fear (148)

"Learning to Care in an Age of Insecurity"... these are the words on my tongue... *

OK. It's about time to renew this blogpost 3 yrs ago on the FM ning. It is on my mind these days to start-up with a group, or just lead it myself(?).. an iteration in the 21st century of The League for Fearlessness-II, and I'm imagining the content for this. [Note: I never did publish more of my research into the group from 1931, I guess there wasn't enough interest from readership in 2020 and after]. The intriguing thing for me today is thinking about how would I start writing such a brochure and what would be some of its key 21st century notions, much different but with overlap, from the 20th century version. Let me know if you are interested to work on this project. 

The League for Fearlessness- birthed in 1931


There's a long story behind my finding this 4 pp. fold-out brochure in a medical library in New York City. It is the only evidence currently available on this group [1] that was apparently started under the guidance of the famous theosophists, Alice & Foster Bailey. Since 2006, when I found this brochure (which I made in color, aged, and adapted with a few excerpts here only using photoshop), I have been searching for answers to the mystery of where this group and The League 'disappeared' and why no traces. Currently, the fine folks at Lucis Trust, NY, are attempting to search into this. Curiously, no body in the current big American theosophical organizations has heard of this League but they do suspect the Bailey's were quite likely to have taken on initiating such a project. IF anyone has any leads to finding out more about this group, let me know: 


But besides that fascinating historical evidence, and a story yet told, I wanted to share the brochure today, it seems appropriate as just 5 days away from one of the most important elections ever in U.S. history. The level of tension, fear, dread, etc. is palpable. It's also in my dreams. And, so, I thought it would be good to share these words, ideas, and spirit of fearlessness from this group in 1931, of which North America was deep in the Depression and fear was rampant. If you haven't already picked-up the nuanced connection between The League's mission and my own via the In Search of Fearlessness Project (1989- ) and later, founding the In Search of Fearlessness Research Institute (1991- )--and, the uncanny sense of a paralleling historical soul-based work that is wanting to go on in this world, it is so obvious to me--and yet, struggles of resistances to manifest this Project effectively are so powerful as well. To say it bluntly, there is no such project that has such a systematic well-thought out "program" to improve fear management and remove fear on the planet as a barrier to the evolution of consciousness. This is powerful beyond words. I wished, in retrospect, I would have found this brochure in 1989--boy, that would have made a big difference! But, that's the way it is. 

End Note

1. Just recently, I have attained a few documents on this group, I am reviewing, and will keep you posted with updates, if you let me know you are interested. 

* A variant theme arrived after, which is more accurate to Barbara and my visioning and planning: "CARING ABOUT CARING, IN AN AGE OF ANXIETY" 


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Mark Satin, author-activist                                                                R. Michael Fisher, Host, FearTalks series

I recommend anyone interested in the domain of political activism, visionary leadership, and American political movements, that you check out FearTalk #22, that I recently did with Mark Satin. We explore diverse topics, including the impact of anger/fear and its downfall for many activist movements. Mark shares his new book (excerpts): 

"Up From Socialism" (recently published by Bomardier Books, 2023). Go to the interview: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Wv-tFgxRXUQ


[Note: Nov. 30, 2023: I have been reading Mark's book now for a few days. In the video talk above he said at one point that he searched his word.doc file of the ms. for "fear" and/or related terms and said there were 30+ uses in the book. Well, I can tell you there are way more than that. I'm see 40-50 uses in the first 35 pp. of the book, when one does a basic fearanalysis. Indeed, what is this new book about but "fear" and organizing in the political domain. Now, what is good fear and what isn't? A larger set of questions arises...].  


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OBI logo

How do we catch people where they fall? How do we respond to this crisis in a way that doesn’t reinforce its architecture? What kind of politics is being summoned at this time?  

Join OBI’s Democracy & Belonging Forum on Thursday, November 16, 2023 (8:00 AM - 9:15 AM PT / 11:00 AM - 12:15 PM ET / 5:00 PM - 6:15 PM CET) for the next conversation in our ongoing series The Edges in the Middle, where OBI Global Senior Fellow Bayo Akomolafe will speak with Professor Sa’ed Atshan and OBI’s Cecilie Surasky on holding each other’s pain even as lines are increasingly drawn around whose lives are grievable and whose are not.

 As Israel continues its relentless bombardment of Gaza following Hamas’ murder of 1,400 Israeli civilians, which itself came after 75 years of Israeli occupation over Palestine, so many of us feel hopeless under the weight of bearing witness to—or personally experiencing—seemingly endless cycles of violence, trauma, and dehumanization.

 Starting from the premise that all people belong and all lives are grievable, the speakers will explore how honoring each other’s grief may allow us to reclaim each other’s humanity and perhaps shed light on a path forward to belonging in Israel-Palestine, for Muslims, Jews, and Christians, and for all people around the world. Bayo, Sa’ed, and Cecilie will journey into what it might be like to glimpse at the world through tears: what visions are possible when we postpone the compulsion to see everything clearly?


Here is a panel of very progressive thinkers on the problems of world conflict today. If you get a change, this may be a worthwhile talk for you and others in grief and who are feeling somewhat hopeless with the rise of crisis and WWW-III lurking. 



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Dr. Stanislav Grof: Archetype of FMS-8


Dr. Stanislav Grof, Psychiatrist and theorist (psychonaut). 

I have recently watched the film https://www.psychedelicassistedtherapysummit.com/thewayofthepsychonaut?kref=2YglctPiB1lF

of which documents Stan Grof's life and career. By the end of the film, it was clear to me, that I had found another basic human archetype of Fear Management System-8, in my integral theory of fear management systems. There have been 'saintly' type figurations I have put in the FMS-8 prior, but now it felt like Grof is a less saintly but authentic type (manifestation) of FMS-8, and a very potent impressive person and life. 

For more information on his work you can look him up (e.g., on Wikipedia) but the above film (and book?) "Way of the Psychonaut" is a really good overview. 

See Below, my latest simple model of fear management systems (FMSs) that I have been researching and publishing on for probably 15 years or so (e.g., see Fisher, 2010). This diagram shows an evolutionary/developmental arrangement of these FMSs and FMS-8 (Turquoise colored) is depicted (and is extremely rare). 

