What is Fromm's theory of disobedience and individual conscience and what is its significance for Guy Montag and Neo Anderson?
Eric Fromm, author of "Disobedience as a Psychological and Moral Problem" (1963), was a twentieth-century psychoanalyst and philosopher. He explored the necessity of disobedience and argues that, "human history began by an act of disobedience." He also notes that we as humans have a conscience; and that when people obey, they are taking away their abilities to think for themselves. However, when they disobey, they are, in fact, becoming more of an individual. In both The Matrix and Fahrenheit 451, disobedience and the individual conscience play an important role for both Guy Montag and Neo. Both characters were "reborn" because of their acts of disobedience, gaining an individual conscience. According to Fromm, there are essentially two parts to the conscience; the super ego and the humanistic ego. The super ego reacts and obeys out of fear of an authority. On the other hand, the humanistic ego is the voice each of us carries and is independent from other people's opinions; also known as the individual conscience. Fromm also notes that in relation to conscience there are two types of authority, rational and irrational. He states that rational authority is like the relationship between teacher and student, whereas irrational authority is one of slave and master. Fromm conveys that when people obey to an irrational authority, they are taking away their ability to think for themselves. And when one disobeys from irrational authority, they are, in fact, having the courage to be alone and think for themselves, to create their own thoughts and be their own person. In the beginnings of both The Matrix and Fahrenheit 451, Neo and Guy are slaves to their worlds. Guy complies with society and does what he is told. He burns books because it is his job, nothing more. His super ego is guiding him and blinding him from himself. Society is the...
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