The Ernest Becker Reader / Edition 1

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Ernest Becker (1924-1974) was an astute observer of society and human behavior during America’s turbulent 1960s and 1970s. Trained in social anthropology and driven by a transcending curiosity about human motivations, Becker doggedly pursued his basic research question, "What makes people act the way they do?" Dissatisfied with what he saw as narrowly fragmented methods in the contemporary social sciences and impelled by a belief that humankind more than ever needed a disciplined, rational, and empirically based understanding of itself, Becker slowly created a powerful interdisciplinary vision of the human sciences, one in which each discipline is rooted in a basic truth concerning the human condition. That truth became an integral part of Becker's emerging social science. Almost inadvertently, he outlined a perspective on human motivations that is perhaps the most broadly interdisciplinary to date. His perspective traverses not only the biological, psychological, and social sciences but also the humanities and educational, political, and religious studies.

Ernest Becker is best known for the books written in the last few years before his death from cancer, including the highly praised Pulitzer Prize-winning volume The Denial of Death (1974) and Escape from Evil (1975). These late works, however, were built on a distinguished body of earlier books, essays, and reviews. The power and strength of Becker’s ideas are fully present in his early works, which underlie his later contributions and give direction for interpreting the development of his ideas.

Although Ernest Becker's life and career were cut short, his major writings have remained continually in print and have captured the interest of subsequent generations of readers. The Ernest Becker Reader makes available for the first time in one volume much of Becker’s early work and thus places his later work in proper context. It is a major contribution to the ongoing interest in Becker's ideas.

University of Washington Press

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Editorial Reviews

AHP Perspective
The Ernest Becker Reader is a superb compilation of Becker's writing from 1960-1974, the duration of Becker's turbulently inspired academic career. The introduction by Becker scholar Daniel Liechty is excellent. Here we find carefully chosen and edited selections that provide an overview of the broad sweep of Becker's surpassing mind and achievement.
AHP Perspective

The Ernest Becker Reader is a superb compilation of Becker's writing from 1960-1974, the duration of Becker's turbulently inspired academic career. The introduction by Becker scholar Daniel Liechty is excellent. Here we find carefully chosen and edited selections that provide an overview of the broad sweep of Becker's surpassing mind and achievement.

Read More Show Less

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780295984704
  • Publisher: University of Washington Press
  • Publication date: 5/28/2005
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 248
  • Product dimensions: 5.90 (w) x 8.90 (h) x 0.60 (d)

Meet the Author

Daniel Liechty is associate professor of social work and a member of the graduate faculty at Illinois State University.

University of Washington Press

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Table of Contents

PrefaceIntroductionPart One: A Psychological View of Mental Health (1960-1963)1. Anthropology, Psychoanalysis, and Mental Illness—Socialization, Command of Performance, and Mental Illness (1962)—Anthropological Notes on the Concept of Aggression (1962)—Psychotherapeutic Observation on the Zen Discipline (1960)—Private Versus Public Logic (1961)—Toward a Comprehensive Theory of Depression (1962)—Toward a Theory of Schizophrenia (1962)2. The Enduring Value in Freud—A Note on Freud's Primal Horde Theory (1961)—The Significance of Freudian Psychology (1963)—The Validity of 'Oedipus Complex' as an Abstract Scientific Construct (1964)3. Personality, Communication, and Education for Democracy—Personality Development in the Modern World (1963)—Social Science and Psychiatry (1963)Part Two: Toward an Integrated Social Science of Behavior (1964-1971)4. Alienation—The Great Historical Convergence on the Problem of Alienation (1964)—A Theory of Alienation as a Philosophy of Education (1967)5. Plea for Social Scientific Synthesis—A Design for Ethical Man (1968)—The Ethical Society (1968)—The Vision of the Science of Man (1968)—The Enlightenment Paradox (1968)—The Second Great Step in Human Evolution (1968)6. The End of Optimism—The Perspective of the Present Time (1971)—The Road Back to the Science of Man (1971)Part Three: Denial of Death as Interpretive Organizing Principle (1971-1975)7. Meaning and Self-Esteem—Self-Esteem (1971)—Culture and Personality (1971)—Social Encounters (1971)—Biological Imperialism (1972)—Toward the Merger of Animal and Human Studies (1974)8. Death and Denial—The Terror of Death (1973)—Human Character as a Vital Lie (1973)—The Nature of Social Evil (1975-posthumous)9. Beyond Psychology—A Conversation with Ernest Becker (1974)—The Spectrum of Loneliness (1974)Bibliography—Ernest Becker's Writings—Important Secondary WorksSubject IndexName Index

University of Washington Press

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