fear territory (3)


R. Michael Fisher, Ph.D.

Philosophy of Fear is a welcomed contribution to the world of theology, philosophy and any serious thinking about the nature and role of fear, love, courage and fearless action. Yes, other philosophers throughout time have taken on these subjects before. It is however, Eneyo’s relatively new angle on these topics that is exciting as an interpretive framing with a practical application of guidance for a very wide public readership.

I am especially honored to be asked to write a brief Foreword, and that that request comes from across the world in Nigeria, where Eneyo lives and writes. There is something happening in Nigeria around the topic of fear. Some months ago I was invited to write a similar brief contribution for a new book by Osinakachi Akuma Kalu, a young up and coming Nigerian fearologist.

Eneyo’s book is a gathering of a lot of years of experienced thinking and writing. His formal higher education in philosophy comes through on every page. Yet, he keeps the work readable and non-esoteric. Like Kalu’s work, he has been attracted to the new angle, new lens, that is emerging in the last few decades, where there is a fundamental shift in consciousness and perspective regarding the philosophy of fear. Both authors utilize Desh Subba’s discovery of a philosophy of fearism.

Subba is a poet, writer, and public intellectual born and raised in Nepal, now living in Hong Kong. There’s a curious close interconnection I have witnessed in Subba’s fearism conception that is appealing to the Nigerian thinkers on fear today—with Kalu and Eneyo, both Christian thinkers interestingly, taking on the leading work to develop their own interpretations of fearism, yet relying somewhat on the fearism declaration that fear is fundamental to all human behavior and because of that it ought to be given its own philosophical label—that is, fearism. If there is existentialism, or rationalism, why not fearism? That’s the direction Subba has led and several other thinkers are following.

For my part, as a seasoned scholar on the nature and role of fear, taking a transdisciplinary and internationalist perspective for three decades, I am also a ‘Westerner’ and white person born and raised in Canada, while having recently lived in the USA for nine years. I have a very different perspective on fear and its management and I have been exposed to much different literature on fear as well, different from my colleagues above. Although, we also have some overlaps. I truly have enjoyed their openness to connect with me and my work and I’m sure there will be more such collaborations in the near future.

Before I comment directly on some of the content of Eneyo’s first book on the topic of fear, I want to say that he is courageous to align his thinking with the wide-open territory of the philosophy of fear. I too have been interested in this topic and territory but it has not always been easy to tell who is researching and writing in this area of philosophy of fear. Some are doing so but have not named it as such, and others like the Norwegian philosopher Lars Svendsen have used “philosophy of fear” in a recent book title. Yet, only a rare few philosophers have ever focused on developing consistently a philosophy of fear per se. This is where Eneyo has stepped over the boundaries of traditional and incorporated the new fearism, producing his own version and branch, school, of a philosophy of fear. Truly, it is remarkable to me to finally see more authors taking up this topic seriously. It is long overdue. And, it intrigues me how the various schools of philosophy of fear(ism) will evolve in the future, and what kinds of critical and creative dialogues will be established between the schools. I suggest this international movement could produce some good results to help humanity and continue to drive the forces of what I have labeled the global historical Fearlessness Movement.

Now to Eneyo’s book specifically. Although I do not endorse all his perspectives on the topic of fear(ism), he has a sincere voice in this book which deserves attention from people from all walks of life. I see that broad scope to reach many readers as important to his cause, just as important as his core mission. He is out to teach two major things: (1) fear needs to be interpreted as equally positive as negatively and the same goes for love (I appreciate his articulation of how even love can be negative sometimes and we must be critical of invoking love in our discourses) and, (2) “... courage and [positive] love are the greatest weapons to be used to manipulate any aspect of fear [management] to our advantage...[in order] to make a fearful or fearless decision” (p. 115).

