philosophy of fear (13)

Review of book, by R. Michael Fisher, Philosophy of Fearism: A Primer, published by Xlibris, 2022.

Nicola Tenerelli

Università degli Studi Aldo Moro, Bari

 "The problem is not the fact of dying, but the Fear of Death, that feeling that so disturbs us and prevents us from achieving inner serenity. How to fight it? Epicurus' solution is this: When there is us, there is no death. And vice versa." (Epistle to Meneceus, 124-127)

"We could say that this book is the Manifesto of Fearology." -N. Tenerelli

The philosopher of Samos took refuge in ataraxia, but his answer highlighted his awareness: the real human dilemma is the problem of Fear, which is more important than death.

We can say that if there is phobos, there is no logos; in the presence of Fear, full rationality is lost, so it is impossible to give an ultimate answer.

Answering the question what is Fear? is in itself an exhaustive operation, a philosophical question.

That is why the question what is Fear is among the first questions a human being asks - right after the fateful one: why is there Being and not rather nothingness? -.

The question what is Fear is both theoretical and practical; it represents the meeting point between utilitarian rationality and primordial sentiment. For Severino (1929-2020), philosophy stems from ancestral Fear (thauma): if we could know what Fear is, we could know Being: if we could answer - what is Fear? - philosophy would not exist.

Philosophical thought has always moved on the boundary between the known and the hidden, and it has always sought to erode this seemingly insurmountable limit. Every revealed truth (aletheia) is once again hidden, veiled twice: re-veiled, in effect!

In Heideggerian terms, the gap between what a human knows and what he can never know must be maintained so that Being is preserved: so he does not fall into nihilism - the claim to be able to discover the truth conceals the will to nullify Being -.

Firstly, the question what is Fear is a foundational question because it relates the subject to its deepest interiority.

Secondly, just as importantly, the incommensurability of the question - what is Fear - relaunches philosophy, both because it shows that philosophical thought is indispensable and because it gives meaning to the limited existence of human beings and their desire to improve.

  1. Michael Fisher is a thinker who has devoted all his studies expressly to the subject of Fear, author of the essay Philosophy of Fearism. A primer, published by Xlibris; this volume is intended to introduce even non-specialists in the discipline to this field of philosophy that arose - a further merit of Fisher's - outside institutional and academic circles.

The essay is a presentation of the Philosophy of Fearism and its disseminators; R. Michael Fisher, a Canadian, is the most authoritative representative of this philosophical current; other philosophers of Fearism, the Nepalese Desh Subba and the New Yorker Samuel Nathan Gillian Jr. (1939-2016), all of whom were fellow travellers encountered by chance during their decades of study, are mentioned in the essay.We could say that this book is the Manifesto of Fearology. Evidence of this is the subtitle, Primer, which also implies the first coat of paint that is applied to the canvas to prepare it for painting - let us not forget that Fisher is an artist.

 "Glossaries in fearist books are unsystematic, although useful — but, for research purposes there is not yet enough conformity to know exactly what is what in the whole domain of terms and concepts and theories under the umbrella of a philosophy of Fearism. With this caveat in mind, the reader is advised to not become overly concerned about all the technical terms right away and also not to try to change them, without spending a good amount of time studying the philosophy of Fearism. It may take years to really get the feel for what this philosophy is all about." (p. 50)

 We are obviously dealing with a philosophical text, so no one expects an easy read, but Fisher has propped up his essay with a series of twenty-one Frequently Asked Questions to answer what Fearism is and help the reader who wants to approach this study.

Fisher wants to make it clear, above all, that the Philosophy of Fear is not a utilitarian theory and does not intend to offer a recipe that will free people from such a strenuous feeling/research.

Furthermore, the proposed (Fearism) Philosophy of Fear is not a substitute for abstract existentialism because, on the contrary, it originates as a real need of the philosopher.

In the text, some of the necessary prerequisites for approaching the Philosophy of Fear are suggested:

- need to be humble when it is appropriate to learn something 'new' from everyone;

-  need to study current theories in order to understand that this is a social philosophy that requires disciplined enquiry and research-based focus,

- need a maturity beyond one's own selfish needs, and, subsequently, an engagement with the community of other fearists;

- need to know methods/techniques derived from theories that enfold themselves with this philosophy;

- need to take risks and be honest intellectually.

The 'risk' that Fisher speaks of is the one that all intellectuals incur: studying a lot and always feeling dissatisfied; not being considered by a social system that favours telegenic faces and monetisable ideas.

The reader, however, can be assured that the study of Fear can lead every human beyond his/her inner boundaries.

