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To Have or To Be? (Continuum Impacts) Paperback – September 6, 2005


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Product Details

  • Series: Continuum Impacts
  • Paperback: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Bloomsbury Academic; Revised edition (September 6, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0826417388
  • ISBN-13: 978-0826417381
  • Product Dimensions: 0.5 x 4.9 x 7.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7.2 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (32 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #649,959 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Born in Frankfurt-am-Main, Erich Fromm (1900-1980) studied sociology and psychoanalysis. In 1933, he emigrated as a member of the Frankfurt School of social thinkers to the United States, moved to Mexico in 1950, and spent his twilight years between 1974 and 1980 in Switzerland. His books Fear of Freedom (1941) and The Art of Loving (1956) made him famous. Other well-known books are Marx's Concept of Man, Beyond the Chains of Illusion, and The Essential Fromm.

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Customer Reviews

4.8 out of 5 stars
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A book I need to read again, so much in it to think about.
William Porter
Please read this book, as you meet Aristippus and others for the first, second or third time.
Wayne Soini
Fromm does a very good job at making his points clear through examples.
SylviaSarah

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

108 of 111 people found the following review helpful By Edwardson Tan on March 18, 2005
Format: Paperback
To have or to be?

Well... to be, says Fromm.

In response to the materialism of our century and our propensity to reification, psychoanalyst Erich Fromm proposes a mode of living that he argues is the way out of our psychospiritual conundrum.

Within the pages of this book, one of the last before his demise, the author of the bestseller _ The Art of Loving_ describes the two modes possible--that of having and being. 20th century culture he says has developed into employing and relying on the having mode--of appropriating things and even humans for oneself. Even love has been turned into an object, when in fact no such thing exists. Only the act of loving is possible.

In contradistinction to having is being. It is a mode of active participation in life. While the misnomer 'falling in love' is touted by the world as the norm, Fromm argues that true loving is an effortful activity. While accumulating knowledge is the way of having, the being mode of knowing is a process of understanding.

Although written nearly three decades ago, Fromm's worldview continues to be the ideal. This work of his is a timeless caveat against the dehumanization of society.
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71 of 71 people found the following review helpful By J. Marui on May 1, 2005
Format: Paperback
Fromm is one of the classics - along with Freud, Jung, Adler. He studied psychology, philosophy and sociology, received his PhD at the age of 22, became interested in Zen Buddhism at the age of 26. One of the true geniuses.

This book was written in 1976. Fromm debates that there are two possible modes of living: one of having and of being. He points out the differences between the two and of a person living in the having mode to the one living in the being mode. He shows the differences in behavior and attitude between the two in many life's areas and experiences: studying, remembering, talking, reading, faith, love, handling authority. The less you are oriented on having, the more you are being.
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80 of 81 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on November 20, 1999
Format: Paperback
I have already read twice this book in the past three years and consider re-reading it again soon. It has become part of me; everyday I remember key sentences from the book which help me make sense of my own life, attitudes, and ideas. Two notions (a) the "being" way of life as opposed to "having", and (b) "matter is in constant flux" help me let go, relieving me of my attachment to things material. Paradoxically, they also give me the courage to experience life in a more proactive way, and to accept and appreciate life as it is without trying to force events. It's a truly spiritual and healing book.
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30 of 30 people found the following review helpful By hhartzheim@t-online.de on December 31, 1997
Format: Paperback
Fromm describes, in very understandable terms, the eternal conflict between the desire to "have" and the desire to "be". He outlines logically that most problems humanity has is the strive for materialism. He compares things to be had as dead and qualities to be as living. Some of his insights are drawn from the Bible and show that God Himslef, by his very name, is the supreme "being", whose wish it is that man becomes like him. Fromm warns against the perils of "have" based societies, and conclusively demonstrates that "be" oriented individuals have one of the major keys to a better and more satisfying life.
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34 of 35 people found the following review helpful By Zarko Berberski on July 5, 2006
Format: Paperback
Seriously, if you are opening this book, be prepared to use your brain for real or spare yourself the trouble. First, to paraphrase a foreword from a non-English translation, you need to be aware that Fromm is the analyst, and not the sweet-sounding visionary. So, the last part of the last chapter is best served by skipping it or browsing with the smile, remembering that even great analysts sometimes can't resist the temptation to 'envision' a 'recipe'.

The rest of the book, or should I say the actual book, is pure gold, but in order to reach it you need to be prepared to simply trust the author for the duration of the book. Then turn around and if you don't start recognizing things he's talking about in real life - feel free to debate him - during the second reading. If you jump to debate him every time he crushes something you consider 'sacral' you'll just waste your time. Consider this a test of your own brain - is it really working or just being busy filtering the uneasy information.

Also, be prepared to read the book twice, even if you don't feel like debating it :-) The reason is that pretty soon you'll want to quote something from the book but you won't have an easy one-liner. To quote Fromm, you'll need to quote the idea, and ideas take a few paragraphs or even pages to be 'painted' and understood properly.

Last but not least, be aware that Fromm himself was aware of the fact that the one who is discovering or telling a new thing doesn't actually have the vocabulary to express it, so be prepared to fill in and consider it normal if some words don't sound precise or modern.
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16 of 16 people found the following review helpful By R.Brown: linkspain@iname.com on September 17, 1999
Format: Paperback
The traditional question review and update by Fromm's mastery. As part of his constant and insistent understanding of the world, this book points out again that, the "to have" approach leads to first unexpectable sidedamages. It is important to understand that, a Society that put emphasis on "to have" will promote scarcity and misery. Read to believe.
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