philosophy (4)

I recently came across a paper by the Brazilian progressive critical educational philospher Walter O. Kohan (State University of Rio de Janeiro). The paper is called "Paulo Freire and Philosophy for Children: A Critical Dialogue" go to: Kohan2018_Article_PauloFreireAndPhilosophyForChi.pdf

He describes positively and critiques the "philosophy for children" (or P4C) movement [1] in education and philosophy that developed in the early 1970s (by Matthew Lipman et al.). He also brings Lipman's philosophy and pedagogy into distinct comparison with Paulo Freire's philosophy and critical pedagogy, where he concludes the former is too apolitical to be effectively emancipatory for children or society--while Freire offers so much more. Kohan goes even further to bring forth several other critiques, methodologies and critical perspectives to complement critical pedagogy (see below).

I'd suggest any of the philosophy of fearism scholars and practitioners take a good look at the P4C movement and Kohan's critique (along with others). Kohan's views are very similar to my own on several grounds and particularly his conviction (along with Freireans) that philosohizing with children is extremely important to their wholesome education and socialization process but that it is a relationship of 'peers'-- where teachers and learners co-create the unlearning and learning that will set them free (in my words, re-connect and correct their way along the path of fearlessness to liberation). Philosophizing with children is often done (via Lipman et al. and P4C) with the teacher(s) being in charge of the design of curriculum and delivery and with the emphasis on being 'neutral' as teachers and likewise the curriculum. From my view (and Kohan's) that is a faux neutrality (ideal) and not to do with what true education has always been about, which is a problematizing of everything including the economic-social-political order. At some point, every philosopher and educator has to decide what kind of society children live in (as curriculum context). Do we live in an oppressive society or not? The answer is rather obvious to me, as to Kohan, as to Freire. 

Role of Fear: Real vs. Ideal

My favorite part in the Kohan paper is when he is in dialogue with his mentor of his dissertation (Lipman himself). Kohan asks Lipman about the abuses of democracy and questioning capitalism in that relationship and how this topic has to be put on the table of philosophical inquiry with adults and children. Lipman says: "... in this country [USA] we are very confused. We respect the notion and the ideal of democracy but we are afraid to see it in its confrontation [relational context] with capitalism. There we just shrug and turn away, we don't want to talk about the fact that democracy and capitalism may be incompatible...". (Kohan, 2018, p. 625) [bold added for emphasis]

Kohan doesn't pick-up on the fear component that Lipman brings front and center, as I would have done so, from a fearanalysis viewpoint or a fearist lens. I agree with Lipman (as I am sure Kohan does here as well) that fear of critiquing the 'hand that feeds you' (i.e., Capitialism) in philosophical inquiry is typically such that philosophers and educators (educational philosophers) will shy away and talk about other things. The very basis of a philosophy of fearism (and method of dephilosophy of Desh Subba, [2]) is to make sure that when fear is involved in the construction of the ideas and realities of our texts and practices that we 'call out' the fear and name it and deal with it in some conscious and constructive (if not transformative) way rather than "just shrug and turn away" (as Lipman expresses). Note, even Lipman, in this interview, has no 'solution' to offer or re-frame the very problem of fear he raises and its power to 'dissociate' the real and the ideal in our societies and individual lives. It is disappointing the source leader of P4C comes up so short. The ethical importance of this ought not be overlooked.

My entire educational philosophy is pretty much now based on this dephilosophy (i.e., philosophy of fearism and/or fearlessness philosophy) I bring to all inquiry, philosophizing, and educational curriculum and pedagogy. My first principle of a fearlessness philosophy could be

(a) fearlessness at all cost is essential to the integrity and sustainability of Life (systems); and thus, fear ought not be used as an excuse to avoid/deny the Ideal(s) we hold dearly (sacredly); fear leading our lives tends to compromise the ideal for a real (via ideological realism-pragmatism) because the latter is functionally 'convenient,''comfortable' and 'conformist'

