cornel west (2)

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Samuel Nathan Gillian Jr. (1939-2016), MEd. (photo c.1978) [1]

To teach care is to teach fear(fulness)--to teach children to be terrified (in a good way) is education at its foundational best; there is nothing more basic that the human species must engage, and if we neglect this duty, humanity will fail, argues the author Sam Gillian. 

I know of only a couple critical thinkers and philosopher-types who have written more than one book on the subject "fear" in depth. I can think of no black philosopher who has written two books on fear that are in depth. This alone makes Bro. Gillian [2] a central 21st century figure to pay attention to in the philosophy of fear. Because of his life-career as a middle school teacher and adult educator, his two books [3] are key to any study and articulation of a "pedagogy of fear." I guarantee you dear reader, Gillian is quite controversial (even radical) and will in spirit and rational thought challenge many assumptions typical of progressive education philosophy and child-rearing, care-giving etc. I think he is a progressive educator of the highest calibre but he is fiercely independent in how he thinks about progress and progressive ideas related to fear. That's what makes him a unique philosopher with lots to teach. 

He is incredibly clear in his writing and thus I would say his work is "the best" there is out there on fear, for the person on the street, so to speak, when it comes to being applicable ideas to ponder and apply immediately to our lives. His books are not shallow over-simplified "self-help" in the typical psychological way. They are more philosophical reflections and at times they are 'sermons.' He has integrated many others' thought throughout his years of study of fear [4], which began in 1972, he tells us in his brief bio. in his first book. He is an expert on fear, no doubt about it. His contribution to a good quality "fear education" is so needed today and in the future.

Unfortunately, for many reasons, his work is virtually unheard of in larger circles and in academia. I plan to write an intellectual biography of his life and work and reverse this invisibility. I look forward to anyone who wishes to discuss the "Gillianism of fear" (as I call it) [5]. 

[note: Prof. Cornel West has some similar notions as Gillian, e.g., https://fearlessnessmovement.ning.com/blog/centralizing-of-the-calamitous-philosophy-in-the-key-of-terror]

 

End Notes

1. Thanks to Bernice Gillian, Sam's wife, for this photograph. 

2. Bro. Sam or Bro. Gillian are terms I use as endearment and respect, and I have only used such because of Sam's own proclivity to do so with me (e.g., see the photo above where I overlapped the portrait of him with his book signing signature "Bro. Sam" and it was addressed to me as "Bro. Michael" in the inside cover of his second book I had purchased from him in 2005.

3. The Beauty of Fear (2002) and Terrified by Education (2005), by Phemore Press, his own publishing company. He published no other works under that press nor did he write any other books than these two. It is hard to find copies of these, but if interested you may try contacting Bernice who may sell you a copy of these titles sbgill4273@aol.com

4. E.g., he was a big fan of the existentialist Ernest Becker, but also the likes of Jiddu Krishnamurti, Alan Watts and many others. Very eclectic (E-W) reading underlies his philosophy.

5. Contact me: r.michaelfisher52@gmail.com

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This has got to be one of the most stunning philosophical lectures/performances of a genius liberal-radical contemporary philosopher (Cornel West) in 2014, there is-- I listen to it and it touches so many chords and choruses of the type of philosophy I have been attempting and working through, and now coming out in my latest book "The Fear Problematique: Role of Philosophy of Education in Speaking Truths to Powers in a Culture of Fear" (IAP, in press). 

At one point in the talk, I particularly was delighted by West's bringing forward the Josiah Royce criticism of American philosophy, whereby (paraphrasing Royce), West says, "We need to re-word philosophy in a way in which it speaks to our times." Oh, yes! All of my work on centralizing the dark shadow (i.e., the tragic, tragic comedy, calamitous, the horrific)--and naming it as "fear"--for a start, has been about then finding the re-wording of philosophy laid down upon a new Fearlessness Paradigm. The search? the quest? the aim? For West and myself it is for paideia [Paideia (also spelled paedeia) refers to the rearing and education of the ideal member of the ancient Greek polis or state. These educational ideals...]

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