Ernest Becker Foundation

Exploring the Legacy of Ernest Becker


Ernest Becker was a cultural anthropologist dedicated to unraveling the mystery of human behavior and understanding the origin of evil. His theory, outlined in the Pulitzer Prize winning The Denial of Death, is that the fear of mortality is a primary wellspring of both human character and culture. This insight provides us the opportunity to increase the authenticity of our lives and to diminish by some portion the amount of evil in the world.

The Ernest Becker Foundation is dedicated to exploring his contributions; the New York Chapter, founded by Chad Gracia in 1999, engages in a variety of activities to further its mission, primarily through the Becker Press.


“We now know that the human animal is characterized by two great fears that other animals are protected from: the fear of life and the fear of death… Heidegger brought these fears to the center of his existential philosophy. He argued that the basic anxiety of [humanity] is anxiety about not being-in-the-world, as well as anxiety of being-in-the-world. That is, both fear of death and fear of life, of experience and individuation.” – Ernest Becker

The Becker Press: The current efforts of the New York Chapter are focused on the publication of an annual pocket paperback. The first edition is by Sam Keen (2006); the second by Irvin Yalom (2007). Availablehere.

Flight From Death: In 2002, we presented the West Coast premier of Patrick Shen and Greg Bennick’s extraordinary documentary on the work of Ernest Becker, Flight From Death.

Talks: The New York Chapter has hosted conversations with Professors Sheldon Solomon, Jerry Piven, and Kirby Farrell on a wide range of Becker related themes.

Latest Blog Posts

    • Winter, 2013: I have been feeling a little creatively deprived in Kiev during my last few visits, so I decided that I would reach out and try to make some connections in the theatrical community here. So I posted a job on eLance (now Upwork), stating that I was looking for…

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    • A few years back, I was surprised to read this story in my friend Nassim Taleb’s book, Antifragile. He and I had lots of long talks while traveling in the Middle East and also over plates of pickled vegetables and vodka in Kiev, and so this tale must have popped from my mouth…

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    • The holiest hill in all the world is the hallowed Holy Hill of Wisconsin. Upon it stands the famed Shrine of Mary, Mother of God. The twin towers of this cathedral are visible for miles around, and the devout flock there to admire the holiness of the church and the…

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    • I’m looking to hire someone with strong Final Cut Pro X and Mac systems skills to help edit a documentary. The film is about a secret Soviet antenna from the Cold War — the Russian Woodpecker — and one man’s attempt to understand its link to the Chernobyl disaster and…

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    • In The Fear of Insignificance, psychotherapist Carlo Strenger provides a compelling and far-reaching account of the illnesses of modern life. He shows how the human predicament described by Ernest Becker forty years ago has been compounded by technology, globalization, and the ascendance of escapist philosophies that militate against living an…

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    • “Books lift us out of the smallness of the present and into history, out of the smallness of ourselves and into humanity.” – Brian Jay Stanley Ten Great Books: – The Denial of Death, by Ernest Becker taught me why human individuals act and feel the way we do. – Escape from…

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    • The day I received my driver’s license, in the summer of 1985, I immediately set out on a pilgrimage I had been dreaming of for a long time: a visit to Walden Pond. I wanted to walk the same woods, amble from Thoreau’s cabin to the cool edge of the…

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    •   I’m planning a philosophical conclave in Venice on December 13th – 20th. Each morning will start with Italian lessons for those who want them, from 9am – 11am, run by a local. During lunch, we will have visiting scholars in art, philosophy, and history. Afternoons are for wandering and shivering…

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    • On a recent stay in Kiev, I had an apartment near the top of Andrew’s Descent. St. Andrew’s dazzling green and white cupolas filled one window and another looked out over the neighborhood of Podil, the Dnieper, and beyond. While gazing across the river, I noticed a large hill nestled…

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