Other Means for Emancipatory Practices: New Rationalities

I'll close this article with the recommendations by Kohan (incomplete as they are) because they offer all of us involved in philosophy, and especially philosophy with children, other ways (beyond Freirean or Lipmanian P4C approaches) to emancipatory education. Kohan (2018, p. 625) wrote, 

... other paths to explore Freire's inspiration other than critical pedagogy. One is to follow the decolonial turn, opening, for example, a "mestiza rationality" [3] (Anzaldua 1999), one of the sensual body, "full of feelings, of emotions, of tastes" (Horton and Freire 1990:23). [4] [this alternative] It needs to be a rationality sensible to different forms of being of the "oppressed" (to use Freirean terms), which would also include LGBT, Indian [Indigenous], Black, and women and children: a rationality sensitive to contradiction and ambiguity. [5]

Various forms of "undoing of identity" (via queering), or feminisms, post-humanism, etc, are encouraged by Kohan and those authors he cites, as part of re-examining critically how we see the child and human nature itself. He calls for "deterritorial" approaches, deconstruction, etc. (part of postmodern philosohpies) to bring human and non-human into a closer relationship overall in valuation to resist the easy commodification and capitalization processes of oppression. Even different kinds of schools ought to be considered. And he then writes of how we ought to trouble the very notion of rational-linear "time" conceptualizations and the problem of only one notion of time that dominates a worldview and schooling and/or educational system. I particularly like this challenge and it is one that Luke Barnesmoore and I have brought forth in a few publications, because time-fear are very closely connected ontologically and need to be critically examined to set us free from fear-based worldviews in general [6]. 

In conclusion, Kohan argued well that philosophy and politics are not separate nor should be, they each contribute to an emancipatory project of which all authentic education (and philosophy) ought to strive for. Like Freire's notion, each educator (philosophy) and child ought to "build her own path" in how best to accomplish a wholesome education and critique of the status quo. That said, and I agree, there's essential need for firm and mature guidance in this building that we are as educators ethically responsible. The trick is to guide without imposing. I offer the path of fearlessness, I don't impose it, even when many through my decades of this work believe that I am imposing it. A similar criticism has been launched at Freirean critical pedagogy. Perhaps, the articulation of politics and philosophy on my part is just not sufficient or it is still incomplete--always a project in progress. I invite input and critique ongoing, as part of good dialogical learning and research. 

End Notes

1. Kohan sees himself part of the P4C movement in a cautious way, and told me he prefers PWC ("philosophy with children") as the articulating concept of this work.

2. E.g. See books and articles by Subba and Fisher (philosophy of fearism) and in particular his dephilosophy method--which, I call fearanalysis in my work. 

3. Usually this is translated in the literature as "mestiza consciousness"-- note, Kohan's mother tongue is Portuguese and this article has been translated into English.

4. I (and Barbara Bickel and others) would call this (in part) the arational domain.

5. What is being constructed by Kohan here is a pathway and/or 'container' of expansion beyond the fear-based egocentric and ethnocentric worldviews. It is a matured existential (and emotional) capacity he is calling for that moves from fear to fearlessness as its operative paradigm, beyond being oppressed by a dualism-centered philosophy in which fear breeds and predominatnly shapes everything. I believe Kohan would be better to bring in notions of transrationality at this point. That's a more complex nuanced discussion. You can see that fear however will be intimately involved in the rationality processes (alternatives) Kohan calls for (as do others)--but unfortunately, little do these theorists (including Kohan) adequately theorize fear/fearlessness in this expanding of worldview in their philosophies. 

6. For e.g., see Fisher, R. M., & Barnesmoore, L. (2018). Hierarchical security: Problem of fear of the eternal [Appendix 3]. In Fisher, R. M., Subba, D., & B. M. Kumar, Fear, law and criminology: Critical issues in applying the philosophy of fearism (pp. 125-48). Australia: Xlibris. 

