Promoting understanding in the hope of furthering the common good.
Relying on strong science, we promote public discourse that frees our society’s current logjam of ideas, aims to resolve the tough issues of the day, and brings attention to people who exemplify these qualities of thought.
Protecting the Environment
CHI sees a way forward by making use of the riches nature provides, but rejecting irresponsible pollution of the earth, air, and water as a means to acquire wealth.
Promoting Peace and Security
CHI promotes a way of thinking that allows for the defense and security of people and nations, but rejects military adventurism, militarism, jingoism, and nationalism that result in wanton killing and destruction.
Improving Mental Health
CHI works for better understanding and discussion of our cultural concerns as a way to help reduce general anxiety, depression, addiction, hate and a wide variety of social ills.
Increasing Economic Equality
CHI recognizes diversity of rewards for effort and achievement as necessary aspects of human enterprise, but rejects economic injustice and exploitation by one group over another.
We apply the far-reaching ideas of Pulitzer Prize-winner Ernest Becker who inspired an interdisciplinary approach to science and philosophy that helps us understand why we all believe and act as we do. It’s not always an easy story to hear, yet it has great explanatory power.
Becker maintained that all humans share two fundamental traits, the drive to survive and the certainty of death. These universal traits leave humans with a dilemma that results most commonly in the unconscious repression and denial of the dread of death.
Cultures reduce death anxiety by giving their members a sense that they have value and their lives have meaning. Heroism is a culture’s general recognition of what a society reveres. It is a form of symbolic immortality conferred upon members who exemplify and reflect the culture’s values.
Thirty years of scientific research supports and validates Becker’s ideas. One thousand social psychological experiments have demonstrated the effects of a basic unconscious struggle between our mortal animal nature that is driven to survive vs. our symbolic character that seeks self-esteem and immortality. This human dilemma results in many forms of social ills and interpersonal conflict that distresses our lives and the lives of our fellow humans. CHI maintains that an understanding of the existence and reasons for this dilemma, applied to our many ills, will reduce human suffering.
Traditional heroism in our contemporary society has become corrupted and has grown toxic to our social wellbeing. Understanding our contemporary culture’s method of striving for heroism is a fundamental step to producing social change for the better. CHI endeavors to promote this understanding. Our goal is to bring Beckerian thought into public discourse around select, seemingly intractable, social issues, and to promote a nondestructive heroism and healthy self-esteem./
The ideas of Ernest Becker, applied to contemporary issues, offer alternatives to traditional solutions such as religion, entrenched political parties, materialism, technology, and devotion to economic wealth. At CHI we are guided by the principle that Becker’s ideas, widely disseminated, will engage people with new ways of thinking about their own lives as well as engage society in a process of constructive cultural criticism and change for the better.
Add your name to our Event Alert service, and we’ll help you track progress on discussions about the major social issues of our time. We promise a fresh perspective on human motivation that helps explain intransigent positions in a way that can be explained to others, and that addresses the deep currents of debate in a helpful framework. Our discussion will help give you a clear way of expressing a powerful new, constructive point of view.
© 2017 Contemporary Heroism Initative