Man for Himself: An Inquiry Into the Psychology of Ethics - Erich Fromm 2013


1 In: Time and Eternity, A Jewish Reader, edited by Nabum N. Glatzer (New York: Schoeken Books, 1946).

2 This use of “art,” though, is in contrast to the terminology of Aristotle, who differentiates between “making” and “doing.”

3 Suicide as a pathological phenomenon does not contradict this general principle.

4 By “science of man” I refer to a broader concept than the conventional concept of anthropology. Linton has used science of man in a similarly comprehensive sense. Cf. The Science of Man in the World Crisis, ed. by Ralph Linton, Columbia University Press, New York, 1945.

5 Ethica Nicomachea, W. D. Ross, tr. (London, New York: Oxford University Press, 1925), 1102a, 17-24.

6 Ibid., 1099a, 3-5.

7 Benedictus de Spinoza, Ethics, W. Bale White, tr., revised by Amelia Hutcheson Sterling—Humphrey Milford (London: Oxford University Press, 1927), III, Prop.6. (In Scribner’s Spinoza Selections.)

8 lbid., IV, Prop, 24.

9 Ibid., IV, Pref.

10 Marx has expressed a view similar to Spinoza’s: “To know what is useful for a dog,” he says, “one must study dog-nature. This nature itself is not to be deduced from the principle of utility. Applying this to Man, he that would criticize all human acts, movements, relations, etc., by the principle of utility, must first deal with human nature in general, and then with human nature as modified in each historical epoch. Bentham makes short work of it. With the dryest naïvetè, he takes the modern shopkeeper, especially the English shopkeeper, as the normal man.”—Karl Marx, Capital, translated from the Third German Edition by Samuel Moore and Edward Aveling; edited by Frederick Engels; revised and amplified according to the Fourth German Edition by Ernest Untermann (New York: The Modern Library, Random House, Inc.), I, p. 688, footnote.

Spencer’s view on ethics, in spite of significant philosophical differences, is also that “good” and “bad” follow the particular constitution of man and that the science of conduct is based on our knowledge of man” In a letter to J. S. Mill, Spencer says: “The view for which I contend is that Morality, properly so-called the science of right conduct, has for its object to determine how and why certain modes of conduct are detrimental and certain other modes beneficial. These good and bad results cannot be accidental but be necessary consequences of the constitution of things.” Quoted by Spencer in The Principles of Ethics, Vol. I (New York: D. Appleton Co., 1902), p. 57.

11 John Dewey and James H. Tufts, Ethics (New York: Henry Holt and Company, rev. ed., 1932), p. 364.

12 John Dewey, Problems of Men, (New York: Philosophical Library. 1946), p. 254.

13 Ibid., p. 260.

14 John Dewey, “Theory of Valuation;” in International Encyclopedia of Unified Science (Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1939), XI, No. 4 p. 34.

15 John Dewey, Human Nature and Conduct (New York: The Modern Library, Random House, 1930), pp. 34 f.

16 Ibid., p. 36.

17 Utopias are visions of ends before the realization of means, yet they are not meaningless; on the contrary, some have contributed greatly to the progress of thought, not to speak of what they have meant to uphold faith in the future of man.

18 Dewey, Human Nature and Conduct, p. 86.

19 A brief but significant contribution to the problem of values from the psychoanalytic viewpoint is Patrick Mullahy’s article, “Values, Scientific Method and Psychoanalysis;” Psychiatry, May, 1943. During the revision of the manuscript of this book, J. C. FlugeI’s Man, Morals and Society was published (New York: International Universities Press, 1945), which is the first systematic and serious attempt of a psychoanalyst to apply psychoanalytic findings to ethical theory. A very valuable statement of the problems and a profound criticism—although going far beyond criticism—of the psychoanalytic view on ethics is to be found in Mortimer J. Adler’s What Man Has Made of Man (New York: Longmans, Green & Co., 1937).

20 Cf. Dewey, Problems of Men, pp. 250-272, and Philip B. Rice, “Objectivity of Value Judgment and Types of Value Judgment,” Journal of Philosophy, XV (1934), pp. 5-14, 533-543.

21 S. Freud, The Ego and the Id, Joan Riviere & V. Woolf tr. (London: Hogarth Press and the Institute of Psychoanalysis, 1935), p. 133.