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New Podcast Interview: Sotiris M. and RMF

The following 1 hr interview podcast hosted by Sotiris Makrygiannis takes listeners through a philosophical tour of R. Michael Fisher's work on fear, fearism, fearlessness. 

https://soundcloud.com/sotiris-makrygiannis/the-marshal-michael-fisher

Abstract: A casual discussion around the philosophy and epistemology of Fearism. Together with M. Fisher we covered his multiple books, ways to promote books and also a philosophical branch that is inspired by the Zen and the art of motorcycle maintenance. Hope you enjoy a friendly chat turned into a podcast.  - S.M.

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3388115368?profile=RESIZE_710x

"I'm very grim, and down and out," says Emeritus professor Cornel West in a recent interview. He was responding to Anderson Cooper's (CNN host) about the current Trump rally in the US and people chanting to "send her home" referring to a Congress Woman (of color). Indeed, West has long been a Left intellectual and anti-racist advocate and scholar and he is no doubt reflecting a mood many are feeling in the USA and a lot of the world that has strong racist-right-wing elements rising to power these days. 

Why doesn't Cornel West, this great liberation (populist, intellectual) leader of our times talk about "fearlessness"? [1]

Of course, relevant to the Fearlessness Movement, I ask myself if Cornel West is a proponent of "fearlessness" in his philosophy, his Christianity, his radical left Black activism? And, upon my preliminary searching I found, just like in his recent talk with Cooper, he barely mentions fear itself and when he does he usually is talking about angst and nihilism (as loss of hope and growth of meaninglessness) as a collective dis-ease in American society. Fear as a term is never usually mentioned more than 5 times in any of West's many books, and best sellers. I wonder why? And, in his recent talk with Cooper he will admit he is "down and out" in psychic temperament in relation to the rise of White Supremacism ideology in his country (again). He's old and tired, but he's not without a bit of spirit to fight. So, next after his grim response he says to Cooper and the audience that (paraphrasing) 'we must in this time especially have moral fortitude and courage' and that's what he and all the down-trodden people have always had when they are oppressed and the fight will continue until they find their victory and justice, no matter what happens in the meantime. 

"Moral courage" is the fav phrase in West's discourses, which has a long tradition (e.g., black liberation theology) in the justice movements of history. I see this as a particular fear management system (FMS-5 with some FMS-6)--and, it is basically modernist. It is about the individual (and society) under oppression fighting back and not letting fear of oppressors, nor internalized fear destroy you and your integrity and your will to keep fighting back, even if the odds are tremendously against you gaining much in the bigger political world. "Hope" is also his fav concept to accompany "moral courage." This is the basis of ethical philosophy behind West's popularity and stardom. He attracts great followings of people from the Left especially, and I'm noticing a lot of young men are really admiring West's character and intellectual prowess--and, see him as a hero in the nightmares of the times of post-truth bullshit that is invading most all of America day to day. The young men are scared as I see it, and rightfully so, and they are looking for leaders who speak to them and impress them as having the 'best' analysis. And, true, West is "brilliant" and "warm" and "sharp" at the mouth. He's very hip too! 

But my critique is that "moral courage" is not sufficient to deal with Fear's Empire, the 'Fear' Matrix of which America and the rest of the world is being swallowed up and coded into moment by moment. Moral courage, hope, and love, as the prophetic voice has always offered since ancient times, right up to the present modernist values and virtues of a Christian like West, are helpful, but not enough; from a fearlessness meta-psychological perspective, that is [2]. Listen to West (from his best selling book Race Matters (1993/2017):

"Being a hope is being in motion, on the move with body on the line, mind set on freedom, soul full of courage, and heart shot through with love. Being hope is foraging moral and spiritual fortitude.... being willing to live and die for the empowerment of the wretched [oppressed] of the earth." (p. xxiv) [3].

For three decades, I have advocated and argued, that if one trully penetrates into the nature and role of fear, across the spheres of Natural, Cultural and Spiritual realities, from a critical holistic-integral perspective--then, fearlessness will be understood like never before too. This new understanding of fear and fearlessness repositions many things from a moral and ethical and philosophical perspective--and, one major outcome is that when operating from Fearlessness there is no need to constantly boost "hope" and "love" and "empowerment" as does the modernist approach to activism and liberation. I am not dissing these modernist and even premodernist traditions of liberation, I am merely claiming they are largely out-dated and need a serious upgrade. And, that critique, no matter how much I publish and speak about it is still largely ignored by West, and so many of his contemporaries. 

