THE STRUCTURE OF EVIL by Ernest Becker

THE STRUCTURE OF EVIL

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Dr. Becker pursues here the new science of man proposed in The Revolution in Psychiatry (1964), in a philosophical tour de force that attempts nothing less than a re-creation of the spirit of the Enlightenment in a society alienated and out of control. It is an Enlightenment with all the moral ideas of progress and freedom that that entails, enriched by the content of the social sciences, economics, and philosophy of the intervening century and a half. Becker develops his synthesis through masterful analysis of Comte, Leibniz, Rousseau, Kant, Goethe, Marx, Freud; through a study of ""atomistic"" Schools, as well as Utopian system- builders. He traces the splintering of the science of man into the divergent disciplines of psychology, psychiatry, anthropology and sociology in the nineteenth century. What we are ripe for today, says Becker, is a new union of these disciplines, a science centered on man in society and in history, into which morality has been re-injected. Its aims will be to educate man towards strength--towards a maximizing freedom and responsibility. (Evil results from a suppression of human meaning; from coercion of human powers.) There are paradoxes in Becker's thought. The synthesis he sees is not transparently obvious to society, and hence not likely to be assented to readily. He tends to dismiss man's biological nature, playing down the role of reflex or instinct in determining behavior. But his imagination is stunning; his perceptions of the grand figures of Marx or Freud or Goethe are new and stimulating. There is pleasure and excitement in observing a forceful mind at work.

Pub Date: Feb. 1st, 1967
Publisher: Braziller