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fear (24)

Hello,

I would be very interested in a visual representation of the dialectics suggested in Wilber's model, between healing and growing, awakening and presencing.

I am not sure how to get started on this:  it brings up some fear, perhaps in part because Ken's work doesn't address trauma very well.

Durwin

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I have just co-authored and published "Education, Theology and Fear: Two Priests and a Fearologist in Dialogue" (Technical Paper No. 61)... I highly recommend you check this out at Department of Integral and 'Fear' Studies (scroll down for a free pdf). 

HINT(S) FOR THE WISE

You may be wondering what is Michael up to now with this "theology" kick? 

I have been asking this question really sincerely for the past six months, since I have met both Emmett Coyne and Terry Biddington, the two priests (American, British) who have taken up my work on fear and fearlessness like no others in my career so far. And, yes, more or less, the three of us are discussing what a "theology of fear" (healthy-side, and unhealthy-side) might look like in the 21st century. 

Today, while journaling, I came into a long series of rather spontaneous connections, going way back to my interest in "theodicy" (of Good vs. Evil)... now, and since the 1989 founding of the In Search of Fearlessness Project, Love vs. Fear has been one of the core foundations of me working through what a "metaphysics of fear" could look like. 

That's enough hints... for why you may want to read this dialogue in tech. paper no. 61 ... There will be a lot more coming on this, because it seems "pressing" (or "calling") upon my soul to articulate this better-- much better-- than I have to this point. And, to finally, wet your appetite, the ongoing study of fear ('fear') now 27 years in progress is by any other name a code-word for evil ('evil') -- and, this is big stuff ... it has eluded me, and then revealed itself, and then eluded me -- my forensic fearanalysis is getting better at seeing through what it is I am on about here on this planet... ha ha! 

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As an educator, and as a critic of when certain ideas are promoted as propaganda, and distorted, I have to be concerned. Truly, I'd rather put my attention on more positive productions of my own work on fearlessness, for example. But when it comes to "fear" and our knowledge about it, I am on the path of the sacred warrior real fast. A defender of the dharma, as Ken Wilber has been called. I too am not about to leave knowledge about fear and its management alone--if, I see it is creating more problems than good. Now, the latter is not so easy to prove, and indeed, that's not my task. Other's with funding dollars and research support teams can go out there and prove the harmful effect levels of anything. I don't have that research team nor the resources to do it. I can be a good philosopher however, and that means offering a good critique--of everything. That said, I don't want to waste my time on everything-- I "waste" my time where I think I couldn't live with myself if I didn't say something. That topic of compelling interest is fear (by any other name). 

One major critical philosophical tradition has been to critique ideologies. I am talking about fear-based, fear-mongering distortions of knowledge. Now, there is not a premise in such critiques that persons, or organizations, etc. are consciously trying to reproduce toxic ideologies, nor do they want to do fear-mongering. But everything anyone publishes is potentially doing that if we are not consciously reflecting on what is being taught in discourses (e.g., how do we talk about fear). Well, there is an awful lot of talk about fear and an even greater volume these days of writing about it. I follow books on Amazon.com to watch how quickly a new book comes out on fear--like it seems every few months. All the authors have an agenda, and they want to help us be less afraid, and/or be only afraid of the right things, not the wrong things. That alone, on the surface is admirable and even ethical. But as critical philosophers, since at least Aristotle, have known, you can be right about something but be motivated by the wrong source and create unethical results. Carl Jung is somewhat famous, as a psychotherapist and theorist of the human psyche for his elaboration of the enantiodromia syndrome he found quite universal in most of modern human history and in people he observed. That syndrome boils down to a kind of 'law' of human behavior that goes like this (paraphrasing Jung): Those that try hard to do good end up (usually) doing bad. That is, the opposite results. 

So, if I as a researcher are looking for such syndromes, and I do, there is no greater source of cases of such as in the literature on fear management/education. I won't go into all the reason for why--but a good deal of my arguments can be found in my books and articles over the decades. One of the first steps to such critical analysis (i.e., fearanalysis) is to see how contradictions show up in common sense ("wisdom") of a society, a group, a writer/teacher, etc. So, here's one example that just popped-out at me today while researching new books on fear (the following are from the self-help genre): 

The example is Christian authors (but believe me, if you will, my research could find a similar case in secular writers). So, one author in a new book on fear (Jeanetta Dunlop, Unmasking Fear) writes: "As divine beings we are entitled to live a fear-fear life." 

