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Ernest Becker – This is why we can’t have nice things.

March 27, 2015

“The paradox is that evil comes from man’s urge to heroic victory over evil. The evil that troubles man most is his vulnerability; he seems impotent to guarantee the absolute meaning of his life, its significance in the cosmos. He assures a plentitude of evil, then, by trying to make closure on his cosmic heroism in this life and this world…. [A]ll the intolerable sufferings of mankind result from man’s attempt to make the whole world of nature reflect his reality, his heroic victory; he thus tries to achieve a perfection on earth, a visual testimonial to his cosmic importance; but this testimonial can only be given conclusively by the beyond, by the source of creation itself which alone knows man’s value because it knows his task, the meaning of his life; man has confused two spheres, the visible and whatever is beyond, and this blindness has permitted him to undertake the impossible – to extend the values of his limited visible sphere over all the rest of creation, whatever forms it may take. The tragic evils of history, then, are a commensurate result of a blindness and impossibility of such magnitude.”

(from Escape from Evil [1975])


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