The Worm at the Core

The Worm at the Core

On the Role of Death in Life

Book - 2015 | First edition.
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Demonstrates how an unconscious fear of death motivates nearly all human goals, behaviors, and cultures, examining the role of mortality awareness in prompting social unrest and war.
Publisher: New York : Random House, 2015.
Edition: First edition.
ISBN: 9781400067473
1400067472
Branch Call Number: 155.937 SOLOMON
Characteristics: xi, 274 pages : illustrations ; 24 cm.

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robopl
Jul 04, 2017

A simple concept --- as infants we are taught by our parents and caretakers to find satisfaction, happiness and self-esteem in the love and praise we get by becoming socialised --- that becomes much more powerful when it considers the existential fear that can overwhelm us as we realise that we will not exist forever.

I believe that their (the three authors') point is that we learn to manage our terror by distracting ourselves and finding temporary solace in the acceptance of the group. (I presume that if we do not learn social skills as a child, we can also distract ourselves with other sensual inputs, though perhaps not to the same degree of success.)

I think this is a big step towards solving the "human problem", which is, why do we do what we do. If we can understand this basic motivation, perhaps we can explore the fact of our inevitable demise with more clarity.

My own opinion is that it is empowering to know my place in the scheme of things - to know that "I" am a product of a process called life, but not the master of it. I want to become more and more tuned in to the moment of existence and less distracted by my rationalisations for the difficulties of life.

t
thebritlass
Sep 04, 2016

Very impressive. Really readable and informative, this book looks specifically at ways that our ingrained fear of death - whether conscious or unconscious, has directed our personal and societal behaviours (usually negatively). Once recognized, we can begin to move forward in a positive way.

c
callig
Sep 02, 2015

This is a terrific book. Before it the common-sense suspicion that fear of death drives much of what we do[n't] do was just ignored. After all, it can't be proven, right? Wrong. Turns out that 'Terror Management Theory' experiments forcing people to think about it, and then observing their behavior at various tasks, clearly demonstrate that it has a huge impact.
The authors quote James Baldwin: "Perhaps the whole root of our trouble, the human trouble, is that we will sacrifice all the beauty of our lives, will imprison ourselves in totems, taboos, crosses, blood sacrifices, steeples, mosques, races, armies, flags, nations, in order to deny the fact of death..." -The Fire Next Time
I haven't been so impressed by a book since "Denial Self-deception, False Beliefs, and the Origins of the Human Mind"

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