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Fight Against Idols

Erich Fromm on Religion, Judaism and the Bible

Svante Lundgren

Erich Fromm (1900-80) was a famous psychoanalyst, social critic and author of bestsellers like Escape from Freedom and The Art of Loving. But he was also very interested in religion. Having been brought up as an orthodox Jew he abandoned institutionalized religion as a young man. But he was influenced for life by the Talmudic studies of his childhood. Later in life he met and was enriched by Buddhism and mysticism. In this book the author analyzes what Fromm thought about religion, how he expressed his ambiguous feelings about Judaism, and his radical interpretation of the Bible. This is a book about a fascinating man with views that challenge both believers and atheists.

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1. Introduction 11

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1. Introduction Erich Fromm was "one of the world's outstanding thinkers and writers" .1 He wrote books that "were eagerly bought not only in bookstores but from the racks of drugstores and airport newsstands" 2 It has been claimed that Fromm's "impact and relevance to the hmnanities and social sciences in the 1950's, 1960's, and 1970's is second to none" 3 But Fromm was also an intellectual outsider. In the psychoanalytical movement he was a dissident who always went his own way. As a hmnanist Marxist he had many allies but the so called Marxist orthodoxy condemned him with the intensity it turned on anyone expressing the obvious fact that Soviet communism was as far from the ideals of Marx as the church of the Inquisition was from the gospel of Christ. In academic circles Fromm was the object of suspicion because he wrote books that could also be understood the reading public at large. Erich Fromm was born in Frankfurt on 23 March 1900 into an orthodox Jewish family. In 1922 he got his doctorate in sociology from the University of Heidelberg. During the 1920's he received psychoanalytical training in Munich and Berlin. In 1930 he started to work at the Institut fur Sozialforschung in Frankfurt (the Frankfurter School), from 1934 in New York. In 1938 he left the Institute and three years later published his first, and perhaps most famous book, Escape from Freedom. He saw patients, wrote and lectured at several universities in the USA. In 1949...

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