This book from my local library, copyright 1956, says "Love is the only sane and satisfactory answer to the problem of human existence."
"The deepest need of man is the need to overcome his separateness, to leave the prison of his aloneness." How to achieve union, overcome separateness, transcend one's own individual life, is the human condition, the answers to which form the history of religion and philosophy.
"all (the reader's) attempts for love are bound to fail, uless he tries most actively to develop his total personality....; that satisfaction in individual love cannot be attained without the capacity to love one's neighbor, without true humility, courage, faith, and discipline."
He considers love a difficult and rarely seen task; an art, like that of living life itself, of which mastery must be of ultimate concern. Love is not something like a pleasant sensation, or crazy infatuation, which one "falls" into, by chance (which may only prove the degree of preceding loneliness).
A typically seen error is that most people focus on being loved, rather than loving. It's not a matter of being successful, rich, powerful, attractive, with pleasant manners, good conversation, helpful, modest, inoffensive, according to the positive mantra of books like "how to win friends and influence people." Being lovable is typically seen as a mix of being popular and having sex appeal.
Another error is love as symbiotic union, in which they need each other in a sadistic or masochistic way, a situation of dominance and submission, in fact "I am nothing in so much as I am part of him." Neither can live without the other. The sadist commands, exploits, hurts, humiliates.
Instead, what love is is a mature union under the condition of preserving one's integrity. In love, the paradox occurs that two beings become one and yet remain two. It is never the result of a compulsion. It consists primarily of joyful giving, not receiving. Giving is the highest expression of potency, of experiencing strength, wealth, and power.
Love is an attitude, an orientation of character which determines how one relates to the world as a whole, not toward one "object" of love. If I truly love one person I love all persons, I love the world, I love life. I love in you also myself.
Common to all forms of love are the elements of care, responsibility, respect, and knowledge.
Link to the Wikipedia article on the book.
Forms of love
-a mother's love for her child. responsibility means being able to respond.
-love between adults refers mainly to the psychic needs of the other person.
the root of respect, respicere=to look at, is the ability to see a person as he is, to be aware of his unique individuality.
-the other person should grow and unfold as he is, not as I need him to be.
respect only exists on the basis of freedom, never domination. Respecting a person is not possible without knowing him, and knowledge would be empty if not motivated by concern.
-The knowledge which is an aspect of love penetrates to the core, not just the superficial periphery. Love knows people deeply; for example you may see someone angry as manifesting something deeper, such as anxiety or embarrassment.
6 kinds of love
love of God
love of knowledge can become cruel, "to know what life really is" in the words of a Russian officer. Violence. The desire to know can be stilled by sexual union. "I find myself, I discover myself, I discover us both, I discover man." Know thyself, the Delphic motto. ..to know, in the biblical sense.. masturbation.
In the love between man and woman, each of them is reborn.
The polarity between male and female exists within each person, as well as between the couple. The male and female poles have an attraction in character, as well as sexually (like yin and yang)
People compensate sexually for what they lack in character.
Freud saw love as an animal instinct born of chemically produced tension, whereas Fromm maintains a need for love and union.
unconditional love for Simply Being, vs. earned love for doing
A mature person becomes his own mother and father, as it were, with both consciences incorporated within him.
Neuroses develop if one dominates..
dependant on mother, to be taken care of. lack of independence, discipline. (hysteria, alcoholism, inability to assert oneself and cope with life realistically, depression)
given to the principles of law, order, and authority, and lacking an ability fo expect or to receive unconditional love. obsessions are typical.
love the stranger (for you were strangers in the land of Egypt)
brotherly love between equals, helping those in need
motherly love for survival and growth, but also a love of life, "it is good!"
the promised land flows with milk and honey (the sweetness of life)
-babies should not be given honey, literally, of course-
can be narcissistic or a need for power/possession.
-Man needs to feel as the creator, as one transcending the passive role of being created.
-Mother transcends self in the infant, her love gives her life meaning and significance.
