REVIEW BY



THE TRANSHUMAN WORLD AND ITS FEARS: A Fearological Guide for the Developing Countries

                WRITTEN BY


Michael Eneyo in this interesting book takes us on a philosophical journey into the heart of one of the most topical issues in the twenty-first century digital age: Apprehension over what the future holds for humanity in view of new technological advancements and their possible impacts on the structuring of the human society. The transhuman world which is the central focus of the book is here, and humans have already started questioning their place in it. Eneyo ranks among the few African philosophers to critically capture the fears of this new society that is fast approaching. Here, Eneyo attempts to answer some questions that surround the transhumanization of the human species through advancements in the fields of science and technology, and possible ways of managing the fears that will be precipitated by these new inventions.

However, I am sceptical about Eneyo’s hope that “stick international and local policies” will be enough to curb the excesses of future technologies, especially when one takes a causal stroll through history to discover that the nuclear bombs that were detonated over Hiroshima and Nagasaki on August 6 and 9 respectively, in 1945, were carried out by a legitimate government that cared less about policies. The chemical weapons that were used by the British imperialist empire against the Bolsheviks in Russia in the summer of 1919, before its most recent usage 94 years later by Bashar al-Assad against his own people in Syria, were all done under the watchful eyes of the international community amidst “strict international and local policies” against their deployment.

The book presents a good account of the negative possibilities that lurks beside the future society that will be driven by intelligent machines. Inasmuch as I believe that the fears raised in the book are justified, I think Eneyo’s gloomy picture of what a transhuman society would likely look like is too pessimistic and creates room for the propagation of negative fear-one aspect of fear that the book urges us against. Eneyo’s proposal of the “Philosophy of Fear” and the “Philosophy of Unity” as what would be needed to manage the fears and psychosocial discontents that will arise in the future society is worthy of mention. Also, in dealing with the transhuman world which is a typical “fear territory” for Eneyo, the suggestions offered to the African continent with regards to not being left behind in the race to a transhuman materialization is also worthy of commendation.

I here conclude by saying that beyond the thought-provoking approach to the question of our place in the present and future society, the author’s daring questions, unapologetic confidence on the subject matter, and analytically poignant perspectives make his book a worthy read for all-especially those who are profoundly curious about humanity’s place in the inevitable transhuman world that is upon us.

Patrick Effiong Ben

MasterCard Foundation Scholar University of Pretoria,

South Africa.

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  • R. Michael Fisher originally posted this Comment: 

    I appreciate Eneyo sharing these parts of his new book, especially as articulated by others who have read it. I have not yet read the book, but I am quite familiar with Eneyo's research and writing (e.g., in his two previous books mentioned in the above review by Ben). I've long been interested in the future(s) since the late 1970s as field of inquiry, and I think Eneyo's book will no doubt add the fearological dimension of critique required that's been largely neglected.

    Sure, several futurists (except the hard core super-techno-optimists) have talked about "fear of the future" and how that needs to be addressed as an adaptive awareness of dangers in the directions we are going (especially, with machines, A.I., etc.) [1]. Other futurists in great numbers think it is "fear of the future" (and technoculture and transhumanism) that will hold humanity back from taking the reins of the future and progress. Ben's review certainly sounds like it is more or less coming from the latter position, and perhaps not surprising as he comes from what looks like the business community interest (e.g., MasterCard Foundation Scholar, in his signature at the end of the review above).

    I do not come from a business background, and I have a lot of mistrust of the business (corporate) agenda, albeit, my first futurist conference I attended in 1980 or so in Canada opened with a talk by the liberal futurist Ruben Nelson, whom at the time told all us 'hippie' and alternative types at the conference that our prejudice against business (i.e., entrepreneurs) is not well advised. He thought that only with business at the heart of brining rapid change and innovation, would humanity ever be able to make it through the challenges of the future that were coming back then, 40 years ago. I saw his point, that business invests and makes things happen much faster than governments and even academia. But all of that seemed to me to be based on a pragmatist philosophy of innovation and change and adaptation. I'm not against business leading, but I have my doubts that it can be controlled enough by good ethical policies. Yet, that's not my main point of this response...

