Sunday, October 16, 2005

Ernest Becker: Meaning and Alienation

"A large part of the evil that man unleashes on himself and his world stems not from a wickedness in his heart, but from the way he was conditioned to see the world and to seek satisfaction in it. He blindly follows out his unconscious urges in the frantic activity of daily life, and gets his satisfaction and his self-esteem. He fits himself into the bureaucratic-industrial machines of our day and gives his uncritical allegiance to the nation states that run these machines. He is part of an objectified structure, an ant doing his small part reflexively in a huge anthill of delegated power and authority. He follows orders, keeps his nose clean, and gets whatever satisfactions his character structure has equipped him to seek." (185)
Becker, Ernest. The Birth and Death of Meaning (NY: MacMillan, 2nd ed., 1971)

"The tragedy is simply this: that new meanings can only come from the creative depths of the life force within each individual; but the individual is the last one who believes in his right to develop unique meanings. He takes everything he needs uncritically from the society at large. As a result, man's meanings, instead of being free and open, are in fact 'instinctivized'--hardened into the mold of a standard social pattern." (198)
Becker, Ernest. Beyond Alienation (NY: George Braziller, 1967)

Ernest Becker: The Fragile Fiction

Ernest Becker: The Science of Humans


Bruce said...

Hey Thivai, hope you're doing well.

Thanks for bringing Becker to my attention.


Michael Benton said...

Glad you liked it Bruce, such simple insights that make so much sense, yet we so rarely remember--I like Becker and think he should be read more.

I'm doing good, we had a week break (Fall Break--sort of like spring break) and i took advantage of it to write a chapter in my dissertation--28 pages in four days. Its a weight off my back ;)

GreenSmile said...

This Becker fellow works the same furrow I do. I might have saved myself some time by just reading him....if I had only known of his work.