 "Fear is a mystery. It is as vast as the universe... It constitutes an impact on human tendency, action, and activities. Human activities done knowingly and unknowingly are heading towards it... The fearist perspective is a new dimension to look at life and the world... The purpose behind fearism [and fearists’ work] is to conduct continuous research, investigation, and invention in order to make life more comfortable." (quoting Desh Subba in Fisher's Introduction, p. 1)  


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As I have been study the work of Samuel Nathan Gillian Jr. this past year, and publishing various articles on his work, and now with a full-length book completed (in first draft), it is becoming more obvious to me what a gem of a rare thinker on fear and life philosophy this man was (passed January 2016), and still is historically. His work is virtually unknown, other than within his New York City 'circles' where he lived and taught for three decades.

You can look up his name on the FM ning here in the search box at the top right and find other pieces I have written on him and his work. I recently included SNG as the triadic father of philosophy of fearism, along with Desh Subba and myself--see my new book on this introduction to SNG in this capacity [1].

I thought I would (rather arbitrarily) except a few pages from Gillian's 2002 [2] first book (one of two he wrote and self-published) to give you a feel for his philosophical style and an interesting piece on the "false worldviews" that misguide humanity today, and his "Redefining Fear" and a section on newborn babies:  


Unfortunately, it is our inability to see that “self” and “other” are eternally linked that has lead to philosophies that see mankind as uniquely isolated, alienated beings living dreadfully meaningless lives in an uncaring, hostile, and ever-changing universe that is unexplainable and that allows for no hope. If this is the best understanding that we can come up with about the meaning of life, then we will continue to pay the self-destructively heavy price that we are now paying for dwelling solely in the negative terror of existence.

 Fortunately, this negatively terrifying view of existence is far from the truth of our lives, Dear Reader. True hope lies in our ability to see the positively terrifying truth of our existence, which is that everything is changing. True hope lies in our ability to recognize that we have the power to change our negative view of our world to a positive view of our world—a view based upon the truth that the terror of existence lies in change itself.

 False worldviews rob us of our power to understand our lives. False worldviews rob us of our power to positively change our lives. Any worldview that does not take into consideration the most fundamental truth about the nature of our universe (everything is changing) can only serve to create more and more confusion within our minds, leading to a greater deception of perception as we lose the power to think clearly and critically. Developing the power to think clearly and critically is a major step in learning how to positively enjoy being afraid.

Moreover, that there is no separation between “self” and “other” is why giving is receiving. The giver receives all kinds of [96] benefits from the act of giving itself. Everything done for others is done for ourselves. There is no altruism if “altruism” means an exclusion of the self (selfishness), for the “self” can never be excluded from anything that we do. If we hurt others, we hurt ourselves. If we love others, we love ourselves. Other-love and self-love are not mutually exclusive. Self-love is totally dependent upon other-love, and vice versa. This is why selfishness is not self-love. Since selfishness is the inability to properly love our neighbors, selfishness is the inability to properly love ourselves.

 Realistically, when we act as selfish human beings, it is because we are negatively terrified human beings trying to make our lives more secure, meaning less negatively terrifying, by the acquisition of material things, for example. Although we feel the power of material possessions as a good thing, this feeling is a deception of our perception. This feeling of power is momentary and counter-productive because the more we use material possessions in our struggle against the terror of existence, the more negatively terrified we must become.

 Our need to acquire more power through possessions is our feeling of deep insecurity. Owning material possessions in a world where they are not properly shared, in a world of inequality, means that we possessors must live in constant negative terror of other human beings seeking to expand their power by removing our material possessions from us. That’s why hating taxes seems like a natural human instinct.

 Every nation’s military and civilian forces have on primary objective: they must maintain that nation’s way of life. They must maintain inequality, the status quo of material possession by those citizens who have an abundance of material goods against those citizens who do not have much material wealth, a very insecure and negatively terrifying position to be in.

 Real security comes with the movement towards equality of power. Those who seek to maintain the inequality of power that has long been our status quo here on earth are those who have had no choice but to be truly negatively terrified and insecure human beings. Human history is the story of the maintenance of the inequality of power by those who have expanded their power more than others have. Human history is the story of our [97] selfishness. It is the story of our inability to love others and, therefore, the story of our inability to love ourselves.

 In addition, since there is no separation between “self” and “others,” no one can hurt others without experiencing a deep feeling of hurt at the same time. This hurt stems from a terrifying disconnection from others, for bad deeds are their own punishment: the negative terror of a strong sense of separation. Only an already tortured mind tortures others, for while there may be joy in doing evil, there is no inner peace, no soul dwelling at ease.

 That “self’ and “other” are one does not negate the fact that we “feel” separate from others. But we feel separate within our universe. We feel separate within the connections that bind us to everything else. We can never be physically separate from our universe, so fear is not the feeling of separation from our universe. Fear is the feeling of separation within our universe. The more that we are able to understand that there are no real separations amongst things in our universe, the less terrifying our world becomes because our fear is our feeling of separation.

