Most helpful positive review
28 of 29 people found the following review helpful
Good book if you take it for what it is and is not.
on January 13, 2008
"Ask does the desire for x or y enrich your life?" That is about as close to a one line summary of the book that I can give. The main focus though is to set up having and being as two separate and opposed motivations for human life. Although it should come as no surprise as this was primarily a chapter from To Have or To Be that was omitted for reasons he discusses at the beginning.
It needs to be said first off that this is NOT a self help book. Fromm offers no answers on what one should do to enrich their lives, but rather with great care diagnoses how we think. His task is merely to illuminate us to the disease, not prescribe relief. So this is for the individual looking for different questions, not direction. Although he would certainly advocate a life tuned towards being and not having, what one must do to attain this is never addressed.
Fromm draws heavily on his varied background in psychology, sociology, and philosophy to make his case. His skill as a writer and researcher is finding ways for the ideas of these disciplines to fit together; with each offering a little piece to the overall puzzle. From Buddhism Fromm borrows ideas of suffering, from Marx a critique of capitalism, from Freud pathologies of the mind. From each of these viewpoints he approaches the same central notion of having vs. being. With each approach merely a different flavor of the same issue.
Ultimately is there anything here which cannot be found elsewhere? No. But for the individual who loves to question and will never read Marx's 1844 Manuscripts, Buddhist writings, or Freudian literature; this is a great (although selected) taste of their ideas without getting caught up on the baggage that usually comes with reading each individually.