12253994094?profile=RESIZE_584xNote: It would take a long post and lecture really to do justice to explain this visual model and the theory it represents. 

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The Fear Problematique: Fisher's New Book



A volume in the series: Studies in the Philosophy of Education. Editor(s): John E. Petrovic, The University of Alabama.

In Press 2023 and for sale: Information Age Publishing

The author, with over three decades of focused research on fear and fearlessness and 45 years as an emancipatory educator, argues that philosophy and philosophy of education have missed several great opportunities to help bring about theoretical and meta-perspectival clarity, wisdom, compassion, and practical ways to the sphere of fear management/education (FME) throughout history. FME is not simple, nor a luxury, it is complex. It’s foundational to good curriculum but it requires careful philosophical critique. This book embarks on a unique transdisciplinary understanding of The Fear Problematique and how it can be integrated as a pivotal contextual reference for assessing the ‘best’ way to go in Education today and tomorrow. Educational philosophy is examined and shown to have largely ‘missed the boat’ in terms of responding critically and ethically to the insidious demand of having to truly educate ourselves when we are so scared stiff. Such a state of growing chronic fear, of morphing types of fear, and a culture of fear, ought to be central in shaping a philosophy of fear(ism) for education. The book challenges all leaders, but especially philosophers and educators, to upgrade their own fear imaginary and fear education for the 21st century, a century of terror likely to grow in the cascading global crises.



CHAPTER 1: Introduction.

CHAPTER 2: Philosophy and a Fearturn.

CHAPTER 3: Education Philosophy 'Misses the Boat.'

CHAPTER 4: Fear(ism) as Philosophy: A Transformative Paradigm.

CHAPTER 5: Fear Management/Education for the 21st Century.

CHAPTER 6: Fearlessness as Educational Philosophy.

CHAPTER 7: Recommendations.

Glossary. References. Index.

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What you see above is some of the major points of which Marianne Williamson is running her presidential campaign 2024 (as Dem.) in terms of a Department of Children & Youth and her stated priority to be "mothers and children" in America, as extremely important foundations for a healthy society. I don't disagree. However, you may note that Williamson's platform is not listing that there should be a good quality "fear education" --nope, she is rather talking about all children getting "mindfulness training in schools"--and, this is very short-sighted, although it sounds good at first pass. Also, the caring interest in trauma is there. But truly MW has not thought deeply enough to see that at the base of the problem is a Fear Problem, a "culture of fear" which is the meta-context for all the things she wants to fix about mothering, child rearing and care, etc. Sorry, MW needs a fearanalyst (and educator) on her staff team really quickly. 

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Here is my latest FearTalk in the series I started some 4 years ago, whereby I wanted to have the most honest conversations possible with people I knew, or don't know that well, and merely talk live and unedited on the topic of fear. Here is the link to this recent video on my Youtube Channel 

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Buddhism: Compassion Plus Fearlessness

In an intriguing article 13(3)+Buddhism+Moral+Courage+Perspective+on+Fear+and+Truth+(3504-3516) (1).pdf on Buddhism and fear (and fearlessness), I have taken one extract here :

"Compassion (Karuna) is at the heart of Buddhism, as it aligns with the fundamental teaching of alleviating suffering for oneself and others. Engaged Buddhism emphasizes the active and practical application of compassion in the world. This includes empathetic concern for the welfare of all beings, especially those who are marginalized, oppressed, or facing hardship. Engaged Buddhists critique the application of compassion by encouraging socially engaged actions, such as advocating for social justice, promoting environmental stewardship, and providing aid to those in need. By cultivating compassion, individuals are inspired to take positive action to address societal and environmental challenges. Fearlessness (Abhaya) in Buddhism does not imply the absence of fear but rather the capacity to confront and transform fear (Fisher & Kumar, 2021). Engaged Buddhists critique fearlessness as the willingness to challenge oppressive systems, social injustices, and unethical practices. Fearlessness empowers individuals to speak out against injustice, even when facing resistance or threats. By embodying fearlessness, engaged practitioners promote change and transformation within society while upholding the principles of non-violence and compassion.

Explore how compassion and fearlessness are critiqued for application in engaged application in social activism under the context of engaged Buddhism, compassion and fearlessness serve as guiding principles in social activism (Dickman, 2022). Instead of passively accepting the status quo, engaged Buddhists critique complacency and apathy, encouraging active involvement in addressing societal issues. By combining compassion with fearlessness, practitioners can effectively engage in social action while maintaining ethical integrity and promoting non-harming. Buddhism cultivation of empathy engaged Buddhists emphasize the cultivation of empathy, which is closely related to compassion (Zalta, 2022). Through empathetic understanding, individuals can better grasp the experiences and suffering of others. This understanding informs compassionate responses and drives transformative actions to address the root causes of suffering in the world. Encouraging non-attachment to outcomes engaged Buddhists actively work towards positive change, they also critique attachment to specific outcomes. Recognizing the impermanent nature of the world, they emphasize the importance of practicing with a non-attached mind. This approach allows practitioners to continue their compassionate efforts without being disheartened by potential setbacks or limited results. Compassion and fearlessness in engaged Buddhism extend to embracing diversity and inclusivity (Das, 2023). Engaged practitioners critique discrimination, prejudice, and exclusionary attitudes. They strive to create inclusive spaces and advocate for the rights and dignity of all individuals, regardless of race, gender, ethnicity, or other social identifiers.

The critique of applying compassion and fearlessness in engaged Buddhism revolves around actively embodying these virtues in compassionate action and fearlessly challenging oppressive systems. Engaged Buddhists recognize the interconnectedness of all beings and engage in transformative practices to alleviate suffering and promote justice, peace, and environmental harmony. Through the integration of compassion, fearlessness, empathy, and non-attachment, engaged practitioners create positive impacts within society while upholding the core principles of Buddhist ethics and wisdom."

