This blog is somewhat (not all) heavy technical and philosophical stuff for most people. I welcome you to join the conversation. What if the very term "fear" was really not the best term to use for the phenomenon that is under investigation? What if Defense Intelligences (DI, for short) is the better, less polluted term? Therein my friends is a little controversial opening to consider... 

I've put out a few forum ideas on the FM ning over the past year, and mentioned in one that I'd love to talk to people about the work of Ken Wilber (e.g., American integral philosophy and theory) as it relates to the study of fear and fearlessness. So far no takers. I admitted in that forum piece the critical (and long-historical) role Wilber has had on my way of thinking and philosophizing. However, since my grad school years, another philosopher appeared, the late Michel Foucault (French), who has in a more subtle way greatly influenced my thinking and still does in important ways. Note, I wrote a technical paper on bringing Foucault to the foreground in my naming and understanding of "fearuality" as an important construct and reality in life [1]. Of late, I am thinking a lot about this all because of co-writing (with Desh Subba) an article (still in draft form) on "Why a Philosophy of Fearism?" for Philosophy Now magazine. I'm very excited of the possibility of this getting published, as it is a short piece and to a broad audience, but a sophisticated audience of philosophically minded people, and some professional philosophers who read it as well as their grad students. 

Let me insert the first paragraph of this article for Philosophy Now so you can see how we set the piece up for a broad readership and yet also dive into the Foucauldian notion of power/knowledge, and add our own added twist to it [: 

As co-authors across either side of the world (W. and E., respectively), we are dedicated to knowing fear deeply—and, wish to inspire others to walk an ethical journey of fearlessness, as others have walked before us. In our conceptualization, we are not only referring to genetic-based fear-hardwiring nor of the common psychological attempts, if not heroic, to conquer fears through bravery or courage. We are addressing something more philosophical, subtle, complex and profound of which turns on a sagacious attention to power/knowledge/fear, an approach much like Michel Foucault’s orientation—whereby, in our case, we critically examine the archeology, history and politics of knowledge construction on the topic fear (i.e., the human-fear relationship).[i] It is in the back of our minds always when encountering a text on fear: whom does this knowledge serve and whom does it oppress? Fear and power go together, thus fear-mongering may be very obvious or very subtle. Sharp philosophical analysis is required.

Okay, now here is the End Note [1] in that article: 

Foucault’s radical (postmodern) departure with a “dual precaution of method” in studying (for e.g.) power, sex(uality), madness  is one that Fisher is working to bring to bear on studying fear(uality) (and/or ‘fear’) (i.e., an analogous Foucauldian critique where fear serves as “the name for a fiction or a historical construct” and less so a “real historical-anthropological entity at all”); the nature (ontologically and epistemologically) of “fear” is put under a precautionary of critical mood and methodology. All quotes above from Gordon, C. (1980). Afterword. In C. Gordon (Ed.), Power/knowledge: Selected interviews and other writings 1972-1977. [Trans. C. Gordon, L. Marshall, J. Mepham, K. Soper]. NY: Pantheon Books, 235. 

Okay, if you glean anything from this opening, you'll see in particular where my passion of philosophical research is. I do not say this is of the same passion for Desh but both of us are very interested in a massive re-configuration of the notion of fear, not just simply as an emotion, but as a construct of history, with a politics that accompanies that construct, and in which the latter may be the really important aspect of our study of fear and fear management/education that we ought to focus on today. That's a hypothesis anyways. Bottomline, I particularly, since my earliest writing in early 1990s have always taken this "dual precaution of method" in studying fear and teaching and writing about it. Any of you who follow my work know that I talk about a distinction between fear and 'fear'--the latter, representing the first aspect of a Foucauldian cautionary around the study of fear in history. I mean, I like Foucault's premise (as Gordon articulates it above) that because fear and power are so interrelated (i.e., loaded with political and ideological agendas)--how can we merely study fear by ignoring that context, and that history of its definitions, meanings, conceputalizations--well, we cannot ethically ignore it says Foucault. It is all this background noise and radiation, if you will, that puts fear (like power, or madness, or sexuality for Foucault's studies) into a difficult and dangerous beast to grapple with. And, of course, then there is another part of the dual precaution of method--and that is, that we cannot sit back as a researcher (knower) and believe that we can look at objective fear out there only, as if it was a thing, as if it was an anthropological and historical entity or fact. Not so, says Foucault and I agree. We have to look at equally researching the knower and researcher and their power-positionality in regard to the topic of studying fear. Thus, in the paragraph for the Philosophy Now article there is an emphasis on what is being studied is power/knowledge/fear in and out of particular agents of history (e.g., the makers of such knowledge about fear, and the receivers of that knowledge). All this makes the study of fear ('fear') way more complex and thus the field of fear management likewise. But is anyone acknowledging this, other than me (and Desh sometimes)? Well, not really, not to this degree of investigation. 

So, this is enough of a mouth-full to grasp and it ought to be sufficient to trigger and inspire--perhaps, the philosophically minded amongst you on the FM ning to join this forum. 

End Notes

1. Fisher, R. M. (2013). Making fearuality more sexy: Intersections with Foucault. Technical Paper No. 45. Carbondale, IL: In Search of Fearlessness Research Institute. 

You need to be a member of Fearlessness Movement to add comments!

Join Fearlessness Movement

Email me when people reply –