Sunday, January 16, 2011

My Notes: The Art of Loving by Erich Fromm

The Art of Loving by Erich Fromm was the book I was looking for for the last few days. Finally, I found a PDF copy of it on Scribd. For the most part,the book deals with theory of love. Following are my notes as I was reading the chapter The Theory of Love from it.
  • Love is an art. As it is an art, it needs knowledge and effort for its nourishment.
  • The problem of Love is not primarily the problem of being loved, but the problem of loving, of one's capacity to love.  Love is an effort to overcome human separateness.
  • Love is an act of giving -- Giving of ourselves, not from ourselves.
 *Basic elements of love: Care, Responsibility, Respect, and Knowledge.

 Care: Active concern for the life and growth of that which we love.

Responsibilty: Not something imposed upon one from outside, but one's response to the needs, expressed and unexpressed, of another human being. To be "responsible" means to be able to and ready to "respond."

Responsibility in case of mother and her infant refers mainly to the care for physical needs. In the love
betwen adults, it refers mainly to the psychic needs of the other person.

Respect: Fromm notes the root of this word is respicere i.e. to look at. Respect is not fear and awe, but the ability to look at the person as he is. He should grow and unfold as he is, not as I need him to be. He should
grow for his own sake, not for the purpose of serving me.

Knowledge: Respect to a person is not possile without knowing him. Knowledge not of periphery, but of core. Fromm elaborates this by example of a person who seems angry to us if we see him superficially, but if we try to know him deeply, we may see he is anxious, and worried; that he feels lonely, that he feels guilty. Then we know that his anger is only the manifestation of something deeper, and we see him as anxious and embarrased, that is as the suffering person, rather than as angry one.

Though, knowledge is not trying to know secrets of man.

Fromm notes, "In the act of loving, of giving myself, I find myself, I discover myself, I discover us both, I discover man."

Finally, though the book deals primarily with the theory of love and oftentimes gets too theoritical, it's a treat to read if we can understand, feel, and apply it to our lives.

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