Posts Tagged 'philosophy'

The Anatomy of Human Destructiveness, by Erich Fromm

Regarded as one of Fromm’s masterworks, this book mixes psychology, palaeontology and anthropology in its endeavour to address a simple question: why are humans violent? The underlying answer for Fromm is rooted in this social animal’s general condition of unfreedom since the Neolithic revolution some 10,000 years ago. In lengthy meanderings he takes in animal behavioural science, sketches the structure of Neolithic society and produces psychological biographies of Hitler, Stalin and Himmler. But for large parts of the book his central argument takes a back seat. While much of the material is fascinating its fragmentary character surrenders its polemical force. SS

Pimlico; 1997; 688 pages


The Philosophy of Marx, by Etienne Balibar

While billed as a succinct introduction to Karl Marx’s philosophy, this book is a dense and challenging read. For one thing it assumes a solid prior knowledge of Marx’s key concepts and their deployment throughout his major works. Nevertheless there is a wealth of stimulating material here. Particularly interesting are sections on commodity fetishism, the notion of progress and evolutionism, ideology and subjectivity (which also examines the meaning of ‘human rights’). What emerges is the complexity and often contradictory character of Marx’s thought, a richness that can’t be boiled down to any banal formulation or reduced to an outmoded determinism. SS

Verso; 2007; 139 pages

Language ought to be the joint creation of poets and manual workers. George Orwell