Ultimately, like other authors in the Western world of North America, Eneyo repeats the imperative that we ought to be more fear-positivists (that’s my own term), which is traceable to at least Aristotle’s philosophy as well and that the real moral issue for Aristotle, is that we ought not try to avoid being afraid but rather to be wise and courageous (if not loving, in the Christian humanist sense) so that we don’t end up fearing that which we ought not fear what “does not actually deserve our fear” (as Eneyo suggests, p. 115). I encourage Eneyo and others to examine my own critique as well of fear-positivists and their discourse, which I believe has a down-side as well as an up-side. Anyways, the bottom line of Eneyo’s or Aristotle’s teaching is that we see fear as something more complex and dynamic, and especially as it interrelates with courage and love. I am all for that complexification of our knowledge systems regarding these topics.

In closing, an intriguing concept Eneyo offers to the subfields of fearism and fearology is his concept of “fear territory” (pp. 31-32), which it seems he must be an original in coining the term. He defines this in the book, and it is worthy of more study as a useful concept, somewhat analogous but different from my own expansive notion of “fearuality” or others who have written about the “ecology of fear,” and “geography of fear” in the social and biological sciences literature. The fear territory offers a geographical and philosophical metaphor to fear study and thus identifies a domain of human experiencing as a unit of research and reflection where “our decision [re: our relationship to fear] during this period [and location] can be either negative or positive” (p. 32).

This is consistent with the Subbaian philosophy of fearism in general, because Eneyo posits that fear is just that important to all human behaviors and decisions behind them—meaning, fear is the ground/territory itself upon which humans think and act. In this expansive view, fear is a grand relational and rational territory. Such a notion ought to prevent us from forms of reductionism when thinking about fear—a reductionism common in contemporary psychology where fear is reduced to only neurobiological and chemical sources and dynamics. In my own work I have introduced the necessity of ‘fear’ (with ‘ marks) to show the term is under deconstruction and reconstruction. The trained theological and philosophical perspective of Eneyo is, like Aristotle was in his own day, sharp enough to avoid that reductionism.

However, neither Aristotle nor Eneyo has taken on the postmodern mantle and created a ‘fear’ studies project for analysis paralleling the study of a philosophy of fear(ism). Future developments in the philosophy of fear by Eneyo and others I am sure will eventually lay the ground for dialogues of premodernists, modernists, postmodernists and beyond—we’ll need all this rich holisitic-integral discourse I believe to better understand the phenomena under investigation—be that fear and/or ‘fear.’ I am pleased Eneyo has engaged in his book some of my philosophy of fearlessness as part of articulating his own approach.

So, I wish this new book by Eneyo to have its success, especially on his own continent Africa, and that we all will learn more about fear management based on the kinds of responses to his work over the years.




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Book Title: Philosophy Of Fear: A Move To Overcoming Negative Fear

