methodology (2)

First Principle: Not Reducing Fear

Thank you Piergiacomo severini for an initial response to my question re: the philosophical discussion of Hobbes, and the nature and role of fear, and other things, that has been going on the FM ning of late. There are several things we could discuss from Piergiacomo's Comment. I offer a group of us take this on to respond to him. 

I will start this thread by saying Piergiacomo offers something like a first principle on the contemporary philosophy of fear, and it is a cautionary: to avoid in most cases to reduce fear by definition, by meaning, by application to phenomenon.

This principle would overcome the problems of reductionism that methodologically (e.g., epistemologically) have a history. Reductionism is indeed, in my view one of the great forces (patterns), and habits, of a particular mindset, worldview, values sytem, beliefs, whereby a complex phenomenon is reduced (overly) to a simple phenomenon. And, my research shows that "fear" is particularly susceptible to this reductionism in our past as a species and currently this still predominates. However, there are some good signs that things are changing a bit in the direction of giving fear its due conceptual, theoretical and philosophical regard so as to avoid reductionism and critique reductionism of fear when it occurs. I would like FM ning members to give this all a good consideration and offer your views and knowledge about this topic. Who are good thinkers we could follow in this regard, be they philosophical sources, or otherwise. 

The very positing of a first principle of non-reductionism of fear is at the basis of my own research on fear and fearlessness. I have gone so far as to suggest that ultimately we have to be more interdisciplinary in our discussions about fear and beyond even that, we ought to be more transdisciplinary (e.g., you can read my work on justifying this principle and direction via my writing on the 'Fear' Project, 'Fear' Studies, on fearology (and fearism), fearanalysis, and fearlessness, for starters. My use of the term 'fear' (with the ' marks) is one of a rare exploration on the topic of fear, and I believe offers a sign of resistance to the hegemony of reductionism of fear, amongst other things. My view is thus constructed on an emancipatory knowledge and methodological basis, not merely a functionalist-pragmatic one. 

I look forward to hearing more on this topic, and I do not expect that it has to be a discussion all about my initiatives. 

I also think there are many things in Piergiacomo's Comment(s), and others here, that could be explored and questioned. 



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If I was to label my own philosophy that has captured (in a good way) my life since 1989, it would be to call it a "fearlessness philosophy." Now, today, I was thinking of some differences, initially, that ought to be distinguished between fearlessness philosophy (FP) and a philosophy of fearlessness (PF) [1].

First, I went on the internet and searched for fearlessness philosophy and that combination of terms, putting fearlessness before philosophy and as the identifier and inscription for a particular kind of philosophy, and found it is only used once in a publication, and that is by myself in 2007 [1]. All the 'near' hits on Google search related are all my publications and a couple of other authors who have not used this combination exactly. At some point, I'll search PF and no doubt there will be more people using this, although still likely not that many. Also, to keep in mind, there are authors/philosophers (especially in the East) who are very interested in a PF (perhaps even FP) but they haven't yet decided to put those two terms together. Okay, enough of that detail.

Now, to get down to my initial distinction of FP and PF, of which I prefer the former for various reasons (see below). I too have used both combinations over the 27 years of my study and writing. I also have other publications, with FP in them but the internet wouldn't have picked it up and/or some of my work is not published properly per se. Okay, now to PF - this more common phrasing is best to be used to describe when philosophy is applied to the topic "fearlessness" just as any philosophical investigation could be applied to any topic, like, for e.g., the "Philosophy of the Matrix" (which does exist, that is, when The Matrix sci-fi film trilogy by The Wachowski Bros. came out 1999-2003). This arrangement of terms is predictable in that a philosopher could (and they have) study the film using all their philosophy tools, by which they do not for a moment ask reflectively (or rarely might they) "Are the tools of philosophy as a discipline adequate to study The Matrix?" It is precisely, if you are an academic philosopher (or really any other kind of 'philosopher' even an amateur), such a reflective questioning that ought to be part n' parcel of any philosophical inquiry. Philosophy if it is anything substantive and important, always begins with questions about the nature of the methodology of knowing, the knower's capabilities, etc. in bringing them to a research, that is, a philosophical question or topic. Another, point, is to say, there is also a "Matrix philosophy" overlapping somewhat with a philosophy of the Matrix, but they are not the same necessarily. Matrix philosophy (analogous with FP) is when philosophy itself is intricately changed from its disciplinary canon or normal way of conceiving it and its methodologies and knowledges--thus, in this latter combination there is more attention given to the impact that The Matrix (as topic, or subject, or object) itself has on the philosophical tools (and/or philosophers) applied to studying it.

Okay, FP, now begins to look substantively different if you get some of this analogy I just went through. Indeed, FP posits from the beginning that "fearlessness" is not only a topic of study for philosophy (which is a good idea), but the dialectical relationship of the two components "philosophy" and "fearlessness" are in an irrevocable interplay, an intimacy of exchange, whereby it is expected (and assumed) there will be transformational set of findings from the process of bringing these two together. Whereas, in PF, there is no such expectation but rather the expectation and/or goal is that philosophy will make fearlessness more clear and knowable and so on. Science also operates this way, on this methodological and paradigmatic assumption, as if we had a "science of fearlessness" then you see the same operating procedures, more or less, in terms of the assumptions of relations of the discipline applied to the "object" of analysis. Whereby, FP reverses this as well (i.e., both/and). FP says that you ought to have the observer of the fearlessness equally "observed" and interrogated by "fearlessness." I know that can sound a bit strange at first. But really it is at the crux of this distinction I am making that everything shifts into the dialectical and transformative way of knowing and results of the inquiry ought to reflect this dialectical dynamic. Simply, in FP, there is a much greater demand on philosophy to actually 'become' fearlessness simultaneously, more or less, as philosophy studies fearlessness. Make sense?

There is a lot more I could go into regarding these distinctions, but this will do for a short initial blog on the topic. I am amazed I haven't written this out clearly enough over all these years, and I really ought to do a full technical paper on this. Soon. And, as well, now, I am sort of starting to see why there is no one else (apparently) on the planet throughout history using the term FP. It requires very rigorous parameters and a critical transformative dialectical framework to the inquiry. One could write a dissertation on this problem, of How Do I Perform an Adequate Study or Discipline Called "Fearlessness Philosophy"(?). I'd love to do that doctoral research, but maybe someone younger than I is better to be the one doing it. Let me know if you do. 


1. This said, it is not a contradiction to my other claims to be working on and with the notion of a philosophy of fearism (a la Desh Subba). I am committed to both these strains of philosophy.


1. Fisher, R. M. (2007). Conceptualizing a fearlessness philosophy: Existential philosophy and a genealogy of fear management system-5. Technical Paper No. 23. Vancouver, BC: In Search of Fearlessness Research Institute.

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