 We are separate and connected at one and the same time, for we are eternally rooted in our earth and in our universe. Only when we become radically aware of this truth concerning our existence can we properly value others and, therefore, properly value ourselves. Human value and dignity are dependent upon our understanding the truth that love of self is love of others and vice versa. All thinking to the contrary is hopelessly self-deceptive and, therefore, self-destructive. 

Fear redefined

Since the current definition of fear does not reflect the true meaning of fear (for example, that fear is dual, both positive and negative), we need to redefine fear. Yes, fear is our reaction to danger, but since danger is power, fear is our reaction to power. And power exists because things going through changes exist. So, what we fear is the power of things to make us go through changes, which we call “experience.” What we fear is change. Therefore, “fear” is our “reaction to change.” [98] 

This simple definition takes everything into consideration since everything is changing. This definition, because it includes everything, includes all positive and negative reactions. This definition includes all living beings—plants as well as animals, for even phototropism is the “fear” that a sessile organism expresses as it grows or moves toward or away from the sun or other source of light in “fear” that it will get too little or too much light. For light, being power, is dangerous even to a plant. 

Once we understand that existence itself is about the changes that we go through and that fear and existence arise at the same time, then we can understand why any and all changes are what terrify us. We can understand why fear is our reaction to change. We can understand why being aware and having experiences are all about being afraid of the changes that we go through—all of the time. We can understand the terror of existence: to be alive is to be afraid. 

It is thought by some that fear of death is the fundamental motivation behind human behavior. Death, a major change in our lives, is clearly terrifying because it is such a powerful and final change. However, death, reflecting the breakdown side of our existence, is not as fundamental as change itself, which includes both the breakdown and buildup sides of the duality within change. 

A newborn baby does not fear death because death is a concept that is learned later in life. A newborn baby does fear change, however, because fear of change is not something that is merely learned. Fear of change is built into a newborn baby’s body. Fear of change arises with existence itself. Through crying, a newborn baby lets its caregiver know about the frightening changes that it is going through, changes  that are supposed to create proper caring in a newborn baby’s caregiver.

And caring, Dear Reader, is our human desire to protect a newborn baby, others, and ourselves from the dangers of destructive changes that we all experience. Caring protects us from negatively powerful experiences. Caring is fearing, and knowing how to care means knowing how to fear, for the secret of life is in knowing how to be afraid. The secret of life is in knowing how to deal positively with the terror of existence.


[99]  8. Knowing How to Suffer Positively


Knowledge .... 




1. Fisher, R. M. (2022). Philosophy of fearism: A primer. Xlibris. 

2. Gillian, S. N. (2002). The beauty of fear: How to positively enjoy being afraid. Bronx, NY: Phemore Press. 

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Short Lecture on My Approach to Fear Study


You may want to check out my latest lecture:

where I talk about "Positiva" and "Negativa" approaches to study Fear and how that leads to the perspective that Fearology can bring, as well as a philosophy of fearlessness and a philosophy of fear. This lecture is in celebration of my new book "Philosophy of Fearism: A Primer" (Xlibris, 2022). There is more in this talk on the fearism notion and I read from the book as well. 


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Challenging the Tendency of Elitism and "Grandiosity" in Movements

It was with some grief I found out a few years ago that Mariana Salcido, a signed 'member' of Fearlessness Movement, a loose member of Fearism philosophy group and curious advocate for The Fearology Institute, passed away suddenly. I heard this through another colleague who was communicating with her, and a family member informed him of her passing. She was relatively young, a mother, and left behind a lot of people who will miss her. I came across her in 2018 or earlier, and she wanted to discuss her way of getting involved in this fearwork. She was a fiesty born and raised Latino woman (living in the USA at the time) with a strong bright mind and critical view of how things ought to work better in this world. 

Just today, I found a correspondence with her that I wish to document on this archive of the Fearlessness Movement. It represents a piece of her philosophical challenges on a few different things but she was always one to see the critical importance of "fear" study and philosophy. This correspondence is one sample of many conversations on email I had with her, but I also knew she was struggling with many things in life, as so many young people do. 

I pick up her writing as part of a conversation she had around challenging the tendency to elitism and exclusivity for "the movement" be it labeled as "fearology" or even the Fearlessness Movement itself. She was pushing in a good way for us not to try to become a cult-like group of thinkers who encircle and keep telling the world how great we are and how much the world needs us, while forgetting to see we have our own biases and egos too. I asked her to write about this problem of "grandiosity" in any new intellectual or social movement, from her point of view. 