Res Militaris, vol.13, n°3, March Spring 2023 3507

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Fearism, Fearlessness, Love and Trauma

“When the artist understands fear as a mental construct at the root of everything,
when she understands that fear is a choice that dictates all, her path to love opens up. She chooses to move into a state of fearlessness (e.g., see R. Michael Fisher, who is a Fearlessness philosopher from Canada)--and, one choice at a time continuously creating life from a place of core stability. Fear cannot be eliminated as everything stems from it. Yet the artist knows that by removing all fear-based conditionings and attachments that no longer serve the transmuted self, she advances into enlightenment. She becomes love. She becomes limitless.
Desh Subba’s in dept study of fear (Philosophy of Fearism) should be taken as a serious guide to help one go deeper within to heal traumas rooted in fear as well as to move into a new state of reality where fear is seen as a choice to master rather than an emotion to fear. To see fear in its truth, accepting it as the fire that ignites our journey to love is remembering that love is the all.”
Roxy Genier
Philosopher of Luxury
Global Citizen
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“Released some wandering mind thoughts.” -CB

Asynchronous Dialogue of R. M. Fisher With CB 

Fisher: Yes, I always appreciate it when someone writes a long and raw letter to me as part of our relationship of co-inquiry (loosely speaking) into the nature of life, reality, identity and what this world is all about. Then to dive into sharing about the investigations and mind wanderings into “fear” and “fearology is even more of a treat. In all my life studying fear, I have not met a more dedicated person to write back and forth with about fear than CB. CB is a much younger man than I. I met him in Calgary in 2019 or so when we lived just down the block from each other. I moved away in 2021, so our in close proximity relationship was short-lived, but we decided to write to each other whenever we felt the desire or need. CB writes more to me than I do to him, but I always respond. He appreciates just having a ‘space’ of nonjudgmental reception. I have been so impressed with his thinking and sincerity to know and improve his life and that of others around him, albeit, struggling with the great limitations of him being able to do either. His life is very much ‘on the edge’ as I see it and yet, he makes it through day by day. It astounds me that he will take on projects and often not finish them, then takes on more. He can even be a hoarder that way and that causes lots of problems.

At times I feel he is characteristic of someone slightly on the mild end of the autism spectrum, at other times I feel he is just an honest human and I really love having him in my life. Why wouldn’t I love his obsessiveness to learn. CB is the only person I know who has watched systematically in the last two years all of my 150 videos on my Youtube channel and most of which are on fear and fearlessness. He is a thinker and then thinks about thinking. He is a natural philosopher. Self-taught mostly, with no academic schooling beyond secondary education other than the school of life. Easily, he could do a masters or a doctorate degree if he was inclined and found the right department and field to go into. I’m not sure he cares much about that. He reads a lot and listens to a tonne of radio programs (day and night) that are about knowledge and ideas that really matter.

With that context, now I’ll turn to a bit our most recent exchange, which starts with identity as I consider this more important on one level than the discussion on fearology. Yet, fearology is where I think things really matter in our conversation and identity and fear are close twins, as you will see in my comments on his comments below. [note: I have excerpted with CB’s permission bits and re-arranged them slightly in this iteration of “some wandering mind thoughts”. Thanks CB. 


CB: So I took some time as I was writing through the night, now later this morning, to pull out Erik Erikson’s "Identity and the Life Cycle". Reading about the ideas of what I will call the donning and doffing of identity in a social context. The reconciling of self-identity with the social construction of identities within which we live. The acceptance and non-acceptance of individual self-identity within the socially acceptable identities, all of which are changing, submerging and re-emerging over time. I am thinking the donning and doffing is important in order to remain flexible to the changing landscape, socialscape. Seems important to not become too dependent on a particular clothing of identity. One can’t help notice, this societal moment of multiple crises, including identity, where so many seem to be seeking a simple(r) identity that will somehow solve the complexity in which we live. 

Fisher: Good snooping and sorting you are doing (like so many these days) around "identity" stuff, which is sounding fruitful, if not more and more complicated. My latest thinking is that we'd be all a lot better off (ha ha) if we saw ourselves as a community and hybrid of many others--a companion species with other species at all times (knowing it or not)--and, a posthuman perspective is I think the better way to go in general (much more in alignment with an Indigenous perspective)... or even that we are a diasporic identity I think is more realistic and as the world becomes under such pressures and so much 'movement' going on with immigrating and emigrating under climate change, wars and other tragedies-- we are all 'diasporic' in some sense--now, the question is, is that a good thing--it will really make one flexibly adaptable that's for sure-- a larger argument ('against') the grand search for 'home.' [some of the best thinking and writing on posthumanist identity comes these days from Bayo Akomolafe, and his Yoruba perspective as a black man and Nigerian now living in India and part-time in the USA; see his 2017 book, for e.g., These Wild’s Beyond Our Fences; he also has many talks on Youtube] 

The Problem With Fearologies

[as editor:] I start this off with my agreement with CB’s critique of one particular psychologist who called themselves a “fearologist” and has made some videos on “fearology” and attempting to legitimize it as a proper field of study and usefulness, but unfortunately they have not done their homework well. There may be other reasons as well for their lack of rigor on this topic. I start with my quickie reply to CB and then give his perspective which he came to about fearologies he was seeing out there on the Internet.

Fisher: First node response: [re: Dr. Mary Poppenroff] "It kind of doesn’t feel too integral to me." [CB was not impressed with Poppenroff’s interview] Yup, that was my experience listening to that same interview several years ago and reaching out as I have to Mary P. a few times to publish an article in the International Journal of Fear Studies, and other reaching out --but she has evaded me from the start pretty much. Ho hum... It was good to read your crit. to see I am not alone in what I've picked up about this so-called self-proclaimed "fearologist."  

CB: So here I am in the wee hours of the morning after spending my overnight wandering through a search of “Fearology” on the internet. I imagine you have done this before. I know you have - (by this I mean, doing a search of the term Fearology).

Staying up all night following random thoughts maybe a bit over-the-top, maybe not so much what I am referring to that you woud do. You say have done such a similar search in one of the website links that came up for me: 


Interesting to read through this document you wrote and published. “Integral Fearology: A study of the Fearology of Fearologies.” That helped me to see your work better when put that way.

