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Escape from freedom by Erich Fromm
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Escape from freedom (original 1941; edition 1994)

by Erich Fromm

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1,616126,969 (3.98)15
Member:AC.Belgrade
Title:Escape from freedom
Authors:Erich Fromm
Info:New York : H. Holt, 1994.
Collections:Your library
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Tags:Psychology

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Escape from Freedom by Erich Fromm (1941)

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Showing 1-5 of 8 (next | show all)
I read this about ten years ago, but I should have read it twenty years ago. This was a seminal debate text, but as a 20-something I still found it to be relevant. Basically, Fromm explores the reasons why people seek to place themselves in bondage. Freedom is scary, and Totalitarianism, even mental or spiritual Totalitarianism, has a certain comfortable appeal. ( )
1 vote evamat72 | Mar 31, 2016 |
Here is a book that was recommended to me early in my grad school career, and for some reason I have put off reading it until now. (Studying for comps has pushed me to "get my reading on"...) I read this book in hopes of just reviewing some theory and getting Fromm's perspective. I did not expect to read it and be so engrossed (definitely didn't expect to read it in 2.5 days...).

Fromm puts it out there that as humans, our desire for individual freedom is one that at the same time makes us free, also makes us alone. He states that the desire to be free and an individual thus makes us isolate and alone--which is not really what we want. We must some how reconcile these two forces...which is not easy. What I am taking from that portion of the book is that man must decide what is more individually important to him: The ability to say that he is free, and has his own ideas (but be alone)...or the safety that comes with conforming and working with others.

He goes further to explain the history of personal freedoms, and the influence that religion (especially Luther and Calvin) has on shaping the modern man. The last portion of the book describes how the German people could allow themselves to be followers of a party like the Nazi party. (And yes, how the United States, even though we have a democracy, might be able to be dominated by a strong force like what national socialism did to Germany.)

What impresses me I think the most about this book is when I look at the date it was written: 1941. A *LOT* of what Fromm states to be a problem facing man is the SAME as it is in 2011, 60 years later. Bombardment from advertisements, radio, film, billboards, depersonalization of our daily lives...it's strange to see that this has been underway for so long.

I would definitely recommend this book to anyone who enjoys thinking...hopefully you do. ( )
2 vote csweder | Jul 8, 2014 |
Here is a book that was recommended to me early in my grad school career, and for some reason I have put off reading it until now. (Studying for comps has pushed me to "get my reading on"...) I read this book in hopes of just reviewing some theory and getting Fromm's perspective. I did not expect to read it and be so engrossed (definitely didn't expect to read it in 2.5 days...).

Fromm puts it out there that as humans, our desire for individual freedom is one that at the same time makes us free, also makes us alone. He states that the desire to be free and an individual thus makes us isolate and alone--which is not really what we want. We must some how reconcile these two forces...which is not easy. What I am taking from that portion of the book is that man must decide what is more individually important to him: The ability to say that he is free, and has his own ideas (but be alone)...or the safety that comes with conforming and working with others.

He goes further to explain the history of personal freedoms, and the influence that religion (especially Luther and Calvin) has on shaping the modern man. The last portion of the book describes how the German people could allow themselves to be followers of a party like the Nazi party. (And yes, how the United States, even though we have a democracy, might be able to be dominated by a strong force like what national socialism did to Germany.)

What impresses me I think the most about this book is when I look at the date it was written: 1941. A *LOT* of what Fromm states to be a problem facing man is the SAME as it is in 2011, 60 years later. Bombardment from advertisements, radio, film, billboards, depersonalization of our daily lives...it's strange to see that this has been underway for so long.

