desh subba (42)

I recently came across an abstract from a fellow presenting at the 2014 Jean Gebser conference. I was intrigued with its focus on the role of fear in cultural evolution (and consciousness itself). Although the abstract only gives a cursory view of the presumably Gebserian perspective presented on fear, it lays out some strong claims that I think we all ought to examine critically. Gebser, in short, is highly regarded as an important philosopher-theorist by many integral thinkers of today, especially Ken Wilber has honored and cited his work. So, here is the abstract which may bring up dialogue among us, notably, there is no discussion of fearlessness with fear in a dialectical sense. 

Excerpted from


Rick Muller, PhD (2014)

Fear initiates human action. Humans at their core attempt to avoid fear by creating a world of comfort, safety and familiarity. That is why responses to fear, the unexpected and the unknown, are so overwhelming. Research suggests the residual effect of fear lasts longer than that of pleasure among humans. Is this a fundamental biologically encoded reaction? If so it initiates modern humans to move experiences and objects from the mental category of the unknown/feared into the mental category of the known. Doing so creates familiarity, safety, protection and the illusion of control. The historical artifacts of this process include rituals, taboos, social and familial structures, belief, dogmas, religion, law and science. All are reactions; all are protections from the ever-present inherent sense of fear, the unknown, the invisible and the ineffable.

To understand modernity or what [Jean] Gebser refers to as the mental rational requires one to have a greater sense of how the archaic/magic contributes to humanity’s response to fear. This paper suggests that fear is an initiating factor and an underlying foundation for human choice; one that affects the structuring of community, society, religion, values and ethics. One modern effort to covertly undermine the residual certainty of Gebser’s mental rational, of the Enlightenment, of Romanticism, of the Industrial and Scientific revolutions comes from within the mental rational itself. The uncanny, while predominantly mental and psychological in nature, continues to bore out of the core of modernity creating a space for the archaic, magic and mythic attributes to flourish within a fading western mental rational construction of the human world.

The ongoing disintegration of certainty frees the inherent fears from their protective structures to irrupt into individual human consciousness and everyday life. Fear, the unknown, the fear of the unknown and in modernity the fear of the perceived known continues to rattle the foundations of belief, creation, personal and collective behavior. Western anxiety is born of the social and cultural byproducts that were meant to protect humanity from fear. But do these protections and structures actually protect; if so, from what? What occurs when the protective membrane disintegrates, dissipates, becomes transparent? Death?

Rick Muller, Ph.D., is affiliate professor at Regis University’s (Denver, CO) Rueckert-Hartman College of Health Professions where he teaches accounting, finance and economics for the master’s degree in nursing program. His most recent publications include using the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator® and Ignatian Pedagogy Model for Improved Learning in Jesuit Higher Education, May 2014]; Hitting the Financial Knowledge Target in Nursing Management, October 2013 and he provided editorial assistance for an article about the current issues confronting Venezuela (April 2014) in Winds and Waves, the magazine for the Institute of Cultural Affairs International.


"Fear initiates human action. Humans at their core attempt to avoid fear by creating a world of comfort, safety and familiarity."

The prior blog I posted echoes these kind of claims, as the above quote, (typical of Desh Subba's philosophy of fearism; see my prior blogs), and sets the stage for human culture's use/management of "fear" to continue to motivate us--but in what way does it motivate us? When is it healthy? When is it pathological? How would we know the difference? The latter, is the more important question.

I am not saying fear does not motivate us. I have been writing about the down-side to this, particularly because we tend to (primarily) focus on fear and not fearlessness in history, development and cultural evolutions. If "fear is an initiating factor" and foundation for human choice, as Muller suggests (and Gebser must likely imply), we still have the problem unaddressed in this abstract as to what are we talking about when we use "fear" and is it as complete and integral enough of an understanding (and does it have a deconstruction-reconstruction critique built-in) to be useful to the 21st century and where cultural evolution seems to be going (or where it is perhaps enmeshed in a pathology that will take us all out)... just a few quick thoughts... Someone really needs to study Gebser's work and see what he directly has said about the role of fear and how that supports or doesn't a Subbaian philosophy of fearism. 


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E-W Dialogue on Fear With Desh Subba

I want to share my excitement and some research going on through co-writing, where Desh Subba (author of Philosophy of Fearism) and myself are joining forces across the world, he in Nepal/Hong Kong/India (with a following) and me in North America (with a following). I won't say much except you can look him and his book up on the Internet to know more, and I have written a book review of his work on Below is the rough draft Abstract to a long technical article on how my own philosophy of fearlessness is blended with his philosophy of fearism, and I have adopted his term as well because it is a spin of a new branch of existentialism, which makes a lot of sense. I'll let you know when we publish this full paper. I am convinced it is one of the most important documents out there 'leading at the edge' of thought on fear and fearlessness today. I look forward to your comments, as does Desh.

The Basic Epistemological Problems of Fear in a Philosophy of Fearism


R. Michael Fisher[1] & Desh Subba[2]

© 2015




The philosophy of fearism (coined by Subba), is arguably the newest branch of thinking from roots in existentialism, giving focus to the nature and role of fear as the primary shaper of human life. However, the major question behind this paper is the epistemological problem of how do we know fear? Knowing it better will lead to managing its shaping power better. Collaborating for the first time, each author brings forth a unique perspective (E. by Subba, W. by Fisher) to this radical philosophy for the 21st century, which they argue is practical, social and ethical in philosophical orientation. Building a holistic understanding, the authors use four strategic contexts in which to unfold their research and experience with fear and developing their philosophies: (a) Autobiographical and Philosophical, (b) Anthropological and Cultural, (c) Epistemological, and (d) Educational and Ethical. The focus of this essay on (c) and the epistemological problems behind such a new philosophy and fearist perspective, has to do with both disrupting habitual, and taking charge of, the ways we know fear. Epistemological issues blend into political issues because the power of fear is a great power that has to be worked with mindfully and critically. The educative and ethical point of their work on a philosophy of fearism is to not participate in fear-mongering about the future and crises we face as humanity. The authors’ outlook is revolutionary, positive, and yet realistic. They argue that we require a critical philosophy of fearism, with operational studies and practices from (at least) new fields of fearology, fearanalysis, and feariatry. As well as helping people to manage fear better and suffer less, they want to expand and diversify who controls the knowledge about fear and how it is managed and brought into our socialization and education.


[1] R. Michael Fisher is a Canadian, an artist, educator, scholar, lecturer, author and self-proclaimed postmodern fearologist with graduate degrees in rehabilitation studies, adult education and curriculum philosophy and design. He is co-founder of the In Search of Fearlessness Project (1989-) and founder of the Center for Spiritual Inquiry and Integral Education, and Department Head of Integral and ‘Fear’ Studies, htttp:// He currently researches, writes, and consults as a private human development consultant ( living in the USA. He can be reached at

[2] Desh Subba is Nepalese, a poet, novelist, philosopher and public intellectual. His leading work on a philosophy of fearism has led to his involvement in setting up the Fearism Study Centre in Dharan, Nepal. He is currently working in a security company and lives in Hong Kong with his family. His website is and he can be reached at

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