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Summary

This classic work by psychologist and social philosopher Eric Fromm builds upon his previous popular book To Have or to Be? The Art of Being teaches us to avoid the tantalizing illusions of our consumer-driven world by learning to function as a whole person from a state of inner completeness or being. The transition from an identity of having to being creates a state of enlightened psychological and spiritual happiness.

Fromm observes that the modern person is less a self-reflective being than a composite of data promoted by the mass media, and he encourages us to pursue true self-awareness beyond simple political, ideological, and religious cliches. By learning to be centered in the self, the individual is less swayed by the endless pressures and dissatisfactions of the culture of consumerism.

©1989 Estate of Erich Fromm. Foreword 1992 Rainer Funk (P)2006 Blackstone Audiobooks

Critic reviews

"Eric Fromm is both a psychologist of penetration and a writer of ability." ( Chicago Tribune)

What listeners say about The Art of Being

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Excellent book perfectly narrated

Great job, the narrator's voice is fantastic! The philosophy inside is deep yet easy to understand Absolute masterpiece.

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The first half was good

Once the psychoanalysis started, while there was great deal to learn from it. The author sounded like he was too biased. overlaying his biases with Marxist views and bringing in Stuff from Freud's dream interpretation to dissect the whims and will.
There surely are great concepts in there that got me to ask some difficult questions that I don't have the answers to. it was thought provoking but I think the author could have done better job explaining some concepts.

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Nice analysis though based on outdated concepts...

Bringing the reader back half a century, into a world of dominants, a place where progress came with pain... Often still relevant, this book goes through a great review of the models of living physically and spiritually.
... an easy reading with no special discovery or challenge.

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excellent

excellent must read for everyone! such good detail and helpful strategies for thinking about life

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  • Walter
  • 15-08-12

Very much an excerpt

The content here is just fine - but be warned: the book is comprised of chapters that did not get included in Fromm's classic "To Have or To Be." You are better off reading that one first, then this. That said, much of the content does stand fairly well on its own. In combination iwth "To Have or To Be," it would get 4 stars, maybe 5.

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  • Nir
  • 13-03-16

Highly recommended

What made the experience of listening to The Art of Being the most enjoyable?

Really made it think, improve myself and become what I consider a better human being.

3 people found this helpful

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  • The Bookie
  • 24-02-21

Thought provoking and helpful

Another classic work of philosphy by a highly intellegent thinker after WWII. I have never read Erich Fromm prior to this book, but have come across his name in various references. Clearly his work has some seminal influence to our current societal ways of thinking, and I was honestly surprised at Fromm's clear sympathy to Marxist theories (I had not made any connections to that and Critical Theories until I was well into this book).

While I find modern critical theories to be tragically flawed, I found that Fromm's earlier thinking and commentary to be compelling and elucidating, at least.

Before I make potential readers think that Marxism and CRT are central to this text, let me clear that up. This book is no treatise on Marxism, socialism, or any other -ism... Except perhaps capitalism, as Fromm clearly regards capitalism as deeply flawed -- which, in many ways, it is. His observations of the human creatures created by capitalism as not being a true person, but a commodity whose existence is defined by their relationship to possessions, are spot on in many ways.

He also includes a large section of essentially 'self-help': how to begin the work of freeing yourself from a meaningless existence, how to balance yourself against external and internal pressures that sap you of your authenticity and spirit, and so on. I found a lot of value in his advice, as well as his observations and philosophies -- even those I may not fully agree with.

There are many memorable and meaningful sections and passages in the book, even small asides, like how he disapproves of schools of philosphy because they encourage dogmatism and a discourage the growth of members and theories.

I am certainly adding other titles from Fromm to my wish list queue, now that I've had a taste of his theories and writing. If you have any interest in personal growth and objectivity, in the harms capitalistic societies can inflict upon individuals, or even just mid-20th century theories od psychology and society, I definitely recommend this book. Even if you are stoutly against even the suggestion of socialism and Marxist thought, Fromm's ideas are worth exposing yourself too, even if only to have a better understanding of some of the roots of those ways of thinking.

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  • The Dreamer
  • 06-03-16

The speakers voice is so calming.

I loved listening to this book because the material was great but I also loved the speakers voice. So relaxing.

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  • Lolly Gwabavu
  • 17-01-19

Timeless

This book came just at the right time for me. A great overview and exploration of how our values around work, productivity, possessing and being have evolved over the past few 100 years. To realise how much of ones beliefs are simply the sum of relentless capital and consumerist conditioning is scary, humbling yet also freeing and empowering. I truly admire the authors conviction and learned comfort in being the lone voice in the wilderness for an era.

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  • T. Tree Walker
  • 24-01-18

Essential reading for the journey

I've really been enjoying this book, as something I dip into for a half hour or so, to give me something to expand my consciousness of my own being - and it helps make sense of the things others do too. Well narrated, well paced - I haven't had to speed it up to listen to it like so many others.
I've also listened to Fromm's Psychoanalysis which is excellent too, though more aimed at analysts and those in therapy I suspect.
While I don't necessarily agree with all of Fromm's assertions and ways of seeing things, I'm very glad to haev been exposed to him in this way and I'd recommend this anyone wanting to better understand themselves and others, it's a really thought provoking exploration.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 12-09-21

Was thrown off by the last chapter

After all the quite sense making points on individuals and personal development, the last chapter was like from another book, completely unrelated and full of ungrounded assertions and resentment.

I guess 40 years of self analysis is not enough to withstand the temptation of one simple solution for all human misery.

I guess Fromm was too privileged to even imagine the nastiness of prehistoric lifestyle.

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 27-07-21

A bit dry

I appreciated a lot of points that were made in this book but I also found it difficult to finish it. I would suggest reading another book if you are easily distracted

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 21-04-21

Great book great subject matter for anyone.

I was really impressed with this book I Believe it can be of use to anyone of any age, gender or background. It Would be a great idea to share this work with any youth transitioning into adulthood. Greg comes across in his writing and narration in very approachable and humble manner which made the book a joy to listen to.

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  • Zelda
  • 02-04-21

Outdated

This book was a heartfelt attempt at helping people via the author's personal experience in understanding being over having, and ultimately improving one's well-being. I found nothing new that I did not already know and therefore the book did not do much for me. That's not to say it cannot help others but I personally would not recommend the book to others.