His social sources are almost invariably broad histories and social commentaries, rather than the literature of the period he discusses or primary documents. Animals act by instinct but people have ""character-rooted passions,"" an inner map which mediates and is largely formed by physiology and the social environment, which can be either ""biophilic"" ""life-loving"" or necrophilic ""death-loving"" ; considered as a set they constitute a person's character.
His model for working seems to be the—idealized—medieval craftsman. The first and shortest part of the book is dedicated to a discussion of psychological theory Instinctivism vs.
In the second part, my favorite, Fromm discusses human psychology and society in an evolutionary context. Destructiveness increases with civilization, Fromm notes; the appearance of division of labor, hierarchy and property tends to spell trouble.
The latter is broadened far beyond the usual sexual connotation and seems to be Fromm's most significant innovation. Unable to achieve satisfaction through either work or love, the lonely and anxious self finds dubious fulfillment either through thralldom to the power and glory above it—masochistic submission to God, the Leader, Duty or another person —or by captivation and control of weaker beings below.
Unfortunately, only a tiny fraction of humans live in such groups and the rest find such stimulation more or less readily. Other primitive peoples with somewhat more complex social systems, however, do display varying degrees and forms of destructiveness.