Summary and Critique of “Disobedience as a Psychological and Moral Problem” by Erich Fromm In “Disobedience as a Psychological and Moral Problem” by Erich Fromm, Fromm states that human history was started by an act of disobedience, and that it will be ended by an act of obedience. He then says that the majority of human authorities and governments throughout history have demonized disobedience while sanctifying obedience, as their power comes from the obedience of the masses and that only obedience bred as a virtue can be sustained by such organizations. He states that the obedience of the masses and the power gained from it are what allow the governing few to enjoy the limited quantities of luxuries and other resources available only to those with power and the means to use it. He also states that the human conscience is divided into 2 types: the humanistic conscience, which instinctively knows which actions and things are human and which are inhuman, and the authoritarian conscience, which encourages us to follow the rules and behaviors taught to us by society and those in power.
When Fromm states that human history was started by disobedience, he argues that this is shown by the Bible’s traditional Adam and Eve story, wherein their disobedience gets them forced out of the Garden paradise and into the cruel reality of the world as we know it. In this, he fails to account for the bias of the Church itself in the story; the story of Adam and Eve is supposed to engender obedience towards ‘God’, and more importantly, at least in the eyes of the Bible’s authors, the Church. As such, disobedience will of course be punished; however human history has shown that obedience has caused far more damage to paradises and societies themselves than disobedience, leading me to think that the start of history was probably an act of obedience leading to the proverbial Garden’s destruction and mankind’s eviction from the ruins, rather than any act of disobedience. Then, Fromm...
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