Author: Michael Eneyo 
Reviewed by: B.Maria Kumar, India.
Reminding the Hindu mythical Sagar Manthan, this cerebral work stands out as the outcome of the intellectual churning of the mind of the author Michael Eneyo, presenting complicated ideas on fear in a much simpler and tastier form; like Amrit, the divine nectar- ready to be drunk for attaining eternity. 
      Albeit an arduous task, the author makes his concepts and observations surrounding fear and their analysis interesting as well as captivating. In one of his positive interpretations of biblical verses, he says, “... the coming of Christ was to enthrone love and to encourage his followers not to be afraid as it is recorded in St.Mathew 1:20.” Such is the optimism that reflects his ideation so as to brighten the otherwise dimly lit path of human life. 
      The best part, explicitly visible in his style of approach, is that he resorted to antithetical treatment of various fear constructs for arriving at holistic reality because unless the opposites are taken into consideration, the enquiry is incomplete. 
      The author views Subba as fear positivist in the sense that the positive side of fear outweighs the negative and Kalu as fear negativist for the contrary there-to. The author also interprets the stratagem of Kumar and Sushmita as fear negativistic. The three perspectives, according to him, are tinged with opposite orientations, rather in subtle manner. Then he fuses the whole gamut of different viewpoints in the Fisherian crucible of fearlessness, thereby reaching a beautiful philosophical synergy; when he propounds, “.... opposite is a natural characteristic of every being and none can be eliminated.... they necessitate each opposite’s existence.... positive fear must continue to struggle with the negative fear using fearless approach....” 
      While journeying by the train of his thoughts, the author finds himself in a never ending ‘fear territory’ where he exhibits his unique knack of rhetoric with scintillating coinages like ‘fear conflict’, ‘fear dilemma’, ‘fear climax’ etc. These new vocabularies expand the human mind to understand fear more insightfully as Lera Boroditsky, a cognitive scientist infers from her research that the new words and new dialects do shape the way we think.
      In order to elucidate the multifaceted nature of fear more succinctly, the author has intelligently developed a typology of fear, making each segment of category not only unambiguous but also easily comprehensible. The fear that poses as challenge turns creative and proactive and results in productivity whereas that fear which confronts as procrastination gets translated into underdevelopment, he reasons. 
      ‘How fear is generated?’ has been systematically discussed in the chapter on ‘the process of fear’. Like a manufacturing procedure, where one component gets converted into the other by a step-by-step method, fear process also takes its route through six phases, culminating into consequences or effects- kudos to the author for bringing the entire fear genesis to a logically plausible end with ‘reason’ as ‘catalyst’. 
      Congruent to dual nature of fear as to its positive and negative results, its impact on humans and society has also been examined in both constructive and destructive terms. With the support of corroborative real life examples, the author has undoubtedly succeeded to prove his point that the fear which acts sometimes as a builder of society also turns into a destroyer at times and some other times as a guarantor for success whereas at times becoming responsible for failure. 
      For managing fear, the author takes recourse to love and courage. Positive love controls positive fear, negative love controls negative fear; he deduces by narrating day-to-day experiences from his home land. He also explains how ‘courage’ suppresses the tensions unleashed by negative fear. He intends to surmise that ethically and morally driven decisions alone can control negative fear. Also, righteous socioeconomic-psychological environment backed by value based educational and legal systems help overcome negative fear. 
      The last parts of the book enthuse the readers to empathise with Nigerians, pondering over the fact as to how negative fear played havoc resulting in the country’s backwardness, that could not only be rectified but even be bounced to bubbling economic resurgence with dedicated adherence to and spirited application of positive fear.
      In essence, I would like to conclude my review by affirming that this wonderful philosophical treatise on fear has been very thoughtfully conceived, logically sequenced, intelligently chaptered, analytically explained and convincingly presented. I admire the cognitive toiling and the intellectual labour that the author Michael Eneyo has put in while crafting this masterpiece.
Co Author, The Youth Don't Cry,
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 The upcoming book Philosophy of Fear is a philosophical manual developed by me to aid human persons overcome the existential limitations imposed on humanity by fear. In this book, I recognizes two categories of fear: The positive and the negative and I blamed all forms of negative activities of human persons to negative fear, while I attributes all aspects of positive developments to positive fear.

The tenet of this book is that; there is fear everywhere and that this fear is fundamental to all beings. Hence, philosophy of fear as a philosophical school of thought, ought to be given its own seat in the educational environment with its unique brand name: "Philosophy of Fear" or "Fearism". As a book designed to investigate the nature, scope and the role of fear in human society, philosophy of fear is out to offer expanding opportunities to the study of fear and its related challenges.

In suggesting a workable methodology to the solution to fear problems, i adopted unification-complementary approach in advancing my philosophical arguments, where fear and fearless/courage (the opposites) are investigated in a unified and in a complementary manner in order to have a complete knowledge about fear. I am of the opinion that, unless opposites are  taken into consideration, enquiry is incomplete.

In making fearful/fearless decisions therefore, the book uses love-courage as a panacea for decision making within the framework of Fearism. In this expanding investigation, I incidentally ended up in place where all fearful things are found which I refered to as in this book, "Fear Territory". Thus, fear territory is an open ended research zone that can accommodate all fearologists or any body who wants to study fear.

Such words like: faculty of fear, fear coalition, fear conflicts, amalgamation of fear, fear climax, potentiality of fear, history of fear, negative fear expeller, etc, have been coined to demonstrate the workings and the operational patterns of fear.

The book is an interpretative, analytical, explanatory, logical and of course, philosophical guide to the intrigues of fear and how it can be overcome. I urge you all to be ready to grasp your copy.

Author: Michael Eneyo.

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