In To Have or to Be? (1976), psychoanalyst Erich Fromm differentiates between having and being.
Fromm writes that modern society has become materialistic and prefers “having” to “being” mentioning the great promise of unlimited happiness, freedom, material abundance, and domination of nature. These hopes reached their highs when the industrial age began. One could feel that there would be unlimited production and hence unlimited consumption. Human beings aspired to be Gods of earth, but this wasn’t really the case. The great promise failed due to the unachievable aims, maximum pleasure and fulfillment of every desire (radical hedonism), and the egotism, selfishness, and greed of people. Society nowadays has completely deviated from its actual path. The materialistic nature of people of “having” has been more developed than “being.”
Fromm states that modern industrialization has made great promises, but all these promises are developed to fulfill their interests and increase possessions. In every mode of life, people should ponder more on “being” nature and not towards the “having” nature. This is the truth which people deny; and thus, people of the modern world have completely lost their inner selves. The point of being is more important as everyone is mortal, and thus having possessions will become useless after death, because the possessions which are transferred to the life after death, will be what the person actually was, inside.
We suggest studying this work.