[…] Love is the only way of knowledge, which in the act of union answers my quest. In the act of loving, of giving myself, in the act of penetrating the other person, I find myself, I discover myself, I discover us both, I discover man.
The longing to know ourselves and to know our fellow man has been expressed in the Delphic motto “Know thy-self.” It is the mainspring of all psychology. But inasmuch as the desire is to know all of man, his innermost secret, the desire can never be fulfilled in knowledge of the ordinary kind, in knowledge only by thought. Even if we knew a thousand times more of ourselves, we would never reach bottom. We would still remain an enigma to ourselves, as our fellow man would remain an enigma to us.
The only way of full knowledge lies in the act of love: this act transcends thought, it transcends words. It is the daring plunge into the experience of union. However, knowledge in thought, that is psychological knowledge, is a necessary condition for full knowledge in the act of love. I have to know the other person and myself objectively, in order to be able to see his reality, or rather, to overcome the illusions, the irrationally distorted picture I have of him. Only if I know a human being objectively, can I know him in his ultimate essence, in the act of love.
Erich Fromm (1900-1980). A German psychologist, sociologist, psychoanalyst and philosopher. He actively participated in the beginning of the Frankfurt School. He was one of the reformers of psychoanalysis. He left Europe between the world wars to live in the United States, where he taught in diverse universities. From 1951 he settled in Mexico. He was a universal man, cultured and passionate about the history of religion. In his book, The art of loving he emphasizes the transformative potential of love. Besides this, he relates the profoundness of this feeling with a maturity and invites one to consider it like an art, resulting in a process of learning. Extract from The Art of Loving. New York: Harper & Row. 1956.