-Mothers need to know when to urge the child in the process of separation.
-"A woman can become a truly loving mother only if she can love; if she is able to love her husband, other children, strangers, all human beings."
is pershaps the most deceptive form of love there is
is by nature exclusive, not universal
is the sudden collapse of the barriers which existed until that moment between two strangers
physical want can be mistaken for love
without brotherly love, is only union in an orgiastic, transitory sense
can make couples ashamed of, or even hate, each other, when the illusion is gone.
the exclusiveness can enlarge the single individual into two, an egotism a deux;
Because they are separated from the rest of mankind, they remain separated from each other and alienated from themselves; their experience of union is an illusion.
In essence, all human beings are identical. We are part of One; we are One. It should not make any difference whom we love. Love should essentially be an act of will.
It is a decision, a judgement, a promise.
Love thyself. It's not a selfish thing to do. The selfish person hates himself. "The selfish person is interested only in himself, wants everything for himself, feels no pleasure in giving, but only in taking."
Love of God
there are matriarchal and patriarchal religions.
God becomes Justice, Love, and Truth in mature monotheistic religions, of which God is
the nameless One.
"God is I, inasmuch as I am human."
"The truly religious person does not pray for anything, does not expect anything from God; he has acquired the humility of sensing his limitations, to the degree of knowing that he knows nothing about God. He considers all of his life only valuable inasmusch as it gives him the chance to arrive at an ever fuller unfolding of his human powers- as the only reality that matters, as the only object of ultimate concern; and, eventually, he does not speak about God- nor even mention his name. To love God, if he were to use the word, would mean, then, to long for the attainment of the full capacity to love, for the realization of that which "God" stands for in oneself.
Paradoxical logic from eastern religions is important to him, as thought can only lead us to the knowledge that it (thought) cannot give us the ultimate answer.
The only way knowledge can be grasped ultimately lies, not in thought, but in the act, in the experience of oneness. (with God)
Right way of living.
dogma and science are mental.
love of God can be a thought experience, or a mystical, intense feeling of oneness.
"If therefore I am changed into God and He makes me one with Himself, then, by the living God, there is no distinction between us..." -Meister Eckhart
"By loving God, I penetrate him."
discipline, concentration, patience, supreme concern
are required to become the ultimate lover...
You must practice DCP in all that you do.
You must have a sense of I=myself, as the center of my powers, as the creator of my world.
He recommends 20 minute concentration exercises in the morning and every evening before going to bed (sitting in a relaxed position, closing eyes, removing interfering pictures and thoughts, following one's breathing).
Avoid trivial conversation and bad company (because their orbit is poisonous and depressing)
...and also zombies, people whose soul is dead, who chatter, and who assert cliches.
Live in the here and now.
Be sensitive to yourself, one's bodily processes, like a mother to her baby..
The main condition for the achievement of love is the overcoming of one's Narcissism (when one only experiences that which exists within oneself), and becoming as Objective as possible.
With faith in one's own convictions, rationally based on one's own experience of thought or feeling.
Having faith in another person means to be certain of the unchangeability of his fundamental attitudes, of his love, of his basic motivations remaining the same. (Fromm uses the male gender, you may have noticed)
Faith in mankind, is the culmination of faith in others. The basis of rational faith is Productiveness. Faith and power are mutually exclusive. Power is unstable. The faith in power (the willingness to throw away life because one is incapable of loving it) is the opposite of faith in life.
Loving requires faith and courage. To take the difficulties, setbacks, and sorrows of life as a challenge which must be overcome makes us stronger, rather than as unjust punishment which should not happen to us.
Don't be afraid to love, to be loved, to be loving.
"Important and radical changes to our social structure are necessary if love is to become a social and not a highly individualistic, marginal phenomenon. SOciety must be organized in such a way that man's social, loving nature is not separated from his social existence, but becomes one with it. To have faith in the possibility of love as a social and not only exceptional-individual phenomenon, is a rational faith based on the insight into the very nature of man."
1 year ago