The next Christian author (David Jeremiah, Slaying the Giants in Your Life), unknowingly, in distinct contradiction to the above author, writes, "The Bible, as a matter of fact, doesn't paint a picture of the fear-free life." 

Okay, I have to ask if I am selecting very specific quotes out of context and juxtaposing them to make my case of a contradiction in Christian teachings (at least by these two authors)? It is a slight possibility I am biasing this because I haven't read their books. I don't know them. I am speculating, but logically so, via a reading of one line of text, which is a "teaching"-- which has implications for readers. I ask, but what is a reader of such texts supposed to believe now? Which author is telling the best truth? I could go on an on as an educator and as part of a critical analysis... asking these questions. My reason for confidence in just how contradictory these authors are (as selected from many possibilities) is because I have read many such books by all kinds of people across as many diverse backgrounds as possible, over 27 years. If that makes me a bit of an expert on predicting where an author is likely going (in most cases, not all)--I can predict pretty well, and I have seen the pattern pretty well. In the self-help books, it seems people skew knowledge the most readily. Hey, we all skew somewhat anything we are passionate about to want to write a book about so we can help others by how we think we have been helped. I appreciate that desire. 

The ideological part of my criticism, however, is less forgiving, because these typical books on fear and its management/education, never critique themselves reflectively. The authors who write about fear don't seem to have that basic philosophical and ethical imperative in their work. I just do not see it (the rare exception is out there). 

I look at how there is so much contradiction about "fearless" these days-- is it good, is it bad? The volumes of teachings on fear and fearlessness is growing rapidly because of the era we are in--people are looking hard, and are quite 'desperate' for answers. Oh, yeah, and rarely do they read other authors and cite them in their own particular book or on their own particular promotional videos. Oh, no, they like to present their knowledge about fear as if it is their own great discovery, and if it worked for them then it will work for you. They are quick to flaunt their own philosophies. 

I think I've made my general point, of how this mess... of contradictions... and insufficiently good knowledge, often unethical knowledge... is splattering all over our children and parents, and so on... all over our societies... at least in the West. The East doesn't seem so obsessed with this. And my colleague in the philosophy of fearism (Desh Subba) tells me it is because the W. is much more fearful than the East. Now, there's an interesting thesis to test... as years go by. 

No, I'm not offering any advice on my critique here. You can ask if you want to know more. I'd rather, like you to think about it, and do your own research well, whenever someone says something about fear and its management as if they know what they are talking about. 

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"Wicked Problem(s)" is a term that Watkins & Wilber (2015) use in juxtaposition to the term "Wise" (for wisdom applied) (1). Wicked is potentially 'evil' (live, spelled backwards) because of the immense destructivity it carries individually and collectively. So, the other meaning is extremely difficult--challenging, to solve. For reasons, less-restimulating around "wicked" (in our W. historical past) and thus, not feeding into the growing excesses of mounting of fear people are already downloading and storing everyday, I'll take the useful 'call out' from W & W (2015) in their welcomed new book and just call these W-problems. W-problems can stand for a whole lot of things--like, world's problems--that is, problems seen from a worldcentric stance (worldview) (2). The subtitle of W & W's book is "How to Solve the World's Toughest Problems." Unfortunately, as I wish to report how their model of the Integral matrix is key in my work as well, they have (like most everyone) left out the toughest of the toughest of problems to solve in the world today (4)--you guessed it--the Fear Problem. Btw, check my latest book coming out in a few weeks on this problem (3). 