So then I searched Fearology and read another of your pieces linked to above: "A Research Agenda To Legitimate The Study of ‘Fear’: Beginning Fearology 2000-2011." In there I read with a smile.  I wasn’t aware you have already done an interview with CBC radio’s host Shelagh Rogers, way back in 2004. I have been thinking for a while that there are quite a few CBC program’s which could/should explore your work.

Then I went through this two part series podcast (you are likely familiar): 


Very thankful that this podcast of host Alie Ward could be listened to at faster speeds. After going through so many of your YouTube videos this podcast interview with Mary Poffenroth seemed a bit superficial. Also I’m a bit disappointed they referenced one of your books at about the 3.20 mark but didn’t bother to reference you as the author. Doubly irritating given many references to various other people’s Youtube videos and such linked below their podcast on Allie Ward’s website, your work was not acknowledged. They could have at least put a link to your work! They also passingly say later around the 17.17 mark that most books Mary researched to become a fearologist were: ( 1) about extremes of fear or, were (2) more pseudoscience [thus Poffenroth was critical of their mis-informing people]. Maybe I am hearing that overly negatively, but neither of those categories describes your work. Not cool.

[the entire interview in summation:] Very psychological, and "fear as emotion," is the presumption throughout, or as Mary says "fear = stress, they are the same thing." At a few points along the way in the 2 hour or so of this series of talks, Mary describes herself as looking at fear in the more everyday experience and is not as interested in serious disorders, and that she sees herself as looking at fear in an integral way. It kind of doesn’t feel too integral to me.

Okay, I give some credit. There are some (maybe) useful ideas of her’s like RIA (Recognize, Identify, Address) individual fear, as a management approach. But it is for me a fairly limited treatment of things. Also, I’m not so enthusiastic about her idea about our fears (at an individual, emotional level) which can be so neatly categorized as being “factual” or “fictional.” I can see how she could build such categories but describing someone’s fear as being fictional might be problematic, or worst, demeaning.

As I just wandered here from my previous search of “the metaphor menu” and the whole problem associated with seeing living with a disease as a battle only, maybe I am more sensitive to seeing some fears as fictional and others as factual as maybe a not so ideal framimg. Then again, maybe our whole life is fictional. In way, maybe it is, so in a way maybe that is a factual part of life?

[Fisher: CB and I agree on this fuzzy boundary of fictional and factual, and the way they can get inflated with, respectively, abnormal and normal, of which btw is pretty much how all clinical professionals are heavily indoctrinated, and so it is not surprising to me a clinical psychologist type like Poffenroth would slide into the binaries of this study of fear(s) and build her theories and models upon that foundation—a very dubious one, and one that I do not promote in the true study called “fearology”]

CB: Towards the end of the second part of the series she did describe how difficult it can be to talk about fear, and with talking to colleagues about fear. That seemed to echo some of what you have talked about with regards to the tricky nature of fear and the difficulties in engaging people and academia in talking about and studying fear. So that part seemed to feel like a grappling with a more hidden aspect of fear that was otherwise somewhat absent in the series. At least the host Alie Ward used your work to make the claim that Fearology is a real word! More people who do that will make it so, perhaps. While she didn’t reference you properly, she did refer to your work and at the same time indirectly described you as an expert. The quote:

2.53 “Ward. Is Fearology a word?” . . .  3.20 “I looked it up and Fearology is, in fact, a real word, as it's been used in books about fear like: "Philosophy and Fearism - an East West Dialogue" [I initiated that book and was lead author, with my colleague from Nepal, Desh Subba] and a few other experts in stress and fear and anxiety use the word fearology so, I think it is a super critical field of study and thus I am throwing my weight behind making it an even realer, more commonly used word. Fearology. Let’s do this. Let’s talk about it," says Alie.

As I say I was glad I could listen mostly at 1.5 or 2x speed. I am a bit tired so maybe not as patient about this one. For a Dr. of status, I was not impressed with Poffenroth’s level of thinking on fear. I am sure she earned her Ph.D. She is well spoken and really does seem very versed in what she is describing. I also should be careful to not confuse her upbeat style with a stereotype of not being scholarly, but the ideas presented, which the host finds “mind-blowing,” do not seem to dig deeper into the nature of fear particularly. Her RIA idea kind of sums up her approach Recognize it, Identify it, Address it. And, I presume, move on from it. It is maybe ok at that level, but it seems limited to me now. Watching your videos appears to have me wanting more than I got here.

Then I ended my night of wandering the Internet, with the Fearology Centre page on the Apocatastasis Institute website.

Fisher: This is my latest ‘center within a center’ project, as I was invited by John Coleman, after he did an interview with me on his podcast on the topic of fear(ology) some months ago. This recent implant at the Apocatastasis Institute for the Humanities, is a humble initiative in the realm of alternatives in higher education. I look forward to working there as one of my sites of teaching/learning/activism in the world.

CB: At The Fearology Centerpage, I worked more or less from the bottom of the page to the top and ended with your video about "Education and Trust.” This video is very resonant for me. Hearing one of your favourite quotes from Albert Camus (1946) re: the 20 century will be “the century of fear” is a good one. I have heard you refer to this quote before. For whatever reason it sunk in deeper for me this time around. You describing it as an achievement for humanity maybe is what did it. 

You also talked about Erik Erikson which resonated partly because I have picked up some of his work previously and have also been interested in it. For me it is an extension/companion of Maslow's needs hierarchy. I guess I like to categorize things. More personally, the ideas around the fundamental aspect of mistrust vs trust, or fear vs love, kind of hit home for me.


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Gail Bradbrook (UK), co-founder of Extinction Rebellion, gives a summary 34 min. talk on what she has learned over decades of trying to understand why the world systems are in collapse and why the activist movements are often not very successful to changing things. She is teaching we have to give up the idea that we can inluence governments and other power-money leaders to change in any real dramatic way that will make a difference to restore "aliveness" on this planet. She is teaching what research on Left and Right brain has to offer as well. I have long been a fan of that research and applications. The deeper 'roots' which she is after in analyzing what has gone so wrong, especially in the West (North), she emphasizes that it is a "spiritual crisis."