22 A more detailed discussion of conscience is to be found in Chapter IV.

23 The Psychoanalytic Review, XXXI, No. 3 (July, 1944), pp. 329-335.

24 S. Freud, New Introductory Lectures on Psychoanalysis, W. J. H. Sprott, tr. (New York: W. W. Norton & Company, 1937), pp.240-241.

25 I have used this term without reference to the terminology of existentialism. During the revision of the manuscript I became acquainted with jean Paul Sartre’s Flies and his Is Existentialism a Humanism? I do not feel that any changes or additions are warranted. Although there are certain points in common, I cannot judge the degree of agreement since I have had as yet no access to Sartre’s main philosophical opus.

26 The four temperaments were symbolized by the four elements: choleric = fire = warm and dry, quick and strong; sanguine = air = warm and moist, quick and weak; phlegmatic = water = cold and moist, slow and weak; melancholic = earth = cold and dry, slow and strong.

27 Cf. also Charles William Morris’ application of types of temperament to cultural entities in Paths of Life (New York: Harper & Brothers, 1942).

28 An indication of the confusion between temperament and character is the fact that Kretschmer, although generally consistent in the usage of the concept of temperament, gave his book the title Physique and Character instead of “Temperament and Physique.” Sheldon, whose book has the title of Varieties of Temperament, is nevertheless confused in the clinical application of his temperament concept. His “temperaments” contain pure traits of temperament mixed with traits of character as they appear in persons of a certain temperament. If the majority of subjects had not reached full emotional maturity, certain temperament types among them will show certain character traits which have an affinity with this temperament. A case in point is the trait of indiscriminate sociability which Sheldon lists as one among the traits in the viscerotonic temperament. But only the immature, nonproductive viscerotonic will have an indiscriminate sociability; the productive viscerotonic will have a discriminate sociability. The trait listed by Sheldon is not a temperament trait but a character trait which appears frequently associated with a certain temperament and physique provided that most subjects belong to the same level of maturity. Since Sheldon’s method is one of relying entirely on statistical correlation of “traits” with physique, with no attempt at a theoretical analysis of the trait syndrome, his mistake was hardly avoidable.

29 Leland E. Hinsie and Jacob Shatzky, Psychiatric Dictionary. (New York, Oxford University Press, 1940.)

30 If the reader wishes to begin with a picture of all the types, he can turn to the diagram on p. 111.

31 See pp. 112 ff. The following description of the non-productive orientations, except that of the marketing, follows the clinical picture of the pregenital character given by Freud and others. The theoretical difference becomes apparent in the discussion of the hoarding character.

32 Cf. for the study of history and function of the modern market, K. Polanyi’s The Great Transformation (New York: Rinehart & Company, 1944).

33 The fact that relationship to oneself and to others is conjunctive will be explained in Chapter IV.

34 The difference between intelligence and reason will be discussed later on, pp. 96 ff.

35 Cf. Ernest Schachtel, “Zum Begriff and zur Diagnosis der Persoenlichkeit in ’Personality Tests’ [On the concept and Diagnosis of Personality Tests],” Zeitschrift für Sozialforschung (Jahrgang 6, 1937), pp. 597-624.

36 Pp. 212 ff.

37 Hal Falvey, Ten Seconds That Will Change Your Life (Chicago: Wilcox & Follett, 1946).

38 Productiveness as used in this book is meant as an expansion of the concept of spontaneity described in Escape from Freedom.

39 But the authoritarian character does not only tend to submit but also wishes to dominate others. In fact, both the sadistic and the masochistic sides are always present, and they differ only in degree of their strength and their repression respectively. (See the discussion of the authoritarian character in Escape from Freedom, pp. 141 ff.)

40 An interesting although incomplete attempt to analyze productive thinking is Max Wertheimer’s posthumously published work, Productive Thinking (New York: Harper & Brothers, 1945). Some of the aspects of productiveness are dealt with by Munsterberg, Natorp, Bergson, and James; in Brentano’s and Husserl’s analysis of the psychic “act”; in Dilthey’s analysis of artistic production and in O. Schwarz, Medizinische Anthropologie (Leipzig: Hirzel, 1929), pp. III ff. In all these works, however, the problem is not treated in relation to character.