As much as I so respect Cornel West as a leader today, it is disturbing he has not picked up on the great liberation traditions (at a minimum) and thus talked a lot more about fear and fearlessness. As I said, less than 5 pages in any of his books is on "fear" and when he talks about it usually it is rather thin and about "fears" --not seeing that the entire study of fearism-t (at the base of all oppression - ism diseases) requires so much more than moral courage, hope and love. It requires an incredibly systematic study of fear itself (and 'fear', as I argue)--it requires Fearlessness which is a meta-psychology (and philosophy) and methodological re-orientation that directs our gaze and analysis to something much deeper at-cause of our worst human behaviors, individually and collectively. Fear is not a factor, as West makes it out to and as that modernist discourse does as well. Talk about a "culture of fear," a "fear lens" a 'Fear' Matrix, etc., and then we'll realize we are up against an enormous power and complex of external and internal structures in everyday life that keep us "afraid" and, to then, even at times encourage us to thus be "courageous"--but, the latter encouragement actually supports us being more afraid so that we'll develop more courage--it's an ironical productive cycle of 'Fear' as oppression itself. That's not the kind of critical self-reflection you will find amongst the Left (or West) of their very notion of "moral courage" (and hope and love) and how they too are tainted already from the start when one lives in Fear's Empire. Everything is tainted with fear ('fear')--and that's what makes an oppressive society work so well (said, in sarcasm). So, no, I am not big advocate for "courage" alone as a fear management system (discourse) that will get us very far with liberation on the scale and with the depth I am talking and theorizing about. 

Unfortunately, I have learned that people don't want to do the work of discovering Fearlessness in this meta-context I propose and teach about. I am no celebrity, like a West, and likely never will be, but I will live and die attempting to show people we can do better than "moral courage" discourses and actions--even if, I admit, those may be better than nothing--but I will argue, they are going to be 'too little too late' unfortunately. That's a larger conversation, I'm always glad to engage with you all. 

Notes:

1. I have tried email contacting him and sharing with him my work but to no avail, he typically doesn't respond or engage the work. Only once did I find in several of his books one reference where he used "fearlessness" (per se), and that was in his talking about his appreciation of the "New Black Panther Party.... they have a certain fearlessness like Malcom [X]" (West & Buschendorf, 2014, n.p.). But West doesn't define the term. See West, C., & Buschendorf, C. (2014). Black prophetic fire. Boston, MA: Beacon Press. See also my criticism of American pragmatist philosophy (Fisher, 2015) in general and its domination of American ideas, culture and society, of which I find Cornel West is susceptible to in his discourse (and ideology): Fisher, R. M. (2015). What is the West’s problem with fearlessness? Technical Paper No. 53. Carbondale, IL: In Search of Fearlessness Research Institute.

2. I am currently writing a new book "A Fearlessness Meta-psychology" for the 21st century. See also my Fisher, R. M. (2019). Fearlessness psychology: An introduction. Technical Paper No. 79. Calgary, AB: In Search of Fearlessness Research Institute.  

3. West, C. (2017). Race matters, 25th anniversary. Boston, MA: Beacon Press. 

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FEAR IS THE CAUSE OF MURDER, VIOLENCE AND WAR

          (Socrates seems to have spent most of his time in the agora, or marketplace, discussing all sorts of things.)                        

An interview conducted by a Nepalese journalist, Raj Sargam of the Nepal Time Magazine with Desh Subba, the founder of Fearism Movement.

Date: 1st September 2018,

Trans. by Desh Subba

Edited by Michael Bassey Eneyo 

Socrates ran Agora school [teaching in the market places].

Plato ran academy, while Aristotle ran Lyceum.

Philosophers from France and Germany ran schools in tea and coffee houses. 

