Monday, April 29, 2013

To Have Or To Be?

Everyone should read this book. I am sure you know what the book is about. The title is pretty self-explanatory.

It is a long windin book where Fromm keeps repeating his arguments, and hence the book turns quite repetitive after a point. However, his arguments are novel, persuasive and simply fascinating. To give you an example from the book, he says how everything that we see today in the society is a reflection of this mindset, of being or having. Take language for example. It is slowly changing from employing verbs that mean "to be" to verbs that mean "to have". He says some of the primitive and/or old languages such as tribal dialects or even greek or jewish do not have verbs which mean "to have". So in those languages, we will for example say "I am feverish" instead of saying "I have cold". In english, we have both the options, and we are slowly moving to "I have" options. He says this is a reflection of how disengaged we are from our state and how the motivation is towards owning stuff/things, even something as trivial as a cold :) I do not know whether the practice of words and language reflect our state of mind, but it is definitely a persuasive argument. If you haven't read it already, I think you will like it.

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