41 Nicomachean Ethics, 1098a, 8.

42 Ibid., 1098b, 32.

43 Spinoza, Ethics, IV, Def. 8.

44 Ibid., IV, Preface.

45 Ibid., IV. Def. 20.

46 Bayard Taylor, tr. (Boston: Houghton Mifflin Co.)

47 Loc. cit., Part II, Act V.

48 Eleven Plays of Henrik Ibsen (New York: The Modern Library, Random House, Inc.), Act V, Scene VI.

49 This concept of relatedness as the synthesis of closeness and uniqueness is in many ways similar to the concept of “detached-attachment in Charles Morris’ Paths of Life (New York: Harper & Brothers, 1942), one difference being that Morris’ frame of reference is that of temperament while mine is that of character.

50 Chapter IV, Selfishness, Self-Love, and Self-Interest.

51 Compare Aristotle on love: “But friendship seems to consist rather in loving than in being loved. It may be seen to be so by the delight which mothers have in loving; for mothers sometimes give their children to be brought up by others, and although they know them and love them, do not look for love in return, if it be impossible both to love and to be loved, but are content, as it seems to see their children doing well, and to give them their love, even if the children in their ignorance do not render them any such service as is a mother’s due.”—Welldon translation, Book VIII, Chap. X.

52 Max Wertheimer, Productive Thinking (New York: Harper & Brothers, 1945), p. 167. Cf. also p. 192.

53 Cf. K. Mannheim’s discussion of this point in Ideology and Utopia (New York: Harcourt, Brace and Company, 1936).

54 Including love, which was treated together with all other manifestations of productiveness in order to give a fuller description of the nature of productiveness.

55 The meaning of the concepts put in parentheses will be explained in the following section.

56 Cf. Erich Fromm, “Selfishness and Self-Love,” Psychiatry (November, 1939). The following discussion of selfishness and self-love is a partial repetition of the earlier paper.

57 Johannes Calvin, Institutes of the Christian Religion, trans. by John Allen (Philadelphia: Presbyterian Board of Christian Education, 1928), in particular Book III, Chap. 7, p. 619. From “For, as it is….” the translation is mine from the Latin original (Johannes Calvini. Institutio Christianae Religionis. Editionem curavit, A. Tholuk, Berolini, 1935, par 1. p. 445).

58 Ibid., Chap. 12, par. 6, p. 681.

59 Ibid., Chap. 7, par. 4, p. 622.

60 It should be noted, however, that even love for one’s neighbor, while it is one of the fundamental doctrines of the New Testament, has not been given a corresponding weight by Calvin. In blatant contradiction to the New Testament, Calvin says: “For what the schoolmen advance concerning the priority of charity to faith and hope, is a mere reverie of a distempered imagination…”—Chap. 24, par. 1, p. 531.

61 Despite Luther’s emphasis on the spiritual freedom of the individual, his theology, different as it is in many ways from Calvin’s, is pervaded by the same conviction of man’s basic powerlessness and nothingness.

62 Compare Immanuel Kant, Kant’s Critique of Practical Reason and Other Works on the Theory of Ethics, trans. by Thomas Kingsmill Abbott (New York: Longmans, Green & Co., 1909). Part I, Book I, Chap. I, par. VIII, Remark II, p. 126.

63 Ibid., in particular Part I, Book I, Chap. III, p. 186.

64 Loc. cit., Fundamental Principles of the Metaphysics of Morals; second section, p. 61.

65 Loc. cit., Part I, Book I, Ch. III, p. 165.

66 Immanuel Kant, Immanuel Kant’s Werke (Berlin: Cassierer), in particular “Der Rechtslehre Zweiter Teil” I. Abschnitt, par. 49, p. 124. I translate from the German text, since this part is omitted in the English translation of The Metaphysics of Ethics by I. W. Semple (Edinburgh: 1871).

67 Ibid., p. 126.

68 Compare Immanuel Kant, Religion within the Limits of Reason Alone, trans. by T. M. Greene and H. H. Hudson (Chicago: Open Court, 1934) Book I.

69 In order not to make this chapter too long I discuss only the modern philosophical development. The student of philosophy will know that Aristotle’s and Spinoza’s ethics consider self-love a virtue, not a vice, in striking contrast to Calvin’s standpoint.