Desh Subba is a poet, novelist and a philosopher from Nepal. He has been working on the development of "Philosophy of Fearism" for some years now. "The Tribesmen's Journey to Fearlessness" is his first Fearism-based novel. He is on the course of introducing Fearism [philosophy] through poem, drama and epic. In the interview published in Nepal Time Magazine, Raj Sargam began the interview by asking Desh Subba how Fearism as a school of thought can handle the problem of fear which seems to be fundamental to every life. Below is the interview. 

Raj: I know it is true that everybody has one kind of fear or the other. I equally believe that the young generations are suffering from depression. How does Fearism handle such problems?

Desh: Fear is natural to human beings. No matter our level of exposure, we cannot completely eliminate fear. Fearism as a movement is focusing on how human beings can understand fear more insightfully, how fear can be controlled, managed and applied for the good of human beings. We have read classical philosophies regarding states, citizens, capitalism, struggles, happiness and pleasure. If we should get to the root of all these philosophies, we will see that none of them has really emphasised on the importance of fear. We can take example from the "Ring of Gyges" mentioned in the Republic of Plato. This mythical and magical ring saves people from fear of being caught and punished when they do something wrong. But even at that, nobody actually acknowledged the importance or the role fear in the affairs of human beings. 

The entire world and its life can be looked at with the eyes of fear [Fearism lens]. It is not only the new generations that are suffering from fear; our ancestors were also suffering from it. Invention of stone weapons, dwelling in the cage and the worship of nature were parts of the witnesses to the influence of fear in the ancient period. We are in continuation of the same fearful influence. But today, it is manifesting in the mask of modernism. 

I have said elsewhere that each era is an era of extreme fear, because each era carries its optimum level of knowledge, rationality and invention which are motivated by fear. The difference between the past and the present level of fear is shown in different ways through which human beings have adopted in the attempts to better their lives. The ancient period was not such a competitive and a corporate society as it is today. In our present generation, we have witnessed so many competitions: among students, in the areas of sports, employment, acquisition of wealth, among peers, family members, colleagues in the office, market men/women, etc. There’re so much depressions today. Depression begins anytime we fail to achieve any of our expectations. When this is the case, all the experiences during these periods increase our fears. 

But then, depression is not limited to the scope of depression, it expands beyond. It creates more hazardous situations. I know people often mention sources of hazardous situations, but nobody seems to have mentioned fear as part of it. This may have been predicated on the fact that we didn’t have theory that can explain the workings of fear. After the development of Fearism Movement, Fearism traditions began to spring up. One of the Fearism dictums says: "Don't keep fear of competition an irrelevant prestige." Avoidance of unnecessary competition, desire and interest keep us safe from depression and mental sickness. So Fearism provide the methods that can help human beings handle the challenges of fear and depression. 

Raj: You are trying to establish Fearism with the help of Fearism Study Centre. What will be the role of Fearism activities in Nepalese’s literature?

Desh: In any serious philosophical movement, there is always a tradition of schooling. Socrates ran Agora school [teaching in the market places]. Plato ran academy, while Aristotle ran Lyceum. Philosophers from France and Germany ran schools in tea and coffee houses. 

When a person becomes famous in his philosophy, such philosophy will certainly convert into school. It is my belief that to establish Fearism, we need a school [i.e. we need fear education] and Fearism Study Centre is our school. 

Fearism Study Centre is not only domiciling in Nepal, it will soon kick start in Nigeria. It is going to be run by Nigerian philosopher Osinakachi Akuma Kalu and his friends Michael Eneyo, Augustus Chukwu and others who have shown commitment in Fearism Movement. It is still in its starting phase, it would be extended to other countries as time goes on. At present, R. Michael Fisher has founded The Fearology Institute in Canada which is an integral part of Fearism.

Nepalese’s literature is traditionally divided into group(ism) and not into the formal method of schooling. The formal pattern of schooling gives more knowledge. My ambition has been to take Fearism beyond the Nepalese’s traditional literary circle and that ambition is already yielding positive result as you can see. 

Raj: In following Fearism as your new discovered paradigm, are you not missing poem and novel writings?