Mariana wrote, (June 15, 2018) not long before she died c. 2020: 

"The Bible spoke about fear hahahhaaa before anyone else! What is unique about this [Fearlessness Movement, Fearology, Fearism] is the approach. Fear has been traditionally, either used as a manner of control, spoken as an instinct (pretty lousy instinct that can be smelled by your predator, I wonder if it is not intended as a 'warning,' but, as evolutionary weakness); fear has also been used by 'motivators.' That is the worst, really.

I know the [Fearology] Institute seeks to release people from fear through consciousness. I like that, we can't teach everyone because some people won't want to be taught. Motivation is, I believe you made  this analogy, as easy to use as sex in public. I'm trying to imagine [Viktor] Frankl yelling at the people [in the concentration camps of Auschwitz] "Wake up! This is your time! You are successful! You can find a purpose!" 

I don't know how do you feel about motivational materials, as soon as I smell 'motivational' I send it away as far as possible from me. In the same line, fear is a good subject for psychology. But, I haven't seen anything serious on Philosophy of fear. What? What's philosophy?, they ask. Philosophy is how we tell people they are being manipulated. We tell them that when you catch them they say 'conspiracy theory,' we tell them that it is horrifying to be 'equal' (someone whould explain the omitted part 'before the law.')

IF WE ARE "EQUAL" as they understand WE ARE THREATENED TO DISAPPEAR AS AN INDIVIDUAL. How about showing that with real research but a smart apporach (no intellectual, no dumbed down). Flat. I need to research the old philosophy and see who speaks seriously and detailed about fear. 

Oh my...I'm sorry, too long. 

I feel like writing....

Hugs to both [RMF and Barbara] and thank you for a great conversation. -Mariana 


NOTE: Mariana contributed as blog post (poster) once:








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Samuel Nathan Gillian Jr. (1939-2016), MEd. (photo c.1978) [1]

To teach care is to teach fear(fulness)--to teach children to be terrified (in a good way) is education at its foundational best; there is nothing more basic that the human species must engage, and if we neglect this duty, humanity will fail, argues the author Sam Gillian. 

I know of only a couple critical thinkers and philosopher-types who have written more than one book on the subject "fear" in depth. I can think of no black philosopher who has written two books on fear that are in depth. This alone makes Bro. Gillian [2] a central 21st century figure to pay attention to in the philosophy of fear. Because of his life-career (Bronx, NY) as a middle school teacher and adult educator, his two books [3] are key to any study and articulation of a "pedagogy of fear." I guarantee you dear reader, Gillian is quite controversial (even radical) and will in spirit and rational thought challenge many assumptions typical of progressive education philosophy and child-rearing, care-giving etc. I think he is a progressive educator of the highest calibre but he is fiercely independent in how he thinks about progress and progressive ideas related to fear. That's what makes him a unique philosopher with lots to teach. 

He is incredibly clear in his writing and thus I would say his work is "the best" there is out there on fear, for the person on the street, so to speak, when it comes to being applicable ideas to ponder and apply immediately to our lives. His books are not shallow over-simplified "self-help" in the typical psychological way. They are more philosophical reflections and at times they are 'sermons.' He has integrated many others' thought throughout his years of study of fear [4], which began in 1972, he tells us in his brief bio. in his first book. He is an expert on fear, no doubt about it. His contribution to a good quality "fear education" is so needed today and in the future.

Unfortunately, for many reasons, his work is virtually unheard of in larger circles and in academia. I plan to write an intellectual biography of his life and work and reverse this invisibility. I look forward to anyone who wishes to discuss the "Gillianism of fear" (as I call it) [5]. 

[note: Prof. Cornel West has some similar notions as Gillian, e.g.,]


End Notes

1. Thanks to Bernice Gillian, Sam's wife, for this photograph. 

2. Bro. Sam or Bro. Gillian are terms I use as endearment and respect, and I have only used such because of Sam's own proclivity to do so with me (e.g., see the photo above where I overlapped the portrait of him with his book signing signature "Bro. Sam" and it was addressed to me as "Bro. Michael" in the inside cover of his second book I had purchased from him in 2005.

3. The Beauty of Fear (2002) and Terrified by Education (2005), by Phemore Press, his own publishing company. He published no other works under that press nor did he write any other books than these two. It is hard to find copies of these, but if interested you may try contacting Bernice who may sell you a copy of these titles

4. E.g., he was a big fan of the existentialist Ernest Becker, but also the likes of Jiddu Krishnamurti, Alan Watts and many others. Very eclectic (E-W) reading underlies his philosophy.

5. Contact me:

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IT IS NOT VERY OFTEN I come across a really interesting paper on "fear", and this one by Bogun (2016), is extra-ordinarily interesting to my fearologist-self. 

