In Man for Himself, Erich Fromm examines the confusion of modern women and men who, because they lack faith in any principle by which life ought to be guided, become the helpless prey of forces both within and without. From the broad, interdisciplinary perspective that marks Fromm's distinguished oeuvre, he shows that psychology cannot divorce itself from the problems of philosophy and ethics, and that human nature cannot be understood without understanding the values and moral conflicts that confront us all.
He shows that an ethical system can be based on human nature rather than on revelations or traditions. As Fromm asserts, "If man is to have confidence in values, he must know himself and the capacity of his nature for goodness and productiveness."
This book reviews various sets of ethics - primarily authoritarian vs humanistic (ethics from an external authority vs coming from inside oneself). Additionally, various thinkers of the past have their stance noted - from Freud to Spinoza. Lastly, the ethical viewpoints are broken down by specific topics, such as, where does conscience come from, hate, love, and being productive as the route to happiness.
Like most psychology books, it’s not for the light listener. Even at normal speed, I needed to rewind many times to get the idea being imparted - having a dictionary handy helps too. I’m not a psychologist.
This is a very good book for people desiring to learn about ethics as a concept and as applied to today’s times, are on their own search for meaning, or merely wish to peek behind the curtain at some of the driving forces behind our choices of conscience.
The biggest impact for me was how the book broke down current societal ethics - such as the concept of selfishness - allowing me to think beyond what I’d always thought such things meant (as taught by socialization)