    My main interest is the strong critique by Ben of Eneyo's overall position in the book and the fearological analysis. Ben wrote, "I believe that the fears raised in the book are justified, [yet] I think Eneyo’s gloomy picture of what a transhuman society would likely look like is too pessimistic and creates room for the propagation of negative fear-one aspect of fear that the book urges us against." You can see Ben's concern of even a fearological analysis (or fearanalysis) because it causes more fear (i.e., negative fear) than is necessary re: the future. I wonder if Eneyo agrees? It is a strong charge that fearists of any persuasion have to look at in the face. Are we causing more fear than is necessary because we focus so much on fear(s)?

    But all of that aside, of which I find a bit disconcerting with the focus on "fears" (e.g., fear of x, y, z)... as my own understanding of fearism, fearanalysis, fearology, 'Fear' Studies is that "fears" are not ever meant to be given more attention than to the critical analysis of the relations of humans to fear itself (and, 'fear' in the constructed culturally-modified and hyperreal forms of commodification of 'fear'--and its pathology). Anyways, more room for more discussion, in the future. Yet, I will acknowledge, most of the reason that fearism (as part of Eneyo's position) is not really taking off well in the world, is because it is just that as Ben has perceived, a form of philosophy and attitude that brings more fear into the world and not less. And, interestingly, that's the very critique Ben has of Eneyo, and claims basically that Eneyo's direction in the book works against Eneyo's (i.e., the fearist's) own aim which is to reduce (negative) fear in the world so as to enhance human potential in a good, sustainable, sane and healthy way [2]. The questions remain unanswered, and Ben's challenges is now open for debate. I only hope the debate will not focus on "fears"--as that will miss the point of the philosophical re-orientation that the founding fearists (Fisher and Subba) have worked so hard to build new foundations to understand fear itself (and 'fear')--and the methodological consequences and shifts of paradigm required [3] to even discuss the topics above.


    1. The sociologist Judith Skhlar, for one, writing in the 1980s explored the concept of "liberalism of fear" as a political re-orientation as part of the legal precautionary principle in development and the advancement of humanity; and, I think transhumanists and their critics ought to be familiar with her ground-breaking work centered on "fear" in political philosophy, theory and practice. Skhlar and many others (including fearists) typically are "fear positivists" in their basic agenda, of which a critique I have offered of fear-positivism throughout my career has been largely ignored (see note 2. as well).

    2. For the record, I have been a long critic of the fearists who continue to use the binary (and clinically psychologized discourse) of "positive fear" and "negative fear"--of which I have argued is flawed in terms of a transdisciplinary fearological approach. So, be it Subba, Eneyo, Kalu, Adhikari, or whomever that use this binary model of thinking, they all write of analysis and interventions that I see will not lead to fearlessness (as I articulate that @Fear Management Systems -7 at integral consciousness).

    3. I suggest my latest book Resistances to Fearlessness (with B. Maria Kumar) (2021) as a corrective to the continuing fear-based paradigm used by most everyone, including the majority of the work by the fearists I mentioned in 2.

    • Very interesting and insightful observations! This indeed calls for critical engagement in a form of debate by those who care to know more about fear and to intuit into what the future holds for mankind. To start with, my primary goal in fearism studies is to provide measures on how fear-positive society can be enthroned in the future and how the negative fear can be suppressed or overcome.

      Yes! Patrick Ben in his review of the book has said that the predictions made therein about the transhuman world have the potentials to create more room for negative fear; the same fear the book is urging us against. Ideally, the book has made many predictions of what the futuristic society holds for mankind, both in the good and in the bad perspectives. The book has given some recommendations on what the developing countries ought to do to secure a leading place in that envisioned world. However, I have warned that if the recommendations made in the book are not followed, that the transhuman society will be worse than the Hobbesian state of nature where life was said to be brutish, nasty, and short. This may likely be amongst the things Ben is sceptical about.

      My intention as a fearologist or fearist is not to “brocade fear”. Fear brocading is an act of attempting to avoid or deny the presence of negative fear even when it is obvious. Example is when a sick person responses with “I am fine” to the question, how are you? The truth is that he is sick; he is not fine. I am fine is not a cure to sickness. This response is always as a result of the thought of the negative fear we have about being sick, that is why even when we are sick, we say we are fine. And the poor says he is rich. If you are poor, you are poor. Why saying you are rich when you are poor? That is fear brocading and it is a wrong approach to fear management. You don’t solve the problem of fear by denying the existent of fear. This is not the solution. You must first accept that you are sick before one can look for a cure.

