A Philosophy of Fear

Lars Svendson

A Philosophy of Fear

Surveillance cameras; security checks at airports; barred store windows: we see manifestations of societal fears all around us, and daily news reports of the latest household danger or raised level of terrorism threat continually stoke our sense of impending doom. In "A Philosophy of Fear", Lars Svendsen explores the underlying ideas and issues behind this powerful emotion, as he investigates how and why fear has insinuated itself into every aspect of modern life. Svendsen delves into science, politics, sociology and literature to explore the nature of fear.He examines the biology behind the emotion, from the neuroscience underlying our 'fight or flight' instinct, to how fear induces irrational actions in our attempts to minimize risk. The book then turns to the realms of the political and social, investigating the role of fear in the philosophies of Machiavelli and Hobbes, the rise of the modern 'risk society', and how fear has eroded social trust. Entertainment such as the television show "Fear Factor", competition in extreme sports, and the political use of fear in the ongoing 'War on Terror' all come under Svendsen's probing gaze, as he considers whether we can ever disentangle ourselves from the continual state of alarm that defines our age.Svendsen's view is ultimately positive, arguing for the possibility of a brighter future, in which a humanist optimism triumphs. An incisive and thought-provoking meditation, "A Philosophy of Fear" pulls back the curtain that shrouds dangers both imagined and real, forcing us to confront our fears, and why we cling to them so fixedly. 4.0 out of 5 based on 1 reviews
A Philosophy of Fear

Omniscore:

Classification Non-fiction
Genre Society, Politics & Philosophy, Psychology & Psychiatry
Format Hardback
Pages 192
RRP £14.95
Date of Publication July 2008
ISBN 978-1861894045
Publisher Reaktion
 

Surveillance cameras; security checks at airports; barred store windows: we see manifestations of societal fears all around us, and daily news reports of the latest household danger or raised level of terrorism threat continually stoke our sense of impending doom. In "A Philosophy of Fear", Lars Svendsen explores the underlying ideas and issues behind this powerful emotion, as he investigates how and why fear has insinuated itself into every aspect of modern life. Svendsen delves into science, politics, sociology and literature to explore the nature of fear.He examines the biology behind the emotion, from the neuroscience underlying our 'fight or flight' instinct, to how fear induces irrational actions in our attempts to minimize risk. The book then turns to the realms of the political and social, investigating the role of fear in the philosophies of Machiavelli and Hobbes, the rise of the modern 'risk society', and how fear has eroded social trust. Entertainment such as the television show "Fear Factor", competition in extreme sports, and the political use of fear in the ongoing 'War on Terror' all come under Svendsen's probing gaze, as he considers whether we can ever disentangle ourselves from the continual state of alarm that defines our age.Svendsen's view is ultimately positive, arguing for the possibility of a brighter future, in which a humanist optimism triumphs. An incisive and thought-provoking meditation, "A Philosophy of Fear" pulls back the curtain that shrouds dangers both imagined and real, forcing us to confront our fears, and why we cling to them so fixedly.

Reviews

The Guardian

PD Smith

According to Lars Svendsen, a Norwegian philosopher, "our fear is a by-product of luxury". The mass media, pressure groups and the nanny state are all guilty of stoking the current climate of paranoia. Fear is a powerful emotion. It can save lives. But it also "robs us of our freedom" and undermines that essential social glue: trust. Bertrand Russell once said that "to conquer fear is the beginning of wisdom". Svendsen agrees. In this brief yet wide-ranging and insightful book, he argues convincingly that we need to replace the risk society with a culture of hope and trust.

25/10/2008

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