"Disobedience as a Psychological and Moral Problem" Summary

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Date Submitted: 09/27/2012 07:43 AM

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“Disobedience as a Psychological and Moral Problem” is a piece written by Eric Fromm designed to explore how we as a society categorize disobedience and its necessity for the evolution of humanity.

Fromm introduces the concept of current connotations of what disobedience is versus obedience. He explains that these implications were held for centuries, ever since the existence of a higher power and subjects below them.

Fromm transitions into the necessity of disobedience, contradicting the automatic response that obedience is considered good. He gives disobedience a biblical context, comparing the disobedience of Adam and Eve to the birth of man- Eve’s breaking of the rules resulted in the leaving of the womb.

He continues with some of the beneficial aspects of breaking the rules, referencing Prometheus’ “crime” of bringing fire to man. By bringing fire to man, Prometheus had to commit sin in order for the humans to profit. By this example he suggests that to advance sacrifice is essential and that obedience is progression’s hindrance.

Fromm acknowledges that obedience is a conceptual idea; what is obedience to one person’s “rules” might be considered “disobedience” to another’s. We are forced to disobey someone else’s rule every day when we follow our own moral scheme.

To Fromm, the initial obedience is what creates the power. He believes that rules exist because people will follow them. He exemplifies this by referencing the Id, Ego, and Super-ego, and how the Super-Ego is the internalized obedience center. So like a balances person has, the Id and Ego as well, so does a society have those who question as well as those who obey.

From looking at our automatic Super-Ego obedience center, Fromm goes into more of the reasoning on why people obey. He explains that obedience gives a sense of comfort and protection, as well as strength; the person has meaning to all the action in their life and a set course for them to live by. Thinking for one’s self...