I would definitely recommend this book to anyone who enjoys thinking...hopefully you do. ( )
1 vote csweder | Jul 8, 2014 |
Fromm's book explores over a few short chapters humanity's shifting relationship with freedom, with particular regard to the personal consequences of its absence. Its special emphasis is the psychosocial conditions that facilitated the rise of Nazism. Fromm distinguishes between 'freedom from' (negative freedom) and 'freedom to' (positive freedom). The former refers to emancipation from restrictions such as social conventions placed on individuals by other people or institutions. This is the kind of freedom typified by the Existentialism of Sartre, and has often been fought for historically, but according to Fromm, on its own it can be a destructive force unless accompanied by a creative element, 'freedom to' the use of freedom to employ spontaneously the total integrated personality in creative acts. This, he argues, necessarily implies a connectedness with others that goes beyond the superficial bonds of conventional social intercourse: "...in the spontaneous realization of the self, man unites himself anew with the world..."
Freedom, argues Fromm, became an important issue in the 20th century, being seen as something to be fought for and defended. As 'freedom from- is not an experience we enjoy in itself, Fromm suggests that many people, rather than utilising it successfully, attempt to minimise its negative effects by developing thoughts and behaviours that provide some form of security. Fromm suggests that Fascism may arise anywhere a people devolve their thinking on authorities rather than doing it themselves: "The right to express our thoughts ... means something only if we are able to have thoughts of our own". In this he echoes Alexis de Tocqueville, who in his 1840 book Democracy in America stated "It is vain to summon a people who have been rendered so dependent on the central power to choose from time to time the representatives of that power; this rare and brief exercise of their free choice, however important it may be, will not prevent them losing the faculties of thinking, feeling, and acting for themselves, and thus gradually falling below the level of humanity." ( )
1 vote jwhenderson | May 27, 2013 |
Fantastic analysis, I love Fromm. "..by conforming with the expectations of other...the price paid is high. Giving up spontaneity and individuality results in a thwarting of life. Psychologically the automaton, while being alive biologically, is dead emotionally and mentally". "One kind of smokescreen is the assertion that the problems are too complicated for the average individual to grasp. On the contrary it would seem that many of the basic issues of individual and social life are very simple, so simple in fact that everyone should be expected to understand them"..."Cynicism and naiveté are very typical of the modern individual. Its essential result is to discourage from thinking and deciding". ( )
2 vote Princesca | May 1, 2013 |
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Redeker, H.Translatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Epigraph
If I am not for myself, who will be for me?
If I am for myself only, what am I?
If not now -- when?
--Talmudic Saying, Mishnah, Abot
Neither heavenly nor earthly, neither mortal nor immortal have we created thee, so that thou mightest be free according to thy own will and honor, to be they own creator and builder.  To these alone we gave growth and development depending on they own free will.  Thou bearest in thee the germs of a universal life.
--Pico della Mirandola
Oratio de Hominus Dignitate
Nothing then is unchangeable but the inherent and inalienable rights of man.
--Thomas Jefferson
Dedication
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Foreword: This book is part of a broad study concerning the character structure of modern man and the problems of the interaction between psychological and sociological factors which I have been working on for several years and completion of which would have taken considerably longer.
Modern European and American history is centered around the effort to gain freedom from political, economic, and spiritual shackles that have bound men.
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1. suomenkielinen painos julkaistu nimellä Vaarallinen vapaus
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0805031499, Paperback)

If humanity cannot live with the dangers and responsibilities inherent in freedom, it will probably turn to authoritarianism. This is the central idea of Escape from Freedom, a landmark work by one of the most distinguished thinkers of our time, and a book that is as timely now as when first published in 1941. Few books have thrown such light upon the forces that shape modern society or penetrated so deeply into the causes of authoritarian systems. If the rise of democracy set some people free, at the same time it gave birth to a society in which the individual feels alienated and dehumanized. Using the insights of psychoanalysis as probing agents, Fromm’s work analyzes the illness of contemporary civilization as witnessed by its willingness to submit to totalitarian rule.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:15:55 -0400)

(see all 4 descriptions)

If humanity cannot live with the dangers and responsibilities inherent in freedom, it will probably turn to authoritarianism. This is the central idea ofEscape from Freedom, a landmark work by one of the most distinguished thinkers of our time, and a book that is as timely now as when first published in 1941. Few books have thrown such light upon the forces that shape modern society or penetrated so deeply into the causes of authoritarian systems. If the rise of democracy set some people free, at the same time it gave birth to a society in which the individual feels alienated and dehumanized. Using the insights of psychoanalysis as probing agents, Fromm's workanalyzes the illness of contemporary civilization as witnessed by its willingness to submit to totalitarian rule.

» see all 2 descriptions

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