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The Birth and Death of Meaning: An Interdisciplinary Perspective on the Problem of Man

4.35  ·  Rating Details  ·  328 Ratings  ·  15 Reviews

Uses the disciplines of psychology, anthropology, sociology and psychiatry to explain what makes people act the way they do.
Paperback, 2nd Edition, 228 pages
Published September 1st 1971 by Free Press (first published August 1st 1962)
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Alins
Dec 07, 2010 Alins rated it really liked it
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Leon Sandler
Oct 12, 2014 Leon Sandler rated it it was amazing
An absolutely amazing work. In the introduction, Becker sets out to answer the question "Why do people do what they do?" What follows, across 200 pages, is a remarkably well-constructed and well-written study on the development of selfhood and culture. Becker's work is truly interdisciplinary and draws on evolutionary biology, developmental psychology, anthropology, philosophy and literature. The book reveals the link between the organization of human societies and the vital, personal need for s ...more
Shane
Apr 02, 2011 Shane rated it liked it
As only Ernest Becker can do, this book serves as great 'prequel' to the better know Denial of Death & Escape From Evil. The writing style is comfortable and puts together key pieces of anthropology, sociology and psychology to lay the groundwork for understanding how we've built our cultures and fictions to deal with the world. A must read for anyone interested in the social sciences.
Toby Newton
May 31, 2012 Toby Newton rated it it was amazing
Quite simply one of the most important books that I have ever read - the work of an absolute genius of the very first order. To read it with an open mind and with a willingness to attend is to usher in the possibility of super-pleasure and super-thought. Buy, read. Digest. Read again. Percolate. Read again.
Jayalexn
Aug 11, 2012 Jayalexn rated it it was amazing
Mind: Blown.
Justin
Jan 10, 2010 Justin rated it it was amazing
Life changing.
Ted
Oct 24, 2015 Ted rated it really liked it
Read Denial of Death first. If you want more, try this.
Valerie Seckler
Jan 15, 2014 Valerie Seckler rated it it was amazing
Becker's "The Birth and Death of Meaning" was one of the most important books in a life of reading and one of this reader's most exciting learning experiences, as taught by Arthur LeGacy in his Syracuse University class, "Psychoanalysis and History."
Amy M
Aug 15, 2008 Amy M rated it it was amazing
This book was required reading for one of the film theory classes I took in college. Unlike the rest of my college texts, I still have this book. Becker's concepts were quickly assimilated into my post-college belief system; probably leading me to all that Ayn Rand and Kurt Vonnegut reading of my post-college years. In fact, I think it's time for me to re-read this book so I can perhaps have more sympathy for those who are like the boxer in Becker's book: "I could have been a champion!"
Rob
Jul 22, 2015 Rob rated it really liked it
Culture is fictional.
Barry
Mar 05, 2016 Barry rated it did not like it
Shelves: non-fiction
An apologist for Freud. An attempt to synthesize anthropology and psychoanalysis in a "science of man". Pretentious pseudo. Couldn't finish it.
Donna Sandidge
Nov 24, 2012 Donna Sandidge rated it really liked it
This book took forever to read. Excellent writing, interesting subject.
Jamie Dunbaugh
Jul 07, 2012 Jamie Dunbaugh rated it it was amazing
Possibly the most important and vindicating books I've ever read.
Deb
Mar 25, 2008 Deb rated it it was amazing
This book is a wonderful book of the human spirit!
Nathen
May 17, 2010 Nathen added it
essential for any analyst
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1895
Dr. Ernest Becker was a cultural anthropologist and interdisciplinary scientific thinker and writer.

Becker was born in Springfield, Massachusetts to Jewish immigrant parents. After completing military service, in which he served in the infantry and helped to liberate a Nazi concentration camp, he attended Syracuse University in New York. Upon graduation he joined the US Embassy in Paris as an admi
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“We have become victims of our own art. We touch people on the outsides of their bodies, and they us, but we cannot get to their insides and cannot reveal our insides to them. This is one of the great tragedies of our interiority-it is utterly personal and unrevealable. Often we want to say something unusually intimate to a spouse, a parent, a friend, communicate something of how we are really feeling about a sunset, who we really feel we are-only to fall strangely and miserably flat. Once in a great while we succeed, sometimes more with one person, less or never with others. But the occasional break-through only proves the rule. You reach out with a disclosure, fail, and fall back bitterly into yourself.” 28 likes
“The world of human aspiration is largely fictitious and if we do not understand this we understand nothing about man.” 8 likes
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