A couple things about their book which I admit I have not read it, but I read the last couple pages, which is typically of me--last is first--then, I know what I am getting into that will affect my decision to read the whole book or not. But before I go into the Integral matrix discussion they enter around "climate change" (a big W-problem), I want to say it is a delight to see Wilber is still going strong in writing (5) (as he has been "off" publishing for near a decade more or less) and has in 2014 "co-founded Source Integral and began developing the Integral Society initiative, which in collaboration with recognized global experts, will demonstrate how to develop human societies in the most comprehensive manner possible" (p. 296. This is the first book Wilber has written so extensively with another author on "solving" problems (applied). I think he has come to see that all his theory books and philosophy writings have now come to be ready to be more applied than ever as the W-problems are heating up. Good for him and his crew. And, I think the dedication of the book is worth quoting, not only to represent Wilber's worldcentric stance (or "Integral stance", see p. 293) but to show where W & W (and the Integral Movement) is coming from (at least, by noble intention): 

"We would like to dedicate this book to all those men and women around the world who look beyond their own needs and what they might want in life and serve a greater purpose than themselves. The people who can see that all of the issues we face, even problems within their own family, are our problems not 'yours' or 'mine.' Such a[n] [Integral, systems] stance reveals a deep understanding of the fact that we are not separate from each other and solving the world's toughest problems will need all of us." 

Well, such a dedication is clarifying at the general level, and it is not unfamiliar to me, as many authors have said such things. I would like to clarify the language with a little critique (I'll be brief). First, W & W have not, unfortunately, tuned-up to a language of the postmodern re: gender as they are using a very old binary of "men and women" and they say "look beyond their own needs" which is really, more accurately, for some of us working at worldcentric (Integral stance) like myself never seemingly possible as I live at the poverty-line, as I know other such individuals do. W & W obviously do not either know what that is like to live on the 'edge' or they are oblivious that it is an important factor for some of us at worldcentric operations in our work. So, "beyond" really ought to be clarified more accurately as "include their own needs" but do so within the context that "their own" also means the "world's needs" simultaneously. Lastly, they ought not to have used "not 'yours' or 'mine'" because, again, as I made my point above, the problems are both/and-- very much mine and very much the world's problems. I think a more integral-language could have been used for the otherwise lovely Dedication. 

The main point of this post is to move to the last pages of the W & W book (i.e., Appendix 6: Environmental Dimensions of Climate Change). Note, even if "climate change" is the signified W-problem, I believe both W & W would be in agreement to say that most all of the generalizations (theory) applied in Appendix 6 could be applied to any W-problem in the book and beyond what's in the book. I make that assumption. The most important reason I make that assumption is because of my interest in applying the "Integral matrix" (p. 292) more or less in my critical integral fearology work. I have been doing this for some 20+ years. I have also not been able to convince Wilber that my work is important, meaning, that my/our/world work on the Fear Problem is qualifying of dignity as a W-problem. Again, it is ignored in this latest book, and Wilber well knows that I have introduced him to my work on this problem since the early 1990s (we corresponded). Be that as it may, let me proceed to make the linkages so you may see (perhaps) how powerful the Integral matrix and vision-logic (apersperspectival-integral consciousness) and worldcentric worldview is when applied to "fear" (i.e., the World's Fear Problem). Fearology, as I have crafted it over the decades, is as "wicked" of a methodology (a W-methodology) as is the W-problems--in particular, Fear Problem (see Fisher, 2010 (6)).

I agree with W & W that the book Integral Ecology is "brilliant" (p. 292). Esbjorn-Hargens & Zimmerman (2009) produced an outstanding Integral assessment of the ecological and environmental problem(s) and the many diverse (often conflicting) individuals and groups trying to solve it. The assumption behind their book, following Wilber's basic Integral matrix conceptualization, is that (citing Esbjorn-Hargens) "No single method (e.g., level) can by itself 'see' or reveal climate change in its entirety." W & W reiterate (via Wilber's words) "You can't [realistically] honor various methods and fields, without showing how they fit together. That is how to make a genuine world philosophy." (p. 296). Integral matrix framework provides (arguably) the only and best truly Integral approach that values all the perspectives, fields, methods, and organizes them into a wise and compassionate model (a "theory of everything"; see, e.g., Wilber, 1996 (7)). Shift to the analogy (homology) of E & Z from "ecology" to "fearology"--and, at that point, everything you think you know about "fear" is about to change into multi-dimensional wickedness (dare, I say). And, I agree with E & Z and W & W that: "... our point in all of this is that wicked problems are wicked primarily because they are not approached from an equally wicked, complex, encompassing [i.e., aperspectival] multi-dimensional Integral stance" (p. 293).

