The Dogma of Christ: and Other Essays on Religion, Psychology and Culture by Erich Fromm | (PDF) Free Download



Ebook Info

  • Published: 2014
  • Number of pages: 115 pages
  • Format: PDF
  • File Size: 0.80 MB
  • Authors: Erich Fromm


The essays in this fascinating volume examine present-day psychological and cultural problems with the keen insight and humanistic sympathies characteristic of Erich Fromm’s work. The Dogma of Christ and Other Essays provides some of the sharpest critical insights into how the contemporary world of human destructiveness and violence can no longer separate religion, psychology and politics. The book brilliantly summarizes Fromm’s ideas on how culture and society shape our behavior.

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⭐Erich Seligmann Fromm (1900-1980) was a German social psychologist, psychoanalyst, sociologist, humanistic philosopher, and democratic socialist; in Europe, he was associated with the Frankfurt School. He wrote many other books such as







⭐, etc. [NOTE: page numbers below refer to the 1962 226-page Doubeday paperback edition.]He wrote in the Foreword to this 1963 collection, “While most of the essays in this volume have been written during the last ten years, the longest paper, ‘The Dogma of Christ,’ first appeared in German in 1930… I myself was very hesitant to reissue this early example of my thought… First of all, it was written in a period when I was a strict Freudian… Furthermore, I one-sidedly stressed … the social function of religion as a substitute for real satisfaction and as a means for social control… today I would emphasize the view… that the history of religion reflects the history of man’s spiritual evolution… The main emphasis of this study is the analysis of the socioeconomic situation of the social groups which accepted and transmitted Christian teaching; it is only on the basis of this analysis that a psychoanalytic interpretation is attempted.” (Pg. vii-ix)He says in the title essay, “Our purpose here is to understand the change in certain contents of consciousness as expressed in the theological ideas as a result of a change in unconscious processes. Accordingly, just as we have done with regard to the methodological problem, we propose to deal briefly with the most important findings of psychoanalysis as they touch upon our question.” (Pg. 10-11) He adds, “The aim will be to understand dogma on the basis of a study of people, not people on the basis of a study of dogma. We shall attempt, therefore, first to describe the total situation of the social class from which the early Christian faith originated, and to understand the psychological meaning of this faith in terms of the total psychic situation of these people. We shall then show how different the mentality of the people was at a later period.” (Pg. 21)He observes that “We see thus that the concept of Jesus held by the early [Christian] community was that he was a man chosen by God and elevated by him as a ‘messiah,’ and later as ‘Son of God.'” (Pg. 45) He adds, “The belief that a man is elevated to a god was an expression of the unconscious impulse of hostility to the father that was present in these masses… The early Christian adoptionist belief was born of the masses; it was an expression of their revolutionary tendencies… This explains why in such an extraordinarily rapid time it became the religion also of the oppressed pagan masses…” (Pg. 51)But later, “The revolutionary situation which had prevailed until the second century had disappeared… the Middle Ages began to develop… The new Christianity came under the leadership of the ruling class. The new dogma of Jesus was created and formulated by this ruling group and its intellectual representatives, not by the masses. The decisive element was the change from the idea of man becoming God to that of God becoming man.” (Pg. 65) He concludes, “Catholicism signified the disguised return to the religion of the Great Mother who had been defeated by Yahweh. Only Protestantism turned back to the father-god. It stands at the beginning of a social epoch that permits an active attitude on the part of the masses in contrast to the passively infantile attitude of the Middle Ages.” (Pg. 95)Even though Fromm later changed his mind on some of these ideas, this is still a fascinating collection of his writings on religion, and is helpful to show how his thought evolved over time.

⭐I bought this as I wanted a paper back copy other than the Routledge classics edition that I own already, its curious that Amazon has thought this a different book or different title and permitted me to write another review but also fortuitous since I have been thinking about what I would consider differently where I to review this afresh and this gives me the chance.This book is one of Fromm’s full on quasi-religious pieces of writing, as opposed to the books which have much more of a psychological perspective and focus, or even his political writing (but all Fromm’s books, properly understood, ARE political and its something I will come back to in just a moment). Of his other books the only one which strikes me as being much the same, perhaps more so, is his book You Shall Be Gods, which was his review (revision?) of the old testament, in which he tried to perform for Jewish scriptures what Feurbach had largely done for Christianity in his The Essence of Christianity. In both books, and also his Psychoanalysis and Religion Fromm does something of a work of exegesis and applying his own unique insights from Freud, Marx, psychoanalysis and sociology. For that reason alone I’d highly, highly recommend them to all modern readers, Fromm is able to avoid a lot of the awful pitfalls of later day “God wars” or “God debates” between theists and non-theists or atheists (I’ve always felt that A LOT of time and energy is totally and utterly wasted in that way).Fromm’s central contention is that Jesus is a radical jew, applying a lot of traditional radical insights from Jewish traditions, in other published works (I have mentioned some of them) and in work appearing for the first time in Fromm Forum, the publication of the International Erich Fromm Society, Fromm has written about how he believed that early Jewish scripture and struggles for monotheism and against idolatry, prefigure later struggles against human alienation and for moral psychological precepts attuned to human nature. He sees this as the unique contribution of the Jewish people to humanity, human history and world culture (this is continued by later, particularly German Jews like Marx, although the abandon metaphysics for materialism in the process, supernaturalism for naturalism but Fromm sees it as all begun by Maimonides “negative theology” in any case).Jesus in this respect is the man par excellence and has absorbed this tradition completely, Jesus then exemplifies it, for Fromm he’s a God like man who has transcended his individual time and circumstances. However, Fromm’s contention is that the “actual existing Jesus” (my choice of words, not a direct quotation from Fromm) is superseded by the “Dogma of Christ”. That is that history and the realpolitik of an emerging priestly caste lead to less emphasis on the life and ministry and more upon dogmas in a supernatural key or theme. As a Christian believer I do not agree with Fromm entirely on this point but its brilliant to read about one Jewish tradition or traditional thinker’s perspective on Jesus Christ.It is perhaps not as well written as some of Fromm’s other books, it will not be remembered as much as some of them (and a lot of them are forgotten in any case anyway), but brilliant all the same, I thought, for combining a lot of topics, religion, tradition, change, history and the perennial concerns or challenges facing mankind in reaching “the world to come”, ie an age more fit to human nature, uncontorted or distorted by the social unconscious and social character demanded by the dominant mode of living (having versus being) or mode of production.Besides the main essay itself I liked the most two others, one on the idea of a “negative psychology”, which I was not sure about but which made it easier to understand Fromm’s “negative theology”, or rather Moses Maimonides “negative theology” (as I understand it a call to focus upon what can be known, what is factual, avoiding speculative, imaginative asides or mysticism) and another on the prophetic nature of peace. This final essay is utopian for sure and positively brimming with optimistic, hope for the future (something I think could be revived at any time and the world would benefit). Some of the other content is a bit less critical of some pretty freudian insights, I know in the Routledge classics edition there is a foreword in which Fromm admits to being a little embarrassed I think by this, I did not like it so much as a consequence but I say fair play to him for its inclusion as it shows his growth and change as a thinker himself.


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