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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I am your Stepping Stone, 29 Nov 2011
Dr. Delvis Memphistopheles "FIST" (London) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Art of Being (Psychology/self-help) (Paperback)
Easy crisp and authoritative read; Fromm had the gift to take the most of some very complex ideas and then provide a path of transcendence by making them easily readable.

Here he returns back to his familiar themes, taken from Marx's ideas of the alienated man; he asks how does someone become authentic?

In this scenario it is a person who feels the vibrancy of being alive, as opposed to being a social actor. An actor is someone who impersonates a living person - the body that acts as a machine.

Fromm was deeply concerned about the richness of individual living, instead of being immersed within someone else's dream. This is another of his great works, that disentangles sociology and psychology to produce social psychology. Unfortunately this discipline is currently strangled by the syn-tax of marketing, the antithesis of the Fromm conception. Social Psychology wants to sell you something.

Trivial talk and the great scams are the shallow pools people inhabit to make weak social connections, scuttling within herd like movements to ensnare other people; thereby providing a meaning to their desperate lives. Here they coalesce as a group to create a common purpose.

Fromm used psychology to demarcate the incarnate anarchist, not the destroyer with the fizzing bomb, but the wo-man who can know and think for him-herself, rather than a follower of some bankrupt web spun creed.

This is a book aimed as much at the flag waving red as it is the double plus corpulence of the capitalist truffle muncher. It asks for a social world similar to Stirner's society of egoists, those who know themselves and can connect through another channel to like minded others. "Mindfulness" gets an outing in the book. If you want to know what this concept means in its basic sense, then you can read about it here.

Achievement of authenticity is undertaken through various other forms of analysis, as he details some of the paths people can take in a route to transcendence - the path of Freud rather than an in-habitation. Fromm was not anti-religion but against its all encompassing creed of smothering authenticity - again marked in this book.

In the meantime the lessons and ideas he formulated have been lost in the midst of a muddle of times, as people burrow into the substratum and cloak themselves in mirror images of consumerism, forever pretending their consumption patterns determine their individualism. There is a minimal cultivation of the person inside, as everything is paraded for outward show.

Fromm throws literate acid on this anti-social pretense to show what happens when worlds eventually dissolve; the caricature of the showpiece finally reveals the fakir. Meanwhile he provides the stepping stones of an escape from the various "roles" people are forced to play to exist.
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23 of 25 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Noble indeed, 29 Mar 2009
This review is from: The Art of Being (Psychology/self-help) (Paperback)
Even better in context but works fine on it's own. An absolutely invigorating read - Fromm's voice speaks from the page loud and clear. Resonates with me on a deeply fundamental level and delightfully easy to translate into daily living - indeed, it is a joy to lift his thoughts from the page and see them through the prism of one's own situation.

A wonderful and necessary reminder of how alive and humane psychodynamics can be, when coupled with dedication to self actualisation. The chapter on the commercialised nature of society and commodification of individuals is unmissable.

From Freud to Zen, realistic but tentative suggestions on how to facilitate individuation in an increasingly shallow and dehumanising society - what's not to like?
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15 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Being might be rewarding but no easy solutions to be found here, 3 Nov 2009
AK (London) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Art of Being (Psychology/self-help) (Paperback)
Nice to read something from a Germanic 'deep thinker' again. The book is most certainly not following the Anglo-Saxon 'one minute manager' approach. Change takes time, it's difficult, painful and produces anxiety. Fair points all. Just the tone of the whole thing is a balm of sorts.

The book book is composed from chapters previously removed from another of his works and now suitably reworked. The fundamental distinction made is between having and being and consequences of both approaches, as well as the inability to successfully integrate them both is discussed. The author also explores in depth the desire for and ultimate failure of all 'quick-fix' methodologies, as well as the basis for their popularity.

While he might be a bit of an armchair scientist in the Freudian mould, I'd still rather listen to someone like him, than a jumped up 'I read the seven habits of successful people' pretend motivator. Only wish I'd stumbled across him earlier. Fromm, that is :)
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16 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The missing chapters, advice for the human being, 13 Sep 2009
Lark (North Coast of Ireland) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Art of Being (Psychology/self-help) (Paperback)
Fromm was clear in his insistence throughout his books that without profound structural adjustment, addressing the unconscious "social character", individuals would remain frustrated and compelled to adopt, properly understood, ill patterns of behaviour and thinking to succeed and prosper.

In specific contexts/circumstances a particular pattern of behaviour and thinking proves adaptive while in others it is maladaptive and I have always thought Fromm's unique contribution to social theory has been to question the extent to which what is presently considered adaptive corresponds not to human needs but the demands of the economy, convention and cultural setting. This perspective I feel Fromm best extolled in Man for Himself: An Enquiry into the Psychology of Ethics (Routledge Classics) and The Sane Society (Routledge Classics) and then later in To Have or to be?.

While these insights are vital and informative, Fromm's focus in these published works, his prescriptions for developing as a human being, achieving liberation from the fear of freedom and the fear of life itself, have neglected to provide any motivated individual with a clue as to what they can do to live their insight in their own personal sphere of life. This isnt uncharacteristic of a writer with a profound insight they believe provides an impetus for social change. However whether you agree with the proposals of such authors or not (there are reasonable doubts about some of Fromm's prescriptions, for instance, an appointed cultural council to root out the cultural distortions of advertising could be a substitution of new troubles for old) your sphere of concern will be drastic differently from your feasible sphere of action. Generally.

So its great to find this, Fromm's ommitted chapters from To Have or To Be? Which explain how individuals can develop as human beings. Its a book about how to realise and actualise love, reason and meaningful, productive work. What Fromm extolls here is a way of living based upon authentic self-awareness, through honest self-analysis and meditation (mindfulness). Fromm is critical as always of the easy path or short cuts to the good life offered by consumerism and the siren song of the promises of an effortless existence lived without pain. These are insights that can and should be heeded by any reader and the advice is here of how to put it all into practice in your daily life.

The book has a great comprehensive index, contents and bibliogrpahy. The chapter headings break down into On the Art of Being; Great Shams; Trivial Talk; "No Effort, No Pain"; "Antiauthoritarianism"; "To Will One Thing"; To Be Awake; To Be Aware; To Concentrate; To Meditate; Psychoanalysis and Self-Awareness; Self-Analysis; Methods of Self-Analysis; On the Culture of Having; On the Philosophy of Having; On the Psychology of Having; From Having to Well-Being.

I recommend this book to the general reader, it could and should prove helpful to anyone who really wants to live completely and develop the sort of enthusiasm necessary to be free. It is not really self-help or self-improvement, I find those topics as alienating as the next person, infact I would say this book is the antidote and alternative.
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21 of 27 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars To have or to be?, 15 Jan 2004
By A Customer
This review is from: The Art of Being (Psychology/self-help) (Paperback)
This book contains the missing chapters from 'To Have Or To Be', if you have read this previous work then you will welcome Fromm's advice on putting this theory into practise. The content is invaluable to anyone trying to live an "examined life". Best read in context to the previous book, hence 4 stars.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Thought provoking. Not dated., 27 Oct 2012
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This review is from: The Art of Being (Psychology/self-help) (Paperback)
The summary as written on line prepared one for this book. No great surprises. Enjoyable to read if this is your taste in literature
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The Art of Being (Psychology/self-help)
The Art of Being (Psychology/self-help) by Erich Fromm (Paperback - 22 Mar 1993)
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