I would add to this claim, which the "Integrals" never themselves seem to fully appreciate or write about, that anything less than such an Integral stance is one that is more fear-based than not, epistemologically. I make a long arduous case for that in my new book (see e.n. 3) and in all my publications on fearology. So, to again, play-off the work of W & W in Appendix 6, I am arguing that the human Fear Problem has never been solved, and fear ('fear') and fearism continue to plague us and distort our motivations (among other things). Continually, W & W call for this "subjective side" in our analysis and solutions to W-problems. E & Z did so as well, and they found in the literature, that over 200+ "ecologies" (i.e., "schools of ecology") can be identified (p. 292)--and, until we identify and embrace them, give them space on the table of legitimate partial truths in understanding the Big Ecology Problem-- there will be little and only fragmented progress solving the environmental (i.e., ecological) aspects of any problem, especially "climate change." Same with the Big Fearology Problem--and, I have not yet had the resources to classify the 200+ fearologies that exist, that is "schools" of thought in how they frame meaning of and identify the problem with "fear" (as a start). Each, more or less, with their own worldviews, own values, beliefs, facts, and so on. So, to conclude, if I get the support, I will lead this Integral matrix and stance further to study the Fear Problem--which is the motivational--I mean meta-motivational dynamic behind all the other problems (more or less) that W & W raise in their book. And yes, I too (theoretically) believe "Only by using an Integral Framework can we get a complete handle on the full extent of the challenge that climate change [fear problem] presents" (p. 293). 

So my friends, I trust this will give you a better understanding of the Fearlessness Movement and its work ahead. I end with Wilber (2015) from the Preface of W & W, which says in general what my whole blogpost here is about (except I would add "fearlessness" to the list of "more"): 

"The hope of both Alan and myself is that by using a more expanded, more inclusive 'Integral Coherence' model, a great range of new areas, dimensions, methods, fields, and approaches will be made available to you for a more comprehensive approach to whatever problems you might be facing--from the simplest to the most complex and wicked" (p. xvi)

End Notes

1. Watkins, A., and Wilber, K. (2015). Wicked and wise: How to solve the world's toughest problems. Chatham, Kent: Urbane Public. Ltd. 

2. Worldcentric, for simple identification, is a term Wilber particularly likes to use as operating when a personal or system/organization is focusing its attention, values, needs, actions, toward not just the body, self, ethnic/social grouping or institution, but the world (i.e., a global internationalist perspective, but also an ecological whole systems perspective that is evolutionary at its core). This level is developmentally called post-conventional in terms of (at least) cognition, affect, and moral capacities. Often it is called "integral" for short. See Wilber, the integral philosopher and theorist, in most any of his books, for more detail analysis of the different levels/stages of development. 

3. Fisher, R. M., and Subba, D. (2015). Philosophy of fearism: A first East-West dialogue. Australia: Xlibris. 

4. The other thing I do before I even read the last pages of a book is to glance through the Index. I look for words like affect, anxiety, fear, terror(ism) and not a one of those terms shows up in the Index. That's not a good sign, in terms of a book on so-called W-problems. I think my point of this quickie fearanalysis will come through in the text above especially in terms of how the authors continually state how important "motivation" is in order to analyze and solve W-problems. 

5. This latest short bio on KW says, "... with 25 books translated into some 30 foreign languages... [he] is in the process of writing and publishing half a dozen new books" (p. 295)--now, that's impressive with someone struggling with all the physical limitations (and aging) he has to work with daily. You can look up Wilber's disease and such on the Internet (e.g., Ken Wilber, on Wikipedia as a start). 

6. I summarized my work (albeit, only a partial Integral matrix approach with focus on stages/levels) in a critical integral theory applied to fear and its management (via fearlessness) in Fisher, R. M. (2010). The world's fearlessness teachings: A critical integral approach to fear management/education for the 21st century. Lanham, MD: University Press of America.

7. Wilber, K. (1996). Brief history of everything. Boston, MA: Shambhala.

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