Disobedience as a Psychological and Moral Problem

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“Disobedience as a Psychological and Moral Problem” Erich Fromm
Erich Fromm’s essay “Disobedience as a Psychological and Moral Problem” suggests that humankind’s evolution has, and continues to rely on man’s capability to exercise disobedience. While discussing the positions of disobedience being considered a vice, and obedience being a virtue, Fromm reflects upon the history of Adam and Eve believing that “eating the forbidden fruit” was man’s first act of disobedience. This is the point that broke the bond between man and nature requiring man to be dependant upon his own powers, while rewarding him with his “complete” humanity, freedom, and independence. Another example Fromm discusses is the Greek myth of Prometheus’ defiance of the gods. Prometheus proclaimed that he “would rather be chained to this rock than be the obedient servant of the gods.” These are just a couple acts of defiance throughout the course history that have contributed to man’s evolution. Through acts of disobedience, man has continued to evolve spiritually, as well as intellectually. In addition, Fromm goes on to explain that just as disobedience has been the construct for humankind, blind obedience has the power to wipe it out it altogether. Fromm believes that the driving force catapulting man into the position of ultimately destroying all civilization is that, while currently living in the Atomic Age, he is emotionally anchored to the Stone Age. Although Fromm is steadfast in his belief that disobedience is essential for humanity’s progression, he is not arguing that disobedience is always a virtue, or that all obedience is considered a vice, but acknowledges the dialectical relationship between the two.


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