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Erich Fromm: On Learning the Art of Loving

The first step to take is to become aware that love is an art, just as living is an art; if we want to learn how to love we must proceed in the same way we have to proceed if we want to learn any other art, say music, painting, carpentry, or the art of medicine or engineering. What are the necessary steps in learning any art? The process of learning an art can be divided conveniently into two parts: one, the mastery of the theory; the other, the mastery of the practice. If I want to learn the art of medicine, I must first know the facts about the human body, and about various diseases. When I have all this theoretical knowledge, I am by no means competent in the art of medicine. I shall become a master in this art only after a great deal of practice, until eventually the results of my theoretical knowledge and the results of my practice are blended into one – my intuition, the essence of the mastery of any art. But, aside from learning the theory and practice, there is a third factor necessary to becoming a master in any art – the mastery of the art must be a matter of ultimate concern; there must be nothing else in the world more important than the art. This holds true for music, for medicine, for carpentry – and for love. And, maybe, here lies the answer to the question of why people in our culture try so rarely to learn this art, in spite of their obvious failures: in spite of the deep-seated craving for love, almost everything else is considered to be more important than love: success, prestige, money, power – almost all our energy is used for the learning of how to achieve these aims, and almost none to learn the art of loving.

from The Art of Loving by Erich Fromm. Quoted in brainpickings.


6 comments on “Erich Fromm: On Learning the Art of Loving

  1. Pingback: Erich Fromm despre caracterul necrofil si caracterul biofil – Cafe Gradiva

  2. arturodesimone
    April 17, 2016

    Reblogged this on arturoblogito.


  3. Pingback: Erich Fromm: On Learning the Art of Loving | Learn-On your Phone

  4. Daniel Burston
    December 31, 2015

    Wise words. In the 1970s, as his life was drawing to an end, Erich Fromm was a huge influence on me personally. But he was also one of the most overrated and underrated public intellectuals of the 20th century. He was overrated by those who thought of him as an infallible guide to life, or as a flawless, completely “realized” human being – an idea that Lawrence Friedman capably put to rest in his recent biography “The Lives of Erich Fromm: Love’s Prophet” (Columbia University Press, 2013.) But he was also underrated by the intelligentsia, who dismissed simply as him as a popularizer, an opportunist or an inspirational writer, because he was, well . . . inspiring. And this at a time when even leftist intellectuals increasingly reveled in ambiguity, and valued opacity and jargon over clarity and accessibility. This aspect of his work is addressed with brilliant lucidity in Kieran Durkin’s recent book, The Radical Humanism of Erich Fromm (Palgrave, MacMillan,2014.) My own book, The Legacy of Erich Fromm (Harvard University Press, 1991) may be of interest to anyone curious about the turbulent relationship between Fromm and the Frankfurt School, who collectively tried to minimize or disavow his importance in the emergence of “critical theory”, and to discredit him among left-leaning intellectuals.

    Daniel Burston

    Liked by 2 people

  5. centerforcreativework
    December 31, 2015

    Perfect thoughts entering into a new year.


  6. Pingback: Erich Fromm: On Learning the Art of Loving | Agence Zamano

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This entry was posted on December 31, 2015 by in Health and Nutrition, Opinion Leaders and tagged , .

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