Last Updated 19 Mar 2021

Art of Loving Response

Category God, Love
Essay type Research
Words 1116 (4 pages)
Views 372

In Response to The Art of Loving In The Art of Loving, Erich Fromm asks the question “is love an art? ” In an effort to answer this question, he identifies, discusses, and analyzes the different objects of love. Fromm states that loving as an art means that one must love all objects, rather than only loving the “right” one (43). For this reason, the objects that he analyzes include brotherly love, motherly love, erotic love, self-love, and the love of God. When analyzing each object to explain his statement, Fromm tends to use broad generalizations about society, which do not cover all circumstances.

In this essay, I will identify and address the areas where Fromm makes sweeping, inappropriate generalizations about society, as well as acknowledge his accurately fitting descriptions. The first object of love that Fromm identifies is brotherly love, defined as the love for all people as equals. Fromm feels that this is the most fundamental type of love because of its “lack of exclusiveness”. Fromm defines a brother to be equivalent to the neighbor mentioned in The Golden Rule from the Bible, which states, “love thy neighbor as thy self (44).

Not all of society grew up learning The Golden Rule; therefore, this sweeping statement does not explain all relationships within society. Instead, Fromm should have said that brotherly love is based on one who respects and understands his neighbor and friend as an equal. This explanation could apply to many more relationships within society. Even though I was raised a Catholic, not all love relationships relate to those from the Bible. Any non-believers may also agree. This refutes Fromm’s statement that the brotherly love found within the Bible is fundamental for all relationships.

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Fromm defines motherly love as absolute and unconditional. He considers this love to be “the highest kind of love, and the most sacred of all emotional bonds” (Fromm 47). A mother loves the growing child and wishes for his separation from her. She guides him and facilitates this separation so the child may flourish and grow on his own in the world (Fromm 48). Fromm goes further and relates the nurturing ability of a mother to God’s nurturing of man in the Biblical creation story (Fromm 46).

Once again, not all of society grew up with a Biblical, Christian background. Those who are not familiar with the creation story or do not believe that God created the world fail to understand the correlation. Even though this is just one example, Fromm fails to sympathize with those people who come from a non-Christian background. The third type of love that Fromm very clearly and accurately discusses is erotic love. Erotic love is the “craving for complete fusion” with another person.

This illusive type of love becomes easily confused with the act of “falling” in love, except it includes an act of will and physical attraction (Fromm 49). Fromm’s description accurately addresses the ideas that erotic love can be easily dissolved since it is based solely on attraction. I agree that true love includes more than pure physical attraction; it involves a decision, a judgment, and a promise as well as an attraction. I really appreciate Fromm’s statement that love is not just a feeling. Feelings can come and go and there is no way to promise a feeling for forever.

This hints to the reason for a decision and a judgment along with the promise in marriage. This is true and evident in our society because marriages normally do not last unless there is another attraction between those in the couple besides a physical one. The next topic the Fromm discusses is self-love, which provides the idea that one must love themselves before one can love others. As Fromm states it: The affirmation of one’s own life, happiness, growth, freedom is rooted in one’s capacity to love, i. e. , in care, respect, responsibility, and knowledge.

If an individual is able to love productively, he loves himself too; if he can love only others, he cannot love at all. (55-56) He makes a point to mention that self-love and selfishness are counterparts, in that self-love creates happiness and selfishness only leads to frustration. Fromm notes that selfishness originates from the hatred of oneself and, in return, that person wants everything in the world (56). I agree with Fromm’s description that self-love is the first step in loving others, however, I disagree that selfishness is the complete opposite of self-love.

Selfishness, rather, is the result of loving oneself too much to the extent that one thinks they deserve everything in the world; everything is to their disposal and no one else’s. Fromm fails to address this extreme, yet he does a justifiably sufficient job at explaining the importance of self-love. Self-love sets the basis for all relationships because it is difficult to love another person without loving oneself first. The last object of love that Fromm discusses for the longest extent is the love of God.

He states that there is no way of “loving” God, but rather believing in a “unity” with Him. God is a symbol of justice, love, and truth instead of an actual being (Fromm 72). Therefore, those who love God have faith in an ultimate unity (Fromm 73). Having grown up in a Catholic school, I agree with Erich Fromm’s analysis. God is not a being and the only way to discuss the reality of such a symbol is to discuss what He is not. God is not a father. God is not a mother. He loves similarly to both, but He isn’t a physical mother or father.

Also, because He is not a being it is difficult to say that one can “love” Him. Therefore, believing in God is the same as loving God; however, there are different maturity levels to which one “loves” God. As one grows older and learns more about God, one may become closer to Him. This “growing closer” and “maturity” correlates to the strength of one’s belief and trust in Him. I can relate to this section since I am a raised Catholic, however, an atheist or non-Christian may not understand why this section is necessary for Fromm to discuss in order to answer his original question.

Atheists, for example, do not have a being or god to love or believe in. In The Art of Loving, Erich Fromm raises the question, “is love an art? ” To answer his question, Fromm identifies and analyzes the objects of love from erotic love to the love of God. In this response, I identified the areas where Fromm includes broad generalizations about society and acknowledged his appropriate analyses about love.

Works Cited:

  • Fromm, Erich. The Art of Loving. New York: Harper & Row, 1974. Print.

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