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An Interview With Sheldon Solomon, PhD On Terror

An Interview With Sheldon Solomon, PhD On Terror

I am most grateful to Patrick Shen and Greg Bennick, who generated Flight from Dying: The Quest for Immortality. Their film presented a route toward several of the views about the Middle East that I hold these days, and they pointed me toward the leaders of the investigate into the considered of Ernest Becker, a great deal of which is now described, in abbreviated form, as Terror Management Theory (“TMT”). Becker’s watershed e-book was Denial of Demise, 1st printed in 1973. It won the Pulitzer Prize for normal non-fiction in 1974. It was produced infamous by President Monthly bill Clinton, who said that he carried it with him on his honeymoon.

Professor of Psychology Sheldon Solomon, at Skidmore University, is one of the principal investigators of this research. This job interview with Sheldon Solomon, and another with his colleague Jeffrey Greenberg, Professor of Psychology at the University of Arizona, Tucson, was carried out soon soon after viewing Flight from Death for the very first time. Here’s how Sheldon described TMT in our interview:


“Terror management theory was originally derived from the strategies of Ernest Becker, who, in the 1970’s, wrote a series of books in which he claimed that the uniquely human consciousness of loss of life has a good deal to do with just about every thing that human beings do working day to working day. His argument is that men and women are the only creatures that are good adequate to recognize that we’re here, and if you know that you’re right here, you also realize that you will not often be close to. On top rated of that, we recognize that we will die someday, and that our deaths can come about at any time, for explanations that we could never ever foresee or command. We also realize that we’re animals and that, whether we like it or not, we are no more considerable than lizards or potatoes.

“According to Becker, all these realizations would give rise to perhaps debilitating terror, but for the point that human beings, somewhat cleverly, though not always consciously, solved this existential problem by the development and maintenance of what anthropologists currently contact “culture.” Becker’s point was that human beings construct cultural Worldviews, beliefs that we share with other individuals in our teams, that basically give us a perception that we are men and women of price in a planet of that means. When we have people beliefs, when we confidently subscribe to a perception that we have which means and value, that in flip gives us a sense that we can reside for good, both practically in the context of distinctive religions, that give the hope for an afterlife, or symbolically, just the thought that tangible representations of our tradition will continue being nonetheless.”


“You’re contacting it ‘Terror Administration Theory.’ Were you calling it that in advance of 9/11?”


“Of course, unquestionably.”

Sheldon went on to say that, because our society safeguards our psyches from the worry of dying, if another person worries our worldview or lifestyle, then we often come to feel the require to defend that worldview in a wide range of means. If we are desperate adequate, we may perhaps even be willing to eliminate others, who do not subscribe to our worldview, which explains really elegantly most of the wars in the record of person. Professor Solomon details out that approximately 175 million individuals ended up killed in the 20th Century on your own, due to the fact of 1 group seeking to transform a different group’s worldview by means of violence.

We can see with a minimal reflection that substantially of what is occurring with regards to lifestyle in the Center East, and with terrorism, is immediately relevant to these ideas.

While I do not relish being in contrast to a lizard or potato, I do have to ruefully acknowledge that my loss of life is inevitable, and that, at the most base degree, I am a stomach, equipped with teeth, who leaves terrific portions of squander in the Earth, when consuming only other residing items, in their herds, flocks, educational facilities, gardens and orchards. I converse only for myself! Nevertheless, I do come to feel a powerful attachment to a supreme currently being, who we call God, so I identified Sheldon’s comment relatively troubling, and probable unacceptable and disparaging towards holy figures in quite a few parts of the Environment.

Sheldon corrected me straight away. Sheldon stated that Becker, himself, was a incredibly religious guy, and that psychology only drops a person off at the doorstep of religion.

All of God’s children know there are some details that can’t now nor ever will be, described by science. It is at this level that faith presents us with faith about the absolutes. But just as religions are modalities for fantastic good, they can also be modalities for wonderful evil. All non secular paths and worldviews have been on both of those sides of this equation, from time to time. I consider that it is in the creating of that difference, on that holy/unholy teeter totter, in which the potential of humanity hangs in the harmony.