Necessary illusions: life, death and the construction of meaning

Hardie-Bick, James (2015) Necessary illusions: life, death and the construction of meaning. Oñati Socio-Legal Series, 5 (3). pp. 850-861. ISSN 2079-5971

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Abstract

This paper introduces the work of the late cultural anthropologist Ernest Becker. Becker argued that the cause of human suffering is directly related to the strategies people use to cope with their mortality awareness. By concentrating on his last two books, The Denial of Death (1973) and Escape from Evil (1975), the aim of this paper is to provide an overview of Becker’s mature theory to show how his work on destructiveness is necessary for developing a socially engaged social theory. Whilst his theory on the human condition explores some of the darkest aspects of human existence, by examining why people are capable of extreme forms of cruelty Becker directly encouraged an honest dialogue concerning our existential predicament. This paper highlights the necessity of Becker’s theory of evil for opening up new possibilities for living in a more humane world.

Item Type: Article
Keywords: Ernest Becker, Evil, Existentialism, Death, Immortality
Schools and Departments: School of Law, Politics and Sociology > Sociology
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HM Sociology
H Social Sciences > HV Social pathology. Social and public welfare. Criminology > HV6001 Criminology
Depositing User: James Hardie-Bick
Date Deposited: 01 Sep 2015 12:28
Last Modified: 01 Sep 2015 12:28
URI: http://sro.sussex.ac.uk/id/eprint/56433
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