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philosophy of fear (5)

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.

Notes:

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,
Nigeria.

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Foreword

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.

DR. R. MICHAEL FISHER 

FOUNDER, FEARLESSNESS MOVEMENT

Canada

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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: 

(1) https://fearlessnessmovement.ning.com/blog/fearlessness-movement-about-us

(2) https://fearlessnessmovement.ning.com/blog/fearlessness-movement-and-it-s-context-of-meaning

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... 

Notes

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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