I won't say more in this Intro blog, but will give you all a chance to look at it and chime in on Comments. Just to note: --scanning the paper, I see the major discouse (pattern, system) that is operating in Bogun as a philosopher very keen about fear and its role, is "FMS-5" (as "fearmap" or code-categorization of my schema)--and, to remind you there are 10 FMSs available to humans at this time, that I can identify categorically as an overall evolutionary theory of fear management systems (FMSs). But, I'll leave it there for now... 

Hope you have a glance at this first page, and realize this author (seemingly from Ukraine) is quite a fascinating scholar. It's my first encounter with them in the fear literature. 


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Fearosophy: Popularized


Perhaps as we come close to OCT. 31, Halloween ('Day of the Dead' OR what may better be called 'Day of Fear')-- it is interesting to observe what all the dramatization of the collective psyche that exists at this time of year. As I walk around my neighborhood (in Calgary, AB, Canada) it amazes me still to see how much energy, expense, and ritual is still well and alive on this festival of darkness, festival of fear)--oh, yes, and it is seemingly so perfect that I happen to just find this short video performance online today called Fearosophy.

Fearosophy was coming up in my journaling this morning, in that I was studying the history of theosophy from the late 19th century (formally, with the founders Olcott & Blavatsky). I am always thinking of ways to name, locate historically, and articulate a narrative of compelling nature to the public and scholars around why Fear ought to be given the status of say Theosophy, or Anthroposophy, or Philosophy itself... it's been a long search for decades, and I am not yet happy about the results. Yet, it is fascinating that fearosophy comes back to me and arises as something to ponder more; what capabilities does it have to mobilize greater interest in Fear (Studies, fearology, fearism, fearlessness, etc.). 

I looked up to see my own prior definition of fearosophy and in the International Journal of Fear Studies vol. 1 (2), p. 13, there is my cursory definition (I'll repeat): 

fearosophical- (RMF) operational characteristics of the practice of fearosophy

fearosophy- (RMF) the general philosophical base that specializes in the study of fear (e.g., fearism)

OK. So, that's a start, but it doesn't say much. One would have to inquire much more seriously beyond a mere definition to see what is behind fearosophy (btw, I rarely have used this term since discovering it some many years ago, I think during my dissertation years c. 2000 - 2003, when I looked at all the various vocabularly that had been created seriously around the term Sex; and sure enough, there was a sub-field called "sexology" and "sexosophy" believe it or not, and that immediately triggered the creative impulse to create such a language for the term Fear-- thus, fearology and fearosophy were coined and I have mostly only given attention to fearology, but that said, it is impossible to articulate fearology, in my approach, without an underbelly (less visible) that articulates a philosophy of fear and fearlessness; of late, in the last few years, I am stretching beyond even a philosophy of fearlessness to say that I am working on a fearlessness philosophy (and psychology). So, I realize today, discovering the need to talk again about fearosophy (as analagous to my current study of theosophy) that maybe I need to use both terms more consciously, and thus, to say formally here that a fearlessness philosophy is fearosophy. 

Oh, and as for the (anonymously posted) Youtube video called "fearosophy" --well, it's interesting (albeit, not the best actual performance, but the costume and sound track are creative)--and I wonder what story is behind this piece played in front of a crowd (perhaps, in a university class?) [1]--and, it is certainly, dramatizing a message that I have heard (a discourse on fear, and/or discourse of fear)--that is part of a revelatory expressionism, often in arts, that performs FEAR as an icon, as a figuration for the culture at the time (yes, a 'monster' archetypal form)--and, this is historically and psychological significant--it is cultural dynamics of Fear at its most overt form (again, not unlike Halloween cultural dramatization). These narratives, stories and configurations, even when they are quite idiosyncratic like the one in this video performance, tell basically the same thing (you can, find the same message in the universal teachings of all main religions, for e.g.)--is a story, really a meta-story of FEAR HAS CAPTURED YOU, CAPTURED YOUR SOCIETY--FEAR IS YOUR MASTER! Of course, such a dramatization is not something I am saying is 'good' in and of itself. My fearanalysis would go much deeper than these surface dramas and figurations and "teachings" (e.g., the creator of this performance created a text of teaching to go with it on the sound-track)--but, what is missing from such superficial dramatizations is the harder, deeper, and fully therapeutic work--individually and collectively--and, that's where fearosophy has to go to the next level, and the next, and the next... and, then, maybe something really useful (perhaps, even liberatory) will come from it. 

