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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 loveMost 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 understandingIn 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


10 thoughts on “The Art of Loving

  1. says:

    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 aboutObviously 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 accordinglyIn 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 loveSo 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 thatI 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 loveSpeaking 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 wrongOne 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 worldAnother 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 performanceFromm 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 presentNow 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 downSo the uestion is do I believe in love? I guess the answer depends on what that uestion 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 otherSo 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 to the experimental psychology camp than the Frankfurt SchoolAnd needless to say I was dissatisfied with this book I am giving it 05 out of 5 stars


  2. says:

    The Art of Loving Erich FrommThe 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 worksتاریخ نخستین خوانش دز یکی از روزها سال 1974میلادیعنوان هنر عشق ورزیدن؛ نویسنده اریش فروم؛ مترجم پوری سلطانی؛ تهران، امیرکبیر، 1348؛ در 235ص؛ موضوع عشق از نویسندگان آلمانی تبار امریکایی سده 20م نخستین پاراگراف آیا عشق هنر است؟ اگر هنر باشد آیا به دانش و کوشش نیازمند است؟ آیا عشق احساسی مطبوع است که درک آن بستگی به بخت آدمی دارد، یعنی چیزی است که اگر بخت یاری کند، آدمی بدان «گرفتار» می‌شود؟ مباحث این کتاب کوچک مبتنی بر پرسش اول است، در صورتی که امروز بدون شک اکثر مردم به تعبیر دوم بیشتر معتقدند؛ پایان نقلنقل دیگر آنکه هیچ نمیداند، به چیزی عشق نمیورزد، آنکه عشق میورزد، بیگمان چیزی میداند پایان نقلبسیار یاد گرفتم از خوانش دوباره اش، همیشه آفرین بر هنر عشق، درک و تمیز جدائی و وصال، نسخه مرداد ماه سال 1353هجری خورشیدی، با گفتاری از جناب «مجید رهنما»؛تاریخ بهنگام رسانی 25061399هجری خورشیدی؛ ا شربیانی


  3. says:

    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; further 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”


  4. says:

