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Autor: anton 20 December 2010
Words: 705 | Pages: 3
What is Fromm's theory of disobedience and individual conscience and what is its significance for Guy Montag and Neo Anderson?
Eric Fromm, author of "Disobedience as a Psychological and Moral Problem" (1963), was a twentieth-century psychoanalyst and philosopher. He explored the necessity of disobedience and argues that, "human history began by an act of disobedience." He also notes that we as humans have a conscience; and that when people obey, they are taking away their abilities to think for themselves. However, when they disobey, they are, in fact, becoming more of an individual. In both The Matrix and Fahrenheit 451, disobedience and the individual conscience play an important role for both Guy Montag and Neo. Both characters were "reborn" because of their acts of disobedience, gaining an individual conscience.
According to Fromm, there are essentially two parts to the conscience; the super ego and the humanistic ego. The super ego reacts and obeys out of fear of an authority. On the other hand, the humanistic ego is the voice each of us carries and is independent from other people's opinions; also known as the individual conscience. Fromm also notes that in relation to conscience there are two types of authority, rational and irrational. He states that rational authority is like the relationship between teacher and student, whereas irrational authority is one of slave and master. Fromm conveys that when people obey to an irrational authority, they are taking away their ability to think for themselves. And when one disobeys from irrational authority, they are, in fact, having the courage to be alone and think for themselves, to create their own thoughts and be their own person.
In the beginnings of both The Matrix and Fahrenheit 451, Neo and Guy are slaves to their worlds. Guy complies with society and does what he is told. He burns books because it is his job, nothing more. His super ego is guiding him and blinding him from himself. Society is the irrational authority and each time he disobeys, he is becoming one step closer to becoming an individual. This is shown when Guy is talking with Clarisse, his first act of disobedience. She provoked him to ask questions and to think. He began to create thoughts of his own, later provoking himself to commit his second disobedient act, to steal and read books. With each disobedient act, Guy grows closer and closer to establishing himself as an individual. In the end, guy is filled with courage and independence.
Like Guy, Neo lives and breathes "the matrix", the irrational authority, without questioning it. He lives his life and does his job. It starts out by him selling illegal copies of programs. This leads him to start questioning his surroundings. His second wrongdoing is when he does not comply with the "agent". This guides him to Morpheus, where his ultimate choice lies. He chooses to learn the truth behind "the matrix" and in doing so fully establishes his individual conscience. He breaks free of the robotic incubator and learns to live on his own, to stand on his own two feet.
Fromm's theory of disobedience states that by committing a defiant act one can be set free. In The Matrix, Neo was confronted with two choices, red pill or blue pill. By taking the red pill, Neo would be defying "the matrix", rebelling; finally learning the truth. By taking the blue pill, he would be obeying and conforming to "the matrix". Neo chose the red pill, leading him to open his eyes to a world he never knew existed, a world in which the truth was seen and lived. In Fahrenheit 451, Guy Montag is also faced with a life altering decision. To carry on his so-called normal life being a husband and a fireman who burns books. Or, to pick up a book, read it, and start to ask questions. Guy lived in a world where, not only books, but also the thought that books generate is useless and wrong. Therefore, leading society to ban and burn all books. Guy decided to rebel, to read, and in doing so, he began to think for himself. Because each character chose to be disobedient, he began a new life, full of independence and individualism.
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