My edition of this work (New York: Harper & Brothers, 1956) was part of the World Perspectives series, which "endeavors to show that the conception of wholeness, unity, organism is a higher and more concrete conception than that of matter and energy... For the principle of life consists in the tension which connects the spirit with the realm of matter" and that "Knowledge, as it is shown in these books, no longer consists in a manipulation of man and nature as opposite forces, nor in the reduction of data to mere statistical order, but is a means of liberating mankind from the destructive power of fear" (Intro by Ruth Nanda Anshen, x).
Fromm begins, “Is love an art? Then it requires knowledge and effort." He argues that love is not, as many people erroneously believe, "a pleasant sensation, which to experience is a matter of chance, something one 'falls into' if one is lucky." People misunderstand the nature of love because they are overly focused on being loved rather than loving. Therefore they focus on things which will make them more attractive, such as status, money, or appearance; in short, “What most people in our culture mean by being lovable is essentially a mixture between being popular and having sex appeal.” He blames this partly on contemporary commodity culture, in which people look at one another as objects to buy or win: "For the man the attractive girl--and for the woman the attractive man--are prizes they are after. 'Attractive' usually means a nice package of qualities which are popular and sought after."
"Love is an activity, not a passive affect." (22)
Fromm on the story of Adam and Eve: "Should we assume that a myth as old and elementary as this has the prudish morals of the nineteenth-century outlook, and that the important point that the story wants to convey to us the embarrassment that their genitals were visible? This can hardly be so, and by understanding the story in a Victorian spirit, we miss the main point... after man and woman have become aware of themselves and of each other, they are aware of their separateness, and of their difference... But while recognizing their separateness they remain strangers, because they have not yet learned to love each other (as is also made very clear by the fact that Adam defends himself by blaming Eve).