"Clean your room, do your homework, got to college and get a good education- These are rules, rather orders that people are given the choice to obey or suffer the consequences. Despite people not knowing the consequences, many will choose to obey the order without hesitation. However, the question is should people obey all the orders that are given to them, despite having moral or ethical problem(s) with the order(s) given to them? Why are people so open to obedience, despite the person having difficulties carrying out the order? These questions, and many more, are further observed by psychoanalytical historian Erich Fromm in his literary essay "Disobedience as a Psychological and Moral Problem". In this essay, Fromm argues that it is because an act of disobedience that human history began and it is unlikely that human civilization will be terminated by an act of obedience. Before reading the article, I had no idea where Fromm was going with the essay, however Fromm reasoned why a person would obey certain orders when morally, the person feels the order is wrong. Fromm also explains how human history began with an act of disobedience; however Fromm did not adequately explain how the world can possibly end by an act of obedience. Overall, I agreed with the presentation of the essay, however I disagreed with part of the thesis. I disagree with Fromm's perspective of beginning human civilization and I felt the world ending by an act of obedience is too dramatic, and cannot be explained outright.
Fromm begins the essay by explaining how an act of disobedience allowed human history to begin by further explaining the story of Adam and Eve and the Greek myth of Prometheus. He then continues by further defining obedience (heteronomous obedience) as "submission; it implies the abdication of autonomy and the acceptance of a foreign will or judgment in place of the person's own".(page ) He reasons that this is not obedience, because obedience is not an act of submission, but one of affirmation.