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,
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He adds to this by introducing the concepts of rational and irrational authority, explaining that rational authority would be equivalent to that of a teacher and student whereby there is mutual benefit, while irrational authority would be identified by the likes of a slave and his owner who demonstrates complete disregard of the slave’s happiness or well-being, his only interest being how the slave will benefit him. Through a veil of lies man obeys the State, the Church, the mass opinions of their peers, or any other organization that they view to be in power. This affords him a false sense of safety and protection. In his obedience, man feels strong allowing him to be controlled by the fear of being isolated or having undesirable repercussions greet him as a result of any disobedience. Throughout history it has been evident that, for the most part, the few in power have ruled over the majority. The foundation of this relationship has been “the few” equating obedience with virtue and disobedience with sin, resulting in man not only needing to obey, but wanting to obey. Man’s inability to see that he has lost his ability to disobey and stand up for what he believes and values, instead of what he has been brainwashed to believe and value, will inevitably ensure the destruction of all civilization at the hand of man. Man’s only saving grace will be his ability to realize
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