The Productive Orientation

The single productive orientation has three dimensions—working, loving, and reasoning. Because productive people work toward positive freedom and a continuing realization of then potential, they are the most healthy of all character types. Only through productive activity can people solve the basic human dilemma: that is, to unite with the world and with others while retaining uniqueness and individuality. This solution can be accomplished only through productive work, love, and thought.

Healthy people value work not as an end in itself, but as a means of creative self-expression. They do not work to exploit others, to market themselves, to withdraw from others, or to accumulate needless material possessions. They are neither lazy nor compulsively active, but use work as a means of producing life's necessities.

Productive love is characterized by the four qualities of love discussed earlier—care, responsibility, respect, and knowledge. In addition to these four characteristics, healthy people possess biophilia: that is, a passionate love of life and all that is alive. Biophilic people desire to further all life—the life of people, animals, plants, ideas, and cultures. They are concerned with the growth and development of themselves as well as others. Biophilic individuals want to influence people through love, reason, and example—not by force.

Fromm believed that love of others and self-love are inseparable but that self-love must come first. All people have the capacity for productive love, but most do not achieve it because they cannot first love themselves.

Productive thinking, which cannot be separated from productive work and love, is motivated by a concerned interest in another person or object. Healthy people see others as they are and not as they would wish them to be. Similarly, they know themselves for who they are and have no need for self-delusion.

Fromm (1947) believed that healthy people rely on some combination of all five character orientations. Their survival as healthy individuals depends on their ability to receive tilings from other people, to take tilings when appropriate, to preserve tilings, to exchange things, and to work, love, and think productively.

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