End Note

1. I did a little online research and in Russian language (w/ English transl.) I found the following e-group discussing the topic of Scarecrow as a symbolic figure from the Batman narrative (sci-fi story, movie, TV show, etc.)--and, it looks like a professor started this in 2013 as a discussion group; here is the original text from this group's website, that accompanies the performance (which is probably the professor himself in the costume): 

Dr. Jonathan Crane / The Scarecrow

And I will personally give a podzhopnik to every lazy ass to come to life at last.
The Lord of Fear ... The Lord of Terror ... The embodiment of cunning and unpredictability ...
He does not obey the laws of the society that rejected him. He has his own laws, his own philosophy - the philosophy of fear ... His extraordinary intellect makes him stronger than overpowered superheroes, and the paradox and unpredictability sometimes lead even Batman himself to a dead end ...

He is Jonathan Crane, whose alter ego - Scarecrow - became for him the personification of fear, revenge and rebellion against other people's rules. He instills terror in the townspeople of Gotham City, hiding his own fears, and openly mocks those who once mocked him.
Ice and fire, handsome and monster, genius and madman in one person ... outwardly imperturbable and cold-blooded, but with a real hurricane of emotions and experiences in his soul ... The scarecrow will take revenge on everyone who has ever mocked his helplessness and insignificance, demonstrating all his power and power, the power of Fear and the power of Terror ...

We welcome all Scarecrow fans here, one of Batman's most famous adversaries ... it doesn't matter if you prefer comics, or if you prefer cartoon characters and the role of Cillian Murphy in the films "Batman Begins" and "The Dark Knight" ... feel like in your native Arkham ... Free LSD candies and champagne for all beginners!))


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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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Fisher's Four Paradigms: Human Condition

This Figure is my latest mapping of my own evolution of thought, philosophizing and theorizing about Love and Fear ... and, right to my latest version (Trialectic-Upgrade) which has emerged from my reading of Moreno's (1971/77) book (see my blog below). This has been 30 years of thinking critically about how to understand the "Human Condition" (and, concomitantly, how to understand "Human Nature" and "Human Potential"). I am convinced that without a good understanding of these relationships, there will be ineffective paradigms created for "managing" humankind and our future--especially, when we take into account the nature and role of Fear. Philosophy of Fearism (a la Subba) and Philosophy of Fearlessness (a la Fisher) and Philosophy of Fear (a la Eneyo etc.) ought to be very engaged with these four paradigms and/or adding more--around this deep search for understanding the primary forces of human meta-motivation. 

Of course, I am only giving you the barest skeletal diagrams here, as a small book could be written on describing the ontological details, rationale and potential applications  for each of these models and why they have evolved in my own thinking---and, I would argue they are each one an improvement upon the prior paradigm--a kind of evolutionary maturity is shown. For a general understanding of my own intellectual critique and evolution of the first 3 paradigms go to Fisher 2017 Radical Love.pdf" as it is an article published in the International Journal of Critical Pedagogy. 


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I recently found this image (as Halloween, or 'Day of the Dead' or Hallomas or Samhain) on the internet. The title was provocative and speaks to the concept of which this blog is all about: that is, the proposition (if not theory) that the basic core of the human condition is fear (or fear-based) (?)

The philosophy of fearlessness (Fisher) and philosophy of fearism (Subba) [1] is arguably a combination of supportive philosophies for the above claim. Others, like Eneyo who in part takes some aspects of the Fisher-Subba philosophies in his own "philosophy of fear" prefers to make the core of the human one of love, yet he agrees fear is also core but secondary [2]. The Fisher-Subba position is not opposed to Eneyo's claim but is more a nuanced branch of a philosophy of fear that situates understanding the human by focusing on fear over and above focusing on love [3].

My point of writing this very short blog is to say that there is still not an adequate (referenced) scholarly synthesis of important writing (philosophy and theory) on the proposition in the internet poster and/or in the authors' work mentioned above. There are fragments of support references for their claims but not yet the document that is needed to give scholarly credibility (at least, not as far as I am concerned).

I am of late beginning to see some critical thinkers in the early 1970s that I will be documenting their positions and arguments, theories, and works...coming from backgrounds in philosophy/anthropology/political science/theology... it is still too early for me to make my case for their support of the Fisher-Subba position re: fear is the core of the human condition and history itself is the unfolding of that human-fear relationship--as one of, if not the most powerful relationships on this planet (i.e., fearuality, fearological reality).

I'll keep you updated as this paper (booklet) I'm writing evolves.


1. 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. Subba, D. (2014). Philosophy of fearism: Life is conducted, directed and controlled by the fear. Australia: Xlibris. Another young budding philosopher of this synthesis with his own nuances is Osinakachi Akuma Kalu (with his two books on fear in the last two years; e.g., The First Stage of the Fearologist. Amazon CreateSpace).

2. Eneyo, M. (2018). The philosophy of fear: A move to overcoming negative fear. Australia: Xlibris.

3. For a brief intro. discussion of Fisher and Subba on fear and love, see Philosophy of fearism: A first East-West dialogue. Australia: Xlibris (2016), p. xxxi. 




