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The Denial of Death Summary

Ernest Becker

The Denial of Death

by Ernest Becker

The Denial of Death

Ernest Becker

5 min
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.

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The Denial of Death

by Ernest Becker

The Denial of Death

Ernest Becker

Overview

There are endless examples of research, discussion, and opinion regarding death, within all areas of religion, philosophy, and science, but how do we make sense of it?

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.

Research into how we develop a fear of death indicates that we are not born with it. Death is an abstract concept for a child but over time, we learn that nothing lives forever. In the age of reason, we must look for a new source and sense of meaning.

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"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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The Denial of Death

Ernest Becker

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