Ernest Becker and Why Do We Smile When We Kill People

Category Philosophy

Date 30·03·22

Tag karl popper open society enemies ernest becker denial death escape from evil podcast

Adolf Hitler shaking hands with Catholic dignitaries in Germany in the 1930s

I have to admit, there have been times when I've found myself wondering "surely there has to be something wrong with this person". Usually, these have been the moments when I've been too lazy to contemplate the motivations behind the behavior of people other than myself.

There are a lot of views out there to which I don't subscribe but am still able to rationalize. Be it your run-of-the-mill vaccine hesitancy, institutional distrust, or plain old fear of [ x ]. The mundane views.

It is healthy to have differing opinions.

Most of the time.

Which logical reasons would you pick to justify the atrocities of war?

Let's start with an easier question. You get into a heated argument with your spouse and it happens to end with your hands around their neck and their kitchen knife in your belly. What does that moment look like when your brain says "I guess it's either us, or them" and you respond with "Okay, let's go!"?

How about when you knowingly take an action that causes harm to people you know. Or to people, you don't know. But you know there are such people. Say the action were voting and the harm - restricting personal liberties or depriving someone of much-needed support.

"Yeah, it's probably better this way. For society. Not just for me."
Some People

Perhaps the wrong here lies not within this person but within the existence and proliferation of ideas embedded in our culture, lending a helping hand and leading towards these justifications.

I am going to make a podcast recommendation. Or a book recommendation if that is more of your forte (titles listed below).

On the Philosophize This! podcast Stephen West discusses the works of Karl Popper and Ernest Becker on the topics of how dictators are born and to what lengths people are willing to go to protect their own existence.


Image: Wikipedia

Philosophize This! website (for other platforms/listening options)