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Philosophy of Fear is indeed an emerging paradigm that is primarily concern with the holistic study of fear: Its positive and its negative natures. However, Michael Eneyo in his book titled: “Philosophy of Fear: A Move to Overcoming Negative Fear”, has justifiably turned his first book on fear into a compendium of facts about the real nature of fear: Its meaning, scope, and how it can be managed for the good of mankind. His elucidating approach to the study of fear and the stylistic coinage of words with ostensive applications of these words is appealing.

The author has brilliantly chaptered his book into nine with explicit topics and sub-topics; making the book an intro to the domain of fear, what he (as author) called ‘Fear Territory’. The chronological patterning of these chapters concomitantly with the flow of connecting ideas makes the book even more attractive and readable. Many wonderful concepts used by the author are broad enough to be branches in fear studies. Such words like: Fear territory, faculty of fear, fear conflict, history of fear, etc, are amongst the areas to be studied by all those who want to know more about fear.

The author addresses himself as ‘unificationist’ or a ‘complementarist’, terms analogous to a person who advocates for the unification and a complementary living among different beings. The author believes that with love and courage in the right directions, negative fear can be overcome. One of his interests in the book is to reconcile the different views of other fearologists regarding the nature of fear and its problem(s) by acknowledging every being and its opposite as having existential value.

As a priest who is vested in philosophy and theology, I have spotted the synergism of philosophy and theology in the author’s usage of the concept love, which he says is the ultimate motivator of human behaviours. I sincerely congratulate Michael Eneyo for this highly intellectual masterpiece and I urge all and sundry to grasp their copies.

Very Rev. Fr. Patrick Edem-Obong Eneyo
Parish priest, St. Peter’s parish Ediba Qua Town CRS
An author, novelist and inspirational preacher,
Chaplain CRS Government House,

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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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To Join "The Movement" or not? 

Like any "movement" of consciousness and/or social change and transformation in history, there are philosophies behind them, if not ideologies, if not religions. There are going to be at times questioning of these "behind" the scenes forms and organizations and ideas and impulses--with their agendas. The general public or even serious thinkers and researchers will ask questions about this website called the "Fearlessness Movement." They will want to know "what it is" (really?)... and they want information so they can make up their mind what it is they may want to join or not to join. 

What I have done as the person who has coined "Fearlessness Movement" near a few decades ago, and the leader and philosopher that I am, who likes 'big missions' and even what looks like 'utopian' visions... that's nothing I try to hide... is that my work has been to keep "the Movement" that I care about as open as possible to as many kinds of people and thinkers as possible, globally, and across the lines of sacred and secular. That's a challenge, because people can be so quick to "judge" a website, a "group" that they perceive is involved and make their quick decision to become involved productively, or not, and/or to go so far as to make it the 'enemy.' [1]  

ABOUT US: Define "The Movement" (and, become involved in defining it)

I prefer to delineate a "Movement" for change and liberation not to define it or fix it...but maybe for some that is just me playing with words. Yet, the intention I have as one of the leaders in the study of fear on the planet, is to keep "the movement" open enough for people to participate in a way of critique and constructive revisioning... so that dogma does not set in, so that idolization and ideology cannot freeze up and enclose "the movement" definition and meanings. Of course, any delineation process, to make something different from something and to be able to label it and develop it, is an act (perceived and/or real) as one of differentiating and that can look like "exclusion" or a "clique" type of process. It may look like an esoteric group of elites who are "in" and get the power to play and control, while all others are "out" (more or less). Lots of those kinds of groups, cults and associations have occurred, as a history of social processes and the nature of groups and philosophies behind them. 

So, again, I am not against such specialized social change groups and movements that developed or continue to develop. It is a valid social form. And, I acknowledge that most everyone is deeply hurt by socialization and the "group" making process of in and out, acceptance and rejection dynamics. However, true as that injury is, and we are so sensitive to it as a social species (a tender carnivore as Paul Shepard once labeled our species), our task is not to react by default and reflex based on the past hurts and thus be in fear of being rejected either (as victims). Others overcome rejection by using domination and charisma and power to 'lead' others and so they get control (somewhat) of the rejection and aceeptance dynamics of groups they are involved in. 

I am not a big fan of joining any such ideological groups, religions, etc. I have never fully followed any one group, or movement or guru and so on, but I have drawn upon them (their better-side and offerings), and many of them, in my own 50+ years of learning consciously since being a teen, about humans and change and transformation, and how to make the world a better place.