70 Max Stirner, The Ego and His Own, trans. by S. T. Byington (London: A. C. Fifield, 1912), p. 339.

71 One of his positive formulations, for example, is: “But how does one use life? In using it up like the candle one burns. . … Enjoyment of life is using life up. F. Engels has clearly seen the one-sidedness of Stirner’s formulations and has attempted to overcome the false alternative between love for oneself and love for others. In a letter to Marx in which he discusses Stirner’s book, Engels writes: “If, however, the concrete and real individual is the true basis for our ’human’ man, it is self-evident that egotism—of course not only Stirner’s egotism of reason but also the egotism of the heart—is the basis for our love of man.”—Marx-Engels Gesamtausgabe (Berlin: Marx-Engels Verlag, 1929), p. 6.

72 Friedrich Nietzsche, The Will to Power, trans. by Anthony M. Ludovici (Edinburgh and London: T. N. Foulis, 1910), stanzas 246, 326, 369, 373, and 728.

73 Friedrich Nietzsche, Beyond Good and Evil, trans. by Helen Zimmer (New York: The Macmillan Company, 1907), stanza 258.

74 Cf. G. A. Morgan, What Nietzsche Means (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1943)

75 Friedrich Nietzsche, Thus Spake Zarathustra, trans. by Thomas Common (New York: Modern Library), p. 75.

76 The Will to Power, stanza 785.

77 Ibid., stanza 935.

78 Thus Spake Zarathustra, p. 76.

79 Ibid., p. 102.

80 See Friedrich Nietzsche, The Twilight of Idols, trans. by A. M. Ludovici (Edinburgh: T. N. Foulis 1911), stanza 35; Ecce Homo, trans. by A. M. Ludovici (New York: The Macmillan Company, 1911), stanza 2; Nachlass. Nietzsches Werke (Leipzig A. Kroener), pp. 63-64.

81 This point has been emphasized by Karen Horney, The Neurotic Personality of Our Time (New York: W. W. Norton & Company, 1937), and by Robert S. Lynd, Knowledge for What? (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1939).

82 Spinoza, Ethics, IV, Prop. 20.

83 William James expressed this concept very clearly. “To have,” he says, “a self that I can care for, Nature must first present me with some object interesting enough to make me instinctively wish to appropriate it for its own sake… My own body and what ministers to its needs are thus the primitive object, instinctively determined, of my egoistic interests. Other objects may become interesting derivatively, through association with any of these things, either as means or as habitual concomitants; and so, in a thousand ways, the primitive sphere of the egoistic emotions may enlarge and change its boundaries. This sort of interest is really the meaning of the word mine. Whatever has it, is, eo ipso, a part of me!”—Principles of Psychology (New York: Henry Holt and Company, 2 vols., 1896), I, p. 319 and p. 324. Elsewhere James writes: “It is clear that between what a man calls me and what he simply calls mine, the line is difficult to draw. We feel and act about certain things that are ours very much as we feel and act about ourselves. Our fame, our children, the work of our hands may be as dear to us as our bodies are, and arouse the same feelings and the same acts of reprisal if attacked… In its widest possible sense, however, a man’s Self is the sum-total of all that he can call his, not only his body, and his psychic powers, but his clothes and his house, his wife and children, his ancestors and friends, his reputation and works, his land and horses and yacht and bank account. All these things give him the same emotions. If they wax or prosper, he feels triumphant, if they dwindle and die away, he feels cast down—not necessarily in the sane degree for each thing, but in much the same way for all:”—Ibid., I, pp. 291-292.

84 Pirandello in his plays has expressed this concept of self and the self-doubt resulting from it.

85 Loc. cit., Ad V. Scene I.

86 In Time and Eternity, ed. by N. N. Glatzer (New York: Schocken Books, 1946).

87 This side was stressed by Freud in his early concept of the “Ego Ideal.”

88 A more detailed analysis of the relationship of conscience and authority is to be found in my discussion of the subject in Studien über Autorität und Familie, ed. by M. Horkheimer (Paris: Félix Alcan, 1936).

89 The idea that man is created in “God’s image” transcends the authoritarian structure of this part of the Old Testament and is in fact the other pole around which Judaeo-Christian religion has developed, particularly in its mystical representatives.

