Erich Fromm‘s books “The Art of Loving” and “The Fear of Freedom” shaped my views a great deal when I was just a teenager. Here are some of my favorite Fromm quotes:

  • As we ascend the social ladder, viciousness wears a thicker mask.
  • If a person loves only one other person and is indifferent to all others, his love is not love but a symbiotic attachment, or an enlarged egotism.
  • Immature love says: ‘I love you because I need you.’ Mature love says ‘I need you because I love you.’
  • In the nineteenth century the problem was that God is dead. In the twentieth century the problem is that man is dead.
  • Love is the only sane and satisfactory answer to the problem of human existence.
  • Man is the only animal for whom his own existence is a problem which he has to solve.
  • Man’s biological weakness is the condition of human culture.
  • Man’s main task in life is to give birth to himself, to become what he potentially is. The most important product of his effort is his own personality.
  • Most people die before they are fully born. Creativeness means to be born before one dies.
  • Not he who has much is rich, but he who gives much.
  • One cannot be deeply responsive to the world without being saddened very often.
  • Only the person who has faith in himself is able to be faithful to others.
  • Sanity is only that which is within the frame of reference of conventional thought.
  • Selfish persons are incapable of loving others, but they are not capable of loving themselves either.
  • The danger of the past was that men became slaves. The danger of the future is that man may become robots.
  • The most beautiful as well as the most ugly inclinations of man are not part of a fixed biologically given human nature, but result from the social process which creates man.
  • The only truly affluent are those who do not want more than they have.
  • The ordinary man with extraordinary power is the chief danger for mankind – not the fiend or the sadist.
  • The quest for certainty blocks the search for meaning. Uncertainty is the very condition to impel man to unfold his powers.
  • The task we must set for ourselves is not to feel secure, but to be able to tolerate insecurity.
  • There can be no real freedom without the freedom to fail.
  • There is hardly any activity, any enterprise, which is started out with such tremendous hopes and expectations, and yet which fails so regularly, as love.
  • There is no meaning to life except the meaning man gives his life by the unfolding of his powers.
  • There is perhaps no phenomenon which contains so much destructive feeling as moral indignation, which permits envy or to be acted out under the guise of virtue.
  • To die is poignantly bitter, but the idea of having to die without having lived is unbearable.
  • To hope means to be ready at every moment for that which is not yet born, and yet not become desperate if there is no birth in our lifetime.
  • We all dream; we do not understand our dreams, yet we act as if nothing strange goes on in our sleep minds, strange at least by comparison with the logical, purposeful doings of our minds when we are awake.
  • We live in a world of things, and our only connection with them is that we know how to manipulate or to consume them.
  • Who will tell whether one happy moment of love or the joy of breathing or walking on a bright morning and smelling the fresh air, is not worth all the suffering and effort which life implies.

Alien, alienated. That's me.

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