Finding Direction: The Importance of Choice 2.2.0A
Erich Fromm sees a difference between archaic or tribal groups and more enlightened cultures. He defines “enlightened” cultures as the monotheistic religions of Egypt and the descendants of Abraham, the teachings of Moses and the Hebrew Prophets, Buddha, Lao-tse, Confucius, Greek philosophers, Christ and Christian theologians, Mohammed and Islamic commentators, and the European Enlightenment and scientific thinkers. Each of these traditions attempts to go beyond blood lust and tribalism.
[Side note: In a related comparison, Thomas Cahill in Sailing the Wine Dark Sea: Why the Greeks Matter discusses a similar difference. He sees Homer’s Iliad as an example of what Fromm would describe as a tribal culture controlled by war and bloodlust, but Homer’s Odyssey as a “new” way of seeing that emphasizes the importance of personal emotion, home, and family, what Fromm would define as a more enlightened culture.]
These enlightened societies are characterized by recognizable philosophies. In all of them we find parallel conflicts between the ideal and the real, between Growth and Decay.
Notice how natural it is for us to say that Growth is ideal, but Decay is real?
Without Worlds We Cannot Think
“He has showed you, O mortal, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?” Micah 6:8 (Micah, Hebrew prophet, ca. 742-687 BCE)