So, my own version of "the movement" (or "Movement" as a simplified code word here that may be assumed or used explicitly).... is one that has taken an empirical and theoretical positioning to start with, and that goes back to the origins of my version of what I coined as the "Fearlessness Project" in 1989, then onward that became the "Fearlessness Movement" more recently, and with this website (ning) the Fearlessness Movement (2015) was located and made open to the public as a forum and online community. I recently wrote a few blogs (and a paper) "About Us" in referring to this movement and ning: 



I highly suggest all visitors and/or members of the FM ning read these two blogs, and read up on how I have delineated the "Fearlessness Movement" in a Wikipedia style writing with Desh Subba in our 2016 book [2]. Of course, sadly, too many and too often, people come upon my work or collegaues and quickly decide after reading very little of our work to reject it and quickly shy away from joining a "religion" in their minds, etc. I won't deny that when one leads a movement with a great mission, like "Fearlessness" for example, there is going to be a sense of a leader and big project that a lot of people don't feel comfortable with, and more or less like to operate as individuals and not as part of a group and do not want to be "controlled" or critiqued by a group. This latter "fear" (for the most part) is often never confronted or worked through by a lot of people, who keep "running" from groups of any kind, and ultimately are running from their own wounds from the past brought on by group dynamics. I am not saying that I understand all my critics and their motivations to leave, and/or reject "the movement"... I merely see, or sense, they haven't given it a good try to find out what it (we) are all about. So, let me clarify my delineation of "the movement" that the FM ning represents (if that is even the right term): 

The Movement (again, short-hand code) related to the FM ning, is very broad, because virtually anyone can come on and join the FM ning and say and teach what they want to about fear and fearlessness, etc. One doesn't have to agree, or be a follower of any of us who are FM ning members, or do they have to conform to my philosophy either just because I am the host/moderator and original creator of the FM ning. However, for the newcomer to "the movement" there are some obvious 'big players' already on the FM ning who write the most, publish books, and tend to take up a good deal of the 'air space' on the ning. From my point of view, just because of that involvement they have, and commitment, and being outspoken etc., does not mean they "run" the movement or the ning, and/or do they define what the study of fear and fearlessness has to be like or look like. Indeed, they, like myself will have bigger influence on the face-of-the ning, and the "Fearlessness Movement"--however, there is not a pre-determined set or domination of ideas that is or ought to be and others should only follow. All can be co-creators of the content and shaping of the Fearlessness Movement and the FM ning that is one of its manifestations. 

I delineate "the Movement" at this time, with three major components (branches) that appear on the FM ning [as distinct from, yet interrelated with the Fearlessness Movement per se] [3]:

1. Fisher's Philosophy of Fearlessness, 2. Desh Subba's Philosophy of Fearism and 3. Eneyo's Philosophy of Fear... as well Kalu has his own version and mixture of all of these three labeled brands of philosophy. 

The other some 60 people on the FM ning, besides the above guys, are (as far as I can tell) less participative as writers and less involved in creating their own philosophy (branch of the Fearlessness Movement). From my view, these 60 people are no less important or invited to be shapers (and/or followers and students)... than anyone else on the FM ning or those who are associated with the Fearlessness Movement who are not signed up as members on the FM ning. 

I trust this short bit of delineation on my part is helpful in some way. I encourage anyone, especially newcomers to "the Movement" to ask questions, to stay out of victim-mode if that is what happens as a knee jerk reaction to reading stuff here on the FM ning or by any of the philosophers I mentioned above. 

For philosophy of anything, to stay alive and vibrant and critically self-reflexive, there ought to be open-mindedness and invitation to all... and, I am not naive to think that "all" is actually a reality when it comes down to whom will be attracted and whom will be repulsed by "the Movement"-- people also create their own exclusion from something like a movement because they simply aren't interested and would rather spend their time elsewhere. In the end, I really don't care personally, if people join "the movement" or not. I merely love to communicate with all people about this work and movement. I'd love to see it grow, of course, and I am already well aware it may, or may not. History is rife with examples of philosophers and movements they promoted which came and went. Though, some have stuck around a long time. I would like this study of fear and all its branches of philosophies to become one of the formative forces that shape the future of this world in the 21st century and beyond... 


1. I wrote on the enemies of fearlessness itself, in Fisher, R. M. (1997). Defining the enemy of fearlessness. Technical Paper No. 6. Calgary, AB: In Search of Fearlessness Research Institute.  

2. See Chapter One "Fearology, Fearism, and the Fearlessness Movement" as the basic quick introduction to "the movement" being spoken about often by myself, or Desh Subba (as founder of philosophy of fearism). 

3. The Fearlessness Movement is a global historical movement, coined by Fisher, and includes many many movements with their own leaders and philosophies (e.g., A Course in Miracles, Gandhi's Satyagraha movement, etc.) whom are involved in some form of "teachings" that attempt to move the world from fear-based reality and politics etc. towards fearlessness (more or less). Again, see this summarized in Chapter One (end note 1) of Fisher and Subba (2016). 


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