    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 freuently confused with being infatuated – would be a nightmare not worth livingAs I said to George – I can see why people settle for sex rather than love Fromm’s idea of love sounds far too hardThis is what I would generally call a ‘white board’ book A book in which someone has picked a term rich in meaning – in this case love but other’s I’ve read have been on Lust or the parts of the human body and run with it Germaine Greer has one out at the moment called Rage I believe although she could just as easily have written one called mock outrage All sorts of love are covered Brotherly Love Romantic Love Religious Love Motherly Love Like I said a white board book where a huge mind map has been padded out into continuous proseThis all makes the book sound much less interesting than I actually found it – but I want to give you an idea of some of my dissatisfactions too I mentioned that I was reading Fromm to someone at work and he asked who is Fromm I said “I guess he is a bit of a Freudian–Marxist with an interest in Buddhism” My friend looked at me uizzically for a moment and said “Well it isn’t exactly saying ‘pick me up and read me’ just yet” I didn’t dare tell him what the book was calledWhen I was separating from my wife a very dear friend of mine suggested that I read a book called Pulling Your Own Strings I worked at the City Council and had the luxury of being able to turn to the computer on my desk order a book from the city library and have it appear on my desk the very next day There are few nicer pleasures in life Anyway the book appeared and it had a rainbow in the cover I told her that I didn’t think I could read this book The problem being that I would need to read it mostly on public transport – and a rainbow I mean Jesus I said to her “Look the title is bad enough but at least I can pretend that I thought it was about masturbation but a rainbowthere is no excuse for a rainbow unless the book is called something like Classic Gay Shortstories”There is a very similar problem with a book called The Art of Loving One expects it to be written by Hugh Heffner or Dr ShagalotThe uestion is what is love? Is it a rather pleasant sensation or an art and therefore something one learns and gets better at over time? Fromm points out that mostly we act as if love were a sensation – something that happens to us and we have mostly no control over We believe that love is something that just is We can’t help who we fall in love with we can’t help who we fall out of love with and we fundamentally believe that there is someone out there that is just right for us There is no effort involved in loving – in fact effort implies the two people weren’t really ‘made for each other’ and that effortless love is the only ‘real’ love We look down on other cultures where marriages are ‘arranged’ and although I won’t be arranging my daughters’ marriages I’m not uite so smug about the ‘self evident’ superiority of marrying for ‘love’ The main problem with arranged marriages for me is not the impossibility of love in these types of marriage – the arranged marriages I’ve witnessed in my life have involved much ‘choice’ than we generally consider possible in our standard Western interpretation or plots for dozens of Disney cartoons The real problem is how women in such marriages tend to be traded like chattel It is hard to see how this could possibly be avoided in ‘arranged marriages’ – although in the large grey area between the black of arranged marriages and the white of marrying for love there are ‘blind dates organised by friends’ and ‘marry anyone you can get your hands on so as not to end up on the shelf’ and other such shadesOne of the things I found most interesting and perhaps one of the most illuminating ideas in the book was his talk about the love of God uite early on he says “In conventional Western theology the attempt is made to know God by thought to make statements about God It is assumed that I can know God in my thought In mysticism which is the conseuent outcome of monotheism the attempt is given up to know God by thought and it is replaced by the experience of union with God in which there is no room – and no need – for knowledge about God”Love for another person – particularly love for a life partner as I guess it would be called today – is fairly similar to this love of God love as atonement with God Fromm repeatedly says that our highest desire whether we recognise it or not is unity with another For Fromm this is the ground of love of all people and true love of another is premised on our being able to love everyone There are all manner of ualifications for this unity – not unlike the line from The Prophet Sing and dance together and be joyous but each one of you be alone even as the strings of a lute are alone though they uiver with the same music The big downer – to use an Americanism – is that Fromm barely feels that true love is possible in Western Capitalist societies Our obsession with consumerism; our ideas that love is a sensation rather than an art; our alienation from our essential selves; our inability to concentrate and focus – all of these work against us truly ‘being’ in love This then is the Buddhist aspect of Fromm The point is to learn how to be in the present – and being in the present implies truly being ‘with’ your partner I think I finally got the point of sex once I realised it wasn’t about what I was feeling but about understanding and anticipating the feelings of the person I was with When I was too young to understand I heard Dave Allen tell a joke on TV about a newly married couple who rolled over to go to sleep rather than finish having sex after one of them asked “Can’t you think of anyone else either?” I’d have preferred to have never been old enough to understand that joke Shakespeare makes a similar point when he has Edmund why do his ‘bad guys’ so often get the best lines? say in King Lear about the lecherous begetters of bastard children when compared to most ‘married sexual partners’ “Who in the lusty stealth of Nature take composition and fierce uality than doth within a dull stale tired bed go to th’ creating a whole tribe of fobs got ‘tween a sleep and wake?” Gods stand up for bastards indeedOr as Fromm himself would have it “The main condition for the achievement of love is the overcoming of one’s narcissism”But it is not just about being present in bed for Fromm Loving is about being alive – and being alive is about being truly conscious Fromm is concerned that many of us think life is somehow supposed to be about ‘relaxing’ – to Fromm the only time one should relax is when one is asleep He is a man well aware that time and therefore life itself is not to be wasted – that we are better to wear out than to rustMore than once I experienced a ‘shock of recognition’ in reading this book particularly towards the end when he was discussing dysfunctions based on experiences of parental role models Although I found his division between maternal and paternal love all a little simplistic some of this did make me uestion my relationships and how they may have been based on my own experiences and learnings from my parents and also to wonder about the examples I’ve given my daughters Never pleasant thoughtsI didn’t enjoy this book nearly as much as The Art of Being but there are ‘thoughts per page’ here than in your typical book on this subject and if it is a ‘whiteboard book’ it is a particularly full and rewarding one


  5. says:

    This book confirms the idea that reading is a basic tool in the living of a good life a better one indeedReading 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 didIn 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 reuires care responsibility respect and knowledge to master the art of love as he metaphorically puts itFromm 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 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 eually 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. says:

    Gave up at 13 because it simply became unbearableIf 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 youThe 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 onI 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 itIf 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'


  7. says:

    One of my favorite books I've read it three times now and i'll probably read it several 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 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 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 illusiondelusionfrustration of love Another book I think I could benefit from reading every other year


  8. says:

    “Love is not only a relationship with a specific person; it is an attitude a guiding of our character that determines the type of relationship of a person has with the world as a whole not with an object or a person”


  9. says:

    35 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 receivingThank 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 reuires 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 uote 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 recognizedWhile 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 eual 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 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


  10. says:

    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 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 themAs a critiue 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