Erich Fromm and Humanistic Psychology
"In harmony with nature"? Restless fool,
Who with such heat doth preach what were to thee,
When true, the last impossibility;
To be like Nature strong, like Nature cool: --
Know, man hath all which Nature hath, but more,
And in the more lies all his hope of good.
Nature is cruel; man is sick of blood:...
Man must begin, know this, where Nature ends;
Nature and man can never be fast friends.
Fool, if thou canst not pass her, rest her slave!
-- Matthew Arnold,
To an Independent Preacher
L ike Arendt, Erich Fromm was a member of the World-War-I generation of Ereuropean Jews. He had been shaped much more than she, however, by his Judaic heritage. His subsequent lifelong commitment to all three of the popular "isms" of his day (Marxism, Freudianism and existentialism) was always qualified by a deeply embedded love for the Old Testament. This was coupled with respect for the Bible's ancient authors and the scholarly rabbinical tradition stemming from it. The ideas boiling in the mind of this good and caring man at times have proven to be strange bedfellows, and the resolution of logical contradiction was never his strong point. But what emerged over the course of Erich Fromm 's long lifetime was a uniquely moral approach to social science: one with a powerful appeal to the Jewish community as well as to a large cross-section of disillusioned twentieth-century youth from other backgrounds.
Erich Fromm was born in March of 1900 in Frankfurt, Germany, and died in March of 1980 in Muralto, Switzerland. He was raised in an Orthodox Jewish milieu, the only child of an "anxious, moody" father and a "depression-
References for this chapter are on p. 359-60.