Desh: yes! At the surface, I missed them, but in a more critical look, I am still doing them under Fearism [though in a subtle manner]. Literature has multiple genres, but Philosophy is above all literary genres. Story, poem, essay and epic cannot sustain for a long time if they are not rooted in a given philosophy. Writing or any form of theory can only be sustained if it is rooted in a strong philosophy. I have potentialities of many writing genres. But in the face of philosophy, other genres are dimmed. If one man has many genres, he will likely be addressed by the one he is noted to doing better and not by all the genres. Jean Paul Sartre had many writings, but people addressed him as a Philosopher. 

Raj: You used to say Fearism is isolated philosophy. How do you mean and to what extent is the influence of Fearism apart from in Nepal?

Desh: Actually, I don't have deeper understanding of this saying of Nepalese believers: "Dark underneath the lamp." Fearism to me is isolated philosophy in Nepal because we do not really have many philosophers here working to develop contemporary philosophies. Fearism Movement goes beyond our home philosophy which is embedded in our culture.  We often talked about culture at home, but our literature and philosophy are not separated from our culture. This makes it somewhat difficult to say that we have a philosophy of our own. It is not right to expect a highly philosophical culture in those countries where the culture of doing philosophy is not developed. 

Professors are in competition to be the first follower of western philosophy.

 They dream to be the first followers and never dreaming to be leaders of new ideas or philosophy.

Here in Nepal, we have less leading characters; we only have people with the mentality of wanting to be good followers. Professors are in competition to be the first follower of western philosophy.  They dream to be the first followers and never dreaming to be leaders of new ideas or philosophy. This is the reason I said Fearism is in far distance among professors and students of Nepal. 

Edward Said had opined: "Westerns have a capacity to define eastern." We imbibe the culture of followership; we follow the culture of the west. When they say, “You are stupid and arrogance” we nod our heads and answer 'yes'. This is a kind of slave mentality. Easterners have the habit of being happy in Western definitions to things. It is exclusively implemented in the philosophical minds of most Nepalese. This tendency discourages and disqualifies us from aspiring for leadership position in the global community. Today, Fearism is gradually becoming popular in some states of India and in Nigeria. These countries are trying to develop a culture of original definitions to life. This is the reason we can see many Nigerian Philosophers coming up with original ideas to the study of fear. 

Raj: There is increase of the numbers of murder, violence and rape in the society now. Can Philosophy of Fearism give explanation to this or not?

Desh: Violence, murder and war are caused by fear. Very rare may be resulted from other reasons, but fear is mostly the reason. After the murder comes more fear. The one that kills become afraid of the likely consequence of his action. Sometimes the impact of it extends like Pyramid and sometimes like rectangle. If somebody has fear of being killed by someone, and he decided to kill the person in order to eliminate his fear and become fearless. After killing the supposed source of fear [the person], he will discover that killing is never elimination of fear, rather, it ushered us into another domain of fear-the fear of the punishment for killing by the family and the society as stipulated by law. 

There are many of such people in the society. Thug, corruptor, liar, killer, raper, murderer and dishonest always feel the presence of surveillance cameras everywhere they go even when there is no such thing. The impact of fear depends on the gravity of the offence. Those who commit grievous sin always forget taste of food and sleep. They have the illusion of somebody following or talking about them. A particular fear can expand and become as big as the black sky. 

In Nepal and India, the numbers of murder and violence cases are increasing by the day. Less fear of law is the reason of it. In most cases, either the leaders are involved in the breaking of the law or they provide protection for those who break the law. Even the states seem not to adhere to the dictum of the law; this definitely increases murder, rape and violence cases in the land. 

This state of lawlessness depicts Thomas Hobbes’ State of Nature; where life was brutal, nasty and short. This is a kind of "Modern Wild Kingdom" where law is no longer regarded as a guide. This is the main problem I have seen about South Asia and Africa in recent times. When a given country or an individual begins to fear and have respect for law that is when a state can be said to be a lawful state. Then violence, murder and rape are likely to be swiped from such a state.

 

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