Ernest Becker

Ernest Becker (September 27, 1924 – March 6, 1974) was an American cultural anthropologist and author of the 1974 Pulitzer Prize-winning book, The Denial of Death. Becker's work, particularly as expressed in his later books, The Denial of Death and Escape from Evil, have had a significant impact on social psychology and the psychology of religion. Terror management theory, an important research programme in social psychology that has spawned over 200 published studies has turned Becker's views on the cultural influence of death anxiety into a scientific theory that helps to explain such diverse human phenomena as self-esteem, prejudice, and religion.

The Denial of Death

Why do people write novels, start foundations, or grow families? According to Pulitzer Prize winning thinker Ernest Becker, people participate in these meaningful activities to avoid facing their inevitable mortality. At the core of every human act lies a fear of death, nonexistence, and meaninglessness. Still, the very mentality that traps us in the illusion that we’re immune to death is the same mindset that allows us to live life meaningfully in the first place. Drawing upon the work of Sigmund Freud, Otto Rank, and Søren Kierkegaard, Becker leads readers through a poignant observation of human nature and asks an illuminating question—when the fogged glass of life cracks, what will you do next?

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