If we try now to sum up our

Ξ December 17th, 2006 | → 0 Comments | ∇ Misc |

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    If we try now to sum up our discussion of the impact of the social and economic changes on the individual in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries we arrive at the following picture:
        We find the same ambiguity of freedom which we have discussed before. The individual is freed from the bondage of economic and political ties. He also gains in positive freedom by the active and independent role which he has to play in the new system. But simultaneously he is freed from those ties which used to give him security and a feeling of belonging. Life has ceased to be lived in a closed world the centre of which was man; the world has become limitless and at the same time threatening. By losing his fixed place in a closed world man loses the answer to the meaning of his life; the result is that doubt has befallen him concerning himself and the aim of life. He is threatened by powerful suprapersonal forces, capital and the market. His relationship to his fellow men, with everyone a potential competitor, has become hostile and estranged; he is free -- that is, he is alone, isolated, threatened from all sides. Not having the wealth of the power which the Renaissance capitalist had, and also having lost the sense of unity with men and the universe, he is overwhelmed with a sense of his individual nothingness and helplessness. Paradise is lost for good, the individual stands alone and faces the world -- a stranger thrown into a limitless and threatening world. The new freedom is bound to create a deep feeling of anxiety. These feeling must be alleviated if the individual is to function successfully. -- Erich Fromm


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