      Also, we must accept that wrongful applications of technological equipment can create negative fear before we think of how technological inventions can be regulated so as to guide against the wrongful use of such equipment. This is how the negative fear can be reduced in the future world. Reasoning that as a fearist, one should not talk about negative fear or pay attention to it or to what that can cause negative fear is to me, a bad philosophy. Exposing those things that if done can create negative fear is the right step to follow if we should desire a peaceful society. When incidents that can cause negative fear are exposed, the possibility of avoiding or controlling them is certain. Ben is a vibrant and intelligence upcoming scholar, he needs to read more of my works on fear to understand the logic of my argument on positive and negative fear.

      As noted above, in as much as my aim is to campaign for how negative fear can be suppressed or overcome, it does not mean that we should not expose what the likely consequences of the transhuman world would be in the case of the wrongful usage of technologies by humans in the envisioned world. The essence of these scaring predictions is to make technologists refrain from the invention of destructive equipment and also, to guide people on how the technologies should be used so as to make humans achieve the ultimate goal of the transhumanism agenda, which are; easy, better, and comfortable life for all. The fear of the negative consequences of the wrongful use of technologies and the fear of what will befall those who do not have technological knowledge would be enough to motivate them to key into the transhumanism agenda positively for their benefit.

      One may wish to argue that as a fearist or a fearologist, that one ought not to say something that can cause negative fear, instead, one should be a strong advocate of a fearless society or at least, a fear positive society, but this is wrong. My orientation of fear is somewhat difference from Fisher, though I share the view with Fisher that fearism or fearology or philosophy of fear is a transdisciplinary study. I have many other fearist beliefs that we share. However, my approach to fear studies is a binary approach, which is not so with Fisher. I pay attention to all kinds of fear. For Fisher, negative fear is amongst what he called ‘fear’, which to him, does not deserves our attention. He seems to reason that we should rather concentrate on positive fear which he believes can lead to the enthronement of a fearless society. This position is in contrast to my own concept of fearism. As a “binarist” , I always look at things from a binary perspectives. It is my philosophical belief that until opposites are taking into respective considerations, inquiry is incomplete. Fear study must be approached from this binary horizon. For Fisher to talk about fear positivism (which has to do with the good side of fear) and chooses to be silence about the negative side of it (which he thinks does not deserves our attention), to me, is worrisome. I think, attention should be paid to negative fear or 'fear' too, but not to promote it, rather, to eliminate it if possible. As a binarist, I do not believe in the possibility of a fearless society, I see such belief as an utopian. I doubt if Fisher will philosophically or logically convince me in this regard.

      Fisher has called on a debate on the scepticism of Ben which he says my predictions can cause negative fear. The debate is to establish if the overall aim of the book will not be defeated in the case where the predictions given in the book generate more negative fear instead of eliminating it in the future. It is interesting to say that this invitation by Fisher comes with the fear that the debate may rather focus on ‘fear’; that is, negative fear which ought not to be the contention. Fisher thinks that such direction will certainly destroy the foundation of fear studies he and Subba have struggled to build when he said “ I only hope the debate will not focus on ‘’fear’’- as that will miss the point of the philosophical re-orientation that the founding fearists (Fisher and Subba) have worked so hard to build new foundation to understand fear itself”. The above remark, methinks, is an expression of negative fear which Fisher says we should not pay attention to-the fear of missing the point of their foundation. Actually, we do not have the same philosophical orientation of fear. This debate will not likely destroy Fisher and Subba’s new foundation on fear, but may rather expose another solid foundation through binarism, which to me, is strong enough to pass epistemic justification' test. I do not really in support of fear positivism or fearlessness society, but i strongly believe that all the approaches are to drive us to the same Fearological endpoint which is, the desire to overcome negative fear or 'fear'. In as much as I acknowledges and respects Fisher’s approach to fear studies, it does not deny the fact that there are many other approaches. Holding to such thought will amount to reductionism; a position Fisher himself is strongly against. Fisher needs to read this book first and foremost before we begin this scholarly debate. He is always a voice in his field. I will avail him a soft copy of the book as I have already done so with Ben. Others are free to join us in the debate for the expansion of our knowledge of fear and its workings.

      Those who wish to join should indicate to have a soft copy f the book.

      I once again thank Fisher for taking me again to an intellectual task.

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