To Have or to Be?

Have or to Be ( subtitle: the psychological foundations of a new society ) is a popular socially critical work of the social psychologist Erich Fromm, 1976 It is one of The Art of Loving in 1956 his best known works. . It seemed like this first in the U.S. book series World Perspectives, but was translated into numerous languages. There is therefore provided in favor of mass appeal in accordance with sparse footnotes. It is of a philosophical anthropology of the company and describes the two character structures having and being (social order) and takes a critical look at the topics.

The work is an empirical psychological and sociological analysis of the modes of existence ( both individually and socially, see company character ) of having and being, and continues approaches his earlier work. It is written in Fromm's humanistic spirit and in places - written a decade before glasnost and perestroika - against the backdrop of the Cold War and particularly the danger of a nuclear war ( Cuban Missile Crisis, etc.) to understand. Replacing the examples used by Fromm and for that time machine fixed by current computer fixed, so the work for the most part is still highly topical.


The work is divided into three parts. In the first part Fromm points to some etymological, socio- linguistic, philosophical, religious and everyday examples of the difference between having and being, and then analyzed in the second part of the difference of the two character orientations. In the third part he explains the crisis of the ( then and now ) Society and presents solutions.

Have or to Be in practice

At the end of his work Fromm works out similarities of those ways of thinking that have become detached from the thought of having and feel committed to the vision of being. This spirit of being characterized by the following points:

Thinkers, in which Fromm recognizes this spiritual attitude include:

Thoreau, Emerson, Albert Schweitzer, Ernst Bloch, Ivan Illich, the Yugoslav writer for the magazine " practice ", Ernst Friedrich Schumacher, Erhard Eppler

Communities in which this spirit is lived, were, among others:

Israeli kibbutzim, the Hutterite communities that Communautées de Travail