book hack

The Denial of Death

Ernest Becker

5 mins

3 key insights

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Cultural anthropologist Ernest Becker explores the cultural beliefs, practices, and philosophies surrounding death and why we work so hard to avoid it.


The Denial of Death

The Denial of Death

by Ernest Becker


There are endless examples of research, discussion, and opinion regarding death, within all areas of religion, philosophy, and science. But how do we really make sense of something from which no one has returned?

In this 1974 Pulitzer Prize-winning book, cultural anthropologist Ernest Becker argues that the denial of death is one of the most basic drives in human behavior. Drawing on a broad range of cultural and philosophical examples, Becker argues that the fear of death is not something we're born with, but something we develop as a culturally bound concept.

Favorite quote

The idea of death, the fear of it, haunts the human animal like nothing else; it is a mainspring of human activity – actively designed largely to avoid the fatality of death, to overcome it by denying in some way that it is the final destiny of man.

- Ernest Becker

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