90 F. Nietzsche, The Genealogy of Morals, II, 16.

91 Ibid., II, 16.

92 Cf. the discussion of anonymous authority in democratic society in Escape from Freedom, Chap. V, p. 3.

93 F. Kafka’s letter to his father, in which he tried to explain to him why he had always been afraid of him is a classic document in this respect. Cf. A. Franz Kafka, Miscellany (New York: Twice a Year Press, 1940).

94 The Complete Greek Drama, ed. by W. J. Oates and E. O’Neill, Jr., Vol. I (New York: Random House, 1938).

95 F. Nietzsche, The Genealogy of Morals, II, 3. Cf. also Heidegger’s description of conscience in M. Heidegger, Sein und Zeit, Halle an der Saale 1927, pp. 54-60.

96 From J. LaFarge, A Talk About Hokusai (W. C. Martin, 1896).

97 F. Kafka, The Trial, tr. E. I. Muir (New York: Alfred A, Knopf, 1937). p. 23.

98 Ibid., pp. 287-8.

44 Cf. H. Marcuse, “Zur Kritik des Hedonismus,” Zeitschrift für Sozialforschung, VII, 1938.

45 Aristotle, Ethics, 1173a, 21 ff.

46 Aristotle, Ethics, 1176a, 15-30.

47 See Book VII, Chaps. 11-13, and Book X, Chaps. 4, 7, 8.

48 Ethics. III, Re Affects. Def. Il, III.

49 Ibid., Prop. XLII.

50 H. Spencer, The Principles of Ethics (New York: D. Appleton Co., 1902), Vol. I.

51 Ibid., pp. 79, 82.

52 Ibid., p. 99.

53 Ibid., p. 183.

54 Ibid., p. 159.

55 It does not seem to be necessary nowadays to show the fallacy of Bentham’s assumption that all pleasures are qualitatively alike and only different in quantity. Hardly any psychologist holds this view any more, even though the popular idea of ’having fun still implies that all pleasures have the same quality.

56 This problem has been analyzed in G. Bally’s excellent study, Vom Ursprung und von den Grenzen der Freiheit (B. Schwabe Co., Basel, 1945).

57 Since at this point I want to make clear only the difference between scarcity-pleasure and abundance-pleasure, I hardly need to go into further details of the hunger-appetite problem. Suffice it to say that in appetite a genuine amount of hunger is always present. The physiological basis of the eating function affects us in such a way that complete absence of hunger would also diminish appetite to a minimum. What matters, however, is the respective weight of the motivation.

58 The classic saying, “Omne animal triste post coitum” (“All animals are sad after intercourse”), is an adequate description of sexual satisfaction on the level of scarcity as far as human beings are concerned.

59 Principles of Ethics, Vol. I, p. 49.

60 Ibid., p. 161.

61 A. de Saint-Exupéry, in his Little Prince, has given an excellent description of this very pattern. (New York: Reynal and Hitchcock, 1943).

62 Principles of Ethics, Vol. I, p. 138.

63 Ibid., p. 186.

64 Adolf Hitler, Mein Kampf (New York: Reynal & Hitchcock, Inc. 1939), p. 710.

65 A poplar, although somewhat distorted version of a sentence by Tertullian.

66 The root of the word education is e-ducere, literally, to lead forth, or to bring out something which is potentially present. Education in this sense results in existence, which means literally to stand out, to have emerged from the state of potentiality into that of manifest reality.

67 R. Niebuhr, the exponent of contemporary neo-orthodox theology, has made the Lutheran position explicit again, combining it, paradoxically, with a progressive political philosophy.

68 The two opposing sides of Freud’s attitude are to be found in his The Future of an Illusion.

69 This view has been strongly emphasized by K. Goldstein, H. S. Sullivan and K. Horney.

70 The following discussion of neurosis and defect is partly taken from my paper, “Individual and Social Origins of Neurosis,” American Sociological Review, IX, No. 4 (August, 1944).

71 Ethic, IV, Prop. 44, Schol.

72 A. Ranulf’s book, Moral Indignation and the Middle Class, is an excellent illustration of this point. The title of the book could just as well be “Sadism and the Middle Class.”

73 Principles of Ethics, pp. 258 ff.

74 Ibid., p. 267.