talks about giving and the aliveness that comes from giving. And surely it is an art and it needs to be practiced. Lastly I would want to write this quote from the book, that left a mark on me. "He is a good father but at the same time authoritarian. Whenever he is pleased with the son's conduct he praises him, gives him presents is affectionate; whenever the son displeases him, he withdraws, or scolds,. The son for whom father's affection is the only one he has, becomes attached to father in a slavish way. His main aim in life is to please father- and when he succeeds he feels happy, secure and satisfied. But when he makes a mistake, fails of does not succeed in pleasing, he feels deflated, unloved, cast out" (Pg 88) I think it is very strong and meaningful writing. It is wonderful book. One can imagine how much aloneness must one one have experienced in writing the book. And hence he could give us the book. Something valuable. It is life worth living, I ask. Life lived with penetration, and search, and genuineness is worth living.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Mir

    My edition of this work (New York: Harper & Brothers, 1956) was part of the World Perspectives series, which "endeavors to show that the conception of wholeness, unity, organism is a higher and more concrete conception than that of matter and energy... For the principle of life consists in the tension which connects the spirit with the realm of matter" and that "Knowledge, as it is shown in these books, no longer consists in a manipulation of man and nature as opposite forces, nor in the red My edition of this work (New York: Harper & Brothers, 1956) was part of the World Perspectives series, which "endeavors to show that the conception of wholeness, unity, organism is a higher and more concrete conception than that of matter and energy... For the principle of life consists in the tension which connects the spirit with the realm of matter" and that "Knowledge, as it is shown in these books, no longer consists in a manipulation of man and nature as opposite forces, nor in the reduction of data to mere statistical order, but is a means of liberating mankind from the destructive power of fear" (Intro by Ruth Nanda Anshen, x). Fromm begins, “Is love an art? Then it requires knowledge and effort." He argues that love is not, as many people erroneously believe, "a pleasant sensation, which to experience is a matter of chance, something one 'falls into' if one is lucky." People misunderstand the nature of love because they are overly focused on being loved rather than loving. Therefore they focus on things which will make them more attractive, such as status, money, or appearance; in short, “What most people in our culture mean by being lovable is essentially a mixture between being popular and having sex appeal.” He blames this partly on contemporary commodity culture, in which people look at one another as objects to buy or win: "For the man the attractive girl--and for the woman the attractive man--are prizes they are after. 'Attractive' usually means a nice package of qualities which are popular and sought after." "Love is an activity, not a passive affect." (22) Fromm on the story of Adam and Eve: "Should we assume that a myth as old and elementary as this has the prudish morals of the nineteenth-century outlook, and that the important point that the story wants to convey to us the embarrassment that their genitals were visible? This can hardly be so, and by understanding the story in a Victorian spirit, we miss the main point... after man and woman have become aware of themselves and of each other, they are aware of their separateness, and of their difference... But while recognizing their separateness they remain strangers, because they have not yet learned to love each other (as is also made very clear by the fact that Adam defends himself by blaming Eve).

  28. 4 out of 5

    吕不理

    I agree with that love is indeed an art. I thought I loved someone before but it turned out that I just couldn't stand on my own feet and desperately need someone to keep me company. I noticed that I was selfish, self-centered, immature and irresponsible before. However, Iove does take luck to meet someone right and learn about oneself better. In this book there is one thing I do not agree with. The writer paid great attention on parental role on the mental development of the offsprin I agree with that love is indeed an art. I thought I loved someone before but it turned out that I just couldn't stand on my own feet and desperately need someone to keep me company. I noticed that I was selfish, self-centered, immature and irresponsible before. However, Iove does take luck to meet someone right and learn about oneself better. In this book there is one thing I do not agree with. The writer paid great attention on parental role on the mental development of the offspring, which I believe is not necessarily right.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Ziad

    A must-read for anyone thinking of starting a relationship with any human being on the planet, be it a relationship between friends, brothers, or children. Erich Fromm talks to us about what it means to love, and what it takes to love in an age ruled by dollar signs and a dire need for conformity. Perhaps this book is more relevant now than it was when it was first published.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Moneim

    one of the best of erich at all

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