In 34 mins. she says a lot. At least, that's her view and of the many she collaborates with, reads their studies, and co-ordinates change with. I agree with lots of her diagnosis summary of the 5000 years that we have been constructing this Dominant worldview of self-hate and destruction; the pathology is real and she tells how many Indigenous peoples and others have named this destructive 'force' (e.g., Wetiko, Windigo) and, then she concludes the talk with practical things we can do to both carry ourselves through the crisis (especially the mental health deterioration)--through the fear and hate, and how we can rebuild together in networks, local and global (the glocal). Full credit to her long efforts to lead in this vision and do the homework and risk her own comforts to be at the edge of this change. Yes, I have my critiques of XR and Bradbrook's "vision" etc., but that is not the most important thing... I recommend this video summary. 

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I've not yet listened to this talk, but I was really caught by the image in the background from The Matrix (1999) sci-fi movie. You may not know but I did my dissertation on this movie and linked it to my theorizing of the 'Fear' Matrix construct which I'd come up with a few years before, although I called it by a different name. With The Wachowski Bros. movie The Matrix, I saw the 'Fear' Matrix articulated and dramatized so 'perfectly' in many ways, as that interplay of the worst in human nature and machine nature, and in a sense how the two are a continuum of the same occurence on this planet. Anyways, it would be interesting to see what this talk by Kingsnorth is about and if these people talk about fear ('fear') and its role in this human vs machine (A.I.) debate --and, reality going on. 

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John Heron, eminent social scientist, artist, holistic educator, leader of co-counseling, has been a great inspiration (to me and others) in his written texts since the 1990s. A real pioneer in understanding the human condition, a true humanist with a transpersonal and creative approach to that understanding--he led many into healing work and empowering ways of being in his life time. I'm sad to hear he passed away last year, at age 94. He obviously lived a long and meaningful life. 

I came across a quote from him today in his important 1996 book Co-operative Inquiry, which definitely hit home for me in terms of how to practice inquiry and research with an epistemology (and attitude) of "fearlessness." Heron wrote, 

"This world of primary meaning [and radical perception with it] is unrestricted perception, consciousness--world union, which is anterior to every distinction [dualism] including that of consciousness and nature (Merleau-Ponty, 1962). It is apprehended by a fearlessness which, 'means being able to respond accurately to the phenomenal world  altogether. It simply means being accurate and absolutely direct in relating with the phenomenal world by means of your sense perceptions, your mind and your sense of vision [aesthetics]' (Trungpa, 1986:31). Attunement with the other, empathy, harmonic resonance, is the way of communion, of participating in the interior world of the other. It grounds and complements and is inseparable..." (p. 120). 


Heron, J. (1996). Co-operative inquiry: Research into the human condition. Sage.


The above quote is so important to me in my fearwork, because as I have been promoting the path of fearlessness (since 1989), many still think fear and fearlessness is all about emotions and feelings and behaviors that counter them. That is so partial and incomplete, as to be nearly useless to what true fear(lessness) is about in the dynamic of what Heron, Merleau-Ponty, and Trungpa are referring to. An epistemological fear(lessness) is the concept that needs to be taught to everyone a lot more. 




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Disruption into and amongst "Systems" of the banal and everyday, is a huge route to creative innovation, and not just for the fun of it. It can be potently productive, say recent researchers on organizational dynamics: [excerpt] 

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Being fearless [1] sometimes requires going where no one else has gone — or, in the case of underrepresented groups, going where no one like you has ever gone.

We noticed many companies on CNBC’s Disruptor 50 list check one of those boxes. While disruptive innovation is the core thread among all companies on the ranking, many of this year’s honorees have a unique business model centered around social or environmental purpose, 13 have a female founder, and 14 have CEOs representing racial and ethnic minorities. Triple Pundit’s recent article on sustainability innovators was just as inspiring, full of scientists and entrepreneurs who aren’t afraid to do something different.

Below, we feature several organizations and individuals who are working fearlessly to conquer challenges and shape a better world — as well as many investors who support others who are disrupting the status quo. They inspire us with their bold actions and courage in the face of adversity. We hope you find them as inspiring as we do.



Note 1. I have typically critiqued the business world on its use of "fearless" which it never defines. See my critical blog on use of the term in the FM ning some days ago. 

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John Coleman, Apocatastasis Institute,

My colleague John Coleman, founder of Apocatastasis: Institute for the Humanities, sent me this troubling but real article on truth of the growing problem of anxiety, fear and mistrust in the entire fabric of higher education these days. Gen Z, the digital-kids, are particularly plagued with (from an extract): 

"We are often right to be careful, cautious, watchful, wary, chary or circumspect. A certain level of cynicism can be healthy. Each of us has been browbeaten, manipulated, stage-managed, swayed and taken advantage of, and no one likes being conned, deceived, duped, hoodwinked, sweet-talked or taken in.

But distrust can also be toxic, fueling anxiety and suspicion. it is all too easy for a healthy skepticism to lapse into paranoia. Indeed, Wilkinson-Ryan’s theme is that “the ‘healthy’ skepticism we inevitably acquire as a result of experiencing fraud and living amongst bad actors may not be healthy at all and that our fear of being a fool causes us to be less generous, less kind and less compassionate than we truly want to be.” As a result, we’re less likely to give our students the benefit of the doubt." 

[for the full article, go to: https://www.insidehighered.com/opinion/blogs/higher-ed-gamma/2023/06/02/trust-gap-higher-education

[apocatastasis - is a theological term for restoration of perfection once again]

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Philosophy of Fearism or FEARISM philosophy, whatever way one constructs these, is a historical (potentially grand and radical) turn in philosophy, and like many other turns before it, there needs to be serious investigation into this turn and its reasons for wanting to make a turn in the way philosophy itself is perceived, constructed, and operates. Any top-notch political movements would do well to be informed by fearism philosophy.  -rmf


I often encourage folks to study fear(lessness) with expanded imaginaries rather than old school only ideas and imagination. I ask the learners be open and curious. Lurking amongst the history of ideas about fear are limitations as well as the benefits of careful study. However, in the late 20th century, a new turn had occurred with the emergence of two concepts "fearism" (Fisher) and "philosophy of fearism" (Subba). This blog will not cover that history of new thinking on the topic as there are lots of resources now published to do so [1]. But if you were around in the 1990s, for e.g., there was no way to study fear that truly provided a new philosophy of fear at the same time. 

Okay, enough on the history of ideas and their politics. Let me now turn to the subject of this blogpost, which spun from my watching last night the fascinating historical/drama film by Raoul Peck (2017) The Young Karl Marx. Without resorting to a marxophobic reaction as so many do in the West (especially N. A.) and around the world with fears of socialism and communism, let's back off that fear-based move and keep open and curious, and let the criticism fly later. My colleagues and I are promoting fearism not Marxism per se. 

Peck's film relates to my wanting to talk to Feurbach's philosophical turn in the mid-19th century that Marx and Engels fed from as young revolutionaries in Europe and Britain. It relates indirectly to my desire to elaborate a simple summary purpose of philosophy of fearism and clarify for readers why is this an important history of ideas to name fear(ism) as a philosophical base and movement itself. But before I dive into Ludwig Andreas von Feuerbach(1804-72) and his great influence on W. thinkers like Darwin, Marx, Freud, Engels, Wagner and Nietzsche, for examples, let me say a bit more about the Peck film and my attraction. 

I am attracted to any teachings that helps one understand the status quo and its oppositions, the latter being ideas, discourses, and/or movements that challenge and critique the mainstream (sometimes called the Old World view). We see a young 20's something Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels meeting and building a manifesto to challenge the Old World (largely unjust) ways of doing economics and labor relations. A good movie review (Arnoff, 2018) says this is the film the younger generations have been waiting for, those who are tired of the only two alternatives battling under Capitalism vs. Communism. No, there is a third way, called Socialism.

The young Marx was a leading ground philosopher and Engels a sound boots-on-the-ground scientific-empirical thinker of socialism, who saw what was needed to reform labor relations (i.e., classism). That's a great thing in the history of ideas and movements for positive change--in fighting oppression. And the film shows how brash the young philosophers were and the risks they took for what they believed in. The Young Karl Marx is entertaining too but it is "a theory laden movie" an "ideological coming-of-age story" [2]. It depicts some of the real strengths and flaws of revolutionaries and philosophers. It shows that all philosophers also have their politics and there is plenty of clashing. The young brash Marx is obnoxious and angry and determined. His flaws showed and it was clear he needed mediated help from allies like his Jenny and Engels and many others. It takes a community to change the world --to bring about revolution. Clearly, Marx and Engels failed overall, as have many other philosophers to bring about the change they wanted--that is, their ideals. Although, for sure, arguably, much good did change because of these thinkers and those around them that they drew upon, like the ideas of Feuerback and Proudhorn, for examples. 

What was Marx's main complaint? There are many things he critiqued of the status quo, but I'll stay in this blogpost with the philosophical ones, and relate those to Feuerbach's critique and then finally to the philosophy of fearism critique today. 

Understanding Feuerbach's Radical Descent and Philosophical Turn 

First, I admit I have not read Marx and Engels and Feuerbach, other than those mostly who have written about them. I have drawn often on philosopher Ken Wilber to understand these thinkers and their movements they produced in the history of philosophy and in the evolution of consciousness itself--the latter is my most interest. Ultimately, as a fearist thinker myself, I want to know the intimate link between consciousness and fear. I'll return to that later. 

Secondly, I am not for or against Marxism, or Communism or Socialism. I am curious what each of these ideological movements, sets of ideas and their leaders have to offer for a better (less oppressed) humanity--and, that ultimately would be a way to lead the world be be more sane, ecologically sustainable and a healthy place to raise children. 

Thirdly, I am not an ideologue per se, in that I am pushing any "ism" and think all other forms of thought (and isms) are crap. Such exclusionist and reductive (and highly political) thinking doesn't make for good philosophy. Now, I am not a professional philosopher either, and I am want to critique philosophy and even poke fun at it, as we see in the young brash Karl Marx. 

Fourthly, let me say in summary in my own words, without a lot of research on Feuerbach, what I think was happening in these 19th century revolutionary storms of ideas, ideologies, critiques and new offerings of how to live more justly and fair. I simply, woke up this morning, after watching the movie last night, and in my hypnopompic state and darkness of the bed, I am starting to link things. I know Desh Subba has written a lot in the past few years on his fearism critique of Marxism, etc. This is all lingering in the back of my mind. I want to explain what Subba is doing with his version of fearist thinking and some of my own thoughts. So, begin, I say, and write something to start it off here, and the FM ning is as good a place as any to jot down these notes. The largest power in philosophy of the early to mid-19th century seemed to be Hegelian thought. It was Idealistic. It was stunning in depth and scope, but it lacked a practical empirical substantiation. Feuerbach, then Marx (amongst others) were looking for the strengths and fault-lines in Idealism [3] as a way to bring about any real revolution in society, and their criticism was aimed at Hegel and philosophical academicians and at the pompous "young Hegelians" in politics as well. So, Marx and Engels led a socialist attack on "abstraction" (and Hegelian thought and political spin from it). Marx was looking for ideas to turn around Hegelian philosophy in politics and economics. He later would call this class-critique and critique of oppression in general. But before that, I want to focus on the historical evolution of the ideas of criticism that the young Marx was propagating so passionately. So, let me turn to some expertise knowledge beyond my own, from scholars like Wilber and Collins [4], as starters. 

Collins (1998) a sociologist, and a conflict theorist of my own persuasion, is also a great historian of sociology. He has put his scholarship into studying global philosophies and their players and movements as a dynamic network of patterns of power, well worth understanding. Ideas-people-places-power flows are all important in this socioecology of philosophy. So, what does Collins offer us in understanding the core of mid-19th century Europe and the philosophical (political) turn going on and Feuerbach's location in it? In very brief, Collins noted in Germany history of thought and philosophical circles, several networks were going on, and by 1837-42 the "left-Hegelians" were following Feuerbach's philosophical critique mainly [5]. These were more "coffeehouse" like circles and less academicians centered in universities, while basically, they would not last long and German philosophy would move into the academy thereafter. The young Marx and Engels were part of the Feuerbach leftist socialist wing but eventually left it in developming their own critique. A big part of that critique, still following Feuerbach's critique of Hegelianism overall, was to move to a more materialism and secularism in their foundational philosophy--turning spiritual Hegel on his head, as it is often said by historians. They claimed Hegel has it all wrong, and that material was ultimately real, in opposition to Hegel's metaphyics of spiritual is ultimately real. Hegel's philosophy and its new spins could never, for Feuerbach and Marx be a foundation for a just society of labor relations and basic humanist values in the economic sphere of survival. Hegel was philosophy for the bourgeois (elites). 

Feuerbach criticized religion (Christianity) and broke with tradition and Hegelian sympathy for Christianity. "After Hegel's death came Feuerbach and Marx" (and others) [6] to dominate the intellectual waves of thought in philosophy and politics. The Battle of Sense and Soul (Material and Spiritual) (Descenders and Ascenders) continued at this time in history (and it still does). Feuerbach (then Marx) were fighting back to ground philosophy in the sense-world, anti-metaphysical, anti-abstract, anti-elitist. Wilber (1996), wrote, "There is a famous phrase, that after Hegel everybody was saying 'back to Kant!' [i.e., rationality and its grounding in the senses, and empiricism]" [7]. Wilber summarizes: "The collapse of Idealism left the Descenders [materialists] virtually unchallenged as the holders and molders of modernity....the Idealist current was snapped up by the industrial grid and converted, via Feuerbach and Marx, into a strongly materialistic and 'naturalistic' conception. It's almost impossible to escape the modern Descended grid, and after absolutely heroic attempts by the Idealists, they were hounded out of town by the troglodytes. And so Feuerbach, a student of Hegel, would soon announce that any sort of Ascent, was simply a projection of men and women's human potentials onto an 'other world' of wholly imaginative [false] origin. And, according to Feuerbach, it is exactly this ['fear'] projection of human potential onto a 'divine' sphere that cripples men and women and is the true cause of self-alienation" [8]--and, concomitantly, such 'fear' projection as I call it and existentialists like Becker would call it immortality projection, there is a weakening and vulnerability created to exploit that alienated and wish-filled man by the world of the senses-material and economic exploitation. "Get real!" is the Descender-call, the Feuerbach-Marxist charge here. Then, they argue, we can resist and avoid exploitation of workers and the poor, by those who would seduce us into being 'slaves' (labor) for this so-called higher divine spiritual end, of which the elites propogate as ideology in the name of the bourgeois church, state, and corporations. Real empowerment was grassroots, secularist, modernist, and a Descender movement in consciousness itself. 

Wilber (1995), a 'neo-Hegelian' of sorts (but an integralist philosopher), today argues, we humans of the West especially, have not recovered yet from this massive philosophical turn and 'blow' (collapse) of the Kosmos into the materialist explanation for everything--a worldview of only the seeable and matter-based substance is real [9]. Engels would pen, "nothing exists" apart from nature and human beings....The enthusiasm was general; we were all for the moment followers of Feuerbach." Wilber laments, "And the entire modern and postmodern world is, in effect, the followers of Feuerbach" [10]. The larger philosophical question for our time is: What impact on consciousness itself is such a Descender victory?" It has big problems, so Wilber and I argue. 

'Fear' Projection and It's Mighty Problems

Feuerbach then was a philosopher of mighty insight and leadership capability obviously. Marx took it further, and others have taken it further too. This is nothing to dismiss too easily as nonsense. What intrigues me as Wilber analyzes the Feuerbachian (r)evolution of thought, he points out the critique of the materialists toward the spiriitualists (or at least the idealists), is that the latter are projecting ideals for human beings (i.e., their higher human potential and empowerment) onto the divine fantasies and constructions and dogmas around them (e.g., religion). "Projection" is a powerful psychological term, and it is argued by many (including myself) as a fear-projection (or 'fear' projection, as I prefer)--by which a certain inferiority complex in the human is projecting onto the immortal and trying to find a "fearless" representation of identity to attach to to make them feel better (be less fearful of mortality), etc. This complex projection phenomenon, driven by fear-based thought is pathological. Wilber sees this too, as do I. But the materialist philosophies were also trying to point this out and correct it with their own cura philosophy of the time (e.g., secular materialist, and humanist, modernist). Fine. But they could not see their own fatal flaw in the materialist (Feuerbachian factor) turn. That's the point of an integralist critique (a la Wilber), which I prefer, and going beyond that it is my contention that the very ones critiquing the spiritualist philosophies had their own fear-based agenda and ideology as in their form of rejection and criticism. They would not turn that projection critique on their own positionality, and philosophies and politics--that is, on their own self-alienation and diminishment of consciousness itself. Wilber (1995, 1996), for example, tells this story of the unfortunate binary of Ascenders-Descenders, in what is a compelling philosophical story and critique. I recommend you read his lengthy analysis. But yes, Wilber agrees, fear-based projections are on both sides of this battle for reality, and Ascenders only are just as bad as Descenders only. That's the point. It creates massive pathologies at all levels of society and the world and a lot of toxic destruction has shown itself because of the failures of modernity and postmodernity (post-Feuerbachian factor). 

So, along comes this late 20th century, early 21st century new fearism philosophy (a la Fisher-Subba) as another corrective to the Feuerbachian corrective--and, a new battle for philosophy and politics, and how to best live generally, is underway. History of philosophy is like that. History of ideas is not static. And, fearism presents new ideas (and old) and offers up a new menu of choices. At least, that's the argument I wish to remind readers of. Check it out yourself. 

What fearism offers is a re-visioning of what is the basis of existence, and it concludes "fear" is the basis, and it precedes essence and all else that is real. With that, there is no need to be depressed about it. For "fear" in the fearism lens, from the fearist perspective, is not merely negative, not merely an emotion or feeling or defense. And, from there a new story of human potential and corrective to the pathologies of history and philosophy are ready to take shape. But, will it ever get off the ground? Will it every be applied in important places of society? We don't know that yet. The Fearism movement (like Fearlessness Movement) are very nascent, at least, in their current forms. I have always argued, however, that fear(lessness) is foundational to life and evolution. They are ancient forces and intelligences waiting to be tapped by us. We still have to wake up to this potential, and I believe (like Subba, and some others) "fear" is a great channel for this awakening, for this paradigm shift and new philosophy.  


End Notes

1. E.g., see Fisher, R. M., and Subba, D. (2016). Philosophy of fearism: A first East-West dialogue. Xlibris; and Fisher, R. M. (2022). Philosophy of fearism: A primer. Xlibris. 

2. See Arnoff, K. (2018). The Young Karl Marx: A film whose time has come. The Intercept. https://theintercept.com/2018/03/13/the-young-karl-marx-a-film-whose-time-has-come/

3. Keep in mind that intellectuals, E. and W. at this time, says Collins, "were cosmopolitans" and globalist and more universalist in outlook and philosophies and "Idealism is cosmopolitanism in religion; it is religious thought argued out independently of dogma and tradition. That is why Idealism everywhere is the favored philosophy in the transitional generation of secularizing reformers" (p. 686). 

4. Wilber, K. (1995). Sex, ecology and spirituality: The spirit of evolution (Vol. 1). Shambhala; Collins, R. (1998). The sociology of philosophies: A global theory of intellectual change. The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press. 

5. Collins (1998), pp. 530-1. 

6. Ibid., p. 686. 

7. Wilber, K. (1996). A brief history of everything. Shambhala, p. 282. 

8. Ibid., p. 283. 

9. Wilber (1995). 

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Over the 34 years studying the way people perceive, think, talk, teach and preach about fear (and fearlessness), has led me to many conclusions, hypotheses, theories and a philosophy around this topic. It has never ceased to amaze me how difficult it is to find people who really want to learn something fresh and new about fear (and, typically, concomitantly that means they are likewise not very interested to learn anything new or fresh about fearlessness or fearless). 

Basically, it is not their fault they are so unwilling and uninterested to learn anew and to even transform their thinking and imaginaries about the nature and role of fear (and fearlessness). What I see over and over, generally, is their fixing in on some fav definition and conceptualization or even a theory or implicit philosophy that has grown. They have adopted such a philosophy and they teach it with such confidence. 

On one level, you'd think as an educator and human potential advocate that I would be happy that people learn anything about fear and then teach it confidently. You'd think. But that's where the subtlety comes in and disrupts what might be my easy default position to take on individuality and human expression and opinion. I am all for such a beginning of that individual attitude and teaching, even preaching, as long as it is not oppressive and "demanding" (as Yahweh recently uttered on their post here)--but that alone, that free speech agenda, and tolerance, is not what makes a systematic study and learning about fear happen. No, it will not go far. 

That limitation is part of why I began the Fearlessness Movement and its mission "to better understand..." (that's exactly what this website is about)-- and, I'll leave you all with the educative challenge as a community of learners to really look at our self, our conditioning, without blame and attack or loathing, without fear that we are doing something wrong IF we are not so confident in preaching about fear. Good intentions to give advice about fear, a mainstay, of the teacher or preacher, is often a shallow pattern of knowledge pretending to be way more than it is because the intentions of goodness and helping are seen by the individual as their motivation for "sharing." 

True fearlessness work, as a path of learning and transformation, requires so much more than that "sharing"--I guess that's my main intervening point in this short blog. After 34 years of fear study, I can tell you, and I publish on this all the time, there is less confidence I know what I am talking about or even preaching about. 

One of the things that regularly disturbs me in the common discourses that have shaped people's minds, is they think they know what not only "fear" is all about but they utter the term "fearless" or even "fearlessness" as if they know exactly what that is. Maybe they do, in their own minds. But I ask, what theory of fear(lessness) are you utilizing to make your truth claims, your offerings of advice and your expressions? I am not saying here nor have I ever said, "stop sharing people because you don't know enough" and I am not saying either "you should listen to me because I know better." That said, some will definitely interpret that is what I am saying and publishing about in my work. 

The nuances of my points above, could be debated, and I'm glad to do so as part of the learning here on this FM ning. To offer but the most basic outline of a "theory" and a good deal of how I think about these topics, go to my book The World's Fearlessness Teachings: A Critical Integral Approach to Fear Management/Education for the 21st Century" (2010). That publication is one of many of mine. It also lists hundreds of references I have looked at and suggests where you can learn more about these topics. To end here, my short thesis in that book (based on 20 years of research) is that "fearless" is quite completely misunderstood by most people and "fearlessness" is even less understood. I create an integral developmental theory (from a fearlessness perspective) in that book. The theory says that we need to speak much more carefully about our ideas re: fear and how we manage it and educate ourselves and others around it. I call for a new improved and critical Fear Education 101. 

My basic developmental (evolutionary) theory of fear (management) goes through several distinct (albeit, overlapping) phases or stages--each with its own particular intelligence and adaptive strategies to manage fear:

Stage 1 - No Fear,

Stage 2 - Bravery,

Stage 3- Courage(ous),

Stage 4 - Fear Less,

---------------'Fear' Barrier (abyss) ----------

Stage 5 - Fearlessness

Stage 6 - Fearless.

I ask people to look at the data, the arguments, the references, the logic and the intuitions behind why I have used this language and these categories. I want to upgrade our poor fear education generally to get it up to snuff with the 21st century demands upon us as a species. 

Let's learn more together! 




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Our Fearlessness Movement: 138 Members

Hi all, just wanted to encourage you all to take time to look through this FM ning site, to search in the upper (right hand) box on the front page for topics and see what shows up here, and/or start your own Blog writing and sharing, and of course Forum Discussion threads are also available and sharing Photos. Look forward to what 138 people can do IF we decide to work and connect and play together to revision a world that is not "fear-based" at its core, but shifts to a "fearlessness-based" approach to everything! 

Of course, then we have to study and learn and create, and check out reflectively what it iis we think we already know about fear and fearlessness, and that maybe we don't agree with others' views about these topics and/or we may have to be honest we don't know as much as we think we know. We can co-inquire, debate, dialogue, and travel respectfully, together, or alone or a bit of both--that fact is, this is an online community that can work for us or it can remain a 'shell' with little life in it. Our